The fourth piece of Rise fiction features Johann Grey, a 36 point Worldly character, and is written by porom.
( Stat Block- JohannCollapse )
Johann's story takes place the December following his death.
( An Intricate MeansCollapse )
This totally made my day.
However, to actually answer these questions:
1. I'm fairly sure this has been covered before, although it's never been in the official FAQ. A character cannot materialize themselves within an area that is already occupied by matter. Materialization works by imbuing ectoplasm with energy that allows it to permeate the veil and enter the physical realm in an analogous form. Just like you can't pour any more water into a glass that is already full, you can't materialize in an area occupied with solid matter. If a character attempts to materialize while passing through a solid individual, they materialize in the closest unoccupied space.
2. Hahaha. That's all I have to say about that.
3. This too has been covered in the past, during the entire "Can a ghost get someone pregnant while material?" controversy- although it was never documented in the official FAQ. Certainly, a spirit could TRY to donate an organ to a living being. However, whenever something leaves the material form of a spirit, it dissipates- for example, when a character's weapon is disarmed, it merely disappears. In the same fashion, any organ, tissue, or fluid removed from the physical form of a spirit would dissipate immediately- whether it be a kidney, a lung, blood, or even semen.
And now for the third piece of Rise fiction, featuring Catalina de Sanbicente, a 36 point Godly character, and written by airiko.
( Stat Block- CatalinaCollapse )
Catalina's story takes place after her death, in December 2006, during a moment at which Catalina found some time away from the perils of the spiritual wars and managed to have some time to herself.
( SnowCollapse )
Here's the second piece of fiction, featuring Tibor Gavrilov, a 36 point Neutral character. I wrote this piece- it's a flashback to a New Year's Eve when Tibor was alive, shortly after he moved to Manhattan.
( Stat Block- TiborCollapse )
And here's the piece. Hope you like it.
( MotionlessCollapse )
This is the first of several pieces of player-written fiction for Rise, written around the holiday season specifically. Each vignette features a specific character from the Den RPG forum site Rise games.
The following piece features the character Gregory Crowley, an 18 point Selfish character. This particular piece was written by Gregory's player, Monie (TheSlaveSaint on the Den).
( Stat Block- GregoryCollapse )
Gregory's piece is a slightly OOC bit that is something of a spoof on A Christmas Carol, and it involves many other characters from the Rise Universe. It takes place in an alternate reality in which Gregory was not murdered by his wife.
( Visitors in the NightCollapse )
I'm not sure why the new system is so daunting for some of my players- it's not really that much of a change. Primarily, it's just a change in how abilities are learned- instead of getting them freely, you now have to pay for them, but aside from that, they work the same as they always have, with a few minor exceptions.
At any rate, the SRD needs some major updates to accomodate all of this, but I think I will wait to do that until we've integrated the rules on movement and such, if only to make all the updates at once to avoid further confusion. At any rate, I do need to do some polishing up on a few things this week if I can find the time- which, honestly, isn't very likely.
I'm looking forward to seeing more holiday stories for the characters in the game from the players. Once enough have been submitted, I'll probably repost them here for posterity, and to share with others. I'm also hoping enough people will be available on Thursday for me to explain a few new non-game things for the site, which will primarily be focusing on the change of play style. I also want the Lamed Wufnik story arc to be over as soon as possible, preferably by mid-January (if not sooner). I know that I should probably avoid setting any sort of progress goals with the group, since it typically leads to disappointment when things don't go as planned, but I think I'm going to be somewhat rigid as far as all of this goes, and just demand we get it over and done with, once and for all.
Hmmm, within the new system, Quash is actually a lot more powerful than it was before.
Anyway, I'm going to try and have the new system up officially by Saturday, and I want everyone to have their characters modified to suit it by then- if you don't, I'll be doing it for you.
Also, I'll be clarifying the terms of the Rise Christmas event, and possibly putting together Rise image album and posting it here for downloads as a little holiday freebie.
Well, the new system is almost complete, and starting to be put into place-
( A quick list of errataCollapse )
Anyway, today I watched Ryuhei Kitamura's Skyhigh twice. I love that movie. I have to be honest- that movie is the reason Rise exists. I watched the movie, and started thinking "wow, wouldn't be awesome to have a game where each game was started with an intense moral dilemma? Plus ghosts?"
I really do recommend the movie to any Rise players out there. If you want, you can check out the trailer here.
I'm getting very excited about the directions the system is taking. It's becoming closer and closer to being ready for tabletop, and it's developing it's own distinct flavor and mechanical identity. Plus, Blood-Sculpting! I swear, if a player can find a way to impress me with that power, I'll never stop showering them with points.
( Pre-existing Abilities as AdaptsCollapse )
Note, the following abilities are not considered adapts within the new system:
Perfect Sight: Replaced by the Prescience power.
Whisper: Replaced by the Identity Overlap power.
Hearkening: Replaced by the Hearkening power.
Repair: Replaced by the Machine Control power.
When using a power in a non-adapted manner, you face a level of difficulty depending on how daunting the task is. This is called Task Level. The higher the Task Level, the more difficult it is to achieve. In general, a character can achieve a task with any Task Level equal to or less than their current power level. They can attempt to achieve a task of up to 1 level higher than their current level by rolling a d20. On a roll of 20, they succeed. Failing an attempt to accomplish a task beyond your level results in becoming Stunned, regardless of your Resistances. You cannot attempt to use your powers to do a task with a Task Level of 2 or more beyond your power's level.
Some examples of Task Level difficulties:
Level 0: Using Telekinesis to move a cup of coffee about a room while immaterial.Using Powers:
Level 1: Using Blood-Sculpting to cauterize a minor wound.
Level 2: Using Telepathy to recall a specific piece of information from an unwilling subject's mind.
Level 3: Using Dei-sculpting to suppress a holy being's divine aura.
Level 4: Using Beast Control to stop a stampede of wild animals.
Level 5: Using Weather-Sculpting to make it snow in Atlanta in mid-July.
Level 6: Using Heat-Sculpting to raise the temperature in a room to above the boiling point.
