You had one goddamn job, Pen-Pen
Original SA post
Dungeons: The Dragoning: 7.5E
You had one goddamn job, Pen-Pen
Dungeons: The Dragoning was originally made up as a game-within-a-game for an Adeptus Evangelion campaign. The idea was that the pilots spent their off day playing an RPG for a light-hearted comedy session in between fighting aliens, and that the only RPG that existed and was commercially viable was Dungeons: The Dragoning. This game was created by White Wizard's Workshop, an unholy amalgam of all of the major/popular RPG and wargaming companies (except Palladium, apparently; RIFTS did not survive Second Impact) and was thus a total mess of mashing up 7th Sea, Planescape, 40k, Exalted (a LOT of Exalted), WoD, Warhammer Fantasy, D&D, and everything else. Which is a cute idea for a breather session in an Evangelion game.
Then, for some reason, the people from that game decided to actually make Dungeons: The Dragoning: 7th Edition. Make it and release it. So here it is, in front of me, and it is dumb as hell. It's a silly joke of a game system, except that it's 400 pages of rules and fluff, at which point a joke has gone a little far. But that's the thing; unlike with AdEva, there's very little that's seriously creepy here. There's no GM advice to promote weird power games between players, there's no Unshippable, there IS a Social Combat system but it's more of a joke about Social Combat systems than anything else. DtD is, for all intents and purposes, a harmless and silly thing that someone put a little too much effort into. But it produces a weird RPG that I can write about for the internet, and I did actually play this game, so it fulfills my criterion for reviewing it.
Now, as this is a game produced in the grim post-Impact world, some corners had to be cut. You see, without penguins around to inspire good game design, guess what resolution mechanic replaced d20 as the most prominent resolution mechanic in gaming? Will it be the simple percentile? Will it be something silly like d6-d6 from Feng Shui? Could it be the One Roll Engine or Cardinal? No. It is the Roll and Keep system. From Legend of the Five Rings and 7th Sea 1st edition. Yes, if Antarctica had exploded, we would be stuck making Raises and rolling 5k2 in almost every RPG that exists. Behold, the terrible cost of the Katsuragi expedition and the awakening of the Giant of Light. Pen-Pen was not enough penguin to inspire better game design. Not that the little bastard tries. Just lounges around all day, being the obligatory mascot character demanded by marketing. I'm on to you, Pen-Pen.
In the game's defense, it does begin with 'Please don't mistake this for a real roleplaying game, this is a silly joke game made for fun'. I just feel like if you're going to put 400 pages worth of effort into your silly joke game, you could try to make it a little more playable. I've made this same mistake with a very old comedy RPG I wrote for fun, where I baked a bunch of jokes about RPG mechanics into the mechanics; I ended up with a mess of a game by doing that. So again, my hands are not clean of tang in making this critique. I did the same thing these authors did a long time ago! And it was a bad idea when I did it, and it's a bad idea here. If the joke is 'these rules are unplayable', then it's best to keep the game to a bunch of people playing Mornington Crescent/Calvinball and make that the game.
Because in the end, that's how DtD is going to come out. You can play the game as presented. It will be a goddamn mess. Because the point is supposed to be that the game isn't just a fluff mashup of all those RPGs listed up above, the joke is it's a mechanical mashup, too. You make a Hero. You assign their Dots as if it was a White Wolf game. You roll and keep like it was 7th Sea. You pick out Artifacts and Daiklaves and shit. You have Book of 9 Swords Sword Schools as Martial Arts charms. You have the entire D&D magic system bolted onto 40kRP's Perils of the Warp. You have a Career Track like WHFRP2e but without any of the stuff that made its Career system fun. You fly around on giant spelljammers covered in eagles and skulls. 12th and 13th century foreigners surround you. Your sword is unbelievably dull (unless it is a Daiklave). Dinosaurs are here (with chainguns strapped to their heads, obviously).
And so I must make sense of these convoluted situations.
Also the book starts off with a parody of the infamous Privateer Press 'Play Like You Got A Pair' stupidity from early War Machine, while claiming it is a simple and elegant rules system that has left behind complications like THAC0 for the purity of Roll and Keep. "We didn't set out to reinvent the wheel, we covered it in eagles and skulls, threw it into space, and used it to slay a Void Dragon." Everything in this book will be written in the same breathlessly over-the-top tone, which I can't really get annoyed about because fair enough, that's the tone they're parodying and that's part of the joke of the game. Making fun of the hyperbolic style of 40k and its competitors like early War Machine (I have no idea if War Machine ever toned it down later) is fine.
One thing you notice quickly reading this book, though, is that everything
is a reference. Very little of the humor manages to stand on its own; right off the bat at Character Creation we get Andrew Ryan's speech from the beginning of Bioshock but instead about 'is a man not entitled to the grandest of adventures!?' with various stereotypical RPG voices saying NO because it would be 'overpowered' or 'unbalanced'. DtD is, uh, not a game that's going to concern itself with game balance, at all. When you're parodying Exalted 2e (among a dozen other things), it's a good excuse not to bother with anything like 'elegance' or 'game balance' or 'playability'. You could argue that's just being true to the source. Still, the constant references can get tiresome; I'd have preferred it if the book had spent some more time developing its own voice and some more of its own humor rather than relying entirely on 'I recognize that thing!!!' humor.
It also begins with a quick explanation of the version of Roll and Keep we'll be using here. It's a simple XkY, where you roll X dice and keep the highest Y and add them together for your result. Dice that roll a 10 explode, and keep rolling until they stop rolling 10s, then that exploded dice's total counts as a single kept die. So if I roll 10, 10, 8 on 3k2, then roll 10 and 5 on the next roll, then roll 4, I've rolled a 24 on one die and a 15 on the other, for a 39 on the roll. Instead of the 7th Sea raise system, you instead use Raises like they were 40kRP/WHFRP Degrees of Success; for every 5 you beat your TN by, you score a Raise (if it's important) and for every 5 you fail by, you get Check. Free Raises are just extra Raises that get added if you succeed at all.
This is going to be a long one, folks. And a long one that's going to require me picking through a badly edited book an awful lot, because there's a lot that's really unclear in these rules. Expect updates to be a bit slower than usual as I try to parse this and put into terms that can be understood, because this is a free RPG mostly made by one guy on a dare and released as a joke. Clarity was not one of the goals here.
Next Time: The Making of a Hero
Making of a Hero
Original SA post
Dungeons: The Dragoning: 7.5 Edition
Making of a Hero
Now, there are a shitload of rules you'd need to know to actually make a character effectively. But character creation is up first. The game starts off by saying there are no unwilling Heroes in DtD. You might not want the power you have, exactly, but you did want power, and you are going to use that power. A lot. Making your PC is not actually very simple, by virtue of how many fiddly bits and subsystems actually come into play in the making of a PC. You have to choose your Stats, your have to choose your Skills, you have to choose your Race, your Exaltation, your Class, and you might have to buy Magic or Sword Schools depending on what kind of PC you're playing. You also have to spend base EXP on Assets and get extra base EXP by buying Hindrances (the main reason you'd do this is Character Creation is the only place you can buy Assets, and you might need the extra EXP from Disadvantages to afford the ones you want). Oh, you also pick a God.
So without further ado, let's get started. I'll give something of a summary of every step as we go, we'll make a character eventually, and as the book goes, I'll fill in exactly what any of the shit on the character sheet actually means. Because none of it is explained at this point, not even what a stat or skill actually does. The basic rules of how a test works are not listed until Page 235
, after 14
chapters of material on Races, Backgrounds, Assets, Talents, Classes, etc. They tell you all the shit long before they tell you how it works. Now, I can tell you most tests consist of keeping your Stat, and rolling Skill+Stat. Weaponry, Brawl, and Ballistics tests instead keep your Skill, and roll Character Level+Skill if
you're proficient with your weapon. This was done to try to keep Dex from being the total god-stat it is in most games like this. Dex is still extremely powerful for many reasons.
There is also an alternate character creation system done entirely with EXP, but it's not actually balanced with the default at all regardless of what it says, so we're just going to stick with the default system. It's less fiddly for me to deal with and God knows I'm going to be dealing with a lot of fiddling in this system.
Step 0 is to come up with a brief concept of who you are and why you're cool. This will probably change on contact with rules.
