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Analysis of Troubled Design: After Sundown
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Lokathor
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Might I request that there be more than just 2 player-accessible tiers of ability?

I'm all for "Elder" being the max-level / NPC-only sort of thing that's just all plot device stuff. At the same time, even with better placement of powers and balancing and all that, if there's Basic and Advanced abilities, and the PCs start with a few Advanced powers most of the time, then that cuts out a lot of the vertical advancement element that people tend to enjoy. DnD Warlocks have 4 tiers and seem to get along fine with it.

Basic -> Advanced -> Greater / Dark / Whatever -> Elder

This way some Elder powers can be bumped down to Greater (the few ones that are suitable for a PC to actually use on a regular basis) but the crazy Elders can stay as Elders and not mess up the setting if groups don't want to introduce them. At the same time, there will be magic powers that people you meet will have that you didn't start with and couldn't start with, which gives you a little more of an arc in terms of "I grew as a magical creature and now I can use stronger magic". Otherwise the learning of a new power is more like "I could have known this from the start I just had other priorities at the time", which is a little less impressive.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Lokathor wrote:
Might I request that there be more than just 2 player-accessible tiers of ability?


I'd been going the other way - cutting the Elder powers from the magic chapter altogether and having them appear only as Mighty Rituals of Vast Power.

But it does seem reasonable to have a thing beyond Advanced that characters can only get after play starts as a thing to aspire to. Perhaps every discipline presents an Expert level capstone that you can only get if you have two Advanced powers from the discipline and isn't available to In Media Res characters at all.

It does open up the question of what the Expert levels would do.

-Frank
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Lokathor
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 7:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Right. I don't count Elder powers as player-accessible. Almost all of them as so good that they shatter the campaign setting. They absolutely need to go away into an NPCs only section.

The "2" is Basic/Advanced. Where the Expert level powers would land as a 3rd tier above that specifically isn't perfectly clear. Obviously somewhere "above Advanced" and "not campaign shattering", but that's a wide range I expect, and also depends on all the rest of the re-balancing too. If we're not married to the idea of "always 2 powers in each discipline at each level" then we get a lot of wiggle room. We might tone down what a Basic does by a hair in some places, and what an Advanced does by a hair more in other places, which gives plenty of room for good powers to have that aren't just making you a god. To put it very imprecisely, "An Expert power is something that is really impressive to see at the end of episode 1, but that the main character might be able to do themselves by the end of season 1".

Of course, not every single power needs to be a fully distinct ability. This eases up a little pressure to make a billion abilities. What I mean is that, for example, Basic Clout has "Vigor" which lets you get up to +3 strength, then Advanced Vigor can just be the same power and let you get up to +6 strength, and Expert Vigor lets you hulk out to +9. Not all powers need this treatment, but that's obviously already what Celerity is doing with the +1 IP stuff, and it's not the worst thing in the world.

The same power can also exist along the tiers by being reduced cost as you learn the higher level version. Either the base time goes down, or the PP cost goes down, or something similar.

In terms of PP, I'd like to see a lot of PP costs go up so that people sometimes don't fight because they're worn down to the point where they literally can't fight on. Probably every offensive power should require at least 1 PP to come online during a scene (at which point you can use it as often as you want), and then the "extra deadly" powers require 1PP per attack (or more).

I would like to see more transport powers. Not around earth, but between the earths. There should be transport powers at all levels, ideally in more than one discipline per school of magic, with progressively relaxed limitations as you go up in tier.

I would like to see more weird as fuck information gathering powers that get people to do bizarre things as counters (but that are thematic to monsters and stuff). Like the Voldemort power where you can sense what happens within 3 meters of anyone saying your name, or look into the past of a location and see any scene where your name was spoken. A power that lets you see out of the eyes of any statue you've seen. Stuff that can get people paranoid. People have more paranoia about every 5ft square in ADnD than they do to most things in AS.

A Veil power where you do the oMage / Harry Potter thing and setup a zone where Extras don't notice what's going on inside.

I would like to see a much stronger thematic line drawn between "spells", where you're saying magic words and doing movements, like an actual wizard/sorcerer/ninja/state-alchemist/whatever, and what I'll call "talents", where you're using magic "reflexively" or perhaps "intuitively", but you're not saying words and there's probably less or no glowing lights. There doesn't have to be a power difference between the two (thought "talents" are less likely to break Silence), just a stronger nod toward the idea of weird words and gestures when that's what you're doing. Also, split "dispellable? Y/N" away from other things, because the AS1 setup claimed a clear distinction that way and then had like a dozen exceptions.