Using powers requires no MP to spend, but it does require time. Additionally, any power that has an effect with a duration cannot be used again on the same subject (if applicable) until the duration has expired. A GM can rule that a character using powers too frequently may suffer from exhaustion. As a rule of thumb, using a power for any task of a level of 3 or higher can be considered strenuous.
Using any power on a task with a level of 3 or higher can cause a character to make a Exorcism roll versus their own Stamina score. If they fail, they cannot use that specific power for 1 hour, plus 1 hour for each Task Level beyond 3.
Using a power is a standard action, in most cases. Some powers require no actions to be taken, such as Ego Ambience
. However, more advanced uses of these powers may still require an action, such as using Telepathy
to hack into a target's memories, or using Ego Ambience
to extend your perceptions to another location for the purpose of remote viewing.Multiple Base Power Adapts, and Dual-Power Adapts:
You will notice that several adapts are listed under multiple Base Powers. This is because the basic use of the adapt can be managed using more than one type of power- it is equally arguable that a person could use the healing adapt Ego Repair using their Spirit Control's ability to manipulate a target's soul, or their Life-sculpting's ability to control life energies. As a good rule, allow a player to justify why they should be able to take a certain type of adapt with a specific power. If they can creatively and logically explain it, it's usually okay to allow it. However, justifying wildly outlandish adapts for unrelated powers can be problematic- allowing a character to use Weather Control to bring people back from the dead is pretty iffy.
Also, some adapts can be created using two (or possibly more) Base Powers as the source. A good example of this is the case of the Goetic and Enochian spells, which require the appropriate level in Dark Gift
and in another power to be learned.
If a player has a particularly complex adapt, they can try and make it using two powers as the base: For example, creating an adapt that allows them to restore their IP by tapping into the power source of a nearby machine would be possible: Simply set the level for it (in this case, let's say 2). If the average level between the two powers (in this case, let's say Spirit Control: Self
, and Machine Control
) is 2 or higher, they can learn the ability. This ability is considered to be both a Spirit Control: Self
ability and a Machine Control
ability, and gains any subtypes these may allow (if applicable). An ability or effect that would negate, cancel, or prevent the use of either of the base powers prevents the use of the adapt completely.Explanations on Certain Powers:Interface
: Interface is not so much a power as it is a skill. Characters typically cannot perform Interface tasks, or develop Interface adapts (although these are not impossible). Also, unlike most powers, Interface really only has one use- interacting with will. This power should be carefully monitored by the GM, as it allows a character to gain insight into a GM's plans with the game. The more specific the request they make, the higher the Task Level should be. For example, a player wanting to know the state of Will in a certain situation (say, an attack) would be able to do so at TL 0 or 1, whereas someone wanting to know the overall fate of a specific soul would have more difficulty, most likely TL 5 or 6.Prescience
: See above.Dark Gift
: There are no uses of the Dark Gift power, but it's level is still relevant. Whenever a character is confronted with a situation in which knowledge of the occult could be pertinent, you may choose to use their Dark Gift level to determine how much they know. The obscurity of the information should be determined by setting a TL like with any other power.Sacred Wisdom
: See above.Psi-Sculpting, Telepathy, Identity Overlap
: These powers are all very similar, but have some basic differences. Psi-sculpting deals with the manipulation of psychic energies and mental properties themselves (psychokinesis). Telepathy is more centered on communication and transfer of information via mental activity, and Identity Overlap is more about combining, influencing, or controlling the conscious behaviors of others.
Passive Abilities are the framework for a character's skill. Everything stems from Passive abilities. A character receives a Passive Ability every 18 points. They can choose from two different types of Passives to learn-
Support: Support Passives are always active, offering continual augmentations to their attacks, abilities, or statistics. (See the section on Passive Abilities in the SRD, Supports are functionally identical to the previous Passive abilities).
Base Power: A Base Power is a supernatural ability from which all other abilities are created. Base Powers have levels that influence how strong they are and what they can do, and also determine how many adapts and what level adapts you can create and use. Starting at level 0, all powers grant a specific minor ability that can be used. As you level up a power, you can develop more specific uses. For example, the Telepathy ability gives a character the means to communicate with their thoughts, but as you increase the Telepathy level, you may develop more uses, such as being able to search a person's mind for specific bits of information, or gain the ability to traverse a person's dreams.
Base Power Level: All Base Powers start at level 0 when taken, and can be increased up to level 5. Increasing a Base Power's level requires the expenditure of 1 point per level. Each time a level is taken, you may select a new use for that power. Additionally, the Base Power Level also can influence the overall strength of a power. For example, a character with a Level 2 Energy-sculpting power has moderate ability to control energy. Any classification of energy with a strength of 2 or less is easily controlled by that character, and any task requiring the use of Energy-sculpting of level 2 or lower is easily accomplished by that character. Furthermore, the character can easily best another character with Energy-sculpting should they be actively struggling against each other with this ability, provided the opponent has less than 2 levels of Energy-sculpting.
Strength and Use by LevelAdapts:
Level 0: Latent. The ability is weak, lacking in control and power. You can only use the basic application of the power.
Level 1: Trained. You have basic training with your power, and you can use it well enough on your own. You have started to learn that the scope of the power goes beyond the initial discovery, allowing you to develop adapts and use the power in more ways than usual.
Level 2: Skilled. You are becoming adept with your power. You can use it better than most others with similar powers, and your power has started to become more flexible.
Level 3: Expert. You can use your powers with great precision.
Level 4: Veteran. You have unlocked most of your potential.
Level 5: Master. You have maximum flexibility with your power, and can use all variety of adapts.
Adapts (previously called Abilities) are esoteric applications of one's powers. For example, someone with Psi-sculpting
can control psionic energies, but if they develop the Neuron Heat
adapt, they can use this power to create a focused blast of psionic noise that harms all surrounding foes. A character can develop an adapt for any ability so long as it falls within the realm of that ability. For example, a character with the Spirit Control
or Life Control
power could arguably develop the Ego Repair
adapt from either power, but someone with the Machine Control
power would not be able to justify the ability as a specific use of that power.
