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 STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)

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Chris24601
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 11 EmptyFri Nov 16, 2018 3:42 pm

To be fair to your memories, the Old Praetoria region has changed quite a bit since the first iterations I shared here. A big part of the impetus came as I started buying art assets and started grouping the clothing models by design elements so that the regions felt distinct. This in turn led to me thinking about both how those elements came about and what other elements could set them apart.

For example, I went with an ornate Eastern look for the El-Pharan elite (the lower castes wear simpler, drabber versions). As it’s immediate neighbor and whose population until recently was dwarfed by the elves, Blackspire has strong Elven influences on its culture, but just as was the case with the Americans after they broke away from the British, the last dozen years has seen many Elven cultural elements reinterpreted in a more egalitarian vein. The upper class of Blackspire still favor the general cut of the Elven styles (most notably compared to the other regions is that the women mostly wear pants rather than dresses and both men and women tend to have skirt-like flaps; generally split in the middle for ease of riding a mount; hanging down from the top or a belt to at least the knees), but instead of the intricate ornamentation of the elves, the upper classes adopted an almost spartan simplicity with solid colors, with the wealthy distinguished instead by quality of material and cut (hydra leather is particularly in fashion for the nobility in Blackspire during the point in time I’m setting the book; a rather lustrous black most notable because with the proper alchemical treatments it will retain the regenerative abilities of the hydra, keeping the nicks and scratches that commonly accumulate on such items from marring it).

Historically, the Free Cities had the roughest time of the three major human realms. Their original “Hold” (i.e. Stormhold) ended up in the middle of a swamp once the Cataclysm was through ravaging the region so the survivors had to abandon the relative safety the Hold provided to find someplace more habitable. They got a spot of luck in finding the surviving skyscraper that became the heart of Blackspire, but that also put it right on the edge of the lands claimed by the massively more populated El-Phara (the elves showed up 60,000 strong versus the roughly 2000 who survived the trek from Stormhold to Blackspire... Ironhold and Riverhold had larger numbers and physical distance to keep the elves out of their affairs). After an initial war, Blackspire became an Elven “protectorate” but eventually broke free under the leadership of Malcer’s father as increasing incursions by the Bloodspear Orcs (who range through the region between El-Phara and Ironhold) forced them to devote more military strength to other regions (the elves’ static population numbers, refusal to bend on caste membership and growing numbers of dark elves who rejected the castes exacerbated the problem). Things were good for a time, then Malcer’s father and elder brother died and left the religious fanatic who wouldn’t have amounted to much had he simply joined the priesthood as originally intended in charge of the fledgling kingdom.

Malcer (the Mad) rules as a religious zealot for the Imperial Church and persecuted and enslaved those not deemed sufficiently pure (pure-blooded and dwarven-blooded humans, dwarves and caste-loyal elves) or who did not worship the proper gods (ex. the Toria Tribes who practiced a mix of the Old Faith and folk religion). He was especially brutal to the the “thrice damned” malfeans (once for bearing the impure blood of the demons, twice for their betrayal at the close of the war against the demons and thrice for clinging to the Old Faith instead of adopting the proper gods even under threat of death).

The end result of this persecution though was that inevitable Revolution took everything Malcer believed and made a point of doing the opposite. As a result the Free Cities are a bastion of species and religious tolerance. The current First Warden became a convert to the Old Faith as part of a marriage alliance to secure the aid of the Toria Tribes in the war and beat Malcer largely by uniting all the groups he oppressed (minorities on their own, but significant enough in number to overcome the hardline Malcer loyalists) and managed to forge an identity for the Free Cities based on that cooperation instead of species or religious lines.

The Free Cities are basically the most “modern” of the realms in terms of sentiments and therefore was always my first choice for the core book home base location.

* * * *

By contrast, the more mountainous Ironhold region by contrast favors a style of over garment technically called a medieval scapular as the terrain doesn’t favor mounted units as heavily and the scapular design is similar to that of an artisan’s smock (dwarven craftsmen often have quite ornate ones for formal occasions). As a population with a fairly large dwarven population (including its king) and the region of Old Praetoria least hit by the Cataclysm they hold to far more traditions of the late Praetorian Empire, including significant worship of the Imperial Church (a.k.a. the default Astral pantheon for humans).

More isolated and rich in resources, Karth Greystone, Ironhold’s chief of security was able to establish himself and his well trained security team as the leaders of Ironhold after a couple of decisive battles and parlayed that into being named King and appointed his men as Lords and Protectors of the Realm. Their isolation bought them about 150 years of peace until the Bloodspear Orcs and were united under the leadership of Warclaugh the Reaver who smashed the unified tribes against the defenses of Ironhold and El-Phara (this would be about the point Malcer’s father was able to break Blackspire out from under the elves). Though Warclaugh was eventually killed in battle, his feats of conquest, the sheer number of the enemy he took with him into death and the fact that his body was never found has led to legends that he literally ascended to godhood (his sons who currently rule the tribes do everything they can to promote these legends and remind one and all that they carry the blood of The Reaver in their veins).

As a result, the last 50 years has seen greater mobilization among the nobles of Ironhold and a movement has been on to declare a proactive campaign against the Orc hordes who threaten the kingdom. For adventurers seeking to profit (perhaps even an official knighthood or a noble title in the lands to be conquered) from nobles looking for every edge in the war they’re sure will be proclaimed any day (be that scouting reports, recovering magic weapons from lost ruins or assassinating orc leaders), Ironhold is your place.

* * * *
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 11 EmptyFri Nov 16, 2018 4:30 pm

I can't imagine the Free Cities had a good time under the elves. The bad feelings there have to be deeply ingrained by now, and with good reason given the tyrannical nature of El-Phara. Same with the Imperial Church, given Malcer's Claude Frollo impersonation.

Speaking of the Free Cities, they never really developed a monarchist line of succession the way that Ironhold did, simply because they were ruled by elves, who no doubt appointed an elven governor. Malcer's daddy was a strongman like Karth Greystone, albeit a relatively decent one, if my read of it is correct. Then Malcer ended up in charge and soured the people of the Free Cities on the idea of kings before it really got a chance to get going. The current Warden system almost reminds me of a parliamentary system, or of the Roman Senate, with the executive leader drawn from the legislative branch. Not quite as thorough on the separation of powers as the American way, but better than anything else in the region.

What's Riverhold's history? I know you said something about Venetian-style merchant princes, but my knowledge of them is rather weak.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 11 EmptySat Nov 17, 2018 12:47 pm

Yeah, the Free Cities aren’t quite up to US separation of powers, but their population is also nowhere near as large as to quite need it either.

Each warden represents only a few thousand people and so there’s a sense that you can get your issues handled rather more personally by your representative than needing separate branches of government to handle legislative, executive and judicial functions (and, to the extent those functions do need to be farmed out, the person in charge is either appointed by the warden (typically for functionaries like clerks and the guy who keeps the lanterns lit on the streets at night) or elected in a separate election if they hold independent authority (sheriffs and justices of the peace for settling civil disputes being the most common).

If the Free Cities continue to grow, they’ll probably need more organized institutions, but they’re only a dozen years in on this Republic thing and basically still at the Articles of Confederation level of organization (i.e. a one house Congress with one vote per state and a President of the Congress elected from its members).

* * * *

As to Riverhold...

The gist of Riverhold is that, before the Cataclysm, the region was basically like Aspen; a retreat for the ultra-wealthy in government and business of the Praetorian Empire. It’s Hold was more a palace than a bunker, filled with resources needed in case of an emergency. When the Cataclysm wave struck, they had enough forewarning to move the elites and those most loyal to them into the Hold where they rode out the devastation in relative comfort. The rest were left to fend for themselves.

An important note about the Cataclysm is that those in official shelters like the Holds were far from the only survivors. Indeed, 90% of those who survived (without becoming mutants) were those lucky enough to find shelter in a basement, sewer or other heavily reinforced structure (that did not collapse on them). The big difference though is that those 90% had to struggle to survive on the surface from the start and quickly descended to barbarism. Those in the Holds generally had sufficient resources to survive for years.