Step 1 has you pick which of your 3 stat types is primary, secondary, and tertiary. You get Physical (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution), Mental (Intelligence, Wisdom, Willpower), and Social (Charisma, Fellowship, and Composure). What's the difference between Charisma and Fellowship? Fuck you, that's what. Some skills say they'll use one, some say the other, that's all; their descriptions are basically identical. All stats start at 1 dot. You get 6 dots for your primary, 4 for your secondary, and 2 for your tertiary. No stat can go to 5 at this point; 4 is your max. Your Racial Bonus can raise a stat put to 4 here to 5 when you get to your Race. Simple enough, standard White Wolf stuff. You also pick Physical, Mental, or Social skills as Primary, Secondary, or Tertiary. All skills start at 0 dots. You get 8 dots of your Primary, 6 Secondary, 4 Tertiary, and no skill can be above 3 yet. It can go to 4 if your Race boosts it in Step 2.
Step 2 has you pick your Race. Your Race will give you your base Size (which is actually really important), a Racial Ability, some Racial Assets you can buy if you wish, a +1 to one of your stats (Most offer 2 stats, Humans offer any stat), and a +1 to two skills. Those skill/stat bonuses can break the starting caps. You can be a Human (Flexible, boring), a Dark Eladrin (Dark Eldar/Drow), an Aasimir (Space Marine), a Tiefling (Chaos Space Marine), a Tau (Communism Starfleet), an Elf (Elf), an Eladrin (Eldar), an Ork (Football Hooligan), a Dragonborn (Lizbiz), a Squat (Dwarf), a Gnome (Everyone hates gnomes), or a Halfling (Hobbit). No real description of the races is given in these sections beyond a basic concept, but your race choice matters a lot. As you are a Super Awesome Hero, you are completely free to be as against type as you wish for your Race; who's going to tell you to stop being a nice guy Tiefling or a humble Elf?
Step 3 has you choose your Exaltation, and this is extremely important. This is your big extra power source, and as some of them only really interact with certain parts of the system, choosing some of these on certain character concepts is mostly a waste of time. This is the Big Special Thing that makes your mashup PC Original and protects them from all stealing. You can be a Vampire (Bitey), Werewolf (Also bitey, big), Atlantean (Syreneth/Solar Exalted/Mage), Daemonhost (Hellpower), Paragon (Action Hero), Chosen (Power of God), or Promethean (Cyborg). Again, these are really important; they give you a whole suite of extra powers and a resource stat. Everyone's resource stat mostly works the same. Whatever you choose will be at Level 1 for now and won't be able to be raised during PC creation. Any PC can be any Exaltation, and part of the exercise in PC creation here is going to be seeing how terrible the PC we make turns out after we make them blind.
Step 4 has you choose a Class. Classes are like a blind idiot's version of the WHFRP2e Career system, though they don't explain them much here. They determine what you can spend EXP on while you're in them; which skills, which stats, and what Feats you can buy. You finish a Class by buying all its Feats, at which point you get a small permanent bonus and can buy into a new class, which can raise your Level; your PC Level is the level of your highest Level class. The class tracks are Paladin, Bard, Shootman (Guardsman), Fightman (Swordsman), Smashman (Barbarian), Wizard, Thief, Cleric, and Assassin, plus some basic 1st level Ratcatcher, Peasant, Scholar and Mercenary action to get you the pre-reqs to go into a new class tree. See, to enter a Class, you have to meet its Pre-Reqs. For instance, to be a Guardsman you need to have Ballistics Skill 2 and Athletics Skill 1. I have also just told you significantly more about the class system (and faster) than the game will for many, many pages, because you will need this bare minimum to say what class our luckless person should be.
Step 5 has you choose backgrounds. These are also done by dots, and cannot be above 3 dots without spending starting EXP. You get 7 dots. They can be in Holdings (Stuff), Allies (Friends), Artifacts (Magic Stuff), Backing (Also Friends), Contacts (Also Friends), Fame (Fame), Followers (God how many Friends are there), Inheritance (Stuff), a Mentor (Singular Friend), Status (Also Fame), or Wealth (Stuff). They are nebulous.
Step 6 has you pick your God. There are 3 pantheons: Kahyoss (Sorry, The RUINOUS POWERS), who are supposed to be less generally evil than they used to be. The Blessed Pantheon, who are all supposed to be kind of nice-ish but a little dickish. And the Grey Council, who are noncommittal except for Vectron, who is a totally real God who definitely exists and not an accident of speech during a galactic meeting in a British sketch comedy show. Your God determines what parts of your Alignment will annoy you. Alignment exists explicitly to get in your way and irritate your PC in this game, which is actually a pretty accurate implementation of Alignment. You can worship Khorne (Fight), Nurgle (Despair), Slaanesh (Party), Tzeentch ('Clever') or Malal (Holy shit, Malal? Oh wait, they made him generic Nihilism/Entrophy, rather than The God of Being Tied Up In Copyright Issues and Quietly Dropped From The Setting) for Khayoss. You can worship Sigmar (Community; he's actually nicer here than his cult generally is in WHFRP), Bahamut (Shiney Dragon), Cuthbert (Cudgel/Law; the god of STOP RESISTING), Pelor (Generic Good), or Moradin (Dwarf) for Blessed guys. You can worship Acererak (Magic, skulls), The Raven Queen (Death), Luna (Shapeshifting, Change), Corellon (Elf, Dickery, Arrogance), or Vectron (Definitely Real) for the Grey Council. You start at 'Devotion 6'. You don't know what this means yet. It's important-ish.
Finally, at Step 7, you get 600 EXP to spend. You can raise stats by 1 dot by paying 100xCurrent level, you can improve Devotion for 50xcurrent level and that's a waste, you can buy Skill dots for 50xcurrent level, backgrounds for 50 per dot (100 if it's a dot above 3), Feats for 100, Fighting Schools for 200, Magic Schools for 200, New Skills for 100, improve your Magic or Fighting School a rank for 100xCurrent (but you're stuck at 1 at creation), improve your Exalted Power Stat for 200xCurrent (But it's capped at character level, like Fighting/Magic), and this is the only place they tell you all these costs. You can also buy Assets for 100 each and gain Hindrances to get an extra 100 EXP each. You can only spend EXP on stuff your class actually allows.
Then you get a useless little selection of starting equipment that no-one cares about, because if you need gear you probably took a Background for it. Or a Daiklave. Finally, you work out your Size (Very, very important; you divide all incoming damage by Size to determine how much you actually take), Static Defense (10+3x(Wisdom+Dex)-2xSize), HP ((Willpower+Con)x2)), Mental Defense (5+5xComposure), Resolve (Social HP, Willpower+Composure), Speed (Str+Dex), and Hero Points (You have 2). Hero Points are plot armor/Fate Points. Then you come up with your actual backstory and see how it matches your concept now that you have stats on paper.
Keep in mind, I've given a lot more information here than the game does. You really, really can't make a PC with just the PC creation rules here; you need a lot of filling in. Give me a general concept (Race, Class, Exaltation, maybe a little other guidance) and I'll make a (probably terrible) PC. As we go through the reams of rules for this game, we will see the true extent of that character's failings.
One of my pet peeves in games is games that put character creation well before you actually know how to play, even in a rough outline. Especially games with heavily un-guided character creation with no 'rails', so to speak. It makes it extremely easy to make a useless character by accident. For instance, some of those Exaltations are pretty much worthless with certain character concepts. Which ones? You don't know, while the game tells you they're all valid. This is especially a problem in a game that's trying to be over the top power fantasy, where making a mechanically useless PC undermines the core concept of the game. Yes, yes, joke game, but 'over the top power fantasy' is clearly the rules' intent for all PCs. Thus, if the rules lead to you making a character who can't act crazily because of mechanical weakness, they've failed the core concept, and done it without being funny in the process.
Next Time: God only knows what will come out of PC creation
Okay, I have found a solution for the Erin Tarn situation.
Original SA post
Dungeons: The Dragoning: 7.5 Edition
Okay, I have found a solution for the Erin Tarn situation.
Here comes our Tau Bard, ready to change the world with the power of Rock and Roll. Por'Sui'Kim, Rockerboy, is going to be our hero because I liked the Cyberpunk 2020 review and he's already got experience being a horribly unoptimized PC.