Furthermore, adapts are not free, not can you develop an unlimited amount. Developing an adapt costs 2+Ability Level points. Therefor, a level 1 adapt costs 3 points to create, and a level 5 costs 7 points to develop. Also, a character cannot have more adapts than they have points of Finesse.Finesse:
Finesse is the amount of precision you have with your powers. Finesse is determined by 2 + 1 for each 5 points of Wisdom a character has. Therefor, a character with 12 WIS has a Finesse of 4, a character with 4 WIS has a Finesse of 2, and a character with 47 WIS has a Finesse of 11.Maximum Adapt Level:
Your Maximum Adapt Level determines the highest level adapts you can use or develop. You cannot develop an adapt higher than your MAL, nor can you use a pre-existing adapt at a level higher than your MAL. MAL increases on it's own as your point total increases, as Maximum Ability Level increased in the previous version of the system.Basic Attack Level:
Your Basic Attack also has a level, as if it were a Base Power. You can increase your Base Attack Level by spending points equal to the next level you would achieve. You cannot increase your Basic Attack Level beyond your Maximum Adapt Level. Your Basic Attack Level determines the level of Techs you can develop, and also increases your combat prowess overall.
Accuracy Increase by Basic Attack Level:( Base Power ListCollapse )
Level 0: +0% to hit
Level 1: +10% to hit
Level 2: +20% to hit
Level 3: +30% to hit
Level 4: +40% to hit
Level 5: +50% to hit
So, now that I have a little time, I've started tinkering on a broader ability system.
I got to thinking- what if all abilities were based off of passive abilities? And rather than learning a list of narrow but powerful combat tricks, and nothing else, what if each character could learn a variety of broad powers- such as ectoplasm control, or telekinesis? And what if a character could spend resources to develop "tricks" or "stunts" that they could perform using one of these powers? My inspiration here is taken from comic books. You have these characters, all of whom have these broad powers like weather control and telepathy, teleporting, and the like... and yet, they've all developed a slew of specialized uses for their gifts, from combat techniques, day to day utilities for their powers, and all sorts of adaptations in between.
What if the system were adapted to support that?
Let's take an existing character within the game currently- let's say, Alicia.
Currently, Alicia has the following abilities- Circle of Sealing, Visions, Bloody Bond, Arcane Arrow, Hearkening, White Noise, and Furfur's Aim.
If we go over the basic flavor elements of her abilities, Alicia is a spirit who can exercise a degree of control over the life energies of other spirits, and can communicate with and summon cacodaemon to do her bidding. With the traditional system, she would need to waste several ability slots to expand upon this theme, taking multiple redundant abilities across her career and waiting a good deal of time just to be able to do what it is she is intended to be able to do from the beginning- and even then, her powers are widely irrelevant outside a combat setting.
Meanwhile, her indirect abilities like Visions are almost entirely useless in most contexts.
However, what if, instead of having all these abilities, she just had three powers- the power to control spiritual energies, the power to summon the cacodaemon, and a minor prescience talent? And, in addition, what if all her pre-existing abilities were just adaptations of these broader powers, a refined application of a talent she can use freely, without need for MP nor worry of mechanical representation and wasted ability slots?
A system like this would grant all characters a wide variety of skills and abilities that would enhance roleplaying and offer new dimensions to the canon game, allowing for characters to develop utility abilities and use their talents freely without worrying about having a pre-selected skill to do so.
This system would also give characters a choice in their development. Currently, no matter what role you persue, by the 180 point cap, you will have a guaranteed 4 level 1 abilities, 4 level 2 abilities, 4 level 3 abilities, 3 level 4, 2 level 5, and a level 6 ability, along a limited amount of passives. I can tell you, as the GM and the designer, as you end up building higher leveled characters, the lines between roles tends to blur unless a character becomes willingly redundant in his ability choices, as you are forced to fill up slots with abilities you don't need in order to move on to your next one. Warrior-type characters end up just as proficient with supernatural powers as your caster-types.
With a system like this, a warrior role would only need to learn one or two base powers, and develop new abilities from them as he or she saw fit- the other slots traditionally used to fill out a power list would instead be useable to gain new passives, a feature that has been in much demand for more than one player. It also allows for the acceleration of passive progress, allowing complex passive builds to be viable much earlier in the game.
Furthermore, I am thinking that it would be acceptable for a character to develop abilities off of his basic attack, preserving (and, I feel better identifying) the role of Techs within the ability system. For example, a character like Johann would only need one or two powers, but could develop most of his abilities like Sidereal Blade as a basic attack adaptation. He would still need to pay for it with MP like any other ability, but he wouldn't need a passive to develop it.
I really am intrigued by this idea, and think it would do a great deal of good for the game in general. There are some issues, however:
First thing off the top of my head- such a system would dramatically increase the power level of the Powerlessness condition, but would shift the Cursed condition into an area of nebulous effectivity.
The system by which characters can enhance the strength of these base powers, and by that virtue, how they will develop adapted abilities is still uncertain.
The first idea was to allow a character to increase the level of a base power by spending character points. A power would start out as a Level 0 ability like all passives, but then, by spending a point, it could be raised to Level 1. Once raised to level 1, a character could then spend additional points to develop a Level 1 adaptation which would be treated like any level 1 ability. Furthermore, as the level of the base power increased, a character could choose to use the adapted abilities at a higher level (note: this effectively gives all characters a uinversal Augment ability), but they could never choose to use a power at a lower level than the ability was adapted at- for example, a level 3 ability such as Pierce could be used as a level 4 or 5 ability by paying the appropriate costs, but it could never be used at levels 1 or 2.
However, the problems with this idea are that it will be that a character who has learned a lot of powers and developed a lot of abilities will, overall, have a lower than average stat block because he will have had to spend many of his points to support his role. Meanwhile, a devoted warrior would have a a higher stat block overall- and by merely taking one WIS-based power and developing one or two good abilities, he could easily outperform a caster-type character at his chosen role.
A solution to this could lie in increasing the amount of points alloted to a character at reward time, but this could merely exaggerate the aforementioned problem, rather than alleviate it.