Riverhold itself also had the benefit of being even more impregnable than Ironhold; positioned behind the Titan Falls (a Niagra Falls type drop from the steppes of the North to the valley of Old Praetoria). So when they emerged after the Cataclysm had settled they did so with unparalleled resources at their command. Two of the most central to their rise would be the Titan Locks; the system of locks that allowed ships to pass the Titan Falls; and a functional Teleportation Circle (Blackspire only recently recovered Stormhold’s circle and Ironhold’s was scheduled to have been installed about a year after the Cataclysm hit and so lacks one to this day).

The teleportation portal made return trips to Riverhold exceptionally easy for their explorers (so long as they had the teleport ritual with them) and being at the head of the Titan River made exploring downriver swift and efficient. This let them quickly establish trade ties with communities all along the Titan River while the Lock allowed them to control trade access between the North and Old Praetoria (which they taxed).

They also became the choke point that kept the barbarian tribes of the North from invading the much more fertile Old Praetoria valley en masse (small bands of raiders could make it through other mountain passes, but the pass at the Titan Falls was the only one suitable for moving large numbers through).

The government of Riverhold is essentially a Plutocracy. The elites who sheltered in Riverhold controlled access to its resources (often via magic circles and wards) in exchange for loyalty and through nepotism and predatory lending managed to buy up and then lease out just about every permanent asset worth owning. Intermarriage between the elites only further concentrated the resources in the hands of the elites.

If you are a permanent resident of Riverhold and are not one of the elite yourself, then you work for one of elite families in some capacity. The only way up the social ladder is to be of greater use to the elite than your peers. The odds are extremely unlikely for any one individual, but the prospect that if you work hard enough for the family you might be allowed to marry into the family (and thus become one of the elite; even if only a junior member) is one of the much sought after rewards of Riverhold’s courtier class (a.k.a. Upper Management for one of the families).

So in a sense they’re a meritocracy... but the school of merit (i.e. use to the family) it fosters is a rather cutthroat atmosphere of corporate politics and backstabbing to move up the ladder. If you’re an adventurer looking for rich rewards in exchange for actions of dubious morality, Riverhold is where it’s at.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 11 EmptySat Nov 17, 2018 5:34 pm

The Articles of Confederation analogy really makes sense with the Free Cities, given that they just got out from Malcer's rule - I can only imagine that each free city wanted to maintain its own sovereignty so as to avoid a repeat.

As for Riverhold, given the post-apocalyptic nature of the setting - basic law and order going out the window for sheer survival - and the sheer scope of the resources they commanded, a plutocracy was about what you'd expect. Power corrupts, after all. It doesn't make Riverhold a good place to live if you want to make your own way, but it's not as bad as El-Phara or the Bloodspear lands. At least there's slim chance of advancement in Riverhold. El-Phara has no such social mobility, and I imagine that the Bloodspears' version of upward advancement involves a whole lot of twisted stuff.

Edit: I just had a thought: the kind of corruption that plagues Riverhold is never good for the longterm survival of a nation. Nations described as decadent tend to have problems with barbarians down the road. I can easily see them going the way of the Western Roman Empire without the players' help.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 11 EmptySat Nov 17, 2018 11:32 pm

Or the players might decide to side with the Barbarians to bring the corrupt leadership of Riverhold down.

Honestly, all of the nations are designed to have problems down the line.

As more elves abandon their castes, the more strained the facade of the Divine Order that places the High Elves at the pinnacle of their civilization becomes and the harder their Inquisitors have to crack down on those on the edge of abandoning their castes. It also doesn’t help that the Divine Order is hardest upon the low elves who do all the grunt work (including grow the food the society needs) and that, because of the caste structure, those tasks cannot be performed by those of higher station as it is beneath them. So when the bulk of the dark elves come from the lowest castes it causes a vicious cycle as the remaining low elves are pushed to do more and more work to keep the higher castes fed (even as the low elves are the first to go hungry when there’s a shortage).

The situation is even worse than just losing individual low elves... the problem is escalating because there are enough dark elves now that elven children are being born entirely outside the control of the Divine Order and who haven’t been raised from birth to accept their place in it. Because their numbers are static EVERY elf born to dark elves is one stolen from its place in the Divine Order and every Orc raid where low elves are killed is another chance for that to happen.

Ballpark... El-Phara is doomed within the next hundred years (an eyeblink for immortals), the survivors of the collapse get pushed into the forests and the orcs gain a foothold on the doorstep of the Free Cities and the ability to choke off the primary trade route between the Free Cities, Ironhold and Riverhold.

Blackspire’s crisis is far more subtle. The problem is that their First Warden is a genuinely good man and effective leader and also the only First Warden they’ve ever had so far, but he’s not an immortal and probably will want to step down into a quieter and less stressful life long before his lifespan would be up anyway. The Free Cities have never had much luck with transitions of power and the odds of the next First Warden being able to live up to expectations set by the current one are exceedingly slim.

Essentially, whether the Republic can survive without its founders there to guide it; whether generations born after Malcer was overthrown will have the same mettle; has yet to be tested. The outcome will depend a lot on who rises to become the next generation of leaders.

You pretty much nailed the issues Riverhold will run into, so I’ll move on to Ironhold.

Ironhold’s problem is that they’ve got a resource crisis on the horses due to a growing population and a territory whose borders are not the hundreds of square miles of tractless wilderness that border the Free Cities and Riverhold, but impassible mountains and the territories controlled by the Orcs and Elves. With the strength of the Orcs only growing, trying to enact some sort of policies to bring population growth in line with available resources would doom them to being overrun by the Orcs, their only viable option is to shift from a defensive war (which they’ve been able to manage with minimal casualties) to an offensive one meant to claim new lands from the Orcs so their population will have the resources needed to keep expanding.

In other words, every one of these places are going to need heroes if they’re going to survive.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 11 EmptySun Nov 18, 2018 6:06 am

El-Phara's running into the same problem that any dictatorship does: the more you try to keep your people locked down, the more they slip your grasp. Kind of like grabbing sand or water. Unless they have some kind of revolution, which has no guarantee of turning out any better than the previous regime, they're SOL.

Ironhold: I can only imagine some status quo-obsessed leaders would try the population control and just ignore the orc problem. And even if they go to war, they've been in a defensive posture for a long time - adapting to offensive war - and war beyond their traditional stronghold in general - is going to be a painful and bloody lesson.

Blackspire, on the other hand, desperately needs a system of peaceful transfer of power worked out. The other stuff is something that every nation has to worry about. The cycle of empires ain't no joke.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 11 EmptyTue Dec 04, 2018 9:15 pm

I agree, cycle of empires is not joke... the saddest part is that only in this setting would an affiliation of cities/towns totaling maybe 30,000 people total even qualify as an Empire (15,000 of that being just the city of Blackspire; and that's the largest city for hundreds of miles).

Probably the best thing for the Free Cities would be for the current First Warden to pull a George Washington and step down on their own, thereby establishing an informal "term of office" tradition for the First Warden (say, at most 20 years) and maybe push for more authority to be given to positions that aren't a part of the Warden Council, like the typically elected sheriffs being made chief executives of their wards and putting control over the military/police forces under them and not under the wardens who make the laws.

This will become especially important as the population continues to grow (by the time the current First Warden dies of old age the population will have very likely quadrupled even with an extremely low growth rate of 2%) and the number of people each Warden represents grows from a couple thousand to nearly 10,000 each (unless they add more Wardens to the Council).

But that is a worry for the future, one that I intend to leave to individual GMs to determine the outcomes to. For my purposes, just setting up the problems down the line is sufficient.

* * * * *

As to updates, given all the changes to demons since I last did the Demon species option for custom built NPCs (so long it was still using D&D terms like AC, hit points and the standard D&D ability scores) I had to go and rebuild that from scratch.

