Hc Svnt Dracones by PurpleXVI
Backstory Part 1Original SA post Hc Svnt Dracones
I'm not actually sure how to intro this, I have no idea how bad it is, maybe it's a hidden gem. All I'm going by is the ATROCIOUS SCI-FI FURSONA on the goddamn cover, it promises the sort of badness I've been needing a fix of ever since I tapped out Chris Fields' more noteworthy atrocities. So, let's see what we've got waiting for us!
292 pages, 70-ish for the setting, about as many again for chargen, and then about 150 pages' worth of rules, pregenerated enemies and the like.
The Theme posted:
A quick page-through of this book will give you a general idea of what you’re in for in a HSD game, but only a general one: space fantasy, animallike characters, an apparent lack of humans, and the presence of a few creepy looking monsters, all pretty cut and dry. But, if this setting were only about being a fox person in a space suit, this book would be dramatically shorter. There’s much more in here than just that, and it’s in those nuances that even people who aren’t fans of the visual motif can find fascinating possibilities.
I think this may not be a hidden gem, as I read the very first page. It tells me about how this game is set after humanity destroyed itself, in the process replacing itself with cyborg furries, and how this somehow destroyed all old biases and reasons for discrimination.
Their old planet was leveled, as was the vast majority of its cultural history and heritage, and all the previous biases associated with slavery, racism, classism, sexism, and so many others that all grew out of thousands of years of human cultural growth and change were effectively wiped out as the old race died and the new race took its place. Are such biases gone forever? Of course not.
At least it admits that those things aren't going to be gone forever, but I'm feeling a strange sense of deja vu, product of roughly 2003, on the Portal of Evil forums, where an evangelical furry ranted to us about the amazing future that science was going to bring, when he could have a self-lubricating anus and catgirl slaves, because science was going to provide that, it was just around the corner, any moment now, a furry Utopia.
HSD is not about ‘getting in touch with your animal side’, as so many anthropomorphic systems encourage. You’re welcome to, if that’s the way you’d like to play it, but the setting is intended to allow you to get in touch with your human side instead. Not the culture you were raised in, or the history you’ve experienced; not whether you’re black, white, red, yellow, or polychromatic; not your geographical history or the wars your species has been in; your humanity. Just that. Devoid of the centuries of cultural momentum that currently governs our thinking and thrust into a brand new world with its own unique challenges.
Completely unlike all those other RPG's set in a world completely unrelated to Earth. So I guess this is gonna teach us all about love, friendship and the true meaning of Christmas.
But outside of acting like it's going to completely shatter the mold and blow our minds, HSD(I'm refusing to type out the full name any more than I absolutely have to, fuck it) starts out with the same "what is an RPG"-section we've seen a thousand times. Explaining to newcomers to the hobby what roleplaying is, what dice are, what a GM does, Rule Zero and all that stuff. So I'm not going to recap it, and instead we're going to dive into the lore chapter.
The Lore section starts off by explaining to us that most historical conflicts are because we're too separated by geography to understand each other, and governments brainwash us, but thanks to the magic of the internet , people finally started realizing that those living in other countries were human, too. Except of course for the staunch conservatives who couldn't understand the wonders of being online and playing Mortal Kombat against your friends in Vietnam.
At first, this divide was a minor inconvenience. Acts and laws would come and go attempting to govern, censor or control internet based association. Most would be blocked or voted down by citizens more attached to their internet relationships than to their geographical ones, which only furthered the divide. When conflicts between nations arose, the situation grew dramatically worse. Now, communication between best friends suddenly became “consorting with the enemy,” and the public outcry was tremendous. As the world became more and more integrated, the chasm between the old regime and the people still trapped within it became more than many could stand. Civil unrest was on its way toward civil war when a new opportunity released the steam, if only to throw fuel on the fire later.
The Geomat? If that's a river or a road next to it in the lower right, I want to know how the fuck it's mobile. It's also described as "battleship-sized" in the text, this looks a tad bigger.
I feel like this isn't quite the 21st century that most of the rest of us are living in, where aggressive censorship is the last resort of a few, autocratic states and most governments don't try to legislate who you can talk to online, or what you can say to them, unless it involves something that's illegal in the physical world, too. But anyway, there's a New Opportunity! Coming along, it's the GeoMat(tm), a giant, mobile factory that can core raw materials out of the ground, 3D printing to make just about anything(including new copies of itself, I suspect 3D printing magic may be HSD's version of Eclipse Phase's nanotechnology magic) and is effectively self-contained. The description of it, is followed up by this paragraph:
In stark contrast to the stationary mountain that is Government, there was the fluid river that is Business. In the free market, businesses could turn and twist and adapt, market themselves for different audiences, sympathize with different needs, and operate without the same tethers that bound so many private citizens. Theirs was the power of money, without which government could not sustain itself. Money bought leniency within the rule, and the simple greed of capitalism portrayed a sort of bizarre purity next to the holier-thanthou declarations of principles made by most governing bodies before they charged into some act of violence, conquest or general dishonesty toward their own citizens or others.
Well yes, obviously, who has ever heard of business involved in deceit or violence? This makes perfect sense and is a completely believable description of the real world.
The knowledge that an entity was motivated purely by a desire to increase their profit margin in return for goods and services was refreshing next to the slew of lies, scandal, deceit and violence disguised as moral allegations and broad declarations of right and wrong that dripped from government bodies.
Hc Svnt Dracones, an accurate description of human psychology and behavior. I know I'm certainly more well-intentioned towards entities that I know are going to fuck me over, rather than ones that may be benevolent! But anyway, because the humans of HSD have terminal brain damage, they all love the corporations and swap national loyalty for brand loyalty, moving to Corptowns built by the Geomats. Also the Geomats were environmentally friendly, too! Because a mobile strip-mining operation totally isn't going to poison huge swathes of the countryside or anything. Mind, these things also apparently changed the entire world , but I'd love to see one of these fucking things trying to move around in Europe. Sure, in America, there's plenty of free space to strip mine, lots of empty space to move around in, same for most of Asia, Africa, South America... but I know that in Europe, at least, you'd never have that fucking thing far enough from a settled area not to be poisoning their water supplies or wrecking their roads, power lines, water lines, etc. when rumbling across them. But all the world's just one big homogenous blob, here. Every place loves corporations and benefits from Geomats
But, you know, CORPTOWNS, obviously now you get corporate citizens, they get corporate education, etc.
Corporate education would leave a person in debt, but not impossible debt. Citizens that played the game could see light at the end of the tunnel, and it was reachable, unlike the old days of company stores. When the system was actually working, it worked beautifully, and corptowns shone like diamonds amongst the comparatively undereducated populations around them.
"Okay, so we're going to acknowledge that the corporations might be mean, too, but at least they're way more efficient than governments, and more HONEST about being mean, and people have better chances with them!" I'm going to almost be surprised if there isn't a line about how the trains in the Corptowns always run on time, this is leaning dangerously close to some people's worship of fascist/autocratic figures for being strong/efficient, even if they're dishonest/amoral.
Space exploration long sat fallow due to an overall lack in returns. It was a curiosity, a public showing, but to most governments, not much else. That changed with the second generation of GeoMats, which were designed to operate in vacuum and under varying degrees of pressure. They were originally intended to work in watery environments to help alleviate the growing population of Earth by building out into the ocean, but when faced with environmental complaints and activism groups concerned about the potential impact on Earth’s largest feature, the corporate entities of the world turned their eyes skyward, and hit upon a new idea.
Why would we need to build into the OCEAN? We've got SHITLOADS of empty space on land, goddammit. Do these people even know anything? And operating undersea and in space aren't quite the same thing. Not to mention, like I've said, Geomats are described as battleship-sized . Getting something the size and weight of a battleship into fucking space, isn't a minor fucking accomplishment, and there's no mention of any new technologies that would make it workable. No warp gates, no space elevators, no big honking mass drivers.