I'm sure I'd think of more things if it weren't late and I didn't have the flu.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 7:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Lokathor wrote:
If we're not married to the idea of "always 2 powers in each discipline at each level" then we get a lot of wiggle room.


We are not. Indeed, with the removal of Devotions as a category and the demotion of several Elder effects that players should have (like Form of Mist), each discipline is getting more than 2 powers at the player accessible levels.

Lokathor wrote:
To put it very imprecisely, "An Expert power is something that is really impressive to see at the end of episode 1, but that the main character might be able to do themselves by the end of season 1".


That sounds like a pretty good rubric. I could see Giant Size and Shifting Sands for this kind of treatment.

Does anyone have opinions on whether folding Electronics into Larceny, Operations, and Sabotage with background gatings is a good idea or not?

-Frank
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Koumei
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 8:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I can't see much that you would want to do with Electronics that you couldn't do with those three, to be honest, and it does take care of the thing where there are apparently thousand year old deep ones who can mod-chip your Playstation. I mean, the most common uses in play (aside from "to power a Discipline") are probably retrieving deleted files from someone's PC (Operations), L337 h4xx0ring as kids stopped saying a decade ago (Larceny), stuff involving spyware (Larceny/Sabotage to install, Operations to remove), soldering to repair electronics (Operations or whatever skill is used for Craft/Artifice, I don't have the pdf in front of me), tapping someone's phone line (Larceny), bypassing a card scanner or similar (Larceny), rigging a bomb (Sabotage), and I guess disrupting power networks (Sabotage)?

I can't see a bad thing emerging from doing that, but I can see some good things happening.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 12:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Sounds reasonable.

So if the Expert level powers are going to appear for each Discipline, I suppose that the rubric would be that the Expert powers are powers you could imagine the first main villain doing to the consternation of the heroes. So like something Jaedite or Darla would pull.

So here's some possibilities:

    Authority: Possession
    Celerity: Shifting Sands
    Clout: Giant Size
    Magnetism: Majesty
    Veil: History Erasure
    Call of the Wild: Nightmare Made Flesh
    Chasing the Storm: Eye of the Storm
    Coil of Thorns: Abomination
    Depths of Despair: Well of Misery
    Sands of Morpheus: Horrid Reality
    Secrets of the Earth: Maw of Stone
    Technomancy: Rise of the Machines
    Descent of Entropy: Wind of Pestilence
    Names of the Blasphemes: The Truest Name
    Progress of Glass: The Smoking Mirror
    Song of Swarms: Riot
    Tangle of Arachne: Form of the Spider Queen
    Walk of Flame: Scorch the Gateway
    Lure of Destruction: Hope Fails
    Measure of Flesh: Bone Sculpture
    Necromancy: Resurrection
    Path of Blood: Blood Puppets
    Play of Shadows: Form of Shadow
    Symphony of Silence: Wall of Ice]/list]

    Fortitude, Discernment, dunno.

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Whipstitch
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 1:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'd call Psychometry worthy of being advanced. It tends to solve mysteries outright and turn the plot into a legal drama/conspiracy thriller where you know what happened but just have testimony and still need tangible evidence to recruit outside help or to convince people to abandon the cover up.

As far as Fortitude goes the high profile candidate is probably Restoration but that powers is is in a weird place in terms of power level. Bringing yourself back from the dead is super awesome thematically but in practice it mostly just turns people into the party Worf. It lets you catch a beating and it's no big deal as long as your friends are still alive to beam you up afterwards but it doesn't really help you win confrontations and the campaign is still going to be over if there's a full party wipe.
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Lokathor
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 6:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

If I had to pick a technical skill to go, Rigging or Sabotage would be my pick.

I'm not worried about the idea of elder evils having Electronics ranks. [Insert whatever explanation you want of things changing over time here] Example: In ancient times those same mystical ties would have been linked to an Alchemy skill, and then as the elder evils wake in the modern era they instead find an affinity for the modern alchemy (once someone gives them the initial introduction).

Not that you can't cut Electronics, but Rigging and Sabotage are really similar to each other, and both don't seem to have quite enough applications, so probably they should be merged into a single skill called Rigging.
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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 3:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Ninjutsu magic based on hand seals/mudras using larceny or rigging would be neat
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DrPraetor
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 3:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

You could make the skill "Communications" instead of electronics; and in elder times it would've been used to hand-code ciphers, that sort of thing.

Non-communication related electronic devices (so... um... radiation meters?) would then be covered by the rigging skill.

If you want to support "hide behind the monster" as a combat option, you might indeed abstractify the combat a bit more. This probably isn't well thought out, but the combat actions could be:

Defensive Combat You get to choose who to engage first.

