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1  Products / Spycraft Third Edition / Re: [DEVELOPMENT] Let's talk a little about art... on: July 11, 2015, 03:05:45 AM
I may be thinking too much in the Stale Beer type of espionage fiction, but here's some ideas from me:

Handler in Ops Central receiving a new intel report while on the line with a field agent.

Field agent sitting in a jump seat the back of a military cargo aircraft studying a file on a secure tablet while the people on either side are trying to catch some shuteye.

Closeup of an anonymous star being added to a granite wall - another agent lost in the field, and the world will never know the face or name.

Dead asset in a bathtub while the agent is on the line with the handler trying to figure out how to get out of this mess.

In the background, the asset gets arrested by local law enforcement for whatever the operative put them up to; in the foreground, the agent stands within the crowd, making a call to the handler that they're busted and need to scrub the mission.

Operative giving a tired smile after a 16 hour flight to Malaysia while the customs clerk holds up the (fake) passport to compare the picture on it to the operative's face.

Operative walking out of an interrogation room at a local police station - lawyer got them out, but the agent's going home, cover blown.

Prisoner exchange on the Glienicke Bridge.

Handler getting a polygraph interview.
2  Community / Fiction and Story Hour / Re: [Off Topic] [Took me long enough...] Bionic Woman : Rebuilt on: June 15, 2015, 01:33:51 PM
Back with a vengeance! Here's Chapter Three of the rewritten Rebuilt.

AO3 link here.
3  Community / License to Improvise / Re: New Base Class: The Breaker on: May 02, 2015, 04:41:41 AM
Going in the right direction. Things that still need love:

  • Core Ability's flavor text. I like Road House as much as the next guy, but it just doesn't fit with what the ability actually does. Maybe something like "You don't just take a blow - you make a promise."
  • Menace's scaling of Black Cat uses. When you're adding a number of uses equal to every feat the character has, you might as well remove the use limit altogether. Maybe find something else to augment Black Cat and put it in here. That said, I am somewhat concerned about the total number of enemies you can target with Black Cat at once, just to get away from the "I'm intimidating a whole warehouse full of ninjas at the same time" thing, and to make it more...tactical, I suppose. I feel like your starting Action Dice might be a good number for this.
  • Malice's effect. By how much does it reduce the stats it targets?
  • All Outta Bubblegum shouldn't dictate the outcome of the Morale check, since the margin of failure determines the effect.
  • Bleeding Ulcer is a cool concept but mechanically iffy for an attack trick since most attacks probably won't inflict stress damage to begin with, unless your Breaker is using one of the few weapons that naturally inflict it. I'm also loath the make it apply to every bit of stress damage you dole out, since that includes the 2 Stress from damaging you, which can add up to a lot of saves to roll. I'd keep it as an attack trick, then, so how about something to the tune of: This attack inflicts stress damage. If the target fails his save, he also gains the Bleeding condition.
  • Preceding Reputation needs to be rewritten to account for the changes you've made elsewhere, as does your gamebreaker.
  • Here's something to think about: A character who makes a lot of Browbeat checks is gonna sour dispositions around him pretty fast. Can a Breaker get something out of people hating him? I don't have a concrete idea yet, but it bears some scrutiny, I think.
  • And I'm still not sold on the gamebreaker. I'd like to bring it closer to the Scout's Overrun, which has a defined cutoff. Spitballing: When you or one of your teammates score a threat against an opponent who is a current target of your Black Cat feat, you may activate that threat for one fewer Action Die (minimum 0). This continues until the you and your teammates activate a number of threats equal to your Class Level.
4  Community / License to Improvise / Re: New Base Class: The Breaker on: May 01, 2015, 12:22:44 PM
I have to agree with the other voices so far that there's something off about the class, but it's hard to narrow down exactly what it is that irks me. I mean, I like the concept, the mechanics are sound, but it does feel a little one-note with its focus on Intimidate and direct debuffs. Being a walking -3 to some stat or whatever is's a little bland, and with your big customizable element being a mere choice what stat you're debuffing I don't see a picture in my head of "Okay, this guy takes this choice, while this guy takes this choice", you know? A Burglar who chooses Bloody Mess for his Bag of Tricks is gonna be played different from a Burglar who takes Stick Close And Don't Make A Sound. I can see that. But I can't quite see how a Breaker who debuffs Attack is different from a Breaker who debuffs Will saves.