The demon species entry ended up getting merged entirely with the Demonic Spellcasting Path since, at least in the standard setting, demons can only manifest if summoned, tethered to an object (which is then used by a person) or has possessed someone and all three of those sound more like a spellcasting path than a separate species.

Another element that came out of late-stage playtesting is that I had to rewrite the poison rules so that ingested poison actually did damage, since a GM wanted a plot development where a large number of people at a banquet were poisoned and rules for needed to see what effect it would have on the PCs present. I'd really only considered damage in terms of poisoned weapons (since that's what PCs would be most likely to use) where just changing the normal damage to toxic and imposing a condition on the target would be sufficient.

So now poisons where are ingested deal ongoing damage (5/10/15 by potency) until a successful Fitness or Medicine check is made to overcome them in addition to any condition imposed. This damage can be lethal or non-lethal depending on the poison purchased.

I've also been hammering out a timeline for the Old Praetoria region, the Free Cities region in particular, with the focus being almost entirely on post-Cataclysm events (anything older than that can safely be considered myth and legend for those alive today). A couple of interesting adventure sites have cropped up as a result too.

For example, Stormhold is now known as the Stormhold Necropolis and one of the events which ended up driving the survivors north was that undead (the thousand or so who drowned when the Hold ruptured and were unable to reach the surface) began emerging from the old Hold under the command of a ghoul calling itself the Prince of Shadows. Victims were dragged back into the ruined Hold and animated to join the ranks of dead who preyed upon the survivors.

After three failed forays to eliminate the Prince of Shadows and with undead emerging from the swamp in scores and later hundreds (they do not breathe and so could use the submerged ruptures to come and go) the people of Stormhold decided the best course for survival was to take their chances by moving north along the coast further than the undead could reach them in a night's travel. They also razed every possible shelter the undead could potentially use as cover from the sun they came across on their trek north.

To this day no structure stands within a day's journey of the Stormhold Necropolis, but every now and then, in the longest nights of winter when the overcast sky hangs like a slate grey curtain over the land, unwary travelers and people from the villages nearest the Necropolis go missing, never to be seen again.

How many are merely food for the Prince of Shadows and how many end up joining the ranks of army is unknown, as is whatever the cunning undead might be plotting... the undead are patient, but even they will not wait forever and as winter nights grow long everyone along the southern reaches of Old Praetoria wonders... will this be the night the dead finally stir?

* * * *

You wanna know why, per capita, the Free Cities has the largest population of adventurers to be found just about anywhere? It's because stuff like the Stormhold Necropolis is just the first of dozens of awful events that, instead of breaking the people, just seems to make them stronger and more determined.

The people of the Free Cities have more faith in heroes rising from among them than they do in any sort of politician or ruler. The First Warden was allowed to organize a government because he was the biggest hero of the effort to liberate them from the latest round of awfulness and the whole concept of the Wardens (i.e. a leader elected from the people) is a combination of the Toria Tribes' method of electing chiefs and of letting the people choose their heroes in a sense.

Left to its own devices (i.e. if the PCs don't get involved... and possibly especially if they do) is that whoever succeeds the First Warden will likely be a hero who saves the Free Cities from whatever set of awful is next down the pike.

In this regard, it's telling that the First Warden isn't trying to set up his eldest daughter (Kalla Blackthorne, one of the example PCs in the human entry) with someone in a political alliance, but instead letting her go out and be an adventurer (albeit with a well-armed bodyguard)... because the experience of the Free Cities is that kings, princes and politicians won't save the realm when the chips are down... the First Warden wants his daughter to be a hero and, hopefully, meet and marry another adventuring hero because another generation of heroes is probably the surest bet for a successful transfer of power down the line.

* * * *

And now onto a point where I'm trying to brainstorm and get some feedback. Originally, I had intended to put some class options and the mass combat rules into my first supplement, but with my change of focus to keeping all the rules contained to the core books (new expressions of those rules like monster entries or specific traps are one thing, whole new sets of rules don't fit my plan now) I realized I'm going to need to work mass combat into the GM's Guide somehow.

A part of it too is just the realization that I'm halfway there already with the grunt's pooled Edge totals so why not just finish that job. My intention was always that PCs be able to interact with the mass combat rules on a one-to-one basis (i.e. you don't need to convert your PC to throw them into a mass battle... the other units are scaled to the PC level already).

The limited population numbers (and therefore number of soldiers they can support) of the realms of Old Praetoria also help in doing this at this stage since most armies top out at a few hundred (About 1% of the population for offense, with another 4% as a citizen militia if defending their realm... so the whole Free Cities only has about 300 soldiers... 1500 if they're raising the militia to defend against an attack... and only about 30 of those soldiers aren't grunts).

Where I'm struggling is how to adjudicate massed attacks by grunts. How do you resolve the attacks of say 30 Infantry as they engage with the PCs without rolling 30 different attack rolls and bogging everything down?

I'm not sure of the answer, but its something I want to try and build into the grunt monsters as a sort of default means of approaching combat that naturally scales up to when two big units of grunts smash into each other.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 11 EmptyWed Dec 05, 2018 2:12 am

Another random bit about Blackspire and the Free Cities I figure I'll throw in since I'm stuck working late to hit a deadline (which means I have to sit around and swap out mugs in the engraver every three and a half minutes)... due to the roughly 140 years they spent as an elven "protectorate" many of Blackspire's culture heroes were outlaws who robbed from the elven authorities to aid the poor and basically thumbed their nose at the elven governors and their men. You never spoke of them openly, but gathered around the hearth fires at night people would share the tales of various bandit heroes.

The lasting legacy of this is that rogue-ish types are given a lot more leeway in the Free Cities than in places like Ironhold or Riverhold (and certainly El-Phara). Petty thefts and thefts "for a good cause" (like stealing food, particularly for someone else in need) tend to get off with only basic reparations (i.e. pay for it... do work at a fair rate if unable to pay) and brawls where no one's pulled a knife or something tend to just have the watch break up the fight and maybe escort the offenders home or to the local jail to sleep it off if they're especially drunk.

Another aspect would be characters like the Fetch thief Velox (also an example PC), who operates in Blackspire and is known for being able to steal anything. Which he often does. The more valuable and harder to steal the better. The authorities put in only token efforts to apprehend him because he never harms anyone and the stolen items always show up in a day or two in some prominent (often equally hard to get to) location or another because all Velox seems to care about is the challenge of actually stealing the item, not whatever value it might have. Needless to say the common folk love him and many a bard has filled his purse singing ballads of Velox's exploits during the dinner hour at inns and taverns across the Free Cities.

Basically, the Free Cities is one of the few places to out and out encourage adventurers simply because they're adventurers. By contrast while Ironhold, Riverhold and El-Phara have PCs among their number, they're supported in those places only to the degree they act in the interests of the ruling powers.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 11 EmptyWed Dec 05, 2018 10:57 am

Update the third...

Now that I've slept a little bit, let me share where I'm at with mass combat.

Allied Defense, where you total the Edge scores from all the grunts of the same type in a conflict and then remove one from the battle for each bit of damage that equals one grunt (i.e. if the grunts have 10 Edge and you do 22 damage, you'd remove two grunts... one who was hit and another who probably said "heck with this! I'm out." If eight points had been done with a prior attack, you'd remove three grunts).

Anyway, my thinking is that I'm going to remove Allied Defense from the grunts and make it a general rule for any time X number of opponents of the same type are involved in a conflict. Tentatively I'm setting that number at 5 since it will be relatively rare outside of mass battles for PCs to face that many of the same opponent type in the conflict (unless they're grunts).

This means that in large battles Edge loss reflects both injury and loss of morale, (so you don't need a separate system to track morale which keeps the Mass/Standard scale battles operating on mostly the same page.

It also means that when the PCs reach a high enough level, the GM can start grouping large numbers of low-level standard monsters in their battles just as they would for grunts (who cap at level 5 because a level 6 grunt would have the same stats as a level 0 standard).