I realize this may seem like silly nitpicking, but I'm treating this like the Wraeththu RPG, when it pretended that its mutations were scientifically somehow viable, rather than just saying "TECHNOBABBLE!" or "IT'S MAGIC!" This goddamn thing is really trying to present itself as a believable path the future might take, so I'm going to put it through the wringer. But anyway, let's pretend this makes even a whit of sense. Now the corporations are going to Mars! They establish colonies on Mars! And then...
For the first time in history a company was created completely outside geographical government ruling, as no nation had yet established recognized control over any territory on another planet. By merging and splitting off from their parent corporations, this new entity severed its ties to any Earthlocked contracts, and refused to continue paying taxes to the nations from which their employees originated. It sent Earth’s political machine into an uproar, and made several very wealthy people in very tall buildings smile slyly as their Corp-loyal populations cheered this first decisive blow against the ancient sleeping dragon of government from which they had originally fled.
This is described as about two years since Mars settling begins. I'm sure these colonies are entirely self-sufficient and won't just horribly starve as governments embargo any attempts to send them food supplies. But maybe they just use the magic of 3D printing to print Martian dust into pizza or whatever the fuck. Also yes, I'm sure that people would cheer and praise corporations for refusing to pay taxes. Now, yes, sure, this is their corp-indoctrinated population, but one of the very first things the book told us about was how The Internet was freeing people from old, nationalist indoctrination. Is it somehow not able to free people from corporate indoctrination? Hmmm. It's almost as though the authors might have a bias here.
Also I suspect that legislation on outside-of-Earth territoriality would be fast-tracked and sorted out as quickly as possible the moment someone started mentioning the idea of off-world colonies. Gah, none of this makes sense.
I'm four out of twenty-ish pages of "History" in, and there's already this much stuff that strikes me as poorly-thought-out trash. I think I'm going to need to put this down for a moment.
Next time, more lore! We're going to get to the bit with the GENETIC MODIFICATION that makes the super furries that will inherit the Solar system(not Earth, though, Earth is totally fucked, because this wasn't cribbing enough from Eclipse Phase). I wonder whether it's going to make any actual biologists/chemists froth as much as Wraeththu did.
Backstory Part 2Original SA post Hc Svnt Dracones
It was a lion, and it had wings.
That is, until the wild card arrived, walking cautiously out into the sun from the dark confines of one of the many bio-research labs that now littered the planet.
It was much smaller than a GeoMat, couldn’t reshape a mountain or boil rock into iron, and sustained mostly on fish and raw meat.
It marked the beginning of the end of the world.
It was a lion, and it had wings.
So whoop, OUTTA NOWHERE, hyper-awesome genetic research just happens. And dudes can just graft HAS_WINGS=YES into lion DNA and it flaps its way across the landscape eating people. Apparently, though, this level of genetic expertise hasn't come with any sort of wide-ranging, society-affecting consequences, like designer-babies, vat-grown organs or other things that vastly prolong human life. No, this avenue of research just made a beeline for WACKY PETS, and after making a Sphinx, it's apparently easy enough to also make "Griffins, dragons, hydras, all the marvelous beasts of myth and legend." Because identifying the necessary work to add feathered wings to a lion means you just need to copy-paste that genetic code to an alligator and you've got a dragon! Right?
Biology 101, sheeple.
And of course, while outraged, the governments are helpless before the CAPTAINS OF INDUSTRY and can't do a damn thing about it when they decide to make hybrid monstrosities.
Before the governments of the world could so much as finish their gasps of shock and outrage, a brand new, multi-billion dollar industry was created. Clothing, accessories, custom pens and care-giving tools, and millions of requests for more elaborate and impressive creatures surged through the internet in an unstoppable wave of commerce.
Which leads to this quote I still have trouble parsing, I'm not sure if it's implied that the clothing, pens, etc. were somehow also genetically grown, or whether they just need to point out that HSD humanity is such a bunch of fucking suckers that they're now feeding their corporate overlords with billions upon billions of money's worth of merch. The quote's not that bad, though, it's just a breather before the part that's going to make every biology major's head explode.
It was only a matter of time before some overzealous geneticist activated bipedalism in animals and tipped the final scale. To many, those bounds had long since been ground into dust, but this marked the inescapable truth. The first line of bipedal animals had human posture and anatomy paired with the animal-like dedication of domesticated pets, and the implications were too blatantly obvious to ignore.
Just a matter of "activating" that one line of "WALK UPRIGHT"-genetic code and BAM, now you've got fursonas walking the streets! And obviously the VERY FIRST GENERATION also look like humans have tits, no time for fuckups and intermediary generations that are shambling, drooling, damaged monstrosities. Nope, instant jump to something you wanna spank it to, just to make the moral outrage and claims that this whole thing is for dogfuckers seem even more absurd.
Sexual exploitation, abuse, allegations of bestiality and moral outrage, and to top it off, ludicrously high demand filled the media coverage of the day.
To some populations of the world, the new races were accepted as a logical progression of scientific expansion and the perfect companions for the elderly or infirm that needed loyal and constant companionship and something with the ability to manipulate their world. Up until now, that task had been delegated to helper robots, and this seemed a vastly superior alternative. Others were so disgusted by what they took to be blatant hedonism and hubris that they opened hunting up on the creatures, and piled the corpses up on their owners’ porches to show the community who owned them to begin with. On more than one occasion, the owner’s corpse was piled with them, with all mannor of profanity scribbled on their naked bodies. Lobbyists be damned, something had to be done.
This gives me a really strong Lifers vs Wiccans(I can't even remember what they're fucking called, now) vibe, the conflict from Otherverse: America. Because one side here has some genuine worries, the fact that people are creating a servitor species which have short lifespans, yet apparently are smart enough to serve in care positions for the elderly and infirm, and sexual characteristics, but are suggested to also lack the self-awareness and will to say no to someone who's their "master" or "owner." Yet there's no acknowledgement that any of these concerns have any kind of legitimacy, only vivid descriptions of the maddened extremes that the "conservatives" go to.
But, anyway, the governments finally get off their asses and, quite sanely, ban having any of these fucking monsters outside of Corptowns, or making new ones.
forcing corptown citizens to cloister further into their private utopias and watch as progress was crushed by the overbearing weight of stagnation.
Right back to describing Corptowns as utopias, so much for the brief moments of admitting Captains of Industry as having flaws! Also, you know, maybe the Corptown citizens could just own up and admit that this latest "progress" was fucking skeevy and creepy, then they could leave their towns with no worries. "Thankfully," someone mails all the project files to the Mars corporations. And having nothing better to do, and certainly no resource shortage, because why would a young colony on a barren world have that(no years are really attached to this, but since the first "sphinx" was to celebrate Martian independence from Earth's governments, and the Martian colonies existed some two years before that, I'm going to guess it's not much more than a decade onwards), they're clearly the greatest place in the world to start producing a population of limited-intellect creatures that can't really contribute, only consume.
Hilariously, the message attached to the data was "save them." The Mars colonies look at it, go, "Hmmmm... they're gonna be kinda retarded and useless. So how about we do something entirely different, that's not going to actually save the original designs?"
The original hybrids were animals combined with other animals, and some novel genetic code, these new ones are literally just human fetuses with bits grafted on while they grow in vats, which raises a whole bunch of OTHER ethical questions about what right someone has to alter an unborn child for the sake of their own amusement, aesthetic preferences or corporate profit.
MarsCo chose to approach the problem of intelligence from a different direction: they would turn the human into the animal, instead of the animal into the human. By manipulating cloned human “blanks,” or genetic fetuses built from scratch, and endowing them with the same appearance and features of the previously abolished species of bipedal pets, MarsCo reset the evolutionary clock and emerged with something new.