Here's a question: what does a Breaker actually do to contribute in a fight? His biggest asset is standing around projecting his aura. He can Black Cat enemies, but that also is more about what happens to them rather than what he does. What are his moves? How does he achieve that kind of fear in his enemies? The class leaves that entirely open - it's cooked down to a completely generic penalty to his opponent's rolls. Even the Gamebreaker basically says "Do what you always do, just moreso" - more auras, everyone Black Cat'd. You, the Breaker, are the big dumb scary thing standing in the middle of the battlefield. You can do things to fight, or even further hinder enemies, but I don't see any further mechanical support in the class for that, so again your utility is tied up in something your character does just as well just standing around reading the latest issue of Dungeon Dweller Digest as he does doing stuff that should be scary. As of now, I'm not sure he's actually changing anyone's mind in a fight - it's more like his opponents just don't have their heart in it or are more prone to slipping up, but I'm not sure I see a real fear or demoralization effect here.

Here's a quick list of things the Breaker could and should do in a fight to fit his rep as the scary guy who fights his battles psychologically:

  • Tactics/Outmaneuver checks. This check does not get nearly enough love. The other use of Tactics - Ambush - has a feat chain and several classes running with the concept, but where are the Outmaneuver experts? The Breaker should be really good at this, beyond simply having Tactics as a class skill. Maybe this is more fitting than the Black Cat feats, even.
  • Instead, consider the Ferocity chain. This is all about a guy who does not play nice, who will kick you when you're down, kill you when he has the chance and really make it hurt. Again, this is something I don't see getting much use in class concepts, but it fits what I see as the ideal of a Breaker very well.
  • Morale checks. The Breaker should be good at forcing them. Something like the effect of the Ogre craftsmanship for weapons, but applied to a common thing the Breaker does.
  • Lastly, consider all the other ways you can make an opponent suck without making their rolls worse. Lower their Initiative. Worsen other's disposition towards them with slander. Deny them actions. By which I mean both stuff like a Critical Hesitation-esque effect, and interpreted another way, making certain actions banned in your presence. Imagine an Interrogator Breaker who hits an NPC with the inability to make a Bluff/Lie check. Really powerful, yes, but also in concept, I think.
In short, man, I love the idea of a kind of Anti-Captain debuffer. But it's gotta be about more than standing around dragging cold hard numbers down.
5  Community / Off-Topic / Re: Cool pics on: January 24, 2015, 01:46:26 PM
(click to show/hide)

Gatac, please tell us this is a true thing.

Completely and 100% true. (I'm in the part where the Sword-People stop.)
6  Community / Fiction and Story Hour / Re: [Off Topic] [Took me long enough...] Bionic Woman : Rebuilt on: January 08, 2015, 01:29:55 PM
The nightmare continues! Here's Chapter Two of the rewritten Rebuilt. Not as long as we'd like, but it was a natural enough point to break it off, given our real-life time constraints.

And here's the AO3 link.

Feedback is welcome, as always.
7  Community / License to Improvise / Re: [Farthest Star] So, guns... on: December 09, 2014, 01:54:03 PM

  On the accuracy thing, I was thinking that certain feats would offer bonus to hit with certain weapon types - in the hands of a typical shooter, the better heat distribution and reduced barrel warping of a bull barreled sniper rifle is meaningless... but to the master, it's a significant boon. The tagging (bull barrel) would be on the weapon, but the benefit (would be on the feat when using weapons with the tag.
  Good shooting form would also be encouraged through stand alone tricks bought with proficiencies. World of difference between a trained agent with the wherewithal to use a perfect teacup grip even while ducking and rolling vs a punk waving a gun around every which way. A good grip stance is might let you handle a larger weapon comfortably, while forte continues to provide the straight +1 to hit.

Way back when, I was spitballing character mechanics for a turn-based squad tactics game. (The whole "Let's do Jagged Alliance 2, but BETTER" cliff upon which many many dreams have been shattered.) One thing I was planning was something similar to the _Craft feat chains for each class of weaponry, but instead of having each chain strictly improve only handling weapons of that type, I instead focused on more universal benefits that made sense for the weapon class itself but also applied to other classes of weapons, where they were perhaps not as useful but still had an effect.

F'rex, for sidearms, I was considering these abilities: 1) Weapon Retention (making you much harder to disarm at close range), 2) Quick Reload (reducing time costs for all reloads), 3) Trick Shooting (Lessening several to-hit penalties that would be likely to crop up with sidearm use, such as for running and gunning as well as for guns akimbo). Each ability in that category would also grant a flat to-hit bonus for using sidearms. Other weapon categories would grant different single benefits (usually universal with an eye towards effectiveness in that category, with more powerful abilities explicitly locked to that weapon category only) while granting a cumulative benefit to weapons in that category. (Recoil reduction for automatic weapons, effective range increase for sniper rifles, that kinda stuff.)