So that handles Damage/Morale tracking across the board for mass combat whether the unit is a squad of 5 grunts to a company of a hundred mounted knights. What's going to be trickier is attacks because that's where all the rolling happens.

Ideally for mass battles I'd like to keep the rolls to about one per target (or target type for anything grouped up under Allied Morale) because 3-8 attack rolls per PC because they're surrounded by grunts is going to get really tedious really fast. Then consider two lines of opposing grunts engaging in melee and you might have 40 rolls to make if resolving each attack individually.

Things get even wonkier if your grunts are in tight formation (i.e. squeezing). Their attacks are hindered, but they also get to make twice as many attack checks per square of grunts adjacent to you which mostly cancels out in terms of probability depending on the TN, but with a higher peak damage if both attacks actually do hit.

What I'm thinking right now is that any sort of group attack rule is almost going to have to use some type of Margin of Success (akin to skill checks) simply because the binary of hit/miss or even hit/critical/miss is just too extreme for the array of possible outcomes. Something like a Hit by 5, Hit by 10, Miss by 5, Miss by 10 would provide a much more accurate range of results for that many attacks being made.

Another aspect would be if I could build the effect of a massed attack into the "Aid Offense" action and then simply require the use of that action if X or more creatures of the same type attack the same target.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 11 EmptyWed Dec 05, 2018 5:59 pm

The Stormhold Necropolis is a haunting concept. A literal third of the survivors drowned, only to become slaves to the Prince of Shadows. And that's not counting the additional victims. That place is a ticking time bomb. By the way, you mentioned that ghouls are said to be the Demon Emperor's favored children, but you never said how they are created. Is that something you plan on revealing in the GM's Guide, or is it going to be one of those GM-dependent mysteries, the way Eberron does a lot of its lore?

I don't have much to contribute to the mass combat rules situation, but I do like the Margin of Success idea - it's a way to achieve granular results without the tedium of rolling for each opponent.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 11 EmptyThu Dec 06, 2018 1:07 pm

Ghouls are created by the same process that creates the greater Wights and Wraiths; a soul who wishes to avoid "going into the light" (of the Source) bonds itself to its shadow at death. While most need a necromancer to pull them into the mortal world (bound to a corpse for wights and as a spirit only for wraiths), particularly strong-willed spirits are able to pass through the Veil on their own... re-inhabiting their corpse or haunting their place of death.

For this reason, it is very important that corpses be given proper burials. Burial on consecrated ground or cremation of the body if that is not possible are the surest methods of preventing an angry spirit from animated it into a vessel for their wrath.

Ghouls are among the strong-willed spirits who can self-animate. What sets them apart from wights is that their exceptional malevolence in life earned them extra 'blessings' from the Shadow that better allow them to continue their evils in unlife.

* * * *

So, I've been looking at the Aid Attack as a means of handling massed attacks. What I hit on is this. Aid Attack is really a sub-par action. +2 to hit as a main action when defenses are capped at about 21 and 16 Armor is average even if something is a dozen levels higher than you just isn't a good trade vs. trying to attack it yourself.

So what I've come with, which also facilitates mass attacks is this; In addition to the +2 to hit, for every two points the aided attacker beats his opponent's defense by, one of the creatures who used the Aid Attack action (in the order they were given) gets to make a free strike on the target as a reaction as well.

Linked to that will be the general rules for streamlining large combats which will state that, for purposes of Aid Attack, any opponent employing the Allied Defense option (i.e. shared Edge Pool) counts as "in range" for being able to use Aid Attack.

Thus, if a line of ten footmen attacks a line of ten orcs, nine would be able to use Aid Attack (+18 to hit), one attacks and for each two points the attacker beats the Orc's Armor by one of the other footmen will deal their free strike damage to the Orcs shared pool of Edge (removing as many as the total damage dealt indicates). One attack roll handles the entire turn for that mass of infantry.

PCs who stick together (or fight with allied troops) can likely limit the number of opponents who can aid the attacker against a single PC to about two (+4 to hit... generally no more than two hits worth of damage), while PCs who try to go it alone will quickly be overwhelmed.

Dare I say, PCs will need tactics to survive a large scale battle, even at high levels.

Now on to actually testing it to see how it works out.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 11 EmptyFri Dec 07, 2018 11:36 am

So, I've got some initial test results on some mass combat runs.

First, I don't know if I'd mentioned this previously, but grunts got scaled down quite a bit during some previous testing. For a while they were about half as strong as a PC of their level because I had failed to scale them down correctly when I'd scaled down the damage and Edge values of the PCs to make the math a little easier (the only reason I had things set so high was so that my 15 levels would line up with 4E's 30 levels... once I broke myself of that thinking and landed on 20+5 per level for most PCs with monster damage at 8+2/level the scaling became much more consistent across all levels).

Anyway, the new values for grunts went down to Edge of 5+2.5/level (round down) for standards, 4+2/level for brittle, and 6+3/level for grunts and average damage at 2+level (1+1/2 level for free strikes) which puts a hypothetical level 6 Grunt as identical to a level 0 standard opponent. The idea here being that in the "by tier" advancement (i.e. 1-5 heroic, 6-10 paragon, 11-15 epic) grunts are essentially the "mundane" tier that precedes the heroic tier.

The reason I bring this up is to put damage values into context... when 8 level 1 footmen (grunts) hit a PC using the Aid Attack option (i.e. the PC is completely surrounded... as bad as it can get) and all 7 who assist get their free strikes that's only going to be 10 damage (3 for the main hit, 1 each for 7 free strikes) or 17 if they happen to be blockers (because their free strike damage is twice normal).

10 damage is what a level 1 opponent deals with their attacks. 5 damage is what they might deal using an auto-hit ability. Thus even low-level PCs are going to be able to survive a round or two of bad tactics in a mass battle with the worst results being about as dangerous as getting hit by a standard opponent of the grunts' level.

Also of note is that, by far the best tactic I've discovered for massed battles to date is what I started calling "lead the charge." Specifically, the largest single bit of damage from Aid Attack comes from the main attack, so the optimal tactic is to surround a single higher level combatant with a bunch of lower level ones since the higher level one will get a big bonus to hit and get to deal its much larger damage with any extra damage from free strikes being a bonus.

In other words, PCs will work best in a mass battle if they each take command of a group of grunts who use Aid Attack against their targets; just like you'd want to be the case if you were writing a heroic story with the PCs as champions of the side that helps it fight much better than it ever could individually. I like when the rules encourage the PCs to act like heroes.

Related to this is that, after a few tests, it was plainly obvious that while aid attack works great to assist them, grouping up Elites and Champions to use Allied Defense and massed attacks was incredibly sub-optimal because their Free Strikes are no better than standard monsters of their level. An Ogre Lord surrounded by Orc Warriors was great, five Ogre Lords fighting as a single unit wasn't anywhere near as effective as the five Ogre Lords just attacking individually.

What this means is, as I assemble the "Streamlining Large Battles/Mass Combat" rules I'm going to explicitly state that Allied Defense and Massed Attacks cannot be applied to Elite and Champion opponents.

Also of note is that the Tactical Focus style for Skilled classes gets a big bump out of this setup for massed battles because the bonus they apply with Aid Attack is equal to their INT score instead of just +2. This means they'll have far more allied free strikes landing with these sorts of attacks.

I'll be doing more tests this weekend, but it's looking good so far.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 11 EmptyThu Dec 13, 2018 10:52 am

Well, after some testing Mass Combat is working a little less well than I'd hoped.

It scales okay up to about six attackers grouping their attacks (+10 to hit; up to 5 extra free strike's worth of damage), but by ten attackers (+18 to hit) the degree of difference in outcomes ends up with it being just as well off just taking the number of attackers x free strike damage value each round and calling it a day.

It was particularly egregious when a guy selected archers (i.e. all of them can shoot the same target) because a hundred guys x even a minimal free strike value of 2 worked out to 200 damage per round against any target they could see (-2 to hit per range increment doesn't mean much when you've got +200 to hit). The unit could basically down the biggest bad in the Opponents section in three rounds from 200 paces (1000 feet) away.

