2020/06/25

Playing with Fantasy XVIII

Yet more fantasy RPG thoughts. One is about a White Wolf urban fantasy game, or specifically an upcoming CRPG based on one.
  • Decided that my wood elves, specifically their druids, act as agricultural providers for the city 'high' elves. Apparently deer can have a population density of 30 or even 35 per square mile and not overpopulate their environment; reindeer farmers apparently have an "equilibrium" slaughter-rate of 55 percent (deer get to reproductive age a lot faster than cattle, I think is why, plus they usually have two offspring at once—since the rate for cattle is only a bit over 9 percent). That comes to 16½ to 19¼ deer slaughtered per square mile. And the "ideal" meat yield of a deer (which elves are presumably capable of usually achieving) is 83 pounds of meat, which brings the total to 1,369½ to 1,597¾ pounds of meat per square mile.

    Meat is about as good a source of calories as grain, and a human being (or an elf) requires 37½ pounds of grain (or meat) per month. That comes to 36.52 to 42.61 person-months per square mile—or in other words, 3 to 3½ elves supported for a year per square mile of forest. That means a Pathfinder small city of 5,000 to 10,000 elves can be supported by a forest of 1,429 to 3,334 square miles, and a large city of 10,000 to 25,000 elves can be supported by 2,858 to 8,334 square miles of forest. For some perspective, the Coconino National Forest is 2,900 square miles; the largest taiga in Russia is 4,633,226 square miles. And that's if the city lives solely on the deer the wood elves provide; they would also import other foods, and also raise their own, like poultry.

    All my nonhumans are actually generalist carnivores, like wolves, so they can also live on high-protein vegetable foods like nuts and legumes, and on dairy products (I think my elves buy a lot of cheese from humans).
  • If you look at it just right, Pathfinder includes rules for falling from grace and becoming something one would have once loathed with all one's being, à la Arthas or Anakin. You just retrain as the new "evil" class, using the retraining rules found in Ultimate Campaign. (It has specific rules for an Arthas or Anakin-type character ceasing to be a paladin and becoming an antipaladin, but what about a good adept who becomes an evil witch, say, after watching their tribe slaughtered by orcs?)
  • Worked out my nonhumans' skin colorings. Elves do indeed have bluish skin, sometimes turned greenish by yellow carotenoid pigment, except the dark elves instead have bluish skin sometimes turned purplish by red anthocyanins (they're generally not any darker-colored than other elves, it's not a physical descriptor. Goblins also have blue-gray faces, becoming bluer the higher caste they are till bugbears have fully bright blue faces (like golden snub-nosed monkeys getting bluer skin the higher-ranked they are—basically the better-fed they are the better their complexion is). Dark elven hair has red anthocyanin pigment, blue- and green-haired elves have blue anthocyanin (with the green hair also having yellow carotenoid), and goblins have brazen yellow hair with just the carotenoid, and green fur all over most of their bodies with both blue anthocyanin and the carotenoid. Normal elves' orange or yellow eyes are carotenoid, while dark elves' blue-white eyes are just very light blue anthocyanin, and goblins' bright crimson eyes are orange carotenoids combined with red anthocyanin.

    Dwarves have red or black phycoerythrin in their hair, except white dwarves, and ogres, who have phycocyanin as well as yellow phycoerythrin; all have yellow-brown phycoerythrin in their skins, giving them a "yellow ochre" skin-tone. All dwarves and ogres have the same color eyes as hair (meaning white dwarves only have pupils). Gnomes have melanin in their skin, making them walnut- to chestnut colored, but in their lavender or pink hair they have purple to magenta betacyanins. Gnomes with lavender hair have violet eyes, while gnomes with pink hair have blue eyes. Had been going to say gnomes and elves have sclera the same color as their irises because, with their +2 to Perception, they can keep track of each other's gaze without needing obvious "whites of their eyes", and then maybe dwarves' +2 to Wisdom, an effective +1 to Perception, was sufficient. But then I realized you probably can't see "whites of their eyes" in darkvision anyway, so the issue of being able to see where each other was looking never actually comes up for people who have it.
  • There's this elaborate article about how to do an Avatar: The Last Airbender-based campaign in D&D 5e. Meanwhile, in Pathfinder… And yes, that is clearly what they're going for; the illustration for the blood kineticist in Occult Adventures is even dressed like an Eskimo, albeit her anorak isn't dyed blue (must be a mollusc dye, since there presumably aren't many dye plants at the poles). What you do to make kineticists correspond directly to Avatar is restrict everyone to only one element, when they would normally be allowed to take extra ones at higher levels, and don't allow most composite effects, but you stick electric in fire instead of air and make it and metal more level-restricted (and don't have aether).
  • Decided that apprentice sorcerers (and leyline guardian witches), "know" three zeroth-level spells, rather than being able to prepare two like wizard ones. (I should've specified they can prepare two per day, and cast them an infinite number of times per day, like all primary casters, rather than saying they can "cast" two per day—though there are two a day that they can cast.) Other witch apprentices, of course, should use the same rules as wizards, since witch spellcasting tracks with that of wizards.