Now, it's not strictly analogous to feat chains because those could have been picked in any order, but the idea was that a character would only have a limited number of those, maybe up to a half dozen or so, so this was a way to reward specialisation (via the cumulative benefit) while also encouraging the player to shop around the other trees for abilities that gelled with what they wanted that character to be good at - and picking up a minor specialisation benny for a wholly different weapon category along with that, to encourage characters who would be useful in multiple roles.

So...that project died, but I thought I'd air out those ideas here anyway. Maybe there's something in that approach you might find useful if you're trying to create gun types and feats that are good on their own while unlocking deeper synergy together.

(Side note, there's no such thing as a perfect teacup. Teacupping is a rookie mistake and inferior to a proper two-handed grip.)
8  Community / Play-by-Post / Re: STORMSURGE: Around the Campfire [OOC and open feedback] on: December 09, 2014, 12:52:03 AM
So, any news to share here?
9  Community / License to Improvise / Re: STORMSURGE - Warstrider Gaming for Mastercraft on: October 31, 2014, 03:12:03 AM
Coolness. I've been thinking about the gadgetry in my designs for a while, too, the prevalence of sensors and EW. I can't speak for everyone else, but I feel like they usually end up in the design after I've figured out armor (ALL THE ARMOR) and what I want as a weapons load. To a degree, I think there's a tendency to want to be prepared against striders with similar electronics (Mechonics? Stridonics?) loads, kind of a peer-to-peer combat thing, Battlefield Superiority striders - the analog of modern-day F22s and PAK-FAs. On the other hand, the design option I have consistently underused is Speed and Handling upgrades - mostly because Eurowalker designs are built to not rely on either, but also because it feels like the base weight classes are good enough without those upgrades. The Handling in particular: I can see the case for a strider with a Handling of, say, 4, for a "hero" machine, maybe 5 if you're really pushing it? But I don't see the point of a Handling beyond 3 for a mass production line strider - we're talking about keeping up with pilots who have a Dex of 16, which is pretty damn high for a faceless mook. Building an effective strider with a Handling of 3 is a piece of cake.

I'm starting to think that this is a situation rather like said fighter aircraft, where we're entering a phase that we can easily design aircraft to exceed maneuver g-loads a pilot can cope with. Likewise, we can easily design striders that are so maneuverable that there's maybe a half dozen people in the whole world with the reflexes and quick tactical thinking (not to mention resistance to motion sickness) that they can fully take advantage of these hot rod machines. I mean, on a fluff level, that makes sense to me. But on a crunch level, it leaves me thinking "Okay, so these are options I do not need, what else do I spend points on? Sensors, I guess." See, I might not always have the power reserves to operate them, but if its sensors or nothing, why not sensors? There's no penalty for not maxing out my design point budget just as there's no bonus for leaving points unassigned, other than vague fluff about cost. That said, I can totally see a future contest where a hidden criteria is '5 or more unspent design points', representing either a particularly thrifty design or one that has weight and power budget for future upgrades by their operators.

What I'm saying is, if high Handling had some benefit even for your average faceless mook, I'd look a bit harder at those upgrade options, and maybe not fall back on "MOAR GADGETS" when I still have points to assign. It doesn't have to be super-big. Like, spur of the moment, how about adding Handling as a bonus to the pilot's Initiative roll? When similar machines go up against each other, it effectively balances out. Light Striders are more spritely off the starting line than Assault monsters. The only issue I can see right now is that this gives Striders a boost against everything else on the battlefield, but then again, isn't Striders being more mobile and able to react quicker than conventional vehicles kind of their fluff raison d'etre?
10  Community / Play-by-Post / Re: STORMSURGE: Around the Campfire [OOC and open feedback] on: October 27, 2014, 11:26:18 AM
Sounds very cool to me.
11  Community / Play-by-Post / Re: STORMSURGE: Around the Campfire [OOC and open feedback] on: October 22, 2014, 09:58:41 AM
Any news on this front?
12  Community / License to Improvise / Re: New Expert Class: (Looking for a Name) on: September 30, 2014, 01:07:25 AM
I think that the class should focus on one feat chain. If you're gonna have Mobility Basics as a prereq, grant Mastery and Supremacy in the B slot, along with some other bonus. Or, well, making Charging Basics the prereq and grant its Mastery and Supremacy, respectively. Considering that I see the Charging feat chain pretty well covered by Morg's Golden Lion, my inclination is to go with Mobility here, but that's your call which fits the class's style better. Charging has the advantage that it's Basic Combat, so it powers up Combat Focus even if a player for some reason doesn't get the Core Ability.

EDIT: Or if you have neither as prereq, then yeah, Basics and Mastery at 2 and 7.

On the jumping thing, have you considered the Martial Artist's (there I go again) Wuxia?
13  Community / License to Improvise / Re: New Expert Class: (Looking for a Name) on: September 29, 2014, 02:03:42 PM
There's also that this class has a Spell Point progression that it literally cannot use unless you multiclass out of the class into a "proper" caster at some point.

Spell points: low is 0 spell points. Every class that has no spell points is considered to have low spell points

Shows what I know about casters, doesn't it. Tongue
14  Community / License to Improvise / Re: New Expert Class: (Looking for a Name) on: September 29, 2014, 01:17:13 PM
There's also that this class has a Spell Point progression that it literally cannot use unless you multiclass out of the class into a "proper" caster at some point. The "caster level zero" prereq actually reminds of the Intruder expert class from way back in Shadowforce Archer, and while I can see why you have that thematically, in my opinion classes that have fluff prereqs like this are a sign that your concept is too narrow for how FantasyCraft expert classes are expected to work. I think that accounts for TKDB's feeling that you're mushing up two general ability sets that don't interact much - it feels to me like you're trying to duplicate the diverse abilities of one specific character you had in mind for this.

That said, I like the idea of trading Combat Focus for edge, and letting different feat trees count for uses. (That should probably be widened to the standard "Count as Basic Combat Feats for the purposes of class abilities and feats" language, though, along with rethinking which feat trees you want to include.) Have you looked at Morg's take on the Jedi Watchman? That class also cues off Combat Focus in an even more involved way, you might find something worth pilfering there.

As for an Edge generator, you really need one outside of the Core Ability. Have you considered something akin to Strut, a Martial Artist ability? Basically, it gives you a small action die if you spend a half action posing after a successful attack. I think something along those lines that lets you trade a half action for a point of Edge (building up your power?) would do nicely.

I'm not strictly against coupling the class to Covert feats, not least because I made a covert feat chain for combat parcour and such which gets into the problems of building Edge through momentum, but I'm wary of building this into the class as frankly, outside of Mobility, the official Covert feats just don't synergize well with what you're trying to do. If you're gonna dig into Covert, you should think about what's in that tree other than the Mobility chain, and figure out whether that other stuff can fit into what you want to do with the class or if there's a better feat tree a class user would have more motivation to buy into.
15  Community / License to Improvise / Re: The Sentinel, again on: September 29, 2014, 01:28:16 AM
Indeed. This ability is an expression of the Sentinel's commitment to preparation and safety beyond what might be obvious - it doesn't even have to be his own prepared safety gear, but if somebody slips off the rock, he's the guy with the mental acuity to grab that severed line and hold on to it for dear life. The real meat of it is then when stuff goes wrong, the Sentinel says "No worries, mate!" and steps in to, if not outright save you, then at least stop you from getting dragged further into oblivion, and then he finds a way to drag you back to safety. The balance is in precisely how limiting this is for the Sentinel - after all, if you're running from a volcanic eruption and one of your team slips into a crack in the earth, the Sentinel now has to tether him, stop moving and start dragging him back to the surface.

I've noticed that one of our changes to my original phrasing - the bidirectional "cannot move beyond 30 feet apart" phrase - is actually not a strict nerf. Yes, it prevents a Sentinel from tethering, climbing the whole damn mountain and then dragging you up the whole way with no rolls made, but it also means that a if the Sentinel slips and falls, he can anchor himself to a teammate that's still on solid ground and stop his own fall that way. The teammate can't reel him in, so the Sentinel will have to find another way up (usually by swinging towards the rock, grabbing on and climbing up, all involving Athletics rolls in my estimation), but this way it's bidirectional safety as long as the Sentinel sticks with the team. I actually like that - the Sentinel's the expert, but not infallible, and it wouldn't make sense for his obsessive prep to safeguard everyone else while he's got no safety for himself. After all, the first rule of rescue is to keep yourself safe and not become another victim that needs rescuing.
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