By contrast, individual archers in that same situation would only hit on a natural 20... so about five hits for about 25 damage (they're only criticals if the 20+modifiers is greater than the target's defense... natural 20 +6 attack bonus -20 range penalty is well below ANYTHING's Armor defense).

So the mass attack rules if allowed to stack without limit end up with attackers dealing about eight times as much damage as they would if you just rolled all 100 attacks.

There's also the issue of being able to target specific opponents with the maneuver. Those hundred archers could all theoretically pincushion a PC for 200 points of damage from 1000 feet away with only a 5% (natural 1) chance of failure and there's nothing the PC can do about it.

In other words, the massed attacks work okay at the skirmish scale where you want to save time with 4-5 grunts attacking the same target, but they actually don't work that well at the mass combat scale.

Back to the drawing board (on the plus side, I took out my frustration from failed brainstorming on mass combat on banging out some new artwork for the books. I'll post that later on today).
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 11 EmptyThu Dec 13, 2018 2:43 pm

Sorry to hear the mass combat bit didn't do well. Perhaps you can use the skeletal horde mechanics from your sample and just upscale the hell out of it.

On the positive side, I'm looking forward to the new art.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 11 EmptyThu Dec 13, 2018 3:55 pm

Okay, so some of this is just reorganized figures, but others are brand new. I'm pretty much including all the pieces that, barring something unexpected, are in their final state for inclusion into the final product.

Because I don't have a decent photo storage place online (Google Photos doesn't want to let you link to the full versions of the files... they want direct traffic to their page apparently), I'm going to do what I did previously and compile them all into a PDF

Here's the link to that.
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1zYOpvJPTDboH9tStp88UCjxwgDm3A0e5

Here's what's actually on each page;
1) Avatars - Nalthifyr (a Frost Dragon), a Sylph and a Storm Giant

2) Avatars - A Unicorn, Dryanara (a Dryad) and a Stone Giant

3) Avatars - A Phoenix, an Azari, and Themiolosus (a Fire Giant)

4) Avatars - A Typhonic Dragon (roughly analogous to a D&D Bronze Dragon), a Sea Sprite and an Undine

5) Humans - Sir Jon Steele (Human), Kalla Blackthorne (Elven Bloodline) - I've probably posted a prior version but this has some minor tweaks to clean it up.

6) Humans - Calahan (Human), Rayla A'Toria (Air Avatar Bloodline) - Calahan is old hat by now, but with half-orcs now being mutants, Sister Jadia moved to the Mutant entry and I needed a replacement. Of note, A'Toria is not so much a surname as a designation of belonging to the Toria tribes... basically "Of the Toria tribes" (and on the off chance you haven't made the association, Toria is a bastardized version of Prae-toria... the Toria Tribes being the descendants of Praetorian citizens who didn't make it into a Hold and descended into a couple centuries of barbarism living among the ruins of their ancestors).

7) Malfeans - Erin'yi (Ember Malfean and Shifter) and Kra'kyn (Brine Malfean; complete redesign using newer meshes)

8 ) Malfeans - Sal'dyn (Dust Malfean; yes, all the malfeans ended up with names) and Auri'jin (Miasma Malfean; formerly Aur'rai, but renamed to be consistent with Malfean naming conventions where females have two syllable first names). Both are also complete redos using newer meshes that better fit the cultures that have been developing.

9) Malfeans - Bar'los (Husk Malfean) and Nybri'ka (Slush Malfean)

10) Malfeans - Mara’kal (Rust Malfean) and Prince Ther’rin of Rin (Vermin Malfean and yes, a Noble* - see below)

11) Mutants - An Ogre and an Orc.

Also done but already seen are the first of three Beastmen images (the one with the Minotaur, Ravenkin and Kobold), the second elf page (the one with the two female signature PCs... the first one needs glowing wings added, the third needs to have the clothing redone to match the rest of the elven style), both the gnome images, and the main golem image (the one with the cute robed golem and the dapper golem bodyguard).

I'm currently redoing the Dwarf artwork to better showcase the Arcane Artifice (instead of it looking like it might just be some random techie thing) and working up proper mutant pages (the Troll for example now sports the same general armor design as Jon Steele since both are part of Blackspire's armed forces (effectively police and secret service respectively). After that will be getting the rest of the Beastman artwork done (I've got a Crocodin and Wolfen, but a Myrmidon, Goblin and Centaur; particularly since their faces are far more bestial than a lot of people are probably thinking) and doing some new golems for the second page now that I've got some better art assets to work with.

Hopefully somewhere along the way I'll have a brainstorm about how to deal with mass combat (I'm stalling some of my opponent design work until I get the mechanics worked out so that I can be sure they all line up instead of having to redo them AGAIN once I get mass combat working), but at least I'll be making some type of progress in the meantime.

* * * *

* from above - I've added a section on Malfeans and backgrounds that don't seem likely specifically to address things like Malfeans with the noble backgrounds with three observations;

- One, that distant lands might have different standards - the kingdom of Rin is said to exist somewhere within the Blood Wastes

- Two, that backgrounds' meanings are not set in stone, a "Noble" in the Free Cities is instead just a member of a very wealthy family, probably one where a member is one of the Wardens

- Three, that PCs are exceptional... your Malfean comes from a family that has long used magic to disguise its true nature or rose into the ranks of the courtiers on sheer merit.

I know its super obvious to most veteran role-players, but some new players may take all of the social relations text from the Malfeans as a cue that backgrounds like Noble are somehow banned for them. I wanted to make it plain as day that if a Malfean Noble is what you want to play, there are many way to do that.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 11 EmptyThu Dec 13, 2018 6:01 pm

Okay, I’ve just had one notion that might make the mass combat work more as intended.

The biggest issue was a huge number of guys with ranged attacks dogpiling a single PC (against troops using “Allied Defense” it wasn’t as big a deal a hundred archers dealing 200 damage vs. a hundred troops with 1000 collective Edge is just going to remove 20 opponents from the battle). Melee troops can only get so many attacks in due to their reach.

The solution is pretty simple; no single target of a massed attack can be subject to more free strikes in a round than the worst they could suffer if they withdrew in melee without shifting. Because my trigger for free strikes is slightly different than 4Es (you have to move away from an opponent not just leave an adjacent square) the maximum number of free strikes a medium creature could possibly take is 5 (7 for large, 9 for huge, 11 for massive). Extra attackers might ensure that it’s essentially automatic damage, but a typical (i.e. medium sized) PC won’t take more than 5 free strikes (about 15 damage from level 1 grunt archers) from a given massed attack. That would still drop even a level 15 PC in well under a minute, but it’s not automatic.

The other thing I’m debating related to that is how big to make the attack bonus for massed attacks. Originally I was going with +2 per aid attack (which works at skirmish level), but that gets to auto-hit territory ridiculously quickly. My thinking now is it probably needs to be more like +1 per doubling of people assisting (i.e. +1 for 1 assist, +2 for 2, +3 for 4, +4 for 8, +5 for 16, etc.).

The main issue with that is that it would get pretty fiddly.

I’m going to keep puttering on it while pushing through the art (I’m also considering that my goal of having an easy way to group troops into units; without having to build them as custom monsters; may just not be possible to do cleanly) but those are a few random bits of my line of thinking.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 11 EmptyThu Dec 13, 2018 6:18 pm

Just about everybody looks good. The new undine looks interesting, as does the redesigned Kra'kyn - I especially like the redesigned, flipper-like tail he's got going on. The orcs are interesting too - I was picturing their "massive arms" mutation as being gorilla-like arms that reach to their knees or calves or something. Instead, they're just shredded. I can't help but note their armor's resemblance to classical Roman legion armor, especially the helmet, pauldrons. Heck, their sword is damn near identical to a Roman gladius. Is their kit Old Praetorian relics, or something made in imitation of them>

Random question time: What kind of armor is Jon wearing? It looks like medium or heavy, especially with the new pauldrons. Also, I assume that Rayla's blue markings are a sign of her wind spirit lineage, but for all I know, they could be tribal tattoos.