    So presumably, too, apprentice maguses work like apprentice wizards, and apprentice bards like apprentice sorcerers, since at first level those classes work pretty much like the equivalent primary casters. And novice clerics and druids would also work like wizard apprentices, and oracles like sorcerers.

    Inquisitors work like bards (or sorcerers), as do summoners (which I don't think I'll ever use, since they're a huge hassle). I don't know exactly how to have apprentice alchemists work; maybe they can use Alchemy and Brew Potion but not bombs or extracts. And then maybe they can make a sort of "practice" mutagen that only gives half the AC and ability-score bonuses—but maybe full penalties? Seems thematically appropriate anyway. Remember that apprentices should normally be NPCs not players, so "would anyone want to play that?" is less of a factor.
  • I keep going back and forth on whether my goblin subgroups (goblin, hobgoblin, bugbear) are different ethnicities of one species, or are just castes within one ethnicity. Like, maybe if you feed a goblin enough it becomes a hobgoblin, and a really well-fed hobgoblin can become a bugbear. I suppose I can split the difference, since I'd already had all three be goblin-sized at birth (this allows male hobgoblins and bugbears to have goblin wives without risking their health). Being raised in a family of hobgoblins or bugbears, with their access to food, will always make a child grow up to be that size, while a grown goblin or hobgoblin is usually locked into the size of their race, and wouldn't get as big as a bugbear even if they were to get as much food as one (since male bugbears do have hobgoblin and even goblin wives, who don't become as big as them); and a hobgoblin or bugbear who falls on hard times certainly won't shrink…but might starve.
  • I got Ultimate Intrigue for my birthday, and…damn. This is how you make a d20 game something other than a hack-and-slash fest; the verbal duels and research rules make it almost the "home game" version of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and Miles Edgeworth: Ace Investigations, respectively (I don't know about your players but mine would almost certainly say "objection!" and "hold it!" constantly while doing verbal duels). I had thought the only major things it had to offer were the vigilante base class and some new archetypes, but it actually has a lot of at least potentially useful stuff.

    The social conflict rules seem to (I haven't actually learned them yet and I might be wrong) allow you to do intrigues and social-based campaigns almost as well as a White Wolf game would (or, as a White Wolf game is supposed to, given that White Wolf games very often devolved into "I use my three dots in Shitblowupification" or "I go Crinos and bite his head off"). And expanded rules for chases (where you can also make slow, careful tracking-down fun to run, not just an actual physical pursuit of a quarry you can actually see), and a system for establishing nemeses for the PCs, are two ideas whose time had come a long time ago.

    The intrigue rules and heist rules also let you do things the d20 system has historically handled fairly fumblingly. Have I mentioned how impressive I find Pathfinder as a ruleset? Because it's amazing.
  • Speaking of White Wolf, planning to get Werewolf: The Apocalypse—Earthblood, so my XBone has something to do before Halo Infinite comes out for its successor (Earthblood seems to be due out in July). It looks pretty cool; I am of course girding my loins for having to wade through eco-radical ranting that might be too heavyhanded for Captain Planet. I.e., yes, I am familiar with Werewolf: The Apocalypse. Still kinda wish it didn't lock you into playing one character—the Vampire: The Masquerade video games let you pick your clan and I think even faction, though there's only the one protagonist faction in Werewolf—because while the Fianna are among the less obnoxious tribes, I'd much rather be a Shadow Lord ("werewolf Starscream"). I'd also like to pick my breed and auspice, because Metis are cool (the fact their name is…"problematic"…to one side) and I like Theurges.

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