Armed with the full set of from-scratch genes at their disposal, MarsCo removed vestigial organs, improved the efficiency of critical organs to help increase lifespans, integrated various stopgaps to combat common health problems and even developed a muscular maintenance enzyme that would combat atrophy in low gravity environments and allow for the rapid adaptation between one world and another. Body heat maintenance was assessed so the presence of fur wouldn’t cause the instant smoldering of the person it belonged to, and secret communication to prominent genecorps who supported the plan helped fill in the blanks in the science to ensure that the experiment would succeed on the first attempt, out of fear that they may not get a chance at a second try. As Mars’ terraforming operation entered its final stage , the first non-human sentient race known to man was created. Due to the nature of their development, Vectoring human evolution down a dramatically different pathway, the new species were called “Vectors.”
Wait a moment. What?
" As Mars’ terraforming operation entered its final stage "
I realize that they're being very vague about the timeline, and that it could've been five years, ten years, maybe twenty years since the first settling, but it's described as though all of this happened rather quickly. And even if we're gonna be very generous and say that Mars can be terraformed at all, it's definitely not gonna be terraformed enough to be human-habitable on anything resembling a short fucking timescale, or with the resources of only three small colonies when, apparently, all Earth's major governments are opposed to them, and still maintain enough strength to enforce their legislation with regards to hybrid monstrosities on the Corptowns. Goddammit, fucking, shit.
Oh, yeah, and, I guess the "science" reminds me an awful lot of Wraeththu. "UH THEY MADE THINGS MORE EFFICIENT, THAT'S HOW THEY WORK."
They also made a breeding population of fursonas at first and steered and organized their breeding, which also isn't creepy or abusive or anything like keeping slaves, or anything. Totally not fucking weird , yo.
But anyway, cue the whole "THIS IS CREEPY, BURN THE ABOMINATIONS"-theater again, except this time the pro-furries are busting out the SICK BURNS.
Others argued that this was the realm of God, and humanity did not possess enough responsibility as a race to foster a new one. That too became a trick pedestal to stand on, as humanity certainly seemed to possess enough responsibility to kill a race. The sheer level of extinction on Earth was evidence enough of that.
Governments played the long game, and built their societies to endure under singular principles for the duration. The very presence of this new species would cause such a dramatic shift in those principles that many feared a general collapse. Vector phobia gripped mass populations, fueled by campaigns for support among their governments, as though the very presence of one of them on Earth would result in a viral collapse of modern civilization.
I literally do not understand half of that second statement. I'm not sure what the hell they mean about "Governments played the long game, and built their societies to endure under singular principles for the duration," but I guess it's meant to be something about how national governments don't tolerate dissent, because earlier there was a bit about how innovative and embracing of all new and awesome things the corporate governments were.
But anyway, the Martians keep sending Earth videos of happy furry children, which pisses everyone off. Nationalist militias raid corptowns, corporate militias and secury forces raid suburbs, both sides declare war. All of Earth's nations join together and organize an economic policy to guard themselves against the corporations crashing everything... and then the corporations crash everyone's economies within seven months and this is enough to make half of all the pro-nation forces defect or switch sides just for food and medicine for themselves and their families, because somehow corporations , without standing militaries or military traditions, manage to hold out for over half a year despite being scattered across Earth in widely spaced enclaves, and Earth's nations can't manage to stockpile food and medicine for their armed forces and their families for half a year's time.
What's Mars doing during all of this? Making more furries, because that's what really matters, I guess. Also it turns out that a couple of casual mistakes in genetic work don't create drooling, downsy fursonas, but instead makes "taurs." Yes, cat-taurs, lion-taurs, all the fucking furry something-taurs you can think of was because someone was sloppy at coding his fursona.
One wave was nearly completely lost when the bipedalism gene sequence utterly failed to express, and MarsCo was forced to try an experimental living-mutation technique to save them lest over three hundred fetuses be lost. The emergency save allowed the growing bodies to complete their gestation, but resulted in sentient beings that were completely animal in appearance. The irony of the accidental creation of a subspecies with human intelligence and an animal body from science that resulted from the destruction of a subspecies with animal intelligence and a humanoid body was lost on no one.
I love that even though they care so little for the rights of self-determination of the unborn to fuck around with them prior to their birth, just aborting them when they're clearly gonna have grievous birth defects isn't acceptable, instead they're going to try EXPERIMENTS that are gonna leave them fucked up forever. Wonderful. It's sure gonna be great having a human mind but no fucking opposable thumbs or ability to stand upright or, you know, generally exist in a human environment or manipulate human tools. Woo! Go Mars! THESE ARE OUR HEROES, GUYS!
By late in the second year of open war, corptowns were fighting back, building buffer zones around their territory to avoid falling victim to long range shelling. To the armies outside, they were now aggressively expanding, and lending legitimacy to the long standing rumor that all of this was just one more trick to destroy the traditions and values of the countries in which they existed. Civilians who refused to leave their homes as the corptowns reached outward to the surrounding cities were captured and imprisoned, or quietly disappeared.
More imprecise writing! Who was disappearing these people? Were the corporations kidnapping and executing people who refused to vacate territory for them? Or were the nations killing people simply for not being afraid enough of the corporations? This shit cannot possibly have had an editor. Anyway, Earth's nations still can't get their shit together economically, because corporations are ~just so dreamy~, so they decide to use nukes.
Thankfully the corporations have TECHNOMAGIC defenses so they can just "redirect" ICBM's, somehow. Just how much of the fucking Earth is corporate-owned, anyway? It's stated that the corptowns are all bottled up after the first furries pissed everyone off, but apparently they've got enough territory that even multiple successful nuclear strikes, despite the redirects, don't break their back. Also they're literally why the Earth gets nuke-fucked, because they force the nations to throw four times as many nukes at them, because three out of every four get "redirected."
The responsible reaction to Earth becoming a nuked-out wasteland is just to jab people up with random, animal-like mutations in the hope that a half-labrador or a half-tiger will be able to survive a nuclear war better than a human. Are there even any living things particularly resistant to nuclear fallout outside of some insects and, I guess, some molds/fungi? So far we've been told that the only "vectors" made have been mammals. So good luck surviving nuclear fallout because you've got a pretty mane of hair. Somehow, though, despite a NUCLEAR WAR GOING ON, there's still enough orbital lift capacity to shuttle most of these people to Mars until the nationalists smuggle a nuke on board one transport and blow up the spaceport on Mars.
Mars continued on alone, its doors to space now closed and too hindered by trying to support its local population through barely established agricultural systems to attempt to repair its damage or lend Earth any support.
GEE, MAYBE YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE SPAWNED A COUPLE THOUSAND EXTRA MOUTHS TO FEED JUST TO MAKE A POINT, YOU CHUCKLEFUCKS.
Despite all the nuclear war, though, the Earth is largely surviving, and the corps are getting their asses kicked, but then someone, some fucking idiot, releases a MAGIC TECHNOVIRUS. Called Hydra.
It transcended digital communication, almost as though it could step behind the 0’s and 1’s and simply move electromagnetism to where it wanted.
It takes it literally an hour to hijack all of Earth's nukes, and then it just starts firing them all off until Earth is glassed. Simply because.
And after Earth gets snuffed out, there's still, like, ten fucking pages' worth of "lore" to go through. This is gonna hurt.
EDIT: Also, just so everyone knows, I haven't been ignoring any art, this book just basically has none. It's practically nothing but walls of fucking preachy text.
Backstory Part 3Original SA post Hc Svnt Dracones
Cyborg Cat-tains of Industry. In space.
And we're getting right into the meat of it with the part that'll make you laugh at their insistence that this totally isn't a fetish RPG, guys. Honest. HONEST!
The destruction of Earth cemented the need for the Vector race to prosper more than ever before, and shortly after the war ended, the third generation project began with the intent to bolster the breeding pool and correct some of the errors of the previous generation. Dubbed “the Omega generation” by its progenitors, this was to be the last of the artificial creation projects for the Vector race.
allowing species that were normally genetically incompatible to breed and give birth to offspring that shared a species with one of the parents, but the necessary genetic variety of both.
After all, it'd be a damn shame if there were some characters that couldn't knock each other up! An outright fucking travesty, that.