The only critiques I could make would be that Dryanara is rather human-looking for a dryad. I guess I'm used to thinking of dryads as miniature ents. Also, it wasn't obvious that Ther'rin was a vermin Malfean - his skin was less segmented than I expected, but the bug-leg horns were a nice touch. Prince Ther'rin himself opens up a lot of questions: what is the Kingdom of Rin like, how has it survived centuries of Malfeans being oppressed (and the Cataclysm), or is it a recent development that could have problems with Demon Empire revivalists? Either way, it sounds like a cool addition to the Blood Wastes of Bestia, which I was thinking was just pharaonic beastmen versus pharaonic undead.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 11 EmptyThu Dec 13, 2018 6:24 pm

I'm glad you were able to resolve the damage problem. It makes sense - when the Persians blotted out the sun with their arrows, not every arrow was aimed at a single Spartan - there's only so much space the guy's occupying, and unless he's the size of an elephant, most of those arrows are going to miss.

As far as the scaling bonus, you may want two subsystems, one for skirmishes that uses the rules you've already come up with, and a mass battle version that uses the sliding scale you just mentioned.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 11 EmptyThu Dec 13, 2018 10:06 pm

Taking the art observations/questions in rough order.

Yeah, appearance-wise the Undine are merpeople who can change their tails into legs at will.

* * * *

Regarding the orcs; massive arms and long arms are actually two separate mutations (trolls have long arms and they do reach past the knees). Also of note is that orcs also have massive legs as well so they’re actually relatively proportional overall.

For their armor, yeah, The Praetorian Empire as a lost Golden Age prior to the present Dark Ages is deliberately Roman in flavor (this is a case of using familiar visuals to reinforce the story theme of the current age as a new Dark Age with just a few isolated points of light).

The armor/weapon versions used by the orcs/ogres are reproductions in that style (they’d have to be since there were no ogre-sized humanoids running around pre-Cataclysm).

It is worth pointing out that orcs in this setting aren’t any less intelligent than Men and are fully capable of crafting arms and armor on par with humans (that’s one of the reasons they’re so dangerous; they’re stronger, faster, can see in the dark, track by scent and are every bit as smart as a human beings).

In this particular case the particular style was a deliberate choice by their late Ghengis Khan-like leader to evoke the image of the Praetorian Empire and the glory it represented; as if to say his own empire would one day match Praetoria’s glory.

* * * *

Jon’s armor was always intended to be medium (heavy would have made him slower than Kalla whom he is supposed to be bodyguarding), but the precise definition of medium has floated a bit since my first version of the art (back when Kalla was wearing a distinctly medieval-style dress). Basically every prior depiction has the armor too heavy or too light (more accurately right on the edge of what would be medium on the light or heavy side). With this I finally feel the amount is “just right.”

To clarify, all armor is presumed to have some degree of padding as a base, even if its just a leather buff coat.

Light armor is either an extra layer of padding over most of the body (a full gambeson or a bunch of animal hides) or metal armor of some kind covering up to half the body (most typically a helmet and some type of armor on the torso).

Medium armor would be the basic padding with metal armor covering 50-75% of the body, sacrificing some protection for better mobility. Jon’s armor is now easily in this category (chest and shoulders, forearms, shins have plates, his “skirt” is brigandine; metal plates sewn into a lining; and while it’s not shown because it’s a “hero shot”, he does also have a helmet as well).

Heavy armor is the basic padding with metal over pretty much the entire body. The Elven warrior I’ve put up previously has heavy armor (his man-at-arms behind him in that picture would be wearing medium armor). It’s not entirely clear because the chest armor is covered by the ornate overcoat, but you can see his arms/shoulders and legs are entirely covered in plate armor with a mail skirt to further protect his groin area. Once he dons his helmet (like the one the elf man-at-arms wears) he’s extremely well protected (he wouldn’t wear a full faceplate because he’s an Archon; i.e. a winged knight; and needs better peripheral vision while flying).

Fine and legendary heavy armor can get a built-in shield bonus which turns it into the the high-medieval full plate (so good that using a shield is redundant).

* * * *

Rayla’s markings are actually both a sign of her wind spirit lineage and tribal tatoos. Her whole clan has a number of Sylphs in its family tree and the materials they use to apply the tattoos which denote their tribal membership (each clan in the Toria tribes has its own unique markings and usually some type of avatar or another in their ancestry) and which glow faintly when their particular primal gifts are active. The same pigments tattooed onto someone without the air avatar bloodline would be a dull blue that never glows. Thus, the particular pattern, the secret ingredients used in the tattoo pigments and the presence of the avatar bloodline all combine to create a distinct mark of heritage that allows members of a clan to easily identify one another as kin even if they’ve never met.

* * * *

As to the dryads, I decided on going a lot more in the direction of classical mythology for them in large part because I’m not using the OGL (I’ve gone back to the original myths for a lot of critters rather than just using the D&D version of them). Similarly, instead of Treant (or the even more problematic Ent due to Tolkein’s heirs being strong on enforcing their IP) I opted to call them Forest Giants. Visually, both Dryads and Forest Giants are human-like when moving about and actually shapeshift into trees when they desire to hide.

Also, from a purely lore standpoint, there are humans with the plant avatar bloodline and that most likely came from someone having a kid with a dryad at some point or another. I know alcohol can do a lot, but “looks like a log” requires a LOT more booze than green-haired wood-skinned woman would.

* * * *

Vermin malfeans don’t actually have segmented skin, it just has a chitinous sheen to it. The main inhuman elements of a vermin malfean are their faceted eyes, antenna-like horns, segmented tails and aforementioned blue skin with the sheen of chitin.

The common design element of all Malfeans is “marred beauty.” They are all extremely attractive, but that beauty is marred by odd skin colors, glowing eyes (with black sclera), horns and tails. All the females are basically “cute monster girls” and the males are “brooding bishounen beasts.”

* * * *

As to the Kingdom of Rin, it is a post-Cataclym development and is a small kingdom composed almost entirely of Malfeans (with a significant minority of mutants and a few golems). Two relevant points will put the Kingdom of Rin into context.

First, the Blood Wastes are a direct result of the Cataclym. The wave of energy warped the land every bit as much as it mutated life forms and pockets of that chaotic energy still linger even to this day. It’s greatly diminished now; you’d have to live on top of it for years and even then it would only result in your kids being mutants; but there are places in the world, most notably parts of the Blood Wastes, where these pockets are especially common (one reason Old Praetoria is a thing is because there are almost no lingering pockets there... some speculate that The Black Spire may have something to do with that).

Second, one peculiarity of malfeans is that their tainted bloodline overrides EVERYTHING if they’re able to breed with them at all. Human, dwarf, mutant, even elves and fetches... all their offspring will always be malfeans.

The reason that’s relevant is because that essentially means that Malfeans are basically immune to the Cataclysm’s warping energies. Which means they can live in a place that is basically worthless to everyone else and call it their own and not have to worry (at least until the chaotic energies completely dissipate) about other places wanting to claim it for their own.

Thus, the Kingdom of Rin was able to establish itself at a relatively fertile oasis valley in the Blood Wastes specifically because it was also a Cataclysmic hotspot that would mutate the children of anyone who wasn’t a Malfean (or already a mutant) living there.

In relation to Demon Empire revivalists though, the most amusing thing about the Malfeans is that, other than the actual Cambions (i.e. the direct offspring of the demons), demon worshippers are practically non-existent among their number.

Due to The Promise (as they call it) virtually every Malfean practices the Old Faith. This has its own issues since the bulk of everyone else follows the Praetorian Church and the official Praetorian Church position is that Primal Spirits are kin to demons (technically true since demons are just fallen primal spirits, but also completely missing the point) and are therefore not to be trusted lest they lead you to ruin as befell the First Empire (more accurately, the First Empire grew so corrupt that the primal spirits revoked their support and allowed it to fall to the beastmen who were backed by the Astral gods... the humans blamed the primal spirits for their loss and started worshipping the gods of the winners instead).