Being a Bard, he'll prioritize Social attributes. Bards need a 3 Charisma, so that's sort of a no-brainer; he'll take 2 dots in Charisma for 3, then 3 in Fellowship for 4, and 0 in Composure for 2. He's a passionate guy, not a man with nerves of steel. He'll take Mental for his secondary, because the Illusion magic Bards get uses Intelligence and he's a well read guy. He'll put 2 dots in Int, 1 in Wisdom, and 1 in Willpower. Finally, he's got Physical stats, and he puts 1 in Constitution and 1 in Dexterity. He's kind of noodly. As his Fellowship is 4, he gets a Specialty: A situation where his Fel counts as 1 higher. He takes 'While on Stage' because he's building to be a performer.
For Skills, he'll obviously prioritize Social, too. He
puts 3 of his eight dots in Perform because he's a performer. Being a charming sort, he puts 3 in Persuasion and 2 in Charm. He's not a liar or deceiver; he changes minds through wholesome friendliness and songs about working together. Next, he'll prioritize Mental, again, because it worked last time, right? He has to spend 2 of his 6 dots on Common Lore (He'll get +1 to it for being a Tau) to get into Minstrel, so he does. Then he takes 2 in Politics, because he knows them politics. He also takes 1 in Perception so he won't get constantly blindsided. He'll also take 1 Craft for reasons that will become plain soon. Finally, for Physical, he puts 3 dots in Weaponry (He knows he's going to be using weapons at some point, this is an action game) and 1 in Acrobatics for stage diving.
You may notice he is not a broadly competent person! You really can't make one of those in this system. In a lot of ways, he'd be better off taking 1s in more skills in some of the mental stuff, but it's funnier this way. Part of this exercise is to show how badly someone made to concept can turn out.
As a Tau, he gets +1 to Composure or Intelligence. He'll take Intelligence, being a very smart guy. He also gets +1 to Persuasion and Common Lore, which gives him Persuasion 4 and a Specialty. He takes 'When Talking About The Greater Good'.
He is going to be an Atlantean (Has the soul of an ancient Syrenth/Solar Exalted), because Paragon is more action-heroy and shiny magic soul magic goes well with being a guy who sings folk sometimes. He was originally going to be a Promethean, for Rockbot 5000, but then I noticed they take a huge -2k1 penalty to all Social rolls outside of other Exalts and that would ruin him so completely that I cannot do that to poor Kim. As an Atlantean, he has extra magic (He gets a School of his choice that he can always learn from regardless of class), he can do magic tricks with his magic hands (basic special effects, prestidigitation, etc), he treats every skill in the game as something he can improvise on the fly at Stat-1 (good for Barding), he gets to speak Syrenth, and using his Power Motes, uh, causes Paradox and we'll get to that. But he also gets Motes from his Gnosis 'power stat'. His Motes are based on Charisma+Int+(Gnosisx2), and he starts with Gnosis 1. All that Charisma and Int is paying off for Kim!
He also gets to pick 3 skills; eventually, he can get all of them to 6 dots. He also gets to count them as 1 higher whenever dealing with Syrenth. He'll take Perform, Persuade, and Charm; he knows the ancient Syrneth Empire that he got his magic soul from fell because they didn't Embrace the Greater Good and so he's going to sing at any other Atlanteans he finds until he convinces them all with his folk-rock ballads and prevents the Great Curse or whatever with the power of space communism.
As for his free magic, he's going to take Evocation so he can do cool special effects and also kill people with mind bullets, which is a very important part of rock.
You thought I forgot Erin Tarn, didn't you!? I did not! He takes Mentor (1): Erin Tarn, famed blogger and Rogue Scholar who totally promises she totally knows all about the eagles-and-skulls human Imperium that Kim has found himself in. She will certainly not lead him astray, nor try to persuade him to stop trying to overthrow the insane fascists with a skull fetish because 'oh no what if the
Imperium falls!?'. This gives him a 'Mentor who is just a bit more worldly and wise'. He'll also take Fame (3) so that he's already known as an up-and-coming star on the galactic stage. He'll also take Wealth (3). He is a rock star.
Next, he chooses who to worship. Being a rock-star, you'd expect Slaanesh, but no, he's actually a Sigmarite. It's the God of Community! Sadly, while he respects Vectron, and totally acknowledges that Vectron is a real God who exists, he does not follow him primarily.
For his EXP, he buys up a rank of Diamond Mind Sword School, which he can use to construct special Fencing attacks or use after Feinting. He also buys Weapon Prof (Fencing) for 100 EXP, since Bard gets both of these. He picks Energy Burst for his spell for Evocation (Hey, Evocation runs off Charisma! Everything's coming up Kim) since it'll give him a basic 'blow people up' move. He spends 200 to raise Dex to 3; he knows Dex is important. In everything. He starts looking at Assets and Hindrances, since he can only take those now. He obviously takes Appearance (+2k0 in all social situations where he can be seen to be the handsomest, shiniest Tau). He takes Clueless to get 100 EXP back; this means he's a newcomer to the wider galaxy and sounds more like a fun plot hook than a drawback. He then also takes Big Britches (Overconfident) because c'mon, have you seen rock stars? He'll also take Farsighted as a Tau, which gives him better mental defense (5 more) and more Resolve. Then, because he can, he'll raise Strength to 2 because having a 1 in it felt sad.
He'll pick the Void equipment package because it includes classy clothing and a pair of shades. Everything else about it is meaningless.
And there he goes, Por'Sui'Kim, Water-Caste Rockerboy and master of fencing and the magic of an ancient people. Ready to change the world with his guitar and also maybe mind bullets. And led by an idiot blogger he can't get rid of.
Also, holy shit, all the flipping around through pages to make him took for fucking ever. And I've read this book a couple times! Making a character for this is like pulling teeth.
Next Time: What Any Of This Means
Races of the Great Wheel
Original SA post
Dungeons: The Dragoning: 7.5 Edition
Races of the Great Wheel
I could cover stats, but let's be real: I already covered those back in the section on Character Creation. The only thing the stat chapter adds is a lot of wasted page space on having good old White Wolf 'Here's what a 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 look like' blurbs. Also, you can normally only get stats to 5, but some Exalted or people with legendary traits can get stats to 6. You're also told to pick your dots entirely on 'what you imagine your character is like' because the White Wolf and/or 7th Sea voice is stronger than the other developers in this section. Did you know a PC with 5 strength 'can lift 650 pounds?' I didn't! Or that a 5 Dex means you move primarily via blackflips and are 'awesome'?
Stats matter a lot
. If you're familiar with Roll and Keep, generally kept dice are the single most important part of a check, and outside of weapon skills your kept dice are decided primarily by your stats. This means that having a 5 in a skill and a 1 in a stat means you're going to generally suck next to someone with a 5 in the stat and a 1 in the skill. Stats are (again, outside of weapon skills) so much more important than skills it isn't funny. And given skills cost a full half of what stats do, this is something of an issue for the advancement rules. However, also remember you'll usually be limited in what skills and stats you can raise by your class. Multiclassing is both possible and probably necessary at some point; Kim, for instance, can never raise his Weaponry skill (and remember, attack skills are the ONE TIME skills matter massively more than stats) without multiclassing out into a fighting career (which he can do freely, due to how he assigned his starting dots). Those free dots you get at the start? You should really set yourself up for multiclassing if you ever want to, otherwise you have to spend time in one of the shitty 'enable multiclassing' classes like Ratcatcher.
But that's a tangent for later; there are so many goddamn interlocking subsystems here that it's hard to talk about a single subject without coming up with stuff that it interacts with that I need to mention. For now, let's get on to the actual PC Races of the game. You are, intentionally, meant to pick your Race mostly because you like the bonuses it gives; they all have fluff but you're told that as a Hero, you can be whatever because you're such an exceptional person anyway. Who is going to stop you? If you're a Vampire (half) Demon (half) Chaos Space Marine (Tiefling), anyone who tries to tell you you can't run an orphanage for underprivileged children because you're supposed to be Evil is going to be in for it. By the same token, if you decide your Elf is going to be exactly how Elfs be, no-one is going to complain because they can probably back up their elfing (possibly by being Elfbot 7000 and made of pure mithril, programmed with the desire to be the perfect Elf). I actually like this bit; I'm always fond of RPG adventurers as weirdos and unusual cases who have a lot of room to be whoever they wish.