Also, since it's an Eclipse Phase ripoff, it needs some obligatory horror elements. Now, where Eclipse Phase relied on the potential annihilation of humanity at the hands(or pseudopods, possibly) of a rampant, techno-organic virus with powers that broke the laws of physics itself, HSD one-ups them by going for something way more scary. Something way more sinister. Something way more... fowl. Sorry, I meant foul. No, wait, I meant fowl because their SCARY THING is owls. Fucking owls . Apparently when trying to make owldudes, they fucked something up and the only one that grew to maturity fucking murdered everyone in sight, scrawled something sinister on the wall and then snuck away. And of course that meant everyone gave up on making owl guys ever again.
In the next few years, Mars’ terraforming operation would complete, transplanting the majority of Earth wildlife, with some variation, to Mars’ new climate. The deep canyons ran with fresh water and the largest mountains in the solar system sported snow and the finest views in recorded history.
First Generation Vectors were now 23 years old, with 30 of the original 108 females known to be pregnant, and the entire first generation population recorded as sexually active.
The need to point out that all the first mutants are fucking isn't really what I'm concerned with here, it's just another shitty "this is a fetish RPG"-detail. I just want to hammer home again, the point that makes me want to flip a table. Somehow these fucking people terraformed Mars in less than three decades, if the first Vectors aren't any older than that. But, anyway, after hammering the final nail in how shitty that is, the whole thing just... leaps forward 150 years to talk about what Earth is like 150 years after getting nuked out. Apparently Earth's water is drinkable again, 150 years after a worldwide nuclear war(is that even plausible? And why is it relevant? And how would anyone fucking find out from Mars ?), and to complete the Eclipse Phase knockoffery(though I doubt it's the last we'll see of it), of course photography(from Mars, I guess? Since no one's ever mentioned a Lunar colony or anything else closer to Earth) shows that there are mooooonsteeeers on Earth. Totally nothing like TITAN monstrosities, I bet.
Hahahah, actually, I'm right, it's worse than that.
So they decide to send the last humans first to Earth's moon, to make a colony there, then the humans, literally all of them, apparently, decide to travel to Earth, on and off, to do some in-person investigations. It says there are 300 of them, but that they're also literally all killed in their sleep. So I guess either the horrors on Earth can leap to the Moon or all 300 of them decided to take a camping trip, without any security precautions or guards despite knowing that huge, mutated monstrosities were roaming Earth's wastelands. But then again, I guess it could also have been because what defeated them was worse than a monster. Worse than a TITAN exsurgent. Worse than a Chris Field RPG. It was... a meme!
Manned expeditions stopped for the immediate future as financial needs steered MarsCo toward other avenues of production and development, but the cameras continued to broadcast for 30 years after the deaths of their caretakers, before each one was systematically destroyed by an unknown life form resembling a tall, thin biped . It had the intelligence to remain out of the camera’s view until it was forced to approach the last one from the front due to its sheltered location. Naught but a shadow, with limbs too long and a skin too smooth, and a glimpse of a face with no eyes in it. The video reached viral status through Luna and Mars, but no further signs of the creature emerged within anyone’s lifespan.
The last humans were killed by fucking Slenderman . Jesus Christ ,
Anyway, we're suddenly jumping ahead again. I think 200 years or so? And now Earth is totally safe again. All radiation, gone, all ecological damage, reversed, but I guess the place is still full of monsters. Slendermans and godzillas and whatever else. So anyway, being idiots, the furries decide to send more dudes down to Earth to try and scavenge, and of course after some more tacticool chatter about how they're taking precautions, they get murdered by Slenderman, too, after, of course, finding scribbled, mysterious "scripture" all over the stuff they were planning to scavenge. Again, I'd like to point out, we're getting no detail on some 200-ish years of technology, development and society, but we're instead being told about Slenderman killing furries on Earth. I'd also like to point out that one of the huge things promised in the intro was how the furries had abandoned all traces of old human society, yet the few descriptions we're getting sound basically identical to human behavior and society.
And of course the untelligible "scripture" corresponding to no known language was the exact same as what their fucked up owlthing wrote a couple hundred years earlier. Why they expect it to be text, and not just graffiti or modern art, I don't know.
We got more horrors in store for you, though, now I give you... FIAT CURRENCY!
Currency had been a point of some fluctuation and concern ever since Earth’s fall, but a more or less stable form of measure simply referred to as “credits” had been adopted and maintained for the better part of a century. Basing a currency on nothing wasn’t a new idea, but it was always a dangerous one . By now, rampant inflation and a lack of a stabilizing force was making the Credit dangerously unstable. Add to that the proliferation of micro transactions throughout the system that attached miniscule fees to everything from walking in front of buildings to opening doors , and Vector society was looking at financial ruin in short order.
They still seem to not be catching on that a corporate-run world is usually described as a dystopia for a reason. There seems to be just enough self-awareness, at times, to accept that corporations might do awful things, but they never actually seem to wake up. Also this next bit, I'm... I'm pretty sure it's retarded, because there's no way it isn't, but I'd love it if someone could pick apart just how terribly retarded it is, because I don't even know where to start.
The solution was a deceptively simple program developed by a 17 year old ferret on a bet, and subsequently cycled through the web until it appeared under the nose of MarsCo execs, who hailed it as the monetary equivalent to a miracle. It took the form of a stand-alone system of micro-investments that bought and sold in tiny amounts, constantly. A miniature stock broker that could plot long-term growth goals in a much smaller scale, making them profitable in the short term. By linking this system to the micro-transaction section of one’s bank account, it could offset the constant drain caused by everyday living. Issuing one of these programs to every Vector at birth ensured it had a lifetime to grow, making its comparatively small profit margin substantially larger, while at the same time fueling exchange. The constant and consistent exchange lent stability to the value of the Credit, which was in turn linked to the number of people using the system. In effect, the program turned the population of the Sol system into a physical base for the value of currency, one that would (barring an extinction event) continue to grow at a steady, predictable rate. The program was dubbed “the Ledger,” and became the closest post-humanity Sol had ever come to social security. Everyone got one, and it stayed and grew with them throughout their life.
So there's that, but it's starting to get hard NOT to quote everything, because EVERYTHING is fucking retarded, and getting dumber .
Mars reached a population of three billion in 400 years of colonization . Luna colony maintained a population of roughly 35,000 people, and produced personal space flight vehicles capable of travelling between Mars and Luna in less than a month’s time.
I'm going to crack the numbers here and I don't think they're gonna make me happy.
Humans: All dead and gone.
First generation Vectors: 180 individuals.
Second generation Vectors: ~3000 individuals.
Earth-Mars Refugees: ?????
Third generation Vectors: 10000 individuals.
The book clearly has informed us that a few thousand individuals is not enough to continue a species, because a few thousand humans survived the war and they died out(unless the humans just plain chose not to breed and elected to die out as penance for their sins), hence the first generation, second generation, and refugee generations of Vectors have all died out or almost so(remember, only the third generation can actually interbreed despite being different types of animals). This means we've got 10000(even if we assume the third generation can fuck everyone and knock them up, even outside their own generation, that's, what, twenty-thousand, max? Fifty-thousand if we're super generous with refugees?) individuals who have somehow managed to fuck their way up to three billion individuals in 400 years. And a society which, on a relatively virgin planet, has managed to boom its fucking infrastructure and agriculture absurdly enough to sustain them all. Captains of industry, totally believable science .
While I find another table to flip, because the first one's already gone through the wall, the terraforming of Venus into a habitable, Earth-like world is just sort of a footnote that happens without any real problems aside from space hippies complaining that maybe there are native Venusian lifeforms that are dying because the furries are cleaning out all the acid clouds they need to survive in. Oh no. There's also a footnote about a potentially interesting era where all ship-to-ship combat is with nautical boarding actions, due to ineffective weapons and heavy armor plating, but that's just swept away as "this interesting stuff is in the past, we're in a more generic space-world, now, where you've got all the stuff from your favourite space sim game. Pew pew, lasers. Also space cops."