Anyway, Malfeans are among the most devout followers of the Great Spirit and, because it tends to always blow back on them, are generally hyper-vigilant about any signs of demon worship (one of the reasons they teach their children the Abyssal tongue is because it better allows them to recognize the signs of demon worshippers; the other is it’s a language almost no one else speaks making it good for sharing secrets).

Their biggest problem in the Blood Wastes are undead (who also aren’t affected by the Cataclysmic energies) and raiders who come with every harvest to steal whatever they can (and don’t stick around long enough to get mutated). Before King (formerly Warlord) Rin organized them, the Malfeans in the area lived just above the level of starvation as the Raiders culled the population every year took all but the bare minimum of food needed to keep the survivors alive to produce more food for them to steal the following year.

Because of the safety the King now provides, The Kingdom of Rin is one of the few places where Malfeans actually live anywhere close to their natural lifespans (Kin Rin is 150, looks 50, and could live to be 240) and so there are actually a LOT of Malfeans still alive who remember what things were like before King Rin came to rule (about 120 years ago) and would love the opportunity to wipe out some of the descendants of the people who once raided their lands and stole their lives and livelihoods.

In other words, they’re as much a potential threat to the region as an ally, but not because they might be harboring secret demon worshippers. Instead for the much more human reason that “blood must answer for blood.”

* * * *

Feel free to keep the questions coming. A lot of my answers just need a slight bit of tweaking to actually just be dropped right into the world section of the GM’s Guide so it’s actually doing double duty for me.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 11 EmptyFri Dec 14, 2018 3:01 pm

Thanks for the clarification on orcs. Also, Chief Warclaugh apparently knew his shit.

****

The "alcohol can do a lot" bit was the highlight of my day right there. I needed that laugh.

****

Thanks for the Malfean clarification. I have to admit, "brooding bishounen beasts" makes me a lot more sympathetic to non-Malfean fathers. That is some "lock up your daughters" stuff right there.

****

The Kingdom of Rin sounds interesting as well - having one guy in charge for that long has to lead to some kind of pushback, even if it doesn't happen in his lifetime. I imagine that the growing discontentment will be slower to build, given that there are more Malfeans that remember the bad old days. Once Rin (and the generation that saw his rise) passes on, I think the extended Malfean lifespan will create a stronger motivation for ambitious would-be rulers to assassinate rivals to the throne: time's a slower assassin for them than say a human.

I keep forgetting that Malfeans as a whole avoid demon worship just from the blowback it gets them. It makes sense, though. The only ones able to do that and avoid the inevitable backlash are the ancient Cambions.

Speaking of the Cambions, I have to wonder if they ever established small kingdoms, or if they simply chose to operate in the shadows, influencing things to their infernal masters' benefit.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 11 EmptySat Dec 15, 2018 12:25 pm

In my head, Warclaugh was a PC from a prior generation (albeit one who in D&D terms would have been an evil one... in T&T he simply had Allegiances to his legacy, the orcish people and the orcish warrior code). Most likely, he was a Strong Tactical Captain with the military background, the battlefield and tactics specializations and utilities like Master Plan, Bring Down the Walls, Combat Engineering, Fortify Positions, Hero to the People, Inspire Competence and Improved Coordination (the last three being gained through the 1/tier cross-training utility).

Mechanically what sets PCs apart are Heroic Surges, much greater Focus and far more utilities than even a champion-tier opponent. In terms of the world lore though, PCs are the sort of people who change the world in ways well beyond what a single person should ever be capable of.

The Original Adventurers (i.e. the leaders of the war against the Demon Empire) definitely qualify. Though they don’t get mentioned as much, Warclaugh certainly had a party who were his most trusted people. Of the still-living NPCs I’ve previously mentioned, I also consider First Warden Blackthorne and his closest allies who organized the rebellion against Malcer to be retired PCs, but Malcer and his father were not; nor would the current King of Ironhold be one (one of his knights is a signature PC, but the crown prince is just a background companion).

I bring these up because it helps to emphasize both how relatively rare PCs are, but also the heights to which they can reach; Founder (and god) of the Bloodspear Empire and founder of the Free Cities Republic (if he can finagle a peaceful transfer of power Blackthorne could be a Washington-like figure... but that’s still something of an IF at this stage).

* * * *

I’m glad the “needs more alcohol” got a laugh... and yes, if they can get past the initial fear of the traitorous kin of demons aspect, the broody, but sensitive pretty boy with the whiff of danger is catnip to certain girls. I’m certain there are tales of various malfean Lothario’s out there who have ruined whole noble houses and alliances by leaving some Lord’s daughter with a Malfean love child.

As mentioned previously though, the same “biology” (in quotes because Malfeans always breeding true is actually a spiritual aspect rather than anything genetic) is also why Malfean women are relatively popular as mistresses for the powerful, precisely because any bastard children sired won’t have much, if any, family resemblance to the father (cheek bones come in way behind the horns, skin, glowing eyes and tails when you don’t have DNA tests to confirm paternity) so can be safely ignored in terms of succession and inheritance issues.

The ugly truth is that Malfeans always breeding true is why many places in the setting have miscegenation laws prohibiting marriage of non-malfeans to malfeans. Even mutant blood as potent as orcish blood will fade over multiple generations, but not so with malfeans... they could, in theory, eventually replace every last species they can breed with (human, elf fetch, dwarf and mutant) with malfeans just through random couplings if they were ever accepted as equals of the other species.

Likewise, it’s not something I plan on covering in my book, but my perception of general “human” sexual norms is largely impacted by the knowledge that there are probably only 100,000 humans/dwarves/non-hideous mutants in the whole of Old Praetoria; a region home to probably 3-5 MILLION of them before the Cataclysm (i.e. 2-3% of the population of 200 years before).

As such, traditional child producing marriages (and large families in general) are the social expectation; any sexual interests that don’t further that are going to be frowned upon by society at large unless kept discreet and on the side. It’s not Victorian though so much as early 1960’s New England.

* * * *

I think the Kingdom of Rin’s biggest challenge is going to be all the infighting for the successor spot. I’m envisioning it a bit like the House of Saud in a way. The King has many wives and his long lifespan has allowed him to father many children (and because Malfeans breed true to their mother these children are of every variety of malfean), but because they do not practice primogeniture, it’s something of contest between all these children (and often their mothers) to win the favor of the king in hopes of unseating the current crown prince/princess (who must constantly perform to maintain their favored status). Not to mention the princes’ own children, whose only hope of possibly one day gaining the crown is for their father or mother to gain it first.

Basically, the king is playing his children against each other to keep them too busy to think about deposing him (and the ones who aren’t the current favorite have a vested interest in keeping the king alive lest the current favorite become king). The token evil Visier is woefully outclassed by the actual heirs.

I’m sure with that many competitors at least one has probably turned to demon worship in an attempt to gain an edge.

* * * *

The Cambions generally operate behind the scenes. They’re generally so corrupted that their appearance without magic often barely qualifies as human anymore. Reverse articulated legs, bat-like wings, armored scales, talons and fangs and similar are the norm.

In my current monster lore Gorgons (the Medusa variety not the D&D bull) and Gargoyles are lesser Cambions (i.e. children of the true Cambions). Gorgons are Brine Cambions with full eel-like lower bodies (and eels for hair) whose gaze desiccates creatures into statues of salt.

As a result, Cambions tend to operate through intermediaries; often demon cults devoted to their progenitor. If one of them actually gained enough power to rule openly it would likely be Hell on Earth with slaves by the thousands tortured until they agree to become demonic hosts to make the pain stop (the true Cambions were generally the offspring of the most powerful of demons, who have many servitors in need of host bodies) and the ever expanding corruption of the realm due to the demons’ presence warping the environment all around them.