So, first up on the list is Aasimir. Aasimir are Space Marine Loyalists. That's it, really, I could stop there. But they pick out promising members of other races and shove their divine blessing into them to turn them into Aasimir, who are all big, usually have glowing hair, and usually have glowing eyes, too. Aasimir are heavily indoctrinated (unless you broke free) to be the champions of the Blessed Pantheon. They can be men, women, and they might've come from any species, and whether or not you turned into one as an honored hero or you were indoctrinated by fascists is up to you. They get +1 to Command and Ballistics, +1 to Wisdom or Con, and start the game with Jaded and Fearless because AND THEY SHALL KNOW NO FEAR. Also Size 5. They're big boys and big girls.
Dark Eladrin are just Dark Eldar from 40k, just replace 'trying to buy off Slaanesh eating us' with 'sworn to Lloth the Spider Goddess'. Which is weird, because Slaanesh is in this game as a God you can pick and Lloth isn't. They take slaves, they constantly seek greater emotional highs, they're your bog standard evil torture space elf. +1 Cha or Dex, Size 3, +1 Deceive and Forbidden Lore and can make little bubbles of darkness sometimes. Darkness from their SOUL. They really get into what's the problem with this race section; nobody's got a twist on what they are, at all. They're all just 'That Guy, From That Other Thing'.
Dragonborn are the Imperium of Lizard, shattered in the Tiamet Heresy. They're big lizard guys who used to have a big Imperium under Bahamut, until that caught fire and exploded due to Tiamet (they should have called upon Marduk, patron God of Babylon. He could have sorted that shit way easier). They wander around and get into fights while reminding everyone they used to be something. They get +1 to Str or Cha, +1 to Command and Intimidate, they're Size 5, and they can use their face as a Flamer occasionally.
Eladrin are 40k Eldar but also Mass Effect Quarians. They fly around in vagabond world-ships. They are psychic space elves whose shipborne life makes them fragile and who don't believe in the afterlife, though the bit about Slaanesh eating all of them is dropped because Slaanesh (and all the Chaos guys) are meant to be more ambiguous and less overtly villainous here. Daemons and warp creatures (because of course this setting has 40k daemons) like eating them. They are +1 to Wis or Int, +1 to Academic Lore and Arcana, Size 3, and can teleport once per scene (2 times at 3rd level, 3 at 5) as a half action.
Elfs are Elfs with souls weighed down by gravity according to the Eladrin (Oh, Zeon, you whacky space fascists). These are Elfs who live the traditional, non-space-based elf life style of being condescending dicks and lecturing others about things. There's really nothing to say about Ground Elfs. They're just there because you need at least three (3) types of Elf as mandated by regulation. Size 3, +1 to Wis or Dex, +1 Perception and Charm, and can occasionally reroll missed Weaponry or Ballistics tests.
Gnomes are, as per usual, tiny people who struggle to differentiate themselves from dwarfs or hobbits. Gnomes here were a servant race of the Syrenth, designed to fix their shit and be janitors. They love to innovate, but they were designed only to fix things, not build things, so their innovations are generally useless crackpot shit that explodes. If you're a PC Gnome, maybe the shit you build doesn't explode. They get +1 to Fel or Int, +1 to Craft and Academics, Size 3, and a free Weapon and Armor prof of their choice.
Halflings are considered an infestation of shifty little criminals, having none of the original Tolkienesque traits in this grimdark space future. They steal, they knife, they scamper. If they get money, they blow it on not working as much as possible. They hate honesty or labor. They get +1 to Int or Fel, +1 to Larceny and Deceive, Size 2 (If you get hit, you're fucking dead), and get to calculate their Static Defense entirely on 6xDex+10 instead of involving Wisdom, giving them Wisdom as a dump stat.
Humans are the Mass Effect Alliance (Renegade Version) but also the Imperium of Man, defined by their love of eagles and skulls and their HUMANITY FIRST attitude. Humans are dynamic and spreading faster than all the other hidebound races and they're a big up and coming galactic power and if you can think of a cliched HUMANITY FUCK YEAAARRRR line it's in their description somewhere. They get +1 to any stat of their choice, +1 to any two skills of their choice, they get an extra Hero Point, and they're Size 4.
Orks iz made fer fightin' n' winnin', same as always. Much like the 40k Orks are just the Fantasy Orcs given big guns to play with, the DtD Orks are the same as the other two. They haven't been changed or adapted at all because they sort of don't need to be, they fit in fine wherever. Interests include Krumpin', Fightin', and Lootin'. They get +1 to Strength or Willpower, +1 to Intimidation and Scrutiny (what?), Size 5, and they heal Level HP at the start of every fight by yelling WAAAAAAAGH. That's their thing. Don't take it from them.
Squats are space dwarfs, and definitely were not killed off by GW, no sir. They are innovators and builders, driven by their love of making shit to make cooler shit. While gruff and drunk, they are not hidebound like normal dwarfs. A short, bearded people, fond of drink and industry. They get +1 to Con or WP, +1 to Crafts and Common Lore, Size 3, and the awesome ability to count their Size 2 points higher for purposes of damage reduction. This means they get the benefits of small size while taking a hit like an Ork or Aasimir. Shine on, you beardy little diamonds.
Tau are Tau from 40k, obviously. Cut off from most of the Great Wheel, small and isolated Empire. They're also Cathay from 7th Sea 1e, even having the wall of fire and the orientalism. They are still heavily communal and believe in their Greater Good. Their technology is 'clean, but actually terrible and inefficient, focused on looks' because you're not allowed to be better than the Catholic Space Nazis at anything in base 40k and that must change here. They get +1 to Int or Composure, +1 to Common Lore and Persuade, Size 4, and whenever they Dodge a melee attack they can immediately move half their Withdraw and get out of melee.
Tieflings are Chaos Space Marines. The Ruinous Powers grab people and turn them into huge demon people at random, for fun. That makes a Tiefling. They're usually murderous dicks and enjoy living based on their whims and hugeness. There's not much more to them, much like there's not much to CSMs. They get +1 to Dex or Con, +1 to Intimidate and Weaponry, Size 5, and reroll any damage dice that roll a 1. There's no specification that you only reroll the die once, either; RAW you could interpret this to 'reroll all 1s on damage, all the time'. Also, Weaponry is a much better skill to be good at than Ballistics because guns generally kind of suck due to a lack of Swordsman Schools, while melee rocks.
And that's all our species for Fanfic: The Game. A few try to do some kind of twist on their concept, but it's half-hearted. They're really just pretty dull, a collection of references and nothing else. They're not even funny, which is unfortunately common in this, a comedy game.
Next Time: More Collections of References
Original SA post
Dungeons: The Dragoning
So, being a Tiefling Bard or an Elf Wizard is boring, that's just normal D&D shit but in space and with eagles and skulls. It also doesn't have nearly enough subsystems for the subsystem God, so instead we're going to shove a third power source into your PC. It also doesn't reference enough other RPGs and fiction yet, so instead you're going to be Exalted. But not regular, boring Solar Exalted/Lunar Exalted/Alchemical Exalted/Abyssal Exalted/Dragon Blooded/Infernal Exalted (Unless you're an Atlantean or Werewolf or Promethean or Vampire or Paragon or Demonhost and wait shit). No, you're an Exalted from another property.
Exalts of any kind are immune to most disease and poison, don't age, etc. The standard 'post-human' package. You're better than everyone else, and you can spend your Resource Stat on generic bonuses no matter what kind of Exalt you are. You can spend up to 1 Resource per round per Level of your character (So Kim can currently only spend 1 per turn), recovering from Stun, recovering from Daze, healing 1 HP, getting +1k0 to a test, or getting an extra Dodge or Parry (or other Reaction). The more you spend in a scene, the more obviously you're an Exalt.
Our first Exalt is the Atlantean, who you'll recognize from Kim. Atlanteans are Mage and Solar Exalted at the same time, and such are probably the most arrogant people you could ever imagine. I suppose you could make them an Aasimir or Elf for some extra smug on top. They have the memories and soul of an ancient Syrne, reincarnated into a mortal form. They're generically good at stuff, remember a bunch of random shit about the ancient Syrneth (who will be serving as our generic sci-fi precursors), and are really good at magic. However, any spending of their resource stat causes them Paradox, which suddenly makes their magic have a bigger chance of miscasting. In their favor, they get a huge pool of Power Stat (Sorry, Gnosis).
