More gameable than HYBRID

posted by Flail Snail Original SA post

I said I'd be doing this and the book has finally arrived so buckle up and let's go.

^PM AGEStOrm Age Master® - More gameable than HYBRID

I gave this a read through before starting to make sure there was actually something to talk about. The good news - there is. The bad - this is pretty fucking depressing. I can see what the author was going for and how it might work. Taking several liberties, it might even be playable.

All books have a cover. Let's start there. PM AGEStOrm's cover consists of varying shades of yellow and a few curved lines. There is some artifacting present, as if this was printed on a piece of paper and then crumpled before being flattened and re-scanned. There's also a small splotch as if a sharp corner dug into one spot but that's just a printing error I guess. This is not present in the above image.

The spine is plain white, containing only the full book title (^PM AGEStOrm Age Master® AM@), author's name, and Lulu icon. The back cover is a closeup of what appears to be the stained glass windows of a church. In a little picture-in-picture in the top left corner is Joseph's selfie overlayed on a piece of unidentifiable artwork.

Game Pieces

Skipping ahead to what I would generally call the copyright page, we discover that all rights are reserved. Brief quotations may be used in a book review or scholarly journal, however. So these quotes should be safe, I hope.

From here on out, there is loads of punctuation. There are frequently commas between almost every word, semicolons in the place of a few of those commas, and several hyphenated phrases. There are also several odd capitalization choices. Rather than dwelling on these, I'll just drop the punctuation and capitalization. We already know that there are issues with the text and I'd rather not dwell on them at this point.

Like all games, you need some stuff (presented here as a lettered list, A-W). The book mentions that you can "try to find your own purchase idea" or "make your own with things in home". These include not only the requisite book itself, character sheets, pencil, figurines, and maps, but also a few types of crystal, the covers to the module, figurines to represent those covers, six discrete sets of dice, five different pads of paper, and then entry R on the lettered list - 'Magic-spell Statue Casting a Spell of "You Win"'. There are no losers in tabletop gaming so having a statue on the table that declares we're all winners is nice.

Following the list of game pieces is a section titled "®Dice Find These Dice On Your Own Over-Searching Make These Found Dice". We need every die type, polyhedral or not, available in a physical store or not, from d1 to d10 as well as the d20.

A "1-sided Dice?" can be either 0 or 1 so you should use a d2 for this.

A 2-sided Dice is coin-shaped. "You can flip it like a coin or flip it to the table."

The 3- and 9-sided dice have interesting statistical implications. The d3 is a d4 with a repeated 2 "since that'd be how good you do on average anyway, right?" Similarly, the d9 has a repeat 4 because "you'd repeat 4 all the time in your mind so 4 might as well have the big odd angle favoring it." Maybe surprisingly, I can understand that last one. When I was younger, I had an obsession with the number 4. Perhaps coincidentally, I randomly chose 4dX for the examples in the next paragraph.

Should you wish to follow along, you can see these by heading over to AnyDice. Both result in less extremes but what I'm dubbing the AgeStorm d9 results in a lower result overall as "4" is less than the median value.

Finally, the first dice might as well have silver numbers while the second and third might as well have gold. This is never mentioned again so I'm unsure of the significance.

Up next, we get some Immortal: The Invisible War flashbacks

some Immortal: The Invisible War flashbacks

posted by Flail Snail Original SA post

^PM AGEStOrm Age Master®

Last time I mentioned we'd be having some Immortal: The Invisible War flashbacks. I fear I may have oversold it a bit. I don't know how intentional it is but the writing comes across as an attempt at epic flowery pretentiousness. It doesn't reach those heights, though. We're eventually going to see several terms that seem to mean something in-universe but go undefined as well. By way of example, let's take a look at the tribute page (wordsmithing is the author's but I have repunctuated it for your reading pleasure):


It was said a long time ago that they have no perfectly-balanced Rpg, when D&D first started and they said there is no way to make One. They would be glad to ever see One. But no one will ever be able to make One... "We tried everything but we can't do it... We tried every way." But they still looked with hope to the populus.

This is the next Entertainment System, and I am honored and proud and grand-reaching that I have the very Game they have been looking for.

And a bit of text from the dedication page. I'm not sure if it's flowery profoundness that I am incapable of deriving the meaning of or if it's just word salad.


To fantasy and founding, now that everyone can perfectly be there... and know: every dream is imaginitively flavored solid started desired tangibly, and as they're all balanced anyway...

But then there are a few moments of perfect clarity. The dedication wraps up with "Thank you. Without your support and patience, I would have never achieved my dream."

We finally reach the header for the table of contents at the bottom of page 17. The actual ToC is on the following page and every number is somehow wrong. This is reproduced below minus the useless page numbers, each entry followed by my best interpretation of what the chapter is.


Forward {}: Funconscious Faucets Scar^.
- Not a clue. The author wrote his own foreword in what looks like verse but matches no meter that I am aware of.
Analogue {}: Wisdom Peaks Scar.
- Intro fiction. I'm sort of impressed by this. Almost impressed enough to keep an eye out for the guy's two fiction books on Amazon.
Chapter 1: Character Grasp Scar.
- I... think this is a definition of terms (to use that phrase loosely) that will appear on the Character Profile.
Chapter 2: Rowm Scar.
- The game rules, I think. Maybe character creation. The section ends with a list of "rowms", or races.
Chapter 3: Guilds Scar.
- The characters are a part of a guild. That's about it.
Chapter 4: Adventure Height Scar.
- Class list.
Chapter 5: Character Profile Scar.
- The character sheet. It's... *counts* ten pages long. It could have been longer, as you may see when we get to races.
Chapter 6: Peak Stacks Scar.
- NPCs, creatures, and events, I think.
Chapter 7: Trap Rowm Scar.
- Trap mechanics. There's actually no chapter heading on this one.
Chapter 8: Adventure-making Scar.
- Lists. There are two kinds of list - one that you pick from like a random quest thread, and one that you have to fill out like the one that keeps track of your campaign stats.
Chapter 9: Skill Notes Scar.
- Contains spots for you to write in your own skills. Several thief skills are defined but all other classes are blank.
Chapter 10: Spells Scar.
- Completely blank.
Chapter 11: Equipment Scar.
- Armor, weapons, and outdoorsy adventuring gear.
Chapter 12: Monsters Scar.
- I can only assume these are blank monster and treasure sheets for you to fill out.
Chapter 13: Fun-features Scar.
You can be a blacksmith and make things, or a... ¶Peak° which is undefined. This is followed by an epilogue.

Pretty compelling so far, don't you think? Conspicuously absent is the "Curse Creature" outlined on the storefront.

And finally, let's take a look at the artwork contained within. The store page says the book comes "with Spaces for Beautiful Art done by You and/or a Friend as a Picturesque/Pretty Hobby Collection of Perfectly-Balanced Aspiring Scrobbling Imagery for your Fanning". How many spaces? There are 166 pages. 65 of them are completely blank. Of the remaining hundred pages, probably half of them are less than half full. So much artwork can fit in here, you just have to use your imagination.

At this point, I'm curious if certain aspects of the game were removed. Again copypasta-ing the storefront, this cheapo copy I picked up is "The same Perfectly-Balanced Table-Top Rpg. Game Module but Summarized-Up and not Wholly there". I want to know but currently lack the desire to drop over $9,000 on the full product line.

My mind keeps going back to "rowm" and "scar" - they clearly seem to mean something that I don't understand but my monkey brain keeps dwelling on them.

Next time, I don't even know. I'm sure this isn't a pleasant read and it's going to get less so as we go. I need a beer and a nap. Will there be a next time, or will I abandon this and do something else? Stay tuned to find out!

We're talking about content now!

posted by Flail Snail Original SA post

Okua posted:

Just wanted to pop in and say that I'm intrigued by ^PM AGEStOrm Age Master® and looking forward to more of... whatever it is.

Beers have been acquired. Nap has been had. The show must go on!

^PM AGEStOrm Age Master®: We're talking about content now!

Skipping the foreword, I thought we would start off with the "analogue" or introductory fiction. Again, edited for your reading pleasure.

Analogue posted:

You roll through the realizations of your plans being ready means you are going to have to make them for the first quest that comes to you. Standing up from your sleep, you grab at the day in denial; and the new area you think you are going to end up in. You'll have to get something for your change of plans re-bracing your old paraphernalia and strategies to be complacements for adapting and altering for "Filling" for the quest pot (or cooking pot/area pot) but it's equipment that shows your new direction.

You know that stresses the authorities here but they, at least, feel it's worth that finally they'll get some goals done. You know you're finally gonna have the chance to find those answers to strict ponderings you often came to being prodded to answer in your past Wisdom Peakings. One more thing you notice in a perfectly awakened world is that the closer you come to doing something that'll bring up a journey question you would find an answer for, the less analyzing sturdiness you need to conclude any questions and the less ponderings in life you see coming.

Knowing what real life is, finally, you start seeing the real balanced world again, as you feel like you're breathing fresh air lifting your head up from the Fantasy Peaks. You're not questionably too lazy to prevent yourself from tripping on too many unanswered things. Authoritatively, you now easily traverse the unsteady questionable and quivering Wisdoms which, without as many challenging questionables-obstacles in the way, the feeling that you could be taken advantage of while putting up dozens of fake answers just toget lunch is gone.

It almost makes sense, as if I'm reading an RPG from the height of the late '90s/early '00s. Something about that is appealing to me but I can't quite put my finger on it.

But enough about the fiction. You're here for the game. I'm most definitely not stalling to keep from getting there.

Character Grasp Scar

I'll be honest. I'm not going to provide an itemized list of game terms because most of them are word-salad-ish. I'll provide some highlights, though.

There are three attributes called "peaks" - Heart Peak, Attack Peak, and Defense Peak. These appear to be pools of some type as each has a corresponding "Current *" attribute. Maybe the version without "Current" prepended is your base value. I assumed that Heart Peak represented some sort of HP-type thing as it's described as "life points" but a later attribute, Heart Flow, is actually described as "health".

There are a few attributes I'll have to steal for later use as well - Happenstance Avoidance, Musclenary (strength), Re Mind (personality), Movement Height (dexterity), and Spiritual Axis Revolationater (willpower). There are a few more but, fun terminology aside, they're what you're probably used to. Spontaneous Attack/Defense (whose descriptions lead me to believe they're basically "magic attack/defense"), Remember (memory), Reflexes. The parens in this paragraph weren't added by me. I never would have guessed that Spiritual Axis Revolationater meant willpower unless the game included a set of parens after it delineating that.

There are skill levels, skill points, and maximum skill levels for both adventure and non-adventure skills but no concrete numbers for any of them. There's also at least four categories of something called "life climb challenges", which seems like it's the game's level up mechanic.

Character Peaks, or attributes for you normies

Following the list of attributes ("character peaks" in ^PM AGEStOrm parlance) is a more in-depth description of each. Most are fairly straightforward (he says, as if anything in this book can be) so I'll only be talking about things that catch my eye.

Your carry weight is equal to your Musclenary in pounds. This may be an issue as we're soon going to see that all of the races start with a Musclenary of 5. Musclenary is also the attribute used when attacking with axes.

Movement Height dictates your walking speed in feet per two seconds and is used when attacking with a sword. Likewise, all races start with a 5.

Remember, in addition to denoting the number of 1/7 spell faucets added to your spell pool (roundabout way of saying Remember/7 spell faucets?), is the bow attribute. Every race starts with, you guessed it, 5.

Reflexes seems to denote a percentage chance to trigger parries, counterattacks, and a few other things. It's also the attribute for improvised weapons (or, in ^PM AGEStOrm parlance, "random/random-use-of-something"). Another 5.

Heart Flow adds directly to Heart Peak. I'm assuming Heart Flow + Heart Peak is your Current Heart Peak. Sort of makes sense in the context of the game thus far if you squint a bit. It's also used for spears. 5 is your starting value.

Re Mind's only use is for blunt weapons. Another 5.

The final attribute, Spiritual Axis Revolationater, is very . It's an A-K lettered list describing everything from maximum spell levels to spell resistance, Conscious Facet recovery per hour of sleep, number of spells per day, and a few other aspects. It's also the dagger attribute. These are all described in the form of 'Thing is Every "X" Spiritual Axis Revolationator= Y'. That's a confusing sentence that bears two examples and my attempt at interpretation. Are you sensing a theme in the starting attribute values yet? If not, I'll give you a hint. This one's a 5.

^PM AGEStOrm posted:

A.} Current Maximum Level of Spells Allowed for Adventure Height-related Spells is Every "10" Spiritual Axis Revolationater= 1
E.} Current Conscious Faucet Points acquired foor All Adventure Heights, to, "Cast a Spell" is Every "1" Spiritual Axis Revolationater= 2

Flail Snail posted:

A. Maximum Spell Level for Adventure Height spells is one tenth of your SAR value.
E. Every point of SAR gives two Conscious Facet Points, which I'm assuming is this game's expendable magic casting resource.

Combat, I guess

When using a weapon, your weapon skill is half of your character peak attack guider. CPAG is a fancy way of saying "that attribute I said you use for this weapon type". Those attributes give additional bonuses to the use of their associated weapons as well. When using an axe, for instance, you get a (Musclenary/5) * 3% chance of getting a +10 bonus on a given attack roll and the same chance of 20 additional points of damage. There's a maximum of 60% for each, mathing out to a Musclenary score of 100. So I guess you have to roll before rolling your attack to see if you get the attack bonus and then roll before rolling your damage to see if you get the damage bonus.

After a list of bonuses per weapon are the actual combat rules. These consist of about four paragraphs stretching across two and a half pages so I hope you'll forgive me for not bothering too much. In summary, you can do something called a "Call". "Craxl", "Craxls", "Craxlr", and "Craxlty" are all things that exist. You get five actions per round. Attacking takes two of them. I believe that various things like moving quickly reduce that number. One of the rules results in "a lot of muffling around" and "I don't wanna hear all you little nerds out there that wanna use this rule" so whatever rule that was is optional. How about we just skip the rest and say we reviewed it?

There's an entire series of nested lists with internal references that the Age Master gets to consult when enemies attack while unseen. Again, let's not and say we did. It's two and a half full pages.

And with that...

Rowm Scar

The beginning of this chapter defines things common to all humanoids, I guess. You're all size M. Coincidentally that happens to be in the middle of the alphabet. Other size options include everything from A to Z. There's an entire series of nested lists denoting what bonuses a size M character gets versus every single size category. Ten full pages. It includes stuff like this, abbreviated because I'm not typing out the full thing.


M.} Size M vs. Size M
13.} Other skill penalties=
14.} Other skill bonuses=
15.} Other spell penalties=
16.} Other spell bonuses=
17.} Other
[... up to 32]

Skipping all of that brings us to the rowm list. The six races are Human, Eclipse Dwarf, Skymirror Elf, Halfling, Barbarian, and Vampire. They're all statistically identical but each has special abilities in their description. Skymirror elves, amongst other things, can heal all of the party's wounds three times a day while humans seem to be able to call NPC allies in the area for assistance.

You know how last time I mentioned the character sheet could be longer than it is? This bears a picture. Enjoy?

Guilds Scar

Skipping. These exist. Fiat the characters into one.

Adventure Height Scar

Classes. There are six of them - Fighter, Wizard, Ranger, Healer, Thief, and Assassin. Each has a list of favors and non-favors. Fighters, for instance, favor attacking, defending, general skills, and fighter skills while they non-favor magic.

Classes don't give you much besides the ability to ask or answer questions, metaphorically or otherwise. This bears an edited example because I really don't know how to describe this.


The answers you're looking for are easy; Dreams for you to wake in the land with all the time, but only after you ask the right questions while in an endless obstacle.

They found magic shelters in the magic of everyone enjoying traveling. The answers you're looking for are already known but you need a strong shelter.

Healer can ask anything at any end of a question of whether or not it believes it can be healed if it were not able to be answered here or there. Anything can be healed if it's the right answer to help it there whether or not it can get something more with a good or correct answer for any of its troubles. [...] Healer has an answering vision of a safety rope from the end that can try to help the healer when he/she asks the right question or it can help the healer procede a couple more steps forward.

So these are definitely a thing. I think if someone with a better grasp of game design and/or reality created a system based around this whole question/answer thing, it could be neat. But this is inscrutable.

Up next: Equipment, I guess? I'll be skipping about 50 pages of miscellaneous nonsense to get there, though.

Adventure Making Scar

posted by Flail Snail Original SA post

^PM AGEStOrm Age Master®

Hey, I lied. We're resuming significantly before the equipment section.

Adventure Making Scar

I wanted to talk about this. Most of it is weird fill-in-the-blank nonsense (current number of campaign-related quests, current number of towns, current number of no-story parts, and many more). What I'm interested in, however, are the generation tables. I like these. Or rather, I like the idea of these. This game's execution of them is sorely lacking.

I'd like it if more games had some tables for quest ideas or story hooks. Sometimes a GM can use a helping hand - something like "during your travels, you run across X which is not recorded on your map" is dead simple but easy to work from.

The tables here could be massively improved, however. "You reach your destination with help or no help." "You run into monsters along the way." "You reach your destination with '----' or no '----'."

Skill Notes Scar

As laid out a few updates ago, only the thief class has any skills listed here. Still, what's here is relatively simplistic. Back-stab when unseen (which seems to remove some of the enemy's 5 actions in addition to the standard damage), hide , pillow grab (which makes mention of stay quiet, steal, and pick pocket, so I'm assuming it either allows you to take those actions or do them better than normal), and trap door parry (which seems to give you the ability to set traps in combat). If I leave it at that and don't consult the rules for each skill, I approve. Combat traps are neat. Backstab interacts with the unique mechanics of the system. Pillow grab is a weird name but it does thiefy things so whatever.

Equipment Scar

I don't know how many pieces of armor total that a character can wear but this chapter does outline that between 4 and 13 of them count for defense. I guess pants and shirt don't do anything; you have to add a left glove and right shoe first. There are five types of armor presented - cotton, cloth, wood, leather, and metal. They give 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 protection respectively to whichever body part they're on except for the torso which is one higher. Each costs the same base 1-5 amount in gold. There's a bit of a small mathy problem here as you can only gain up to 25 protection.

You can buy weapons but they don't have statistics or prices.

Most of the remainder is outdoorsy adventurey stuff. Tents, food, torches, oil, backpacks, pouches, and so on. Unlike other games, however, you can outfit your tent with chairs , tables, "animal racks", and... game and trivia items, I think. The cloth tent line puzzle winning legend mat contains info about the most popular local legend and you can talk about it or mention one of your habits. Meanwhile, the wooden tent fact block has a sentence on each side. Each sentence has a fact; you can finish the sentence or mention a hobby.


That brings us pretty much to the end of the book. There's a monster record sheet and treasure sheet. No guidelines are given for either so it's entirely fiat.

And then we wrap up with the "fun features scar" and an epilogue. I've already described the entire fun features section but I'll repeat it here for your reading pleasure.

fun features scar posted:

Blacksmith: You can make whatever you want.

epilogue posted:

Looking at the highest peak of these aged centuries of treasured climbing, you realize that you will never make it to the top of all of this. Adventure lasts forever as it sparkles. You wonder if the beautiful peak is illusionary, when the peaks of adventure rise forever. Turning your head to the lowest one, you wonder if you ever made it out of there when it was the first one you found yourself in when you first learned about it and trained for a climb; when it was the one that said you'll be happy forever knowing you started this beautiful sparkle; when adventure already is the beautiful sparkle of everything. You turn your head to go back to normal life and start leaving the place of glowing awakenings that, with love, started you on the top of everything with peaks of wanting to stay alive.

I'm not even going to try interpreting that for you. Make of that what you will. As for myself, I love it and think it's a wonderful note to end on.