Offensive Combat You choose who to engage second, but on a combat tie you still get a hit in.

Evade If no-one engages you, you can flee combat automatically. If you *are* engaged, you get dodge bonuses, either get hit or don't, and then you have to make a flee test.

So the big monster chooses Defensive Combat, and engages a bunch of mooks (war form should probably help you to engage multiple enemies) so that the cloth wearers are able to flee. Wasn't this the system from Assymetric Threat, more or less?
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 10:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

It would be weird to me if defensive combat was the thing you used to keep people from getting away, but something like that seems like it's in the cards.

-Frank
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Hicks
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 2:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So I'm just trying to put this into words: I really like big golems. There had been a cool synergy where you could get war form + giant size + devastation on a chassis that also had hide from notice and mask of a thousand faces, so your XBOX HUEG golem could just be ignored or look like an 18 wheeler or whatever. Restricting giant size to NPCs stops in media res golems and werewolves from entering the game as fenris/Optimus prime, which is a cool thing they could have done before. I'm not even talking about keeping the stacking strength for the second edition, but the size increases were pretty cool.

Just wanted to throw that out there.
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rampaging-poet
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Speaking of golems, how do they stay hidden all the time? Mask of a Thousand Faces stops people from noticing them day-to-day, but security cameras still see them for what they are. A quick back of the napkin calculation based on US crime rates suggests one would just happen to be at the scene of a convenience store robbery somewhere in the world all the time. Someone is going to notice all these 7' lumpy clay guys in the back of 7-11s the world over.

This could be answered with either mechanical changes or setting changes. If Mask of a Thousand Faces is changed to fool cameras (until you shoot your hidden gun) then that problem goes away, but thefts by supernaturals and walking around in full combat mode get way easier. Another answer would be if the world of After Sundown has less cameras, worse cameras, or far fewer people paying any attention to them. A third would be dedicated teams of supernaturals pumping out high-quality but verifiable hoaxes all the time to reduce the risk of people taking real golem videos seriously, but that seems closer to the old Tradition of Misdirection than the Vow of Silence. In any case there should probably be some explanation of why weird things aren't going viral on YouTube constantly.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I've always been a fan of the idea that the Vow of Silence is falling apart in the face of the last decade's sudden leap in the quality and ubiquity of surveillance devices. Hoax videos and the like are keeping things under wraps for now and may continue to do so for quite a long time (propaganda is distressingly effective at convincing people to believe things that are very obviously untrue), but in the modern nights you might just run into a perfectly sane mortal with no personal experience with the supernatural at all who believes in vampires just because the evidence really is there.
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Prak
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Yeah, I actually really like the idea that due to the ubiquity of cameras and information, supernaturals have had to go back to the tradition of misdirection, as they've found that simple silence doesn't work anymore
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You should gain sanity for finding out that the problems of a region are because there are fucking monsters there.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I am constantly drawn to a plotline in which the vow of silence falls apart and there is crossover portals with possible futures that are raygun gothic or post apocalyptic or both. So you get to go to dark future of Dracula 3000, Ghosts of Mars, Event Horizon, Jason X, or Leprachaun 4: Leprechaun in Space. Or maybe Aliens or 28 Days Later if you insisted on traveling to the futures portrayed in movies that weren't terrible.

It's a gonzo Chrono-Trigger meets Gehenna premise where the players are confronted with a whole lot of bad ends and have to fix the future by fighting robots and assassinating mad scientists and shit. The Ernie in me can't help but think it would be awesome even though the Bert in me keeps saying that it is too much work and would probably end up like a really confusing version of Underworld: Awakenings.

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Koumei
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 4:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

That certainly would be an amazing splatbook along the lines of Red Hand of Doom or the "Exalted In Space and also Modern World and also Street Fighter man I love these drugs" book. With careful tailoring to decide which of those books it should resemble more.

As for golems on camera. When watching animu (bear with me this is relevant), I keep seeing ads because I have to disable the adblocker for the site, and it reminds me that there are enough people out there smart enough to use the Internet but dumb enough to fall for inane shit like hot Asian girls living next door and wanting to bang them, or a simple trick that billionaires want banned! But one that comes up is "X number of REAL LIFE GIANTS!" with some dodgy photo-shopping.

Now sure, we all know there are people like various big wrestlers, very tall basketball players, and that eight foot tall Turkish guy who has walking sticks because apparently the human body isn't designed to scale up like that. But the picture used on the ad is a shop (I can tell from the pixels), and most of us are already used to the Internet trying to tell us there are giant monster-men wandering about in the world and we ignore it.