They get higher max skills in 3 skills of their choice, count those skills as 1 higher whenever dealing with Syrenth stuff, and then they get a shitload of D&D Metamagic. If you aren't going to use magic, being an Atlantean is useless to you. They can absolutely fuck you up with their crazy wizbiz; their capstone is 'spend 1 Mote to cast a spell as a free action'. They can act like they're much higher level than they are when casting spells, and there's no cap on that that I can see; they can pretend they were Level 8 at max even though 5 is the normal maximum. When we get to the dice mechanics, this will be a much bigger deal. Even if for some reason you didn't take a magic using class for your Atlantean, you get a free Magic School that always counts as being 'in class' for you for being one. They are all about the wizbiz and Kim is going to be a master of the subtle and ancient Syrenth art of blowing shit up. Good thing for him both his Enchantment and Evocation magic (he'd get Enchantment eventually, he's a Bard) run off Bard Charisma!
Other than that they're kind of boring, in that Solar Exalted way. You're just a generically excellent person with weird past memories who glows gold sometimes.
The Chosen are the, uh, chosen of their God. So you'd better have picked a God you can tolerate. Chosen are all about their God. I am not entirely clear on if the 'Your power stat is capped to 1/2 your Devotion stat' thing for them replaces the 'your power stat is capped at your level' or if they can power-slam their Power Stat like mad. I'd guess it's probably an extra weakness instead. Like it or not, if you're a Chosen you're going to be dealing with the Alignment system. You can spend 1 Resource (these all have names, but fuck that, they're all Power Stat/Resource Stat and I'm not giving them the dignity. I got proper nouns coming out of my ears already in here) to replace a die in your current check with your Devotion score (10s will not explode). You get bonuses on Alignment checks because your God gives you some slack.
For their actual powers, you get Aura, which the game has not explained at all, equal to double your Faith. Aura is Magic DR, protecting against wizards and their ilk. They're defended from crits by their Devotion stat. They can hand out divine favor to others. They get Resource back for fucking up and keeping bad rolls. Finally, they get to just flat out spend Resource for +10 to check results at capstone. They also get a shitload of Resource, having Power Stat+Devotion and restoring it all every day. They restore at the time of their choice, too, so you could come into a day full of God Juice and then spend it all on fight 1, pray up your mojo again, and then go into fight 2. Their powers are dull, but reasonably effective.
A Demonhost (I know there's an extra A. I don't care) got eated by a demon, but didn't get eated all the way, and now they're both stuck in this body together and becoming increasingly demony. You and the Demon are now one superbeing, the demon riding you around to keep existing in the physical world, and you using the demon to keep yourself from dying. Just like an Atlantean, they get one Magic School of their choice free and added to their class whenever and wherever they go. If they spend Resource, they get +Power Stat to one of their magic school ratings for their next spell. They gain Resonance like the Atlantean gets Paradox, but eliminating it is way more likely to hurt them directly at a cost of 1 HP per miscast die. This can kill you. They also get natural weapons they can use to eat peoples' flesh and blood to regain Resource and get rid of Resonance.
Instead of a bunch more metamagic, Demonhosts get a bunch of toughness abilities and the potential to take all stats to 6. They can fly around, they take Con+Power Stat less damage from everything that isn't magic or silver, they eventually take no Crit Effects besides Dead, and at capstone killing one just lets them reform a couple weeks later unless you have a rite to stick them in the Warp for good (and even then they can Burn a Hero Point to survive that the same way a normal character does being shot in the head). They work better for a war-wizard than a pure caster like the Atlantean; you can easily make a Demonhost who is mostly using their hyper-toughness to be a badass warrior but who still has their magic in their back pocket without it being nearly as much of a waste of potential as it is with the Atlantean.
Next Time: All The Rest
Original SA post
Dungeons: The Dragoning: 7.5 Edition
the general Action Hero/Bioware Protagonist type. I say the latter considering all the Mass Effect in this book, and the fact that this book came out before ME3 decided it was going to blow up the setting and people thought ME was going to be a big thing for years to come. This is the class of Exaltation for being Kenshiro, Guts, Commander Shepard, Big Boss, etc, as backed up by the art they used for it. These people aren't 'supernatural', but they're incredibly lucky and superior to all normal people. To start with, they are never, ever Surprised, they get +2 Hero Points, they get both their race's stat bonuses instead of picking one, and they get a free racial Feat. Considering Feats are only 100 EXP that's not a huge boost, but hey. They're 'normal' but intense people and everyone likes them or wants to be like them all the time, hence why I compare them to Bioware PCs with their gaggles of fawning NPCs.
They also get an ability called Pressure, where they can have up to 3xPower Stat 'Pressure Points' in reserve to add directly to the outcome of rolls. They recover Pressure when they take damage or whenever an opponent uses superhuman abilities related to enemy Exaltations. They also have the least Resource Stat points of anyone else, getting Power Stat+Character Level. They also only recover them at the beginning of each session. Their salvation for their Resource Points comes in their level 2 ability: They get 1 back every time they manage a 2 dice Stunt. Oh yeah, this game has the exact Exalted 2e Stunting Rules and this class relies on them
. The book advises making plenty of time for the Paragon to 'be awesome' since they need it for their abilities. Also, all their class abilities are named after the lyrics from Be a Man from Mulan. At level 3, they get Pressure equal to their Power Stat at the start of every turn, in addition to the other times they gain it. At level 4, whenever they're Stunting, their dice explode on 9+ instead of 10. Finally, a 5, whenever they succeed a Stunt, allies trying to do the same thing get a bonus equal to how much Pressure they spent to succeed.
So get ready for a shitload of purple prose and gratuitous backflips, the class that needs the shitty Stunting Rules has arrived!
Prometheans are robot people, built of mystical metal and supertech. There's really not much else to them. Their whole thing is that they're hard to kill, heavily armored, and can eventually turn themselves into a super robot. Yes, you heard me: They can become fucking gundams. They naturally have nothing to do with the deep journey to become human that is the actual game Promethean: They're all about playing Major Kusanagi if she could turn into a gundam (she's their character art). They're immune to all biological status effects, they have to repair themselves with Craft, they get a massive -2k1 social penalty with non-Exalts, and they take no Critical effects until they die. Even then, they only actually die if their 'Gizzards' take the crit that kills them, as limbs just get blown off and head/body just shut them down until repaired. They just get 3xPower Stat Resource Stat.
At level 1, they always have armor equal to 3+Power Stat that won't stack with worn armor but has no drawbacks. At level 2, they can start shoving weapons into their casing that they can ready instantly and always hide. At level 3, they get the ability to spend Resource on raising stats by 1 for one round or one check, whichever is longer, with no caps. At level 4, they regain Resource when they take hits from energy weapons. And at max, they can add +3 to all physical stats, double their Size, and add +1k1 to the damage of all Integrated Weaponry as they turn into a giant Warstrider robot. They only do this one scene a day, but you can stack that shit with their level 3, too. You want to punch a man through the moon as a giant robot, go ahead.
Prometheans are a little dull, but very effective.
Vampires are just, uh, White Wolf Vampires. They're also tremendously powerful, but have the most annoying Resource to deal with in the game (as you'd expect). They get 4 extra Background dots at the start because they're old and rich. They only die to E, X, Silver, or Magic weapons. They take 1 wound a turn left in sunlight, but 'a big hat' will protect them fully. The true annoying part of vampires is they have to spend 1 Resource a day to stay conscious and active or they go into torpor. They get Resource exclusively by biting someone (1k1 natural weapon) and inflicting at least 1 point of damage and 1 point of Fatigue. If feeding on a willing target, they don't do the damage but get 1 Resource per Fatigue they inflict. If they inflict Fatigue on an unconscious target more than once, the target dies. So they need blood bags. They can fit up to 5xPower Stat worth of blood inside themselves.
At level 1, they can see in the dark and get +1k0 to perception. Meh. At level 2, they can spend 1 Resource to gain Fear 1 for a scene. Good against lesser foes. At level 3 they
break the entire action economy
gain the ability to spend Resource for extra half actions on any individual turn. At level 4, they get +3 Str if they spend 1 Resource for a scene. At level 5, they can use Dominate, as per the high level spell, which is kind of a meh capstone but look at that level 3 and 4.
They can also spend a permanent point of their Power Stat to make a new Vampire who is a full Exalt and probably bound to them.
Werewolves...poor, sad werewolves. They, too, are just Werewolf: The Apocalypse wolfies, but deeply confused about what their power set actually does. You see, out the gate they start strong: You can turn into a shitty wolf form that boosts your Dex and penalizes size for free, and you can also turn into a giant angry wolf-person for +2 Con, +2 Str, +2 Size and Crit immunity (unless it will drop you) that can still use guns and big swords which is good because their natural weapons are shit (2k1) for a point of Resource for Power Stat+Con rounds. That's a good trick. They're also immune to death from anything but Energy, Explosive, Silver, or Magic damage, but halve their Size DR against Silver. They also don't need to use the 'healing surge' action to spend Resource to heal themselves, and they get a 1 HP a round regen at level 1 from their alt forms. Still, that's a strong trick out the gate; clearly they're meant to focus on physical power and shapeshifting, right?
They also get Level+Willpower+Composure Willpower. It's unlinked to Power Stat.
Their next powers all have nothing to do with their wolf forms, besides the level 3. At level 2, you can see spirits and shit. At level 3, changing shape is faster (Half Action, not Full Action). At level 4, you can spend 6 hours doing a ritual then hunt an animal down and eat its heart, at which point you can always spend 2 Resource to turn into that animal in the future. Depending on how you interpret 'animal' that's either extremely powerful (I ATE A DRAGON HEART) or extremely lame. At level 5, you can 'walk into the Umbra' which is 'a dark reflection of this world but full of demons'. There is no mechanic for why you want to do this, or what you get out of doing this. This is their capstone. Compare it to the Promethean turning into a fucking Mecha.
Wolfies, you started strong, but just couldn't seal the deal.
As you might have noticed, the Exaltations are actually all kind of dull. They don't have much real flavor to them besides just being random power sets and references, like everything else in this game. I mean, yes, there's more fluff attached I could be writing up for you, but if you've read any of the source material for any of these, you already know their fluff
because they aren't meaningfully altered.
Next Time: THIS IS NOT MY HAPPY CAREER SYSTEM.
Original SA post
Dungeons: The Dragoning: 7.5 Edition
Alright, this one can be quick, because there are tons of classes but there are really only 9 classes. That statement is going to make sense in a minute. Your class in DtD determines what you're currently permitted to buy with EXP. Normally, this will be 3 stats, and then a variable number of skills, and then a list of Feats, Swordsman Schools, and Magic Styles. You finish your current class by buying every Feat the class requires (remember, a Feat is actually only 100 EXP; they're dirt cheap) which means every Feat not marked with an *. At an average of 500 EXP a session, this means you'll blow through the 'required' advances for your class like tissue paper.
The issue is that your next Class Level for your Class Track is going to require you to meet some pre-reqs. You can only enter a Class if you have those. So for instance, while Kim could basically finish Minstrel after a single session's EXP, he needs Illusion or Enchantment 1, Charisma 3, Common Lore 4, and Performer 2 to enter Bard, the Level 2 class. You can also jump into other Class Tracks if you meet the pre-reqs. Take our buddy Kim: He has Weaponry 3 and Athletics 1, so he actually meets the requirements to jump the rails and go into the first level of the Barbarian or Swordsman Class Tracks at any time. Also note that while your Magic Styles, Swordsman Schools, and Power Stat are all capped to your highest level Class, nothing else is; a level 1 Swordsman can buy Weaponry all the way to 5 with EXP if they want, and has no cap on their stats, they're just only allowed to advance Skills and Stats included in their Class.
Why do I say there's only 9 classes despite there being 50? Because aside from Peasant, Ratcatcher, Scholar, Initiate, and Mercenary (which exist to be 0 pre-req classes you can enter at any time to get the requirements for new Class Tracks) the other 45 classes are just 5 tiers of 9 Tracks. The Bard, the Barbarian, the Mage, the Thief, the Paladin, the Cleric, the Guardsman, the Assassin, and the Fighter. If you are playing this game seriously for some reason, you're fairly likely to jump around between Class Tracks a little. However, the only actual difference between tiers within a Track are what Feats you get; you're given the same skill/stat/swordsman/magic access through an entire Class Track and only get access to new ones if you jump to a new track. So, say Kim wants to boost his Str. He'll need to jump to Barbarian or Fighter (or enter Mercenary) and get access to advancing Str from there, because a Bard only gets Cha, Fel, and Dex. Similar if he ever wants to improve at Weaponry. However, as a Bard, he can easily get Arcana and Academic Lore, which could let him jump into Mage and improve his wizbiz beyond his wildest dreams.
The ease of completing classes means the Class System is actually much less restrictive than it looks at first. Also, completing a Class gets you a small, permanent bonus: For instance, every tier of Paladin you've done gets you +1 AP whenever wearing armor, or every rank of Bard you complete gets you a free dot in a skill lower than your Level. You will want to balance running around the Classes with climbing up a main Class because you want to gain Levels. This is the only way to gain overall Character Level; your Character Level is the same as the highest rank of Class you've been in. So say Kim is a level 4 Bard some day and only then decides to hop into Level 1 Barbarian; he'd still be Level 4, just he'd have access to the Feats and Schools and Stats and stuff from Barbarian 1 instead. Also, between Classes and before you enter another, you may spend EXP on any of the Skills, Stats, or Optional Feats from classes you've already been. During this 'free study' you can even buy things outside your Classes, but you pay double EXP, so don't do that.
Now, I could go into detail on all the actual classes, but I don't care enough. They're Melee Guy, Melee Guy with Light Armor And Frenzy, Gun Guy, Fight Guy With Stealth, Steal Guy, Magic Guy, Healbot, Socialbot and Tank. That's it. Yeah, this one's short, but it doesn't need to be any longer. The class system mostly gets the job done.
Feats! Not Talents! Feats!
Original SA post
Dungeons: The Dragoning: 7.5 Edition
Feats! Not Talents! Feats!
The funny thing is, Feats are significantly better here than they are in 3.X. This is because they work exactly like WHFRP Talents. Each one is 100 EXP, so you can easily buy like 5 of them per session if you don't spend on anything else. You're much more limited in what Feats you get by what your Class allows than by EXP costs. Feats do a lot. Also remember the average class has like 5-8 Feats if you include their Optional ones, and that you technically only need to buy all its Feats to finish a Class. Thus, if you're not happy with your Feat access in your current class and want to jump to a new one, it's usually only a session's EXP away, and you still get all the stuff you purchased to get out of your current one. Honestly, the basic backing of the Feat system is fine.
The problem lies more in the Feats themselves. I was going to save this for later, but I can't explain the issues with Feats without explaining it now: You never roll more than 10 dice in one check in DtD. This means if you're rolling over 10 Unkept dice, all those over 10 get converted to Kept dice. So take Kim, since he's our constant example. Say he's using something where he gets +2k0 for his Appearnce, and he had 4 skill and a Specialty (For +1k0) plus 4 stat in that action (like performing on stage). Instead of 11k4, he'd turn into 10k5. Now, an awful lot of Feats add +2k0 where a D&D Feat or 40k Talent would add +2 or +10. Remember, your starting attributes will often include one or two 4s. Some of your starting skills will be at 4. And that's just a starting character. Remember how Kim can eventually get 3 of his skills to 6 due to being an Atlantean? Or how some circumstances can get your stats to 6, too? It's entirely possible to be in a situation where you're rolling 12k6 (convert to 10k8) before Feats even apply. And if you go over 10k10, every additional die (kept or not) becomes a base +5 to your eventual check score. And this is before even thinking about situations like werewolves, buffing magic, or Prometheans turning into mecha.
Basically, the 'no more than 10 dice' rule from 7th Sea (it is taken directly from there) wasn't that much of a problem in 7th Sea, because 7th Sea's advancement was completely glacial and knacks and such tended to be more limited, with fewer ways to get tons of bonus dice. This is not to say 7th Sea 1e was any kind of good mechanical system, but it wasn't going to run into the dice problem nearly as consistently as this game. The same applies to damage rolls, to the point where a genuine melee specialist is never going to bother with the expensive '+0k1' special attacks because effectively '+1k0' cheap ones will be doing the same thing. Also remember a melee character adds their Str to unkept dice when doing melee damage. And again, wolfies exist, as do stat boosting spells. Some of the best melee weapons do 6k2, etc. Add a strong PC to that and some damage boosting Feats and watch that damage soar.
In essence, what were nickel and dime bonuses in D&D end up being system breaking because they've been put into a system that has a capstone on dice that suddenly makes them hyper effective once you reach a certain point of competence. And it's possible to start the game at that point, and with the much faster advancement in this game, it's not exactly hard to get to or exceed it. This is also one of the main reasons skills aren't entirely a waste of time next to raising stats more; one point in a skill is useful, 2 is kind of eh, but once you're up to 4-5 you're probably going to crazy town if your stat doesn't suck. So when Weapon Focus gives you +2k0 with your ancestral Daiklave and you're a melee specialist, there's a good chance that's not the minor unkept dice bonus the system intends depending on how many other bonuses you have and what level you are.
I suppose it's hardly out of character for trying to ape either Exalted 2e or 40kRP for the game's base system to be shoddy, full of bonuses that then break all scaling, and for everything to break down remarkably quickly into a morass of high numbers and pointless rolling.
The Feats themselves are almost all direct conversions of 40kRP Talents and D&D Feats. They're where you get more spells, become proficient with weapons, get more proficient with weapons, move faster, pay feat taxes, etc etc. They would honestly do the job fine if the game wasn't using 7th Sea Roll and Keep. 7th Sea Roll and Keep was really, really
not designed to handle this many sources of bonuses, this many ways to break the '5-5' cap on stats and skills, or a fast advancement scheme. It wasn't a good system in the first place, but it was never meant for this. The annoying part is the base way the Feat system works for gaining new powers is just fine. The Class system is even kind of good? As a basic advancement scheme? But when you combine the actual resolution mechanic with the Feats, because of the decision to use Roll and Keep 'as a joke' and to include the mechanical footprint of John Wick's work, everything breaks down.
Which is probably the saddest thing about DtD. Some of the elements of this game really do show attempts to make a playable, real RPG, 'joke' or not. Then they're undermined by the dumb shit that got thrown in as a reference or to say 'look we also have mechanics from X other game!'. There was real effort put into this game, but it undermines itself at every turn because of the 'just a joke' attitude. The concept of DtD honestly has promise; if the rules were tightened up and made less of a joke in and of themselves, it could be a fun mechanical parody. The author is not an entirely terrible designer, they just can't resist throwing everything in. And worse, the decision to use Roll and Keep (and to use it exactly like in L5R/7th Sea without modification) just kneecaps the entire system.
Hell, you can say the same thing about the fluff. If the fluff of this game had a good sense of the actual authorial voices of the gaming companies it's parodying, rather than just being endless references? You could do a pretty funny mashup setting where it's clear the various companies are at goddamn war with one another in the fluff, fighting over the typewriter in the background so to speak. One section having the Noble Fascist Imperium and the Glorious
Aasimir purging and cleansing all over the place, then another section going into the 80 different polearms used by the Elves of Evernight to defeat them using poorly researched medieval tactics and purple prose, then another brooding section about how everything is shit and the Imperium is full of sheeple before the Planescape author brains White Wolf and writes about philosophical knife fights for a bit, before White Wolf teams up with John Wick off the cynicism top ropes to make a comeback. And by God, is that the Ratcatcher's music!? It could be done! It is not done.
It just bugs me that this project had so much effort put into it, but still ends up 'just a joke'. It could have at least been a funny one.
Next Time: Assets
A Real Asset
Original SA post
Dungeons: The Dragoning: 7.5 Edition
A Real Asset
Assets take up a ton of page space for something you can only pick up at character creation. You probably want to spend a lot of your starting 600 on these, to be honest; if I'd been smarter with Kim he'd have spent 200 on these instead of on a Sword School because he can't even use his Sword School until he buys some actual combos with it (it only permits him to do so). The most important things you can do (and Kim did not do this, because I messed up) is to look at your list of Exaltation Assets and pick one. If you're not a Paragon, you can only take one, and these are all really good. For instance, Kim is trying to be a bit of a gish with his flashing rapier and exploding magic. He should really
have taken Dawn Caste Atlantean for +2k0 to all Weaponry checks in any scene where he's spent a single Resource point. That's the kind of stuff that lives there, and he can never actually take that in gameplay; a smart Kim would have dropped his Tau Farsighted and bought Dawn Caste.
Similar, you can take things like Academy (+2 Weapon Profs of any sort) if you were planning to spend EXP on something like an Artifact Weapon from a rare category. Lots of the Assets are very useful, and very worth spending your starting EXP on them while you can. Many are also nebulous as hell, or not especially useful, but you can pick out the useful ones pretty easily. You can be Large for higher Size. You can only ever get the full suite of 2 weapon fighting stuff by taking Ambidextrous NOW. Veteran o' the Wheel is extremely powerful and has only a pretty nebulous drawback: You get +1 dot to one skill and one stat, with no mention of them being capped; you could start with 5s this way if they were racial skills and stats. In return you have, like, an enemy or something. I dunno, up to your GM. I can live with 'nebulous drawback' for 'got 1250 EXP worth of shit for 100'. Starting out with 5 Con and 5 Weaponry as a Tiefling would not be a bad move. Or 5 of whatever the hell you want as a Human.
Hindrances are mostly just that. A few have actual attached mechanics and you'll want to avoid those. For instance, Ailing makes you make a TN 15 Con check every session or suffer -2k0 to every action that session. That's not a good trade for 100 EXP. Big Britches, by contrast, makes you supremely confident. In a game about high-powered Exalted superheroes. That's not really an issue! As per every Merits and Flaws system ever conceived, the winners are the flaws that you were going to play anyway. One weird one is 'Young'. Your PC is a kid, and magically won't age until you spend 200 EXP on it; you'll be forever a teenager of your species. There are no actual mechanical drawbacks attached to this. This is reaaaalll weird, DtD, and given your origins with the AdEva community I got an alarm going off in my head right now. DtD is generally free of the creepiness of AdEva. Honestly, most of its GMing advice is normal, and fine. But there are definitely a few moments. Not to mention the usual dumb anime jokes in some of the chapter fiction (all of which is just direct scenes from other shows/series with the DtD characters tossed in, like Abbadon the Despoiler filling in for Azrael in Dogma or the Standard PC Party having the Star Wars Cantina scene) about big breasts being mind control and flat chested girls being jealous and blah blah.
There was probably no avoiding dumb anime jokes in this game.
Anyway, back to the actual mechanics, you REALLY want to take one of your Exaltation Assets. Here's some examples of what they can do for you:
Almost all the Atlantean ones are good, but Dawn Caste and Twilight Caste stand out. Dawn is +2k0 on Weaponry and Intimidate after using Resource for any reason in a scene. Twilight lets you spend Resource to add your Power Stat in kept dice to an active defense. Both are winners.
Silent Strider gives a wuffy +1k1 with Transmutation magic, permanently, plus always give them access to it and give them the first level for free. Transmutation has a ton of stuff that is generally useful, then even more stuff that's specifically useful for werewolves like being able to shed your clothes in an instant and transform as a free action. That's right, a 1st level spell absolutely obsoletes the Werewolf's 3rd level Exalted ability. Not only that, the physical buff spells are great and you can use them on allies, too. Get of Fenris gives you the power of
being a wolf nazi
being buff and good at sport, letting you spend 1 Resource to get +1 to Str, Acrobatics, and Athletics for a scene. If you really don't feel like investing in Transmutation on the side, this is your best option as a wolf. Black Spiral Dancer gives +1k1 with your shitty natural weapons (Why, that makes your natural weapons as good as a basic hand weapon!
) at cost of needing to make a TN 20 WP roll or go after friends as well as foes. Avoid.
Basically all the materials the Promethean can be made of are good, except maybe Darksteel; doubling your innate armor sounds useful (and honestly, will actually get your armor to usable levels eventually) but it limits you to Max Dex 3 which might bite you in the butt. Mithril lets you take a Full Action as a Half Action by spending Resource, and anything that breaks action economy is super powerful. Necrodermis lets you gain Fear by spending. Wraithbone lets you heal 1 HP per round for 1 Resource and is eh. Orichalcum just makes your great Transhuman Potential (the spend 1 Resource for +1 to a stat for the round) power give each stat you spend on an extra point. Mithril's probably the clear winner.
Mark of Vectron: You want Vectron as a Chosen anyway, because He has the most golden of wings, but also the easiest to fulfill alignment requirements (Praise Vectron! Often!). Since Chosen rely on Resource, getting 1 extra one back per scene that they find time to declare BY VECTRON'S KINDLY CLAW! is a good deal and He's the easiest God to keep happy anyway.
The Daemonhost ones are pretty meh and situational; they're mostly easier ways to get Essence back and some minor free raises related to some sin or another.
Paragons can, notably, buy Legendary Trait from 7th Sea and can do it after character creation. No need to invest in it until you're near where you could be getting a stat to 6, then. It lets you bring stats to 6. Any stats. You have to pay 100 EXP per stat to unlock the potential. Otherwise, their Assets all revolve around dealing with their relatively poor pool of Resource or giving them more of that special Pressure move.
Vampire Clans are mostly good, but Ventrue and Tremere stand out. Tremere does for Necromancy what Silent Strider did for Transmutation. Ventrue is a permanent +10 to Wealth tests (We'll get into those, but that's a pretty significant amount) and you'll always have friends in high places. It pays to be Nigel Trustfundsman, Undead Lord of the Board Room.
So, as you can see: The biggest single build mistake with Kim was not taking Dawn Caste or Twilight Caste while he could. Kim has made Errors.
Next Time: Oh god, Magic is going to take forever.
In which Night cheats
Original SA post
Dungeons: The Dragoning: 7.5 Edition
In which Night cheats
So, yeah. I could continue DtD for several weeks, carefully going through everything in the book to talk about why most of it is non-functional at an actual gaming table. I could talk about how putting the 40k miscast tables (especially without the later safety-rail mechanics) into the magical system sucked. I could tell you all about how the Sword Schools (and Gunkatas) are all about building one really good move you'll do constantly because each move costs EXP and so you want to build as few as possible. I could talk about how armor is useless just like in 40kRP for the most part, or about how guns sucked compared to melee weapons before the Gunkatas were put in and even kind of sucked after. I could tell you about how Sword Schools are the most powerful overall character option. We could be talking about no shit Social Combat rules. I could go into the embarrassing 20 page Example of Play that is just a verbatim log of an AdEva session where the group plays DtD with Rei.
But there's no actual mechanical or narrative meat to talk about. There's no reason these mechanics are put together how they are; they're there to be silly references and nothing more. There's no real thought put to a coherent design philosophy, not even in keeping with the game's original premise of a shitload of companies being forced to make one hyper-40k abomination game. There's simply nothing to DtD beyond the original eye-grabbing premise. The premise is worth a little bit of a chuckle, and would genuinely work for the original concept for the game. If I was going to have my PCs doing Pyramus and Thisbe style 'this is a fucking mess' stuff for their Game Within A Game, playing Mornington Crescent/Calvinball and making up shit as we went along for a session to make fun of RPG design, DtD's premise would be fine. It's when it gets written for 400 pages that it just doesn't fucking work. Not just 400 pages, but expansion books.
It was the alignment rules in the expansion book that broke it for me. See, I went into the expansion curious, because I was thinking 'Hey, there are some hints of okay ideas in some of the aspects of the rules in book 1. Maybe the author will tighten things up a bit now that this is no longer just a joke project they spent too much time on' and I got a face-full of White Wolf Morality Systems. So no, there is no more thought put into the expansion book. It's literally just the shitty morality/humanity sins rules from WW's stuff, but applied to make the game's alignment system more annoying. Combined with Gunkatas, which are just a mechanical copy of Swordsman Schools but for guns, new spells, a few new races, and two more eh Exaltations. Yes, there's a little chuckle in the Dragonblooded Exalted actually being Dragon People. But not enough to be worth writing up a bunch of boring mechanics in detail when there's nothing to analyze.
Part of what brings DtD down, aside from Roll and Keep, is that there's no writing goal beyond
making references. There's no connective tissue. There's no story. There's no commentary on RPG design or writing, there isn't even a desire to make a fun gonzo setting. It's just 'I gotta get Mass Effect in there to go with 40k and Exalted and WoD and D&D and some Planescape because that's cool I guess and also the humans come from Theah and and-' with no other objective. The same is done with the mechanics; they exist to let you make a Pirate Robot Monkey Ninja who is just so zany
without actually asking if any of them are any fun to interact with.
There are so many ways this game could have been done better, narratively or mechanically. But almost all of them would've required tightening it up and focusing a little. When you throw every single thing you can think of into the game, you don't even end up with something mechanically gonzo; you just end up with a bland mess. There's no actual flavor to the game's mechanics, and almost everything comes down to stupid dice tricks for a dice system that doesn't work. Narratively, it's just 'Oh that's that but it's also that.' Like the Modrons. They're the Planescape Modrons, the silly funny little box robots from the Plane of Law, except they've been made into killer grimdark Necron robots from 40k. Isn't that funny? Because they're usually cute and silly, but now they're still cute and silly looking but they're murderous killers! I get those references!
You could, from a writing standpoint, make some real hay out of paralleling John Wick's older 7th Sea 1e Villanova/L5R Scorpion/Play Dirty style 'WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD, MAAAAAAN!' stuff with 40k's losing the satire and White Wolf's standard issue edgelording. There's actual resonance there, and a lot of it comes from similar periods in RPG/gaming writing. But that wouldn't leave as much time for completely rehashing scenes from a bunch of movies and anime but look it's so funny because Abbadon the Despoiler is filling in for Azrael in Dogma or 'look we put a scantily clad werewolf-demon woman Space Marine in the Star Wars Cantina'. Alternately, you know, fuck it, writing a version of 40k that has some of the spirit of lighter hearted settings to take the edge off its Catholic Space Nazi bullshit and remind it to have fun could be perfectly fun without needing to do any meta-text stuff. But instead it's just a dull list of references, like a story written to excite TVTropes because there are just so many things to list
and they're so wacky. I've talked a lot about how this game isn't actually funny, despite being a comedy game. The reason should be pretty fucking clear: It's got one joke. The joke is 'I get that reference'.
Also, well, the game's free and easily available on line. If this was an obscure game that came out in the early 00s or 90s, I'd write it all up just to show it off. But with nothing to actually analyze, and with it readily available for you to read yourself, there's really no cause for me to go deep into the mechanics like I normally would. Page after page of 'This exists solely because it's in This Game and works like it did in That Game, but worse and using Roll and Keep' doesn't do anyone any good.
End of the day, there's nothing really objectionable about DtD. The worst it gets is the occasional 'Isn't it funny how the giant werewolf lady has huge tits' stupid anime shit, rather than the 'Man you know what's awesome, making your players uncomfortable' shit from AdEva. There's no 'you're going to need a certain degree of sexual imagery'. There's no 'Whatever you do, make sure you don't let the players bully you out of your brilliant story'. It's crime is being a boring comedy that got a little out of hand in how much its author worked on it, and mediocrity is hardly a crime. And some people certainly do find it funny and fun, so I can hardly say they completely wasted their time. It's not professional work, it's costing you any money, so it being kind of mediocre and dull isn't the end of the world.
But there is one really damning thing I can say about it: Reading it didn't make me excited to use anything in it. Even in a bad game, like AdEva, I usually come away with at least one idea or concept I want to explore or use elsewhere. For instance, AdEva told me a competently done Giant Robot X-COM would fucking rule. Here? There's just nothing. None of the mechanics, concepts, or fluff looks like something worth repurposing, or using, or playing in its own context, either. Probably because anything worth getting excited about was already in the dozen or so other games this game shoved together without thinking about why any of them were fun or what shoving them together would look like.
And that's it for DtD. It's just not interesting enough to go in depth on, and if you've read this thread, you've already read it, really. Every game mechanic in this game is somewhere in this thread already. Every fluff concept is, too. It takes a wild premise and just does absolutely nothing with it.
Next Time: Who Knows?