As such, these realms rarely last... if anything can get otherwise intractable enemy kingdoms to ally themselves against a common foe it would be the rise of a Neo-Demon Empire on their doorsteps. Likewise, news of the rise of such realms spreads quickly among the primal spirits (and by extension the avatars and malfeans). Nothing gets hopes up among the Avatars for the prospect of earning their redemption than by striving to prevent the return of the Demon Empire. Malfean’s promise of eventual deliverance from their cursed state isn’t contingent upon fighting their demonic ancestors, but historically they’ve always gathered in large numbers when such realms appear to prove to everyone they are NOT their ancestors.

Hmmm... I definitely think something like an Adventure Path could be made out PCs joining a force of Avatar and Malfean crusaders warring against a Neo-Demon Empire somewhere.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 11 EmptySat Dec 15, 2018 2:20 pm

The "traitorous kin to demons" bit would be a plus in some girls' eyes - the whole bad boy thing and all. Speaking of bad boys, I doubt that those malfean Lotharios had long life expectancies - in fact, in certain barbaric places, I bet that their actions would result in blowback towards the entire local malfean community if the anti-malfean prejudice was strong enough.

On the subject of malfeans, the Kingdom of Rin as the House of Saud makes sense - Rin's had a long time to father lots of kids with lots of women, and he's still going strong. If anything, they're gonna reach House of Saud numbers much faster than the real life one did simply because the older ones aren't dying off as quickly - though that could change (and bring down the Rin malfean life expectancy, at least among the royals) once the knives start coming out.

As for the cambions, I figured that they would operate covertly - evolutionary pressure (i.e. dying at the hands of avatar and malfean crusaders) would tend to weed out the direct "Neo-Demon Empire!" guys real quick. I don't know if you read the Dresden Files, but the same thing happened to the Black Court of Vampires (Stoker-style vampires, rotting corpses that feed on the blood of the living, killing like a plague) in the backstory - they got wiped out, the Black Court vamps that wanted payback got squashed, teaching the survivors to stick to the shadows.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 11 EmptySat Dec 15, 2018 3:48 pm

Yes, in many places the lifespan of Malfeans is brutally short (especially Lotharios who aren't good about leaving town at the earlier opportunity).

Due to the availability of magic to cure things like cancer and heal damaged organs, natural human lifespans are about 120 years (violence bends the average down, but 120 is about the limit of what scientists think humans could achieve if things like cancer and other diseases are wiped out so that's where I set it for the game because that's exactly what the availability of magic can achieve).

Malfeans can theoretically live to twice that (about 240) even if they don't accept their demonic taint. But their AVERAGE lifespan due to violence is in the 40-60 year range (higher in places like the Free Cities, lower in places where they're actively hunted).

Those that embrace their demonic ancestry (basically take on the optional species traits like wings, armored skin, etc.) basically double that for every additional trait they possess. A Cambion who fully embraced its demonic aspects would have a theoretical lifespan of around 500 THOUSAND years (even half of the traits would be sufficient for it have been alive during the Demon Empire and expect to live for around two millennia more).

In other words, Cambions are functionally immortal. They can afford to play the long game in ways even dragons might say "Hurry it up already." Those who have lived since the Demon Empire have no desire to get themselves killed in pointless battles when they can escape and try again in what is, to them, an eye-blink in their lives.

Also of note... despite their natures, Cambions are NOT demons. It may be withered to nearly nothing, but as with all Malfeans, they have a human soul. In theory, they are even redeemable and could, again in theory, divest themselves of the bulk of their corruption (in game terms, retrain all those utilities) though they'd likely die and crumble to dust instantly in the process (basically, they could in theory pull off a Darth Vader-ish Redemption = Death).

The odds of one of these beings actually doing so is virtually nil, but the prospect is there if any GM ever chooses to pick up that thread and run with it.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 11 EmptyMon Dec 17, 2018 12:06 pm

Okay, I think I've finally got the group attack worked out for mass combat. The thing of it is, I'll also need to convert the Area Attack rules a bit to make it all consistent.

The underlying principle of the change works out to "one action = one check." While there are a few things which break that rule a bit (i.e. specific beats general), the gist is that whether its a dozen guys acting in concert to attack another dozen guys or a single spellcaster trying to blast a dozen guys you'll only be making one attack roll (and one damage roll if you're a PC).

Mechanically its going to work like this, for every person participating in a group attack (including the first) you get a +1 to the attack roll. You use the result of this check against the closest target, subtract 2 from the result and check against the next closest target, subtract another two and check against the next closest after that and so forth until you're out of targets (or there's clearly no way you'll be hitting anymore).

Against homogeneous targets, you can simplify this to "hit one target per two points you beat the defense by."

Mechanically, +1 per attacker but only one hitting per 2 points you beat the target's defense by eventually levels out to about a 50% hit rate (i.e. it takes two attackers to add the +2 you need for another hit to count) which is about what you'd expect overall in a truly giant mass combat.

Throw in the limit on number of attacks on a single creature (5 vs. a medium PC so +5 to hit and up to 5 hits landing with a really good roll, but only about 2.5 on average, 1.5-ish for a guardian) and the PCs can interface with the rules directly without too many problems.

Now, the other half of this change and part of making the whole mass combat thing in general work is the change to area effects.

The biggest issue was always going to be the massively disproportionate effect that AoE's could have on mass combat. With even a 50% hit rate a blast 4 (an interdictor using a minor action and 1 focus to enlarge a spell) would inflict eight times the damage of a single attack and might be enough to sweep two dozen mooks from the battlefield in a single action.

It was also going to take a TON of rolls to resolve... up to 32 if the controller was attacking flat-footed targets. The same would hold true of any blaster-type opponents using their AoEs.

Ultimately, my solution to mass attacks came from working out how to handle AoEs in mass combat. The gist of the change is that for multi-attack actions (unless otherwise noted... specific still beats general) you make a single attack roll with a bonus to the attack based on the size of the area (blasts are size-1 so +2 for a blast 3; bursts are size +1 so +2 for a burst 1; walls are one-third their size so +2 for a wall 6... enlarged targeted spells get +1 per target, so +2 for two targets).

As you can see from the math above, this actually makes all the area attacks roughly equal in terms of targets they can reliably hit. The fluff-wise idea is that the further from the point of origin the more time you have to evade the attack (and in bit masses some people are going to end up shielded just because they happened to have someone else in front of the fireball).

It also provides an advantage to using the "enlarge spell" action even if only attacking a single target (you still have to worry about hitting allies though).

It also allows for an interesting sort of gamble to be made if you do end up with an ally in your potential AoE; if you can position it so the ally is among the most distant targets (remember, if you have to choose to apply effects to targets an equal distance away you get to choose which is which/the order) and don't roll too well, you can hit the enemies with a reduced chance of hitting your ally. Is it worth the gamble? That depends on the PCs own judgement.

The only real thing to work out is how to handle multi-attack abilities when flat-footed targets and cover (all other types of hindered attacks either apply universally; like being shaken, or are ignored by AoEs anyway; like obscurement) come up because its now "roll twice, use best." I see two simple and two more complex options for this;

1) Simple A: whether the roll-twice applies depends only on the closest target.
2) Simple B: Roll-twice (good or bad) applies only if it applies to ALL the targets.

4) Complex A: When making multi-attacks you do not roll-twice, but apply +/-5 to your results for any targets that have cover or are flat-footed.
5) Complex B: Keep track of both results and which of the two rolls is "first" and use that against any attackers that aren't flat-footed or out of cover, the high one vs. any flat-footed targets and the lower one against any in cover).

Of these, I think I prefer either Simple A (only worry about the closest target because that's the absolute fastest way to do it) or Complex B (it's a little more tracking, but sometimes it won't even matter because your first roll was highest/lowest so it doesn't matter against your special targets anyway).
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 11 EmptyMon Dec 17, 2018 12:44 pm

I actually like the simple A option - it keeps the game moving.
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