Archive for July, 2010

I kind of like that phrase – “shapeshifting yourself dead”. Would anyone reasonable want to do that? Probably not. Would any player? Probably not.

Then again, maybe one player out there would.

But stepping back from the brink of things that really should only happen for damned good story reasons, there are a few shapeshifting things that the ADRPG just doesn’t deal with well.

Take the weir, or any other common werewolf of your choice. There’s a 1-point ability for items and creatures that lets them have a single alternate form, so NPC werewolves are no big deal. Or you could have a selkie – same thing, different animal. You could have an NPC with a suite of alternate shapes – Named and Numbered, even – for 2 points.

For a PC, there is… 35 points of shapeshifting.


Wujick walks this fine line sometimes between making you pay for something that’s innate and letting you treat it as innate and free when it comes to item and creature creation. I suspect that’s what the issue is here; he probably felt that the weir are inherently able to shift to a single alternate form, and thus shouldn’t need to pay for something innate.

Even though it offers a half-weir PC a bit of an advantage, wouldn’t you say? Or a huge disadvantage, depending on the GM.

That, or he saw no reason that a character concept might include only one or a handful of shapes, but not the other powers of shapeshifting.

I suspect this issue right here is one of the big ones that leads to partial power house rules. Pattern has some divisions that can be made, and so does Trump and Logrus, but none of them are so necessary as to be required. To work properly, shapeshifting as presented in the ADRPG needs to be a partial power system.

(It also argues – again – that the item and creature creation section is broken, but that is best saved for discussion elsewhere.)

And then there’s the “alternate shapes might cause changes in strength, endurance, etc” the author casually slaps down with no particular explanation of how or why he’d allow it. I realize it’s backed up in canon – see Merlin’s fight with the Dweller on the Threshold – but it has potential to be an easy game-breaker if you just casually toss it out like that, sans any sort of balancing mechanism.

And there’s my favorite phrase – it’s ill-defined and ill-advised when it comes to the abilities and the divisions between them. Most of basic Shapeshifting is devoted to “when things go wrong” instead of to the power itself. The powers offered are kind of all over the map – at basic, you can shift your features, with the mechanic described as mimicking a feature of someone else, but only at advanced can you imitate someone? Huh?

I have some ideas on how I want to handle Shapeshifting, I think, but it warrants further thought. A la carte ordering is definitely on the menu, though…

Bouncing off of this post

I think my “best” freeze ever was in the first actual campaign game I played in. We were playing Changeling, and I was playing a Pooka. I’d established the character as not so much a liar as an obscurer of the truth under lots of long, rambling, circular-to-pointless exposition. We got into a situation where my character and an NPC had to run back to our patron, the Duke of Boston, to get help to rescue the rest of the party. We broke for the night when we’d reached the Duke’s house, and I spent the intervening week working up a lengthy explanation of exactly what my character was going to say.

We got to the session. It came around to me. The GM knew I’d worked up what I was going to say, and gave me a chance… but I completely froze up at that point. My mind went blank. The only thing – I mean, the only thing – to spring to mind was a single sentence:

“There is absolutely nothing wrong.”

It worked out well in the end, but that was a horrifying moment. The best part of it, honestly, was the fact that we all had a good laugh about it – then, and later.

Anyway, stories aside… I find I’m very much in the category of on-the-spot freezer. I can make decisions just fine – ask my current group about the night the GM phoned me when I was home sick and doped up on Nyquil and asked whether the paladin or the rogue was going to die – it’s just speaking that makes my blood run cold.

This is why I don’t play the Face, and why I’m not the party leader, ever. Inter-party banter, I can do. But put me in front of someone that needs speaking to that isn’t in the party, particularly some sort of official/noble, and my mind goes completely blank.

How many of you use the Damage and Armor system as written?

I see plenty of justification for Extra Hard in the books but nothing beyond that. Greyswandir does not shatter swords or plate armor or, if it does, Corwin doesn’t bother to mention it. He does bisect a tiger-sized Chaosian with one stroke but he’s superhumanly strong. Julian’s armor and Morgenstern are proof against medium-sized handguns. That’s about it.

-rtrimmer, Amber Diceless RPG Yahoo!Group

I have always kind of suspected that Wujick conflated the silver properties of Grayswandir – which I assume from the fact that Random and Deirdre had him kill the weir – with pure damage output.

It’s not correct, and it’s another thing that the item and creature creation system cannot actually handle. There’s no provisio in the rules for silver affecting werewolves, cold iron affecting fae, or any other variation of material X affecting thing or species Y but otherwise having no particular affect on anything or anyone else.

Well, crap

You can tell I don’t get many comments on this blog: I just accidentally deleted a couple of legitimate ones on a spam clean-out. And of course they were made today, so I can’t go to a backup and get them back.

Genius, I tell you. Genius.

So… umm… Christian C.? I would love to see what you said the first time, if you’d be willing to say it again. I promise I’ll be more careful this time…