Just a nudge on the pulp dial

Discussion of GMing 1879. Warning: Here there be spoilers!
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Slimcreeper
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Just a nudge on the pulp dial

Post by Slimcreeper » Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:41 pm

So as the start date for my own game keeps getting nudged back, I keep tinkering and fiddling around the edges. I think I would like the setting to be just a touch pulpier for my table, so I'm thinking of the following house rules:
  • Casters only check for Warping if they fail the Spellcasting test
  • Laudanum and other drugs that can make you fall asleep if you fail a toughness test only trigger the test vs. uselessness if you choose to take a recovery test during the duration of their effect.
  • If a character is killed, the character can choose to make it survivable at a cost. Others would still need to get the character to safety and medical care for it to work.
- Loss of limb or sense (GM chooses the limb or sense. This also gets more of that cool steampunk stuff in the game.) **Edit: Oh! last thing before I really have to start working - the cost of Loss of Limb or Sense would be permanent -2 to Toughness Attribute, as well as another -2 to a randomly chosen Attribute. Roll 1d6 to determine which one. If it lands on Toughness, well, that's just tough (hahahaha I'm so funny). This could also help the GM determine what limb or sense is lost.**
- Addiction (GM chooses the substance, such as Laudanum, Cocaine, or Alcohol. If the character is in a stressful situation (combat, shocking news, visit from the in-laws), he makes a Willpower test vs 5 or suffers withdrawal symptoms. For each day that it's been since he indulged, he requires an additional success. While suffering from Withdrawal, the character is considered Harried and cannot make Recovery tests.
- Soldier's Heart. The GM will determine 2 trigger conditions. When in those situations, the character's fight or flight response may be triggered. The character must make a Willpower test vs 5. If the character fails, he is Harried until the situation is resolved. The GM may determine if the character's response is Fight or Flight. Alternately, to determine it randomly, if the Willpower result was odd, the response is Fight, and if it is even it is Flight. The character must be played according to the result.

(okay, Soldier's Heart is more grit than pulp, and I'm not sure if it's an appropriate thing to game or how accurate my simulation is. I am open to feedback on that.)

DaveStorm
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Re: Just a nudge on the pulp dial

Post by DaveStorm » Fri Nov 17, 2017 9:58 am

Some interesting info! Thanks.
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Andrew1879
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Re: Just a nudge on the pulp dial

Post by Andrew1879 » Fri Nov 17, 2017 11:44 am

As far as appropriate to game, it's your campaign. If it works for you, use it.
I generally use Warping Tests only if the caster is working in a toxic environment - someplace that's Tainted or Corrupted. This isn't Earthdawn, where tossing a raw spell in Open territory risks bringing a Horror down on your head. Do a ritual working in Le Zone Rouge, and yeah, you're taking a serious chance of frying your neurons.

Slimcreeper
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Re: Just a nudge on the pulp dial

Post by Slimcreeper » Fri Nov 17, 2017 2:08 pm

I personally think spellcasters have it pretty rough (although my character would 100% be a Medium, were I to be a player) and some house rules easing that are a good thing. I know the in-world reasoning for it, but risking death every time you cast a Glim Up ... I would save up for a candle.

Another route could be skip the strain and only roll for warping, with KAVs that modify Strain costs actually modify Mystic Armor against warping. I do like the idea of a little randomness in the spell cost so that a spellcaster is a little unpredicatable. I'm just spitballing here (it probably wouldn't work well with all of the different types of spellcasting), but I definitely don't think you need both penalties to keep the mages in check. But do they become scary at higher levels? I don't know enough yet, but i do know that a Troll Tribal Warrior with a pole-ax can probably do step 16 damage without any Strain. A Snark with a light machine gun can do step 8 damage 5 times in a round at 100 yds. And that's before forging. There might be 'I win' buttons in the spell list; I can't claim to know them all that well.

I've also thought more about the Soldier's Heart. It could be a really great roleplaying aspect, and maybe not anymore problematic than Addiction. Just need to talk about it 1st. But perhaps the player would choose her default response to each trigger.

As another aside: Tribal Warriors don't get Second Attack? Who does? Or is it only available as Free?
Another another aside: As a mid-way point between rolling separate attacks for each round in a machine gun burst and having each round target a different target: Concentrate all fire at one target: Roll one attack test. The first round is resolved as normal. Each subsequent round is at -1, cumulative. Say you roll a 15. The first attack's result is 15, the second attack's is 14, third 13, fourth 12, and fifth 11.

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Andrew1879
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Re: Just a nudge on the pulp dial

Post by Andrew1879 » Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:32 pm

Military Officer, Tribal Warrior get Second Attack at Warden. That'll be in the Players Companion.

Let's assume a Mage with a Perception and Willpower of 16, to hit the breakpoint, giving a Step of 7. At a Professional Rank of 5, starting into Journeyman, they learn Willforce. Toss a couple of Ranks into it, for a total Willforce Step of 9, and remember it's a Core Skill, so they can add karma. Their Spellcasting Rank is going to be at least a 5, and more likely a 7 given the free Ranks they started with and typical player character progression. By this time, they've got at least four Ranks of Durability, so they've got four times their TOU Step added to their Uncon. This Mage tosses a Bolt. They've got a 14 plus Karma for their Spellcasting. Using physical dice, I just rolled a 17, with no rollups. Average Mystic Defense being a 7, I've got +2 to the Effect. With a Willforce of 9, and a Spellcasting Rank of 7, and the success bonus, I'm rolling Step 18 for the Effect, plus Karma because Willforce. That's D12, D10, 2D8, and I got a rollup on the 12, for a total of 34 damage. I spent 6 Strain, which isn't even my TOU Step, so I can do that three more times before I run through my Durability and start digging into base Uncon points.

Once the Players Companion is out, we'll have rules for full auto weaponry, which will include problems with overheating, reliability, ammo quality, and so forth. Having a Maxim and having it work properly every round are two very different things. However, firepower is going to be more effective at doing a lot of damage in a short time than magic. If you're facing a lot of opponents in an open field battle, you're going to want the Maxim. If you're wanting to snipe an enemy officer or otherwise take down a single foe at range, your Mage is maybe the better option. Also, the Mage is a Swiss Army knife, where the Maxim is a carving knife. Diversity of function can be more useful than raw power in many cases.

Slimcreeper
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Re: Just a nudge on the pulp dial

Post by Slimcreeper » Fri Nov 17, 2017 9:19 pm

But every time your mage is hit, it blasts away a spell. Seems like a mage could get in desperate straits pretty quickly, too weakened to defend herself. But maybe that’s okay. And you’re right, the Mage is more interesting _not_ being a machine gun.

I just don’t want a player to run a mage for 3 sessions and commit suicide by bar fight because he thinks his character sucks (which happened once in Earthdawn for me).

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Andrew1879
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Re: Just a nudge on the pulp dial

Post by Andrew1879 » Sat Nov 18, 2017 2:44 am

This is why I start by asking the players what they want to accomplish. I divert the Butt Kickers to the straight up fighting types, send the Puzzle Solvers to Professions like the Investigator or Journalist, and generally recommend the Mage, Priest, Shaman, Weird Scientist, or Medium to the Storyteller or the Method Actor. This is a low magic world. Magic is the hard way to do things. Save it for when it really matters, and carry a revolver for less formal occasions.

Slimcreeper
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Re: Just a nudge on the pulp dial

Post by Slimcreeper » Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:03 pm

You know, it might be useful to have an article with specific practical advice for GMs new to 1879 (which is everyone) but experienced in D&D or Earthdawn (which is practically everyone running 1879). Stuff like the roles of each profession. And other stuff I can’t think of right now.

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Andrew1879
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Re: Just a nudge on the pulp dial

Post by Andrew1879 » Sun Nov 19, 2017 1:30 pm

I'll add that to my blog articles to-do.

Slimcreeper
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Re: Just a nudge on the pulp dial

Post by Slimcreeper » Sun Nov 19, 2017 3:43 pm

Just what you need, right! <grin>

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