Add some monsters who are media experts, cranking out PR stuff, they probably could just throw out enough fakes that nobody believes pictures of the real thing. We're close to that point already, with the "we set up an elaborate prank in this video, see how many people think there are actually demon-possessed telekinetics!" and so on.
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Lokathor
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 5:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Hicks wrote:
Restricting giant size to NPCs stops in media res golems and werewolves from entering the game as fenris/Optimus prime, which is a cool thing they could have done before.


That the is the point after all. Yes. I mean you can still play games with more powers than what the book says, but the book should say sane things as the baseline for things.

rampaging-poet wrote:
Speaking of golems, how do they stay hidden all the time?


I was under the impression that Veil powers worked through cameras too, as long as you held to their normal limits of "don't be too obvious".

Chamomile wrote:
I've always been a fan of the idea that the Vow of Silence is falling apart

Prak wrote:
Yeah, I actually really like the idea that due to the ubiquity of cameras and information

FrankTrollman wrote:
I am constantly drawn to a plotline in which the vow of silence falls apart and

Yes, good, all of this.

Incidentally, the extremely vague weapon stats in the game need less defining if they're all just strange ray guns instead of being supposedly modeling real guns.
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rampaging-poet
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Veil halfway works through cameras.
After Sundown wrote:
Veil does not affect cameras or other objective traces of a creature’s passing, merely prevents observers (even indirect observers) from noticing what is there.

I asked about that rule on the boards before, and the response I got was that if you're watching a live feed everything looks normal, but when you review the tapes two hours later you can see the innocuous group of schoolgirls is actually three robots and a mermaid in plate armour.
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erik
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

rampaging-poet wrote:
Veil halfway works through cameras.
After Sundown wrote:
Veil does not affect cameras or other objective traces of a creature’s passing, merely prevents observers (even indirect observers) from noticing what is there.

I asked about that rule on the boards before, and the response I got was that if you're watching a live feed everything looks normal, but when you review the tapes two hours later you can see the innocuous group of schoolgirls is actually three robots and a mermaid in plate armour.


So the solution is a minuscule delay? I don't like that.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

erik wrote:
rampaging-poet wrote:
Veil halfway works through cameras.
After Sundown wrote:
Veil does not affect cameras or other objective traces of a creature’s passing, merely prevents observers (even indirect observers) from noticing what is there.

I asked about that rule on the boards before, and the response I got was that if you're watching a live feed everything looks normal, but when you review the tapes two hours later you can see the innocuous group of schoolgirls is actually three robots and a mermaid in plate armour.


So the solution is a minuscule delay? I don't like that.


You actually have to review it during a different scene, or overcome the disguise spell with your own magic. Anyone who is observing the proceedings while they are going on is affected by it. Any trace left behind is unaffected.

-Frank
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Whipstitch
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

This probably won't hit people as very satisfying, but one of the handiest things you can do is to wear a cheap, shitty disguise and then use Veil to cover up that without anyone thinking you're dressed funny. Thus nosferatu can rob a 7-11 and when people check the security tape they just end up seeing a guy in a bed sheet.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Whipstitch wrote:
This probably won't hit people as very satisfying, but one of the handiest things you can do is to wear a cheap, shitty disguise and then use Veil to cover up that without anyone thinking you're dressed funny. Thus nosferatu can rob a 7-11 and when people check the security tape they just end up seeing a guy in a bed sheet.


I could see that the term Masquerade isn't just an allegory for maintaining a conspiracy; but is also a literal depiction of the standard methods used to maintain the secrecy; crude masks & costuming to hide real monsters.
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Prak
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 11:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Honestly, I could see nosferatu not even bothering with Veil and just wearing cheap vampire masks for bank jobs.
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No, No. 'Prak' is actually a Thri Kreen impersonating a human and roleplaying himself as a D&D character. All hail our hidden insect overlords.


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You should gain sanity for finding out that the problems of a region are because there are fucking monsters there.
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erik
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 12:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Prak wrote:
Honestly, I could see nosferatu not even bothering with Veil and just wearing cheap vampire masks for bank jobs.


I think their more common concern is not bank jobs but going to the store and daily life. There are cameras everywhere.

Hoodies/bandanas/niqabs + Veil seem a likely life choice for many Nosferatu. Traditionalists may wear a masquerade mask, and southern republicans may wear a white sheet.

Mention of bank jobs does remind me of a thought I had for After Sundown a while back. Supernatural currency. Is there one? Oughtn't there be? Something they trade other than dinero, since money is pretty easily obtained, and maybe some things money cannot buy. Something to be exchanged for the services of another supernatural entity, similar to the gold coins of John Wick.
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