The second idea is to allow a secondary set of points to be spent on abilities alone, but I personally feel this option will merely repeat the redundancy issues of the previous system, as people will want to spend their points in some fashion. One could propose that ability points could be spent to increase statistics also, but at a higher rate, but that merely leaves us with the problem described above, with warrior roles outclassing caster roles in most cases.
Of course, there are fixes for both systems- incorporating a stat cap that would prevent warrior roles from pumping a primary score above and beyond the totals available to most other characters would help, as would encouraging people to try and develop only a handful of powers and adaptations, while negating the lower stats caused by developing these abilities by suggesting that they use unused passive slots to take a variety of 5-for-1 varients, a la Theologian and Master of His Craft.
Or, finally, I could just be completely crazy, and I need to stop dicking around with the rules (Note: Not an actual sentiment. Agreeing with me will get your character killed.) Ultimately, though, I think that such a change would encourage more thought being put into character development from a mechanical standpoint, and would also support the system from an non-combat oriented standpoint, something I feel the game is needing at this time.
So, things have been slow lately. Holidays are here, midterms are about, and the players, frankly, aren't playing- so there has been little reason for me to update. However, I have been doing some brainstorming, as per usual, which typically involves going over aspects of the system looking for potential problems.
As I have been doing this, I've noticed a few things about the ability system that bother me a bit. The ability system as it stands is entirely free-form, and yet, the archetypes for abilities tend to become fairly esoteric. While they have plenty of combat applications, they have little in terms of roleplaying or problem solving applications in most cases, which isn't good if the system is going to be fleshed out enough to support a variety of gaming styles.
So, I've been thinking of actually breaking it down to it's bare bones and doing something very different with it, which will drive my players crazy, but I'm just enough of a tyrant not to give a damn at this point.
I'm wondering if Monker and Nakir should have their own Thanksgiving, or if that would be sort of weird. It would be very avant-garde- two eerie individuals, dressed as bellhops, eating turkey in gawdy elevator in the middle of nowhere. Just throw in some faint opera music in the background, and maybe a chick in a nightgown covered in blood, and it would be anything you might catch on IFC at 4 in the morning.
So, we discussed the possibility of drawbacks, and it seems like it's a go.
The name I am using for them is "Soul Scars", and the flavor behind them is that some spirits carry with them traumas from their mortal lives that manifest in unexplained ways in the afterlife. I am not nearly finished drafting up a list for players to select from, but here are a few I have so far-
Dire Mercy- You cannot kill or dissipate any human spirit or living being. Any attack that would reduce their IP score to 0 or lower (or deal enough physical damage to slay, in the case of living beings) instead leaves the target with a minimum of 1 remaining IP. Scar Benefit: +1 Passive Slot, -5 DRK
Sealed Corpse- You cannot materialize conventionally. You can, however, become material through effects like Force Form, but you lack the ability to materialize naturally like most spirits do. You may also use certain passives that allow you to materialize in alternate ways, such as Dream Form and Data Form. Scar Benefit: +1 Passive Slot, +1 PRE
Critical Spirit- You do not tolerate failure. Any time you would make an attack or ability roll and fail it by 5 or more than the value needed to score a success, you take damage equal to half the amount of damage you would have done with that attack. If the result would deal no damage, you instead take damage equal to half the hit value of that ability. (Note: This effect only applies to active rolls such as attacks, and not to rolls of circumstance such as Resistances and Exorcisms). Scar Benefit: +1 Passive Slot, +1 STA
Earthbound- You have difficulty passing through the veils. Whenever you dematerialize or teleport, you must pay X MP, where X is the MP cost of a Level 3 ability plus 1 for each round you remained material prior to attempting dematerialization (if trying to teleport while immaterial, this value is 0). If you cannot pay the MP costs to do so, you fail to dematerialize or teleport. If you do not have enough MP to dematerialize, you still dematerialize when your MP reaches 0, with all the associated consequences. Scar Benefit: +1 Passive Slot, +1 PRE
Forced Haunt- You are bound spiritually to a specific place. You do not recieve a Refresh Window anywhere but in that specified spot. Additionally, you lose 1 MP for each hour spent outside of that area. Scar Benefit: +1 Passive Slot, +5 MP
Damnation- Your soul is condemned to a fate worse than death. Whenever you are dissipated, you automatically are sent to Hell, as if you were exorcised. Scar Benefit: +1 Passive Slot, +10 IP
Vulnerability- You are incredibly at risk of becoming damaged in an attack. You gain the Helpless Defense Mode. Scar Benefit: +1 Passive Slot, +10 IP
Susceptibility- You are less resilient to the varieties of spiritual ailments in this world. You choose one Resistance you have, and lose it's benefit entirely. Scar Benefit: +1 Passive Slot, +1 PRE
Creature of the Night- The light of the sun drains your inner strength. During daylight hours, you have a -40% penalty to all statistics. Scar Benefit: +1 Passive Slot, +1 STA
Energy Disorder- Your inner energy balance is skewed significantly. You do not recieve the modifier benefits of your chosen mantle on abilities and effects of the applicable property types. Scar Benefit: +1 Passive Slot, +5 MP
Unborn Wrath- As one of the unborn, you run a risk of becoming feral. Any time you are reduced below 40% of your maximum IP total, you must make an Exorcism roll against against the attack or effect that caused the damage. On success, nothing happens. On failure, you become feral, acting as if you were in Break condition, except that this state wears off automatically after so many rounds. Scar Prerequisite: Character must be Unborn. Scar Benefit: +1 Passive Slot to be used for a Surge Passive, +1 PRE
Material Strain- You have difficulty remaining material. You lose 3 MP each round you remain material, instead of the standard amount. Scar Benefit: +1 Passive Slot, +5 MP
Frailty- You automatically fail all reintegration rolls. Scar Benefit: +1 Passive Slot, +1 10 IP
Insubstantial Soul- Your very soul is weakened and fragile. You begin the game with a total of 12 points to spend, rather than 18. (Note: This Scar can only be taken during character creation). Scar Benefit: +1 Passive Slot, +10 IP
Graspless- You cannot maintain the existence of other spiritual objects very well. You begin the game with 0 CCP, instead of the standard value (Your CCP still increases as you gain points). Scar Benefit: +1 Passive Slot, +5 MP
Aglaophatis Addiction- You have a dependancy on aglaophatis. This Scar has no apparent effect until you use an Aglaophatis item for the first time. Once you do so, you must use an Aglaophatis item at least once a day, regardless of whether or not you actually have the need to do so. If you do not, you gain a -20% penalty to all your statistics. In order to remove this penalty, you must use an increasingly larger amount of aglaophatis items. The first time you must remove a penalty, you must use 2 items, 3 items the second time this occurs, 4 the third- each time adding an additional usage requirement to remove your affliction. Scar Benefit: +1 Passive Slot, +1 PRE
Phobia 777- You are irrationally terrified of angelic and deific beings. Whenever you encounter one, you automatically become afflicted with the Shaken condition. Scar Benefit: +1 Passive Slot, +1 STA
Phobia 666- You are irrationally terrified of demonic beings. Whenever you encounter one, you automatically become afflicted with the Shaken Condition. Scar Benefit: +1 Passive Slot, +1 STA
One of Thirty-Six: You are one of the Lamed Wufniks. You gain a Dark Will penalty equal to your Dark Will score, as opposed to the normal equation used to determine Dark Will penalties. Additionally, if you are dissipated while possessing of a positive Dark Will score, you are immediately exorcised. Scar Prerequisite: Character must be a Lamed Wufnik. Scar Benefit: +1 Passive Slot, -5 DRK
Shame- Whenever you come into physical contact with any living being while material, you gain 1 point of Dark Will, plus an additional point for each 10 minutes you remain in contact with that individual. Scar Benefit: +1 Passive Slot, +1 PRE
Well, those are just a few- I'll be updating the main site with the full list once it is complete. If you are looking for a specific Scar addition, contact me and I'll try and work it in for you.
So, while browsing a forum I frequent, I came across a text RP that boils down to playing ghosts in the world of the dead. The best part is that is sounds suspiciously like Rise, sans the system mechanics. I really doubt it was intentional (I'm certainly not the first to take a stab at the concept- Wraith was doing it just fine before I came along), but it does rather irk me since I've been advertising Rise there for... over 5 months now?
I've had sort of a busy week- I ended up working some overtime, and I was in meetings frequently this week. However, it's not fair to attribute my lack of posting to that entirely. The real reason is that I caved and purchased Final Fantasy XII, which is actually surprisingly good. I'm about 30 hours in, and it's very enjoyable. I don't want to be premature with my judgments, but I do believe the expression "a redemption for a failing series" had crossed my lips at one point.
However, I have been thinking a great deal about Rise in the meantime, which could be good or bad. I get to thinking, and then I start up with "you know what would be cool?" and before you know it, I'm adding something to the system and my players are all "Oh my God, someone stab him in the neck." (Speaking of which, guys... Modes? It's been what, a month now? Choose already. It's not a huge decision, it basically boils down to being the Rise equivalent of "Fish or Chicken?")
I do have some ideas that might be pretty interesting. I really like the concept of disadvantages in tabletops, but at the same time, I'm more than a little wary of them. I've run into more than one player who was a little too willing to strap himself down with thousands of ailments to begin the game as some sort of monster PC. However, I don't think that it's fair to dismiss a concept entirely based on a few bad experiences.
The first take would be to allow a character to take a disadvantage on character creation in order to gain additional points to be spent during creation. This is a tricky area, since a few points can make a huge difference in Rise, and it can create an inbalance that can be very difficult to rectify until much later in the game. Secondly, the potential for a character to take multiple disadvantages is problematic, although easily disallowed. However, even a single disadvantage can create dischord in the group, so one of the best balancing factors is to force everyone to take one. However, in general you want to avoid forcing a player to make character choices they don't need to make, and there are already plenty of decisions to be made in creation.
The second approach would be to allow a character to take a disadvantage to gain an additional passive, which is somewhat more balanced. A single passive doesn't really break anyone open, and theoretically, it is a non-advantage to a player because of the impediment given by the disadvantage. I don't think characters should be able to take more than 1 at creation in this case, but it may be acceptable for them to develop additional disadvantages over time- particularly considering the general demand I've heard for gaining more passive abilities.
I'm not sure if I will try and develop a set of rules for it, but it's certainly had me thinking. I know a few players that would leap at the opportunity to pick up a few free passives, but at the same time, I can't see any of them willing to overly handicap themselves as a means of doing so. Furthermore, I can't seem to shake my old nightmares of my younger brother's old GURPS characters, who would typically be these blind, autistic, claustrophobic, one-armed, wheelchair bound, balding sociopaths who would be able to deal 30+ damage with a single weapon from the first session onward.
That reminds me... The next time I see my brother, I need to hit him for that.
Rise is a game with some pretty intense moral dichotomy- when the concept of eternity is no guarantee, and the afterlife itself is in constant contest by rival political factions, you'll find that people have a natural instinct to defend what they believe with the utmost vehemence.
While this makes for a nice, moving dynamic for your base game, it can cause problems when players cannot agree on a direction.
While it is idyllic to have a party of all one alignment, it is often not the case. Typically, bands of Godly and Worldly characters working together are common, and Satanic and Selfishs have no qualms about joining forces if it meets their needs. Neutral and Lost characters are somewhat isolationist by nature, but they take up arms and help out with causes they personally believe in if need be. Furthermore, although atypical, it isn't implausible for parties with Godly and Selfish characters (or Satanic and Worldly characters) to work together, although the circumstances of these scenarios are usually pretty rare (and usually fairly dire).
However, the real problem begins once players begin submitting characters of opposed alignments for the same party. Godly and Satanic characters are intrinisically motivated to combat each other, even in the best of circumstances, and Worldly and Selfish characters enjoy a relationship of polars that makes it difficult for them to work well together. This is bad enough on it's own, but it causes even more problems if Neutral or Lost characters are involved, as the Neutral characters will often be pulled back and forth between the two bickering moral compasses, and the Lost will often be fought over like some sort of resource to be had.
The first and most logical way to deal with this situation is to disallow parties that have great internal conflicts of this nature. Players may object, but as the GM you have a responsibility to preserve the peace of the game, and no one enjoys playing a game based around a series of unresolvable arguments- especially when these arguments tend to end with one party being beaten down and dragged down a gravel road from the back of a Ford F150.
This does not mean mixed party play is impossible. Although unusual, there are circumstances in which opposed forces will come together to confront a common nemesis. Some canon examples from within the Rise game world:
1973: The Battori Society, a syndicate of enterprising ghosts brought together in the late 1700's by the spirit of the late Elizabeth Bathory, had gained a considerable amount of power. The Battori Society is centered around the idea that mortality is not so much a frame of time in one's existence as it is a condition that is afforded by having the proper resources afforded to you. In order to further her research on this theory, Elizabeth Bathory formed the society, with the hopes of bringing about indefinite resurrection for herself and her entourage. However, much of the information on the true natures of mortality had been cloistered away during the time of Moses, leaving Elizabeth with little to build her theories upon. In order to gain this information, it would require the palms of certain demons to be greased- and to do so would require a tremendously alluring boon of energy and promised souls. So thus, the Battori Society became something of a ghost mafia, working in the trade of spiritual slaves and ill-gotten secrets, offering out their services to demons, spirits, and magicians alike. During the early 70's, the Romanian witch Anna Darvulia, one of Elizabeth's closest companions, perfected a process by which a living human could be removed from the corporeal world, and kept suspended in an ectoplasmic placenta-like construction for an indefinite amount of time. In this suspension, a human's vital energy could be not only harvested, but analyzed in depth, without the worry of divine prying or passing time. A human could, in fact, be permanently suspended at the moment of death, as their soul left their body, allowing the Society to gain a more intimate understanding of the lifeforces. A series of kidnappings occurred globally, sending Heaven into a state of alarm. Meetings were held between the Five Seats and the Madonna, and it was mutually agreed that this sort of activity could not be permitted- the sanctity of death is the foundation on which both Heaven and Hell are built, and to allow such a grave violation of the Will to become a common event would be so universally jarring that it could possibly alter the very definition of mortality within the Will's perception. Neither side could afford to be forced into such a spiritual doldrum, and so Heaven and Hell joined forces to halt the Battori Society. They were successful, and to this day, despite their differences, both factions have a mutual agreement to place heavy scrutiny on the activity of the Society in general, lest such a reckless and revolutionary action fall into the wrong hands again.
The Battori Incident makes for a great short term adventure to help your players learn how to balance mixed party goals, or just as a fun story arc of it's own. It also gives players an interesting look at the more profound motivations held by both organizations.
Situations such as these are a good way to introduce a player to the game, but take care to stress the differences between each alignment while running a campaign of this nature. Even though the most opposed forces can sometimes cooperate, make sure your players are roleplaying realistically, and be sure to play up the paradoxical applications of such a story arc whenever you can.
Same Side, Different Goals:
However, this doesn't mean that just because all characters have the same alignment that they will get along. It's very possible, if not expected, for there to be routine disagreement in the ranks of both Heaven and Hell. Heavenly characters have differing views of how their world should be- some come from different religious backgrounds, some have old prejudices that die hard, and some are just very critical in general. Meanwhile, it goes without saying that Hell and it's characters are as prone to backstabbing as teenage girls the week before Homecoming elections. It's not just the Deifics that fight, though, either. Worldly characters are the least apt to disagree, but it's not impossible, and Selfish characters, by the very merits of their alignment, are natural born troublemakers when it comes to working as a team. Lost characters are typically so, well... Lost, that they often can't understand why everyone is constantly trying to get them to choose a side, and have a tendancy to become stubborn. Meanwhile, Neutral characters are often so jaded by the politics of the spirit world that they are reluctant to go along with people with stronger afterlife ambitions.
Mediating these situations can be tricky, but less so than with a completely mixed party. If the group has some sort of superior, it's quite easy to bring them in and put the fear of God into them- sometimes literally. Satanic characters may drag their feet, but most will do anything to avoid ending up aggravating a Seat and ending up locked in the Vanity Fair, or being sold off by Baal. The non-deific alignments can be harder to force into a compromise, so you'll have to do some clever GMing (and possibly some peer mediating) and appeal to their unique sensibilities.
Or, if all else fails, you could just have Belphegor come at them with a big stick and a sandwich board that says "Play Nice."
Selfish characters are typically the most problematic characters to integrate into a game. They want to do what they want, and it's typically very difficult to get them to do otherwise. And while a DM may be tempted to tailor a story arc around them, it's important to resist that temptation. If you allow any single character to dictate what should be happening, the result is an unfair (and often unfun) play experience for all but the lucky stiff who is getting your attention. A GM's job is to maintain impartiality at all times. This may mean you will have to disallow the Selfish alignment altogether. While this does restrict some of your player's options and hamper their creativity, it is often better to do this if you feel you cannot handle a character that is so ego driven.
Another good way to deal with such a character is to give them personal motivations to care about others. Encourage friendships with other PCs, offer incentives to that character that tie into the goals of others (but be careful not to reward them more than anyone else, or reward them just for participating), or offer some extra time to run solo quests for that individual. A Selfish character can be a great element to add to any cast, as they have great potential for development, and some of our most memorable ghost figures in pop culture fall very easily into their roles- I mean, what would a Rise campaign be without the stereotypical Sadako Samara rip-off, eh? It would be like D&D without the Chaotic Good Drow Rangers!
The Exorcist build is one that is fairly intuitive, but not without its problems. Building an exorcist requires a good deal of specialization. As a result, the exorcist is strong against certain types of foes, but less than effective (if not entirely useless) against a lot of other opponents. However, this does not mean that an exorcist needs to be a one-trick pony. It is possible to build an exorcist that can still excel at using Exorcism abilities and punishing their selected enemies, and at the same time remain a vital and contributing member to the party when their special talents are not needed.
Statistics: Obviously, Presence should be the highest prioritized statistic for the Exorcist. This build needs a high PRE score to maximize the effect of their Exorcisms, to build up their Magic Defense, and to improve their own Exorcism Resistance and MP growth rate. Secondary stats should be either Attack or Wisdom (but not both), and then Stamina.
Suggested Point Distribution: 50% PRE, 25% ATK/WIS, 20-25% split between IP and STA, Remainder: ATK/WIS (depending on which statistic is selected as your secondary)
Defense Mode: Willpower. With a high PRE score, there is no reason not to take the Willpower Defense Mode. You have a slower Defense growth on lower point values, but the result is a much more resilient and durable character into mid and late game.
Alignment: Any, although Godly and Worldly are more typical of this role.
Mantle: Divine. The vast majority of Exorcism abilities have the Divine property, which will mean for a higher damage output when you use your abilities against favored foes. Dealing triple damage is nice, but dealing quadruple damage is even nicer.
Suggested Ability Archetypes:
Fiery Meditation/Imbue Essence: Depending on what you chose as your secondary statistic, you will want a good low level Tech or Art that can be used in early game. Fiery Meditation isn't an Exorcism, but it has synergy with the Divine mantle, and will allow you to deal heavier damage while playing the role of crowd control against enemies you cannot exorcise. Imbue Essence has a comparable effect, although used for playing the role of secondary fighter instead.
Witch Hunt: This is one of the better low level Exorcisms, capable of dealing massive damage against low level foes. Furthermore, its power only scales with time, staying potent and relevant even into the high hundred point totals.
Dematerialize/Dematerialize All: Something of a silver bullet, Dematerialize is an ability that seems somewhat situational, but has a lot of tricky combat applications. Using Dematerialize on a wounded foe in material combat is particularly nasty, as it will often do much more damage to them than if you were to defeat their physical manifestation directly.
Purify: The lowest level instant dissipation ability in the game. It has the same benefits as Witch Hunt in that it packs considerable power in comparison to other abilities of its level, and it only becomes more powerful as the game progresses.
Blessing of Samson: If you have selected Attack as your secondary statistic, you may want to talk to your GM about making an Exorcism or Tech version of this ability. Whether used on yourself as a means of supporting your role as secondary fighter, or as a buff to help the primary fighter, it is good for the Exorcist to have a few helpful abilities at all times that fall outside its main role.
Force Form: Although less useful than Dematerialize, Force Form is an excellent tool to have if you are up agaist conglomerate spirits, such as caitpan. I don't think I can ever really stress enough the sheer and utter havoc Force Form brings down upon conglomerate enemies, often serving as a way to not only remove them from combat, but to hit them with a Confusion-like effect that cannot be resisted or dispelled. It is, however, highly situational outside of this use, so if your campaign doesn't have a strong showing for the conglomerate spirit enemy type, then you might be better obtaining the effect as an item.
Covenant/Rapture: Covenant is an ability that really carries an exorcist through the game once it is learned. It deals heavy damage to all targets, and never becomes obsolete. Rapture is technically better, but given the wait time required to learn it, and the fact that Covenant always deals considerable damage, it isn't required. Pick one, or the other, but don't make a priority out of obtaining both.
Haste/Schism: Haste and Schism don't do anything to really help the synergy of the build itself, but as with most characters, these abilities basically pour an extra cup of power into the build's overall output. As I have said before, turn advantage is the most powerful force in the game, and anything that can allow you to make the most of your turns is beyond useful.
Aveda Kedavra: The big guns. The fact that this is a level 5 ability means it will be somewhat inconsequential to your overall build, but it for its cost, it is nothing to be sneezed at.
Spike: This Passive is typically better in the hands of the exorcist than it is in the hands of any other build. Select it, naming one of your low level Exorcism effects, like Witch Hunt or Purify. The increased to your ability to surpass Magic Defense carries over to the Exorcism roll value, making it hard for your foes to pass their Exorcism rolls.
Soul of Light/Atheist's Resolve: These are especially good for the usually MDF-heavy exorcist, making him or her virtually immune to Pacts and Goetic spells.
Detect [Alignment]: Remember, alignment is not granted knowledge. It is important to be able to determine what your foe is, exactly, before you starting trying to exorcise them. Using a process of trial and error is usually bad, as it lends itself to turn disadvantage.
Enochian Magic: Rather than list specific Enochian spells, I will address the entire magic school in general. If you have selected WIS as your secondary statistic, there is no reason not to embrace Enochian Magic. But remember- you are not a primary caster; you are there to remove troublesome foes of a specific alignment. Try not to learn more than 2 Enochian spells of any level, as learning more than that would be wasting valuable slots you will need to reserve for your Exorcisms.
At some point, it happened. I became a "balance Nazi". Back when I was really active in the online D&D community, I gave balance nuts such a hard time. I fought them. I opposed them out of simple irritation at hearing the term perpetually thrown around. It was a glorious struggle of "us" versus "them", a perpetual war fueled by dichotomous thinking and unadulterated spite (read: No, no it wasn't. It was a bunch of geeks fighting on the internet.) And yet, despite all that, I now find myself among their ranks.
It has to sound old, because it seems like I am always saying "I'm not sure that would be good for game balance." But I've realized how important it is. Balance is absolutely crucial for two very important reasons- maintaining challenge and the preservation of the player experience.
If every encounter is unreasonably slanted in favor of one side of the other, then how is it is game anymore? If a party of uber-toons can tear through anything thrown at them, then it isn't a game. It's just a bunch of Marvel Comics-esque face smashing with some gloating and bits of dialogue thrown in for good measure. However, if the enemies are blatantly overpowered, it's clearly not good, either.
Meanwhile, I have come to understand how vital it is to a game for the players to have unique but equal roles. If any one individual has more than their fair share of the power pie, then it is no fun for the rest of the group. No one likes to be constantly upstaged by someone else, particularly if their character is being upstaged in their own area of expertise by someone who isn't supposed to be dabbling in that role.
Anyway, I'm not really sure if this entry has a point. In parting, I'll leave you with this ability-
Balance: Causes the spiritual harmony in the immediate area to equalize. All characters' current IP is set to the current IP value of the character with the lowest current IP total. All characters' MP is set to the current MP value of the character with the lowest current MP total. Furthermore, all characters remove items from their inventory, removing down to a number of slots equal to the lowest current CCP total of all characters present (these items cannot be reclaimed until after this effect ends. If an invested item is removed in this way, you do not recover the invested MP). Level 4 Exorcism, Property: None, Subtype: None
It's not broken, it's just heavy-handed.
Why in the world did I ever pick the word "dissipate" to be used as the analog for death in Rise? I mean, it's a given that I couldn't use death or dying, since all your player characters are either dead or immortal to begin with- but why dissipate? I mean, it's a good word in that it accurately describes the process, but it has one glaring problem in that I cannot spell it to save my life.
Looking through the SRD rough draft, I've seen so many embarassing mispellings of the word- dissapate is the most common, but some of the others: dispate, dissispate, disspate, dissisipsate (I'm not even sure how that one happened, myself), dipsapate, and several others.
Thank God for spellchecking, I suppose.
Speaking of which, Gail has volunteered to do the editing for the SRD, which is probably her way of saying "Oh my God, the errors, the freaking errors." Still, it's appreciated.
In utterly non-Rise related news, it seems that Final Fantasy XII came out recently?
The PDF idea is really intriguing to me. Dave's mock-up example page has put a lot of ideas in my head. However, I think before I would take on a project of that nature, I would rather polish up the system a bit more.
Speaking of which, I'm eager to see the impact of Defense Modes in play. The Trio is probably going to be the first team to test them, since they have (for the most part) already assigned their Modes and are more likely to engage in combat in general- and being further along doesn't hurt. I'm hoping that the people who are still intimidated by that addition will get over that apprehension soon and just select a mode, because I really need to see a variety of modes being used at the same time to see just how effective of a fix that part of the combat system really is. Plus, it's really a lot less complicated than it appears. I know that when it comes to gaming, anything that involves a chart can be intimidating, but it really does just sort of piggyback onto the existing Defense rules- and at this point in the game, the math involved is very light, most characters experiencing no changes whatsoever upon selecting a mode.
Speaking of which, it seems to me that the most popular choice for Defense Mode should be Willpower. Presence is an important enough stat to begin with, so most people have at LEAST a decent Presence score. Furthermore, the distribution of builds is still biased towards WIS-based characters. Intuitively, you would think that this would mean a higher percentage of Insight based characters, but when you look at the fact that a group with such a heavy favor towards special abilities is bound to be more vulnerable to strong ATK-based enemies (and the fact that, in order to keep the game challenging, ATK based enemies will be more prevalent as a result), a character really can't afford to completely neglect their mode's contribution to Defense. Willpower is slower to progress, and has a slightly lower cap than most modes, but it distributes that value equally between both defenses, which creates a more rounded character, overall. I don't know, though. I'm sure at least someone will surprise me and prove me totally wrong on this. (Note: It'll probably be Johann, as always.)
Another thing I have been contemplating: Useage of terms. There are a few terms used in the game that well... just irk me. Much like the common complaints with the use of the word "level" in D&D, Rise seems to have an overuse of the word Attack and Points. For example, each character has their Attack score. Then they have a Basic Attack, which they use to make Direct Attacks. Plus, the result of your Attack score being added to your diceroll when you make such an attack is called the Attack roll. Then there are Special Attack rolls.
It's just as bad as far as the word "point" is concerned. You gain points with point rewards. You have Identity Points, Materialization Points, and a variety of abilities generate points, such as Season of Power and Revel in Suffering. It's just very easy to get it all confused.
But at the same time, adding a bunch of new, unique terms will only serve to confuse. I dunno. We'll see how it goes. After all, the term level doesn't seem to be going anywhere, and it's perfectly fine.
Edit: Just for posterity, here are the results for the 2006 Den Awards in the Rise category- (yes, I know Rise has only been around for 6 months, but still.)
Best Characterization: Alicia Roman
Most Original Character: Catalina de Sanbicente
Most Interesting NPC: Baal
Best Pairing: Alicia/Ashton
Most Likeable Character: Alicia Roman
Best Ability: Tie between Jading Bagatelle and Circle Against Harm
Most Well-Built Character: Tibor Gavrilov
Character of the Year: Johann Grey
Most of these were not, by any stretch, a surprise. I am sort of surprised that Baal not only beat Sara Edelstein for most interesting NPC, but beat her in a sweep.
Also, Close to You (Part 2) came out as the leader for Best Thread Overall, which is sort of an ego boost for me.
Well, with the completion of the first draft of the Rise System Resource Document, I think we're finally at a point where we can start treating the game like more than just a little pet project. I have realized that, over the past 5 months, there have been plenty of discussions and moments that I myself wish I had recorded somewhere while working on the system, so I decided that I would start keeping a record of all the various changes, problems, observations, and all those other miscellaneous details that you come across when you work on a game.
Right now, though, I am very pleased because the document is complete. It's not much, but it's sort of like... the first big step, right? It's not just speculation, or just a quick fix for the boards- no, now it's actually a complete entity of its own, capable of being used by anyone who wishes to give it a try. Of course, I do expect further changes to crop up over the next few months, and the adaptation to tabletop is going to be quite an undertaking, but for now I'm letting myself be happy with what has happened so far.
Dave's PDF of it was pretty neat, too. I think that, once everyone has sort of adapted to the rules as they are, I would like to actually work on an honest-to-God official PDF to release for download. In my typical fashion, though, I already have over-ambitious ideas for it, involving design and layout. Finding public domain art could be difficult, and I'm personally not in the position to commission (ha!) a lot of art just right now, although I'm not averse to it in the future.
In less design oriented news, I am really looking forward to Saturday. I'm hoping that Kai's party can finish their current engagement by this weekend, so that we can move along and perhaps get to the fast-forward within the next month. I'm half-tempted to do the lazy thing and Monty Haul a point reward over the months of August and September while everyone is the fast-forward, but I sort of feel like I've already been plenty generous with the Den Anniversary rewards, and I'd really like to see them earn their points.
Meanwhile, I'm not really sure where to take Tibor and Alicia just yet- from a strictly plot oriented position. Ashton is sort of dealing with his own hooks right now, but those two are just sort of floating around Paris like cigarette smoke and anti-American sentiment, with nothing to do. Ah well. I'll figure it out.