So there's also an expedition intended to scope out Europa for settling, but, gasp, the scouts, before disappearing completely in the depths of Europa, find MYSTERIOUS STRUCTURES. They find signs of life once existing there and... THEY FIND THE MYSTERIOUS "SCRIPTURE" AGAIN. And their last transmitted message is "Hydra." Because Hydra couldn't just have been a goddamn computer virus that went haywire, it had to be a fucking ripoff of Eclipse Phase's alien virus that made the TITANs flip their shit. Congratulations, furries, you couldn't even be original about that .
Despite this, of course, and despite their probes still roaming the depths of Europa's oceans, now haywire, aggressive and mutated to vast, threatening sizes(did I forget to mention? They were BIO PROBES, modelled on orcas. Because there's nothing ethically shady about manufacturing relatively intelligent creatures as servants), the idiots decide to colonize Europa anyway.
The depths of Europa. Spooky
Lacking capacity for pattern recognition, the furries decide to go back to Earth. This time with mechs, and lasers! And of course they're too fucking stupid to think to quarantine the people returning from a hostile, by now rather alien, world, that has claimed all search parties so far. And wow, gee, oh gasp, some of the returning crewmembers are infected with nano-sized things that cause them to mutate, and which appear to break the laws of physics! Ooooo. Aaaaa. Wooow. A novelty the like of which we have never seen before. But anyway, the nanoviruses explode out of people, harvest people for more resources, and are crystalline things that look totally like a recolour of Slenderman with a tail.
But anyway, because the furries are idiots and incompetents, everyone on the Moon, and a lot of people on Mars, die. And then all of Earth and the Moon start turning into red crystal and grow together into one big red crystal tumor. This just sort of happens and then nothing more really gets said about it. It's just a thing, okay, something exists that can infect literal planetary bodies. That doesn't seem to shake society or anything, or cause everyone to make nukes and just bombard the fucking thing until it drops into the sun. Nope, let's just cut the lore chapter here with a summary of things as they are!
So how are things? Well, governments are megacorps, which are enlightened enough to only have small mercenary wars, no great wars of conquest, and they never make WMD's, and also they allow all sorts of small, private competitors to pop up, because a truly enlightened business never attempts to become a monolithic monopoly. That would be ridiculous. Everyone's a furry now, except for the ones who are robots. Wait, what, robots? When did they mention robots? They didn't.
Substantial populations of robotic Cogs shore up the overall sentient contributors to everyday life and have lived alongside Vectors for centuries, in varying gradients of peaceful coexistence.
Because it's not like sentient fucking machines might merit major mention or have any sort of noteworthy impact on society! Better talk more about furries fighting fucking SPACE SLENDERMAN , wait, sorry, "Whispers" or "Pale Men." Better use the appropriate terminology.
The invention of transcendent technology has opened up amazing and terrifying new avenues of advancement, and keyed in a critical piece of the ancient and frightening puzzle that is the final days of human kind. Some who have received transcendent implants go insane upon tapping them, and exhibit behavior not unlike the Owl catastrophe centuries ago.
W-wait, what? What is "transcendent technology"? This is somehow connected to the metaplot but no one ever really bothered to mention it or explain what it is? Hello? Is the editor there? Or did he fucking kill himself after reading two pages and just leave the rest unedited? Christ. Fuck it, I'm done with the Lore, so that means I can take a break, you guys can look at this shitty art, and I'll be back with more miserable shit when I want to hate life again.
Your Benevolent Corporate MastersOriginal SA post Hc Svnt Dracones
The missing ingredient for benevolent corporate overlords: Cat-ears and tails
We're now on to the section of the book that's about the current state of the world, not the highly implausible way in which the world reached its hugely implausible state. And just from the first paragraph, it's a fucking doozy . The chapter starts off by saying that sure, corporations have been dicks to people before, and unions will fill your ears with tales of it(of course phrased as though the unions are kvetching excessively and without merit), but that's not all there is to the story of person/corporation interaction!
But as was the case with many human endeavors, work and labor problems didn’t arrive out of nowhere. They trickled in from earlier problems of classism and mentalities of people-as-property, and in the American example, were assisted by an as yet undefined role of federal government in business affairs.
In HSD, the origin of corporate control stems from drastically different circumstances. At its heart is a single corporation that fled its own world with a message of unity, cooperation, innovation, and acceptance of the personal ideal.
To summarize, corporations and people only got along poorly because people believed in socio-economic classes, and because humanity hadn't made as perfect a corporation as furries were able to. Also, in some undefined way, The Sleeping Dragon of Government helped make people and corporations not get along well. One paragraph in and they're already knocking it out of the park. But how did furries, who are basically, at heart, just humans with bits stapled on, manage to do what humanity never managed to?
Seven hundred years is a very long time. People have had a chance to hammer out the major issues.
"They just worked at it real hard for a real long time! Duh! And now it works!"
Without a federal government to point their finger at, most corporations have had to serve as both representative and employer, and as such have become significantly more accountable to their employees. Those corps that ignored the needs of their citizens were removed, often violently, until they eventually got the message that certain behaviors were not going to be tolerated.
I am literally at a loss for words. The book is now mocking itself. If anyone actually believes this shit is vaguely plausible, they need to be admitted to a mental institution immediately. Without a system of checks and balances, without a legal system to prevent abuse of employees, corporations are somehow more responsible, not less. And the great, wide mass of furrydom is somehow a bunch of omniscient, self-sufficient consumers that cannot be manipulated by propaganda and disinformation, or bullied by monopolies or private corporate armies. No, instead, brave citizen militias totally take care of any mean corps so only the good ones remain! No business would ever act short-sightedly! No consumer would ever act illogically!
As for those born in a situation they couldn’t agree with? Well, competition is a wonderful thing. Somewhere out in the big empty is a Corp waiting for a citizen like you, and they’re all eager to bring in newcomers, if only to sap them from their enemies.
And in this theoretical market of wonders and fairy dust, there's always a shortage of manpower and workforce, so the employee always wields the power in negotiations and can simply go somewhere else! Even the janitors are, somehow, surely, something that there's a shortage of! Just join another corp because someone wants to deprive your current corporation of freshly-mopped floors!
No one who worked on this RPG has ever held a job.
At the top of the heap, however, is the Corp that runs the corpornation itself, to whom all others pay rent for the privilege of doing business. Its similarity to traditional government is clear, and the argument that all corpornations are benevolent dictatorships holds more water than many within them would care to admit.
For one, all megacorps are publicly owned, meaning the ones living within them have stock in their success. For two, there is no election, and as such, no campaigning, for advances in corporate status. Promotions work differently in every corp but still tend to hinge on performance rather than popularity. Corps will only move people up who have a better capacity to make the business successful or strong, and that strength filters down to the ledgers of their citizenship, who, by the very act of living there, all have a piece of the pie.
"It is like a traditional nation, except not, because it's better! And no one is ever promoted because their boss likes them more! Or because of nepotism! Only because of skill! It may be a benevolent dictatorship, but it works! The corporate trains run on time!"
The corporations also offer free schooling for everyone and they totally respect people who decide to break free of their pre-made assembly lines for educated employees, who actually get way better odds at advancement for BUCKING THE SYSTEM and being INDEPENDENT THINKERS! Corporations would never suppress your free expression!
After making my head explode, the book decides to explain what big corps there are.
To summarize: They're incredibly dull and generic, do a bit of everything, and are omnipresent on Mars. Also huge. Literally there's nothing interesting about them, not even anything to mock.
Applied Sciences and Robotics
They invented the first sentient robots, and those robots are considered to have a "soul" as long as their brain(the Core Consciousness) is powered. Which brings up a lot of weird questions. Is this just a political thing, somehow? Are they considered non-persons if powered off, say, for maintenance, and then powered up again? CAN they be powered down and powered up again at all, or does running low on batteries delete their brain? It's implied that whichever it was, it's an intentional choice of their design/legislation regarding them, and didn't have to be that way, so it seems odd and meaningless. They hit on the brilliant idea of raising their machines like humans, so they'd grow up to think and act like humans, but also got the bizarre idea that they needed to be child-sized when "born," and so keep having to have their brains transferred into new chassis as they grow.
Why? Because .
Also they somehow got it right on the first try. No fuckups or false avenues of experimentation or anything. First try just BAM, nailed an artificial, conscious brain.
Did you know that genetic code needs to be "pure" and "streamlined," otherwise some random genetic flaw might just pop up a few hundred years later and turn everyone sterile? HSD taught me that! Wow, poor humans and animals on current Earth, with our "messy" genetic code, I bet any day now our children will come out looking like crawfish.
Pulse does sports for the genetically augmented, which seems pointless, seeing as how it's like sports with sanctioned doping. Also for some reason Pulse was tasked, back in the early days, with inventing new sports, since most Earth sports "wouldn't function on Mars" due to the reduced gravity. Personally I can't think of many that wouldn't. Maybe a lot where records would be rapidly broken or you might need to enlarge the playing field, or account for players suddenly being able to acrobatically leap over each other with limited effort. But I think most of them would work just fine except for being way more fucking fun to watch.
In addition to never having held jobs, I think we can clearly say the HSD devs have never played sports.
Also, each Corp has their own WACKY NAMING CONVENTIONS, I haven't mentioned the MarsCo and ASR ones since they're dull as dirt, but the Pulse ones are retarded. Instead of having last names, they just jam symbols next to their names, for instance: “James!!@-"(actual example from the book). Apparently this is meaningless as said symbols are never pronounced in any way, but Pulse employees tend to run around with, I shit you not, bright signs proclaiming their WACKY NAMES!!!!!!
Spyglass is basically the capitalist CIA-for-hire.
In the interests of preserving a working system of competition that served billions wonderfully, they were universally denounced and almost every major corporation in Sol outright refused to commission their services.
Good thing all the CAPTAINS OF INDUSTRY are too noble and upstanding to use underhanded means to defeat their opponents on the free market! Also Spyglass isn't just the CIA, they're somehow also the legal system, and somehow their being RUTHLESS and AS EVIL AS EVERYONE THINKS THEY ARE is a "virtue," because they're equally evil to everyone? In some sort of weird vigilante justice way? How this, somehow, protects the free market, is admirable and is a workable business plan, I have no fucking idea. But apparently they're filthy rich despite actively declaring war on everyone with those statements.
And so the Spyglass Corp Community doctrine was established: we will be every bit as bad as everyone else, and we’re not going to pretend it’s not happening.
Since then, Spyglass’ primary goal has been the promotion of a truly open market without the facade of decency that has forever clouded it. Let the buyer beware, as they say. But more than that, let the seller beware that the buyer may shoot them in the face for lying to them, and if Spyglass courts find that there was in fact a lie involved, the buyer will be absolved of all crime. It’s a harsh system that leads to two possible outcomes: you get a lot of very honest people, or you get a lot of people who are very good at lying. Spyglass breeds both, and holds both in equal regard. If you’re going to deal with someone, anyone, know that they are a liar. Know that they want to cheat you. If you can accept that and pick your battles accordingly, things move along at a pretty even keel. If you want to call them on it, you call them as hard as you want to. But if they’re a good enough liar to survive legal scrutiny, well. You should have thought of that before you pulled your gun. Spyglass does not promote open violence or murder, but it does hold other general rights and decency in fairly low regard.
If you’re willing to just accept that someone, somewhere, is constantly watching you, and that everyone’s out to gouge you, and you play by the same rules, Spyglass corptowns are actually damned honest places to live. You know where everyone stands, you pick your friends carefully, and you keep them for life. You can find plenty of decency in a den of thieves; you just have to expect it to take a little while.
Add to the list of things the HSD devs have never done: Interacted with human beings outside of the internet.
Inner Ring Police Force
The private space police, whom everyone was absolutely terrified of when they actually had the fleet power to impose their will on corporations, but who are now "put in their place" and only police when people hire them to police. Thank goodness. They're described in more suspicious and negative terms than Spyglass, somehow.
So all of the health care corps were actually evil and capable of curing all illnesses and injuries and cancers forever, but not doing so to prolong their profits, and when a Spyglass group called Progenitus found out and released this to the public, everyone loved them and paid them a constant, minor tax to safeguard this vital knowledge and keep everyone safe from the Space Flu forever. Welcome to the corporate utopia, plebs.
Also they invented a substance that could literally free anyone ingesting it from all biological needs(breathing, eating, drinking, having organs, etc.), but somehow it was "unnatural," and they decided that it wasn't to be used.
That super-substance? These guys love it and use it to make all sorts of grotesque, modified creatures and even living spaceships. Despite their very existence being founded in "FUCK THE LAWS OF NATURE, WE'RE GONNA MESS WITH GENETICS" and their society already having created one other species from raw cloth(the sentient machine people), these guys are totally weird and bad and taboo.
Though still very much in its infancy, Transcendent technology has already redefined the rules of reality. Much of its function remains a well guarded secret, but the premise is that certain things in the universe gain resonance and power due to their very construction. The arrangement of their molecules interacts with the waves of radio in the air, and other unseen forces. Crystals, for instance. By arranging these reactive constructions in patterns that also react to each other, complex harmonies can be made. Like a series of reeds all being blown over by a single wind, a sophisticated symphony emerges that is more than the sum of its parts. The beauty of it is that these structures work on the scale of the universe: from atomic to galactic. Their size is irrelevant, they simply...work. No power source, no special attachment, no port, no plug, no emitter or receiver. They are, and so, they function.
Eager to make sure that no retarded idea is left out of the book, HSD also insists that "crystal energy" is totally a real thing.
Thankfully this is where the chapter ends.
Miscellaneous Setting DetailsOriginal SA post Hc Svnt Dracones
Would you believe there's still more fluff/setting bullshit to crunch through?
This section starts out with a glossary of Space Future Terms, which are basically a bunch of tiny fluff snippets to tell us more about living in the SPACE FUTURE, most of them are dumb and pointless, but a few of them are dumb and hilarious , and I'll paste from those.
Did you know that in the Furry Space Future, stores are outdated? Instead of buying physical goods, you just buy limited-use licences to 3D print stuff... which actually seems like an alright idea for a setting where 3D-printing/nanotech forges replace most traditional construction. Though it's partnered with the bizarre idea that you can only buy said blueprints in certain areas, called "BuySpots." That seems weirdly anachronistic. If you've done away with physical stores, why still tie purchases to a location?
Space suits are now called "Suck Suits," which sounds more like something related to some really bizarre fetish.
A physical surface that contains digital components capable of processing information and displaying it. Almost every piece of glass, metallic or reflective surface in a Vector community is a smart surface.
It seems weird that HSD's society is so much more "civilized" than EP's, everyone's on board with the hypercapitalist thing(so far, anyway, there's an antagonist chapter later on which I guess might include filthy unionist scum and others who want to share wealth), because it appears to be a perfect playground for anarchist/anti-establishment pranksters. Make an infinite-use 3D blueprint for dildos and go swamp some corporation's "BuySpot" with dongs, hack an entire city to display nothing but your taint on every fucking surface. But no, everyone seems to have just mindlessly gone along with the whole idea.
When they were first developed, smart surfaces blared advertisements and followed Vectors around with digital salesmen to the point that the community as a whole demanded a stop to it.
Also, as much as EP is hostile to hypercapitalism, I think it displays it more realistically than HSD, because in EP, corporations largely have power over their employees, yet still have to avoid massive scandals, since they're not invincible. In HSD, on the other hand, corporations instantly bow to the wishes of the public and their employees and seem to either have no actual power to throw around, or to be innocent of any real desire to ever abuse people, committing misdeeds largely out of ignorance rather than selfishness. Not to mention, did the corporations not need the advertisements or anything? Could they just cut them with no harm to their revenue streams? Nope, must've just been on a whim that they advertised for stuff, since they could just cut it out at the drop of a hat.
Ledger: An autonomous investment system that works on behalf of each individual to make them a functioning part of the flow of commerce. Its profit offsets the cost of living in a society with chronic nickel-and-diming, and ensures a partial income. Ledger systems are not distributed after birth, cannot be bought, and cannot be traded. Their encryption relies on certain codes and programs only possessed by a handful of people in the universe, and the system itself operates on a constant basis. It is not updated, tampered with, changed or modified, which makes it easy to notice if someone is meddling with it. By and large, Ledgers cannot be hacked. They do what they do based on centuries-old equations that grow naturally with the inclusion of certain variables, and anomalies are very easy to spot. The systems themselves are contained within the sealed archives of the corptowns in which people are born, and might be accessible by one in every 10 million people.
I just want to repeat the whole "Ledger" thing because it's so fucking stupid. I love how it's "not updated" and "based on centuries-old equations," and clearly in the centuries since the start of the setting, computing power has grown massively if we've now literally made every fucking reflective surface a computer, and Transcendent Technologies surely has holistic crystal power quantum computers or something, yet despite this program never being updated , and being based on ancient equations , apparently no one has ever thought to use this massive flood of computing technology to either exploit bugs in the system's equations or crack the encryption?
Also known as the Human Aural Resonance Effect, this phenomenon is the largest piece of unaccounted-for evidence known to Vector-kind that perhaps their understanding of their own history might not be all they thought it was. The human voice, specifically human singing, resonates in the Vector mind in an almost hypnotizing fashion. While Vectors can still function more or less adeptly in the presence of human singing, they become somewhat placid and susceptible to suggestion, and can even be calmed or manipulated if the right person is exerting the right pressures.
Very few uncompressed original human pieces have survived 700 years past the death of their world
When combined with the other curious discrepancy in the early days of Mars: the last of humanity choosing to die off or transform rather than push onward, this paints a disturbing potential alternate to the end days of mankind, in which they attempted to gain control of the Vector population, failed, and were subsequently killed off by the early Vectors themselves. It would mean an awful lot of early history was entirely manufactured, but it wouldn’t be the first time.
I want to point out that I have not read ahead at all, so if the book is setting us up for some sort of surprisingly rad twist where it turns out that everything we've read so far has been blatant propaganda bullshit, I'd be pleased, but I doubt it. If anything this seems more like "the humans were evil all along, only the furries have true moral purity, that's why hypercapitalism works for them."
The Shadow President is a single, faceless, nameless civilian that exists above the CEO. Each megacorp has one. Their job is as profound as it is simplistic: watch. Be the stopgap. Hold the corporate machine in check when it needs to be reined in, allow it to roam free when it doesn’t. Be silent and uninvolved while the business flourishes, but when it oversteps its boundaries, when it pushes too hard, bring the hammer down on it. It is suspected by those in the know that nearly every megacorp CEO assassination was only possible because the Shadow President determined that the CEO had to be stopped, and arranged it.
The nature of the order of succession is as mysterious as the people themselves, but it is suspected that the titles have been passed down from person to person for generations, carefully selecting brilliant individuals who can accomplish the weighty goals held before them. They’re geniuses, whose job is not just to keep the system from snowballing, but to use its assets in ways that will profoundly influence the universe while the greater machine worries about what this year’s spring fashion line will be. They walk the streets as normal people, see the effects of their titanic corporations, monitor their books and research, and silently weigh in their hands when it’s necessary. A slip of paper containing even one of their names would be worth billions. So far, no such document has been found.
In short, all those checks and balances, those distributions of responsibility and decisionmaking, such as shareholder councils and the like, don't actually work. What's necessary for corporations to act correctly and morally is a single, powerful CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY with ultimate power over them. At least they just decided to go, "UH, IT'S A MYSTERY" rather than trying to bullshit up a way in which none of these SHADOW PRESIDENTS would ever be corrupt assholes or fuckups. I also want to point out that the book describes one of the reasons to need the SHADOW PRESIDENT as being because the other entities controlling the company are too far-removed from the public, and can too easily seek safety in bunkers or in orbit if their decisions ever really piss someone off... so I want to ask you, what protection is better than PERFECT ANONYMITY? At least people know who to fucking blame with the rest of them.
Next, we're on to locations ! Which starts out by describing that "skirmishes" ranging from "a couple of employees" to "a few hundred thousand" in size, happen with some regularity and often little warning. This is described as "worrying" to us, that is, us, the reader, and perhaps unsettling to us. But apparently to the people of THE SPACE FUTURE , this is just how business is done and nothing to whine about, highly implying that it's just a matter of culture and not, objectively, a bad thing. I'm absolutely boggled by whatever thinking came up with this... and then it turns out that the "locations" section has a dire dearth of actual locations , instead just describing types of locations like "urban city" and "a big cave" with a single, sparsely-detailed example of some of them.
About the only interesting parts are a couple of incredibly wanky space-stations briefly mentioned, one for idiot furries with mythical-esque forms, who live on a big space station where they permanently LARP themselves into a delusion that they actually ARE mythical creatures, like dragons, sphinxes, etc. They're somehow described as "noble" and "self-sacrificing," even though I remember most mythical monsters as being selfish and concerned largely with wealth and/or stealing attractive human women. The other's for idiot furries who idolize being ~wonderfully one with nature~ and all live as feral predators on a single space station... with no mention of what they hunt there, are there other furries there who worship the glory of being prey that gets messily murdered as food for the predators? Do they hunt targets? Do the predators hunt each other? Of course, despite ~abandoning all technology to live beautifully one with nature~, they're somehow still a match for the hunters with plasma rifles and railguns who regularly visit to hunt them for sport.
Being feral does not make you stupid, and smart animals hunt in creative ways.
Gotta make room for everyone's fursona, after all.
Blightspots are one of the few ideas in this book I actually like. Basically, growing bioships, like Transcendent Technologies does, is a tricky business. And sometimes, rather than forming correctly, they become a tumor, complete with the original ship's defenses and self-repair abilities, but now just sort of... spread across their construction facility(whether in space or planet-side), and aggressively resisting attempts to destroy them. But then again, I've got a soft spot for body horror type stuff.
After that is the bit that's about actual , defined, locations, the various planets.
Mars is incredibly dull, it's just Earth with taller trees, literally. About the most interesting part is the detail that Deimos was just casually demolished by automated debris-clearance machines in orbit, at which point I have to ask what challenges can really remain for players or anyone in this setting if a fucking moonlet can just be recycled for trash without anyone apparently noticing until it's too late.
The bit on Venus and its terraforming just makes me laugh, though, apparently it was a casual operation to increase the planet's rate of spin and give it an artificial magnetic field to shield it from solar radiation, and so I repeat: What fucking challenges are left ? What technology even needs to be discovered? Faster-than-light travel seems to be about the only thing missing at this point. There's already a substance to make you immortal and planetary-scale engineering seems like a wave of the hand away.
During the course of the Venus terraform, the planet’s rotational speed would accelerate from one turn every 238 Earth days to an almost perfect 24 hour spin, in the opposite direction. Its core would be liquefied, its magnetic field restored, and its atmosphere stabilized.
When they terraformed the place, they were also fucking idiots, I'd note, deciding that what an awesome, habitable world totally needed was herds of giant sea monsters and dragons . Why yes, I would love to go settle on a nice, Earth-like planet where a giant, flying fucking goose with scales might incinerate me.
Europa's somewhat interesting, since someone's actually bothered writing up a bit of local culture beyond "this is where all the corporations live" or "they like taking trips to Mars."(for Venus) With the Europans described as superstitious and, in fact, particularly in dread of Jupiter, the entire surface colony effectively going into blackout when Jupiter's in the sky, and leaving it ambiguous whether being farther out-system, more isolated, and dominated by a single, odd, corporate culture(Transcendent Technologies) is what's making them weird, or whether it's because the heart of their planet is full of ineffable alien artifacts.
Lastly, there's Ganymede, which is dull. It's just a generic space-frontier, a moon basically covered in jungle, and Earth, which is also dull, because it's got even less of a purpose in the setting than Earth does in Eclipse Phase. Earth in EP at least has a canonical reason to be scavenged-on, and a canonical number of scavenger inhabitants. Earth in HSD has half its surface literally covered in Whispers, the red gooey crystal shell covers half of Earth and extends almost all the way to the moon(and the entire moon is also covered), and apparently it's made of Whispers that can just wake up and murder people. So like, good luck visiting Earth, everyone who ever has, in canon, has fucking died.
But on the bright side, that taps out setting and lets us see how badly done chargen is, which I'll do next post.
Character Creation Part 1Original SA post Hc Svnt Dracones
At long last we actually encounter some rules for playing the game. As is pretty much bog standard for most RPG's, we've got a plethora of values and numbers hurled at us right out of the gate, before we even really have much of a grasp of what they do, mechanically, because the chapters containing the actual rules aren't until after this one. I may skip ahead a bit to the rules chapters while doing chargen, in case I need to gain an understanding of whether a given chargen option is really as retarded as it looks, mechanically.
First step: Pick a "Family." This basically translates to "decide what kind of furry" you want to be, since they've got names like Canidae, Felidae, etc. what boggles me is that the rundown of chargen at the start also lists "species" and "morphism," as things we need to choose, so I suspect we're going to get incredibly detailed with what kind of ridiculous fucking space poodle we are. Also of course the families aren't organized alphabetically, that would almost make a whit of fucking sense . At a glance, each family provides a couple of generic "+1's" to stuff, no telling if that's particularly huge yet, though at a glance they already look ridiculously unbalanced, since you've got "resistance to exhaustion" basically equal to "has wings, can fly." Additionally you get to choose a retarded stereotype based on the kind of furry you are, like, dogs can choose to have SUPER LOYAL as a bonus, cats can be twitchy, birds can be claustrophobic, etc.
None of this makes any fucking sense from a setting standpoint, mind you, since all of the Vectors were made from human fetuses with animal features grafted on, basically. There would have been no reason at all to add animal instincts or neural structures to those kids at all. So there's no reason they'd adhere to animal stereotypes, especially seeing as how, canonically, most old human media is gone, so they wouldn't even worship human stereotypes of given animal groups.
The five families are Canidae, Felidae, Reptilia, Mustelidae and Avialae, and after the brief stat bit, we get a painful revelation that someone on the writing team was way too fucking fond of White Wolf, as it basically copypastes the thing that every old White Wolf splatbook did, wherein every single [family/tradition/club/whatever] shared their opinions and stereotypes on every other major faction. Mind you, though, wasn't one of the big things the fluff started on, something about how THE INTERNET and similar wonderful inventions basically disassembled everything resembling evil stereotypes except among the willfully ignorant? And hasn't the former chapters worked on establishing that corporate culture largely replaces nationstate loyalties? And so far we've heard nothing about any particular furry "families" preferring any particular corporations, so isn't it completely illogical for a given "family" of furries to even really have a shared culture, mindset or opinion of any sort?
Yes, yes it fucking is. HSD, ladorks and gentlegeeks. HSD.
I'm angry, angry about punching bags
Let's see what the non-existent, both in the real world and in this fictional world, nation of space dog people thinks of other space animal people! I might have missed it in the blur of retarded statements in the earlier chapters, but we learn here that dogs and cats were the first "Vectors" made, with the remainder arriving later. And of course they're of the opinion that cats are flighty, reptiles are cold and emotionless, and space person ferrets act wacky exactly like real world ferrets do! Totally not about playing a yiffy animal person in space, guys, this RPG is about being human . And seriously I can't even find anything to mock here, it's just so fucking dull .
Also I won't bother copypasting any of the stereotypes, or even mentioning them much, because they're just... the same shit for all five families, and really dull. Completely unimaginative.
In space, no one can hear you yiff
Felines were second in line in the first generation Vector wave, and sported the most females of the initial release.
At 700 years later, no one has any idea why, but the anomaly has helped produce an almost matronly bearing in the family.
They have been a part of every major conflict, every major boon, and every major development since the race began. Of course, so have the dogs and a handful of others, but they get enough credit already. Felines are known for ambition, trying to reach the top of their social or economic ladder and refusing to come down. Of all the Vector families, their social behavior most closely mimics that of their progenitor race. Theyre typically stubborn and strongwilled, and are fiercely protective of what theyve earned.
characteristic of an older married woman, especially in being staid or rather fat.
I DON'T QUITE THINK THEY KNOW WHAT WORDS MEAN. None of the above particularly reads "staid old married woman" to me, especially not the bit about them basically being ambitious and adventurous. Also why in God's name would starting out with more women make them more hsdsdsdsdsds. This book is gonna give me a stroke.
In the future we will all have bare midriffs for no good reason
Reading the bird people chapter, I get the impression that the writers weren't all on the same page, as their quotes mention the cats starting "three race wars." Firstly, again, if loyalties are to corporate nations, not species or location, how did "the cats," as a group, start anything? Secondly, "race wars" are a thing at all in the setting? Thanks for the fucking heads up , you fucking useless writers. Jesus. For some reason the "taur" bird people also fly better, but... why? Wouldn't they be way fucking huger and even less aerodynamic than the rest? I... I don't see the logic. I DO NOT SEE THE LOGIC. But hey, apparently in this setting, they do, and the bird people love their "angels" a lot!
Their art is also shit, try to figure out how they ever pick up anything without knocking it over.
Good luck drinking coffee, shitbird
The reptile section is another part that seems to jar with the earlier chapters. Nothing about the third wave mentions that they weren't just more "humans with bits glued" on, like the first wave was, during the actual fluff chapters, but the reptile section describes them as though they originated from reptiles that needed to be adjusted to human shapes and functioning, as apparently the "base creatures" they were made from were coldblooded and needed to be made warmblooded. The book also describes how they're "detached" because they're the most "visually different" Vector family... but then you get to their family art and they just... look like any other furry. When they're all basically human shaped with a few bits glued on, none of them are really that hugely distinct. They can even grow hair, so being the only superbald race doesn't even make them stand out.
Completely different from all the other furries, honest.
Mustelidae is the obligatory fishmalk family who're WACKY and UNPREDICTABLE but totally, like, DEEP, anyway, duuuuude. Just because ferrets are kind of wacky critters in real life. Since their "family" also includes a bunch of shit beyond ferrets, like fucking wolverines, it seems weird to base their entire stereotype on FERRETS SURE ARE GOOFY, HUH GUYS? I'd also like to point out that throughout this entire chapter, there's been all sorts of delightful references to craft-your-own-fursona options that I look forward to, like having two tails, or being a "snake," i.e. having literally no legs but just a weird, serpentine lower body. It also sounds like it's not restricted purely to the reptiles. So go ahead and enjoy imagining that applied to, like, a dog dude or whatever. Yuck.
Mustelidae is also fucking ugly, even compared to the rest
the solar system is filled with billions of examples of every individual species, all intermingled and mixed. After 700 years,its awfully difficult to point to any single one and say All wolves behave like you do.
B-but that's. Hrrrrgh. That's what you fuckers just DID ! Fuck you! Anyway, this chapter is mercifully short, there are five subspecies for each of the five families(except for the birds, who only get four, because NO OWLS, THEY'RE SPOOKY DUDES NOW), and the only difference is that they each get one small skill bonus and snakes have to have no legs. Considering that the differences between, say, a cougar furry person and a lion furry person, is pretty much entirely one of appearance, it seems kind of weird to tie actual stat boosts to such a choice, since it basically just seems to go: "Hey, if you want your character to have a bonus to this particular trait, he/she has to have stripes!"
It caps off with this retarded piece of art that I have to comment on, though, beyond the usual pissy little italicized textsnippet.
Okay, let's just look at what's fucking happening here. Easy shots first, the fucking font they use for all of these chapter-separating splash images is fucking shit. I hate it. I hope whoever made it has his dick splashed with acid. Secondly, this snake appears to be doing a SUBTLE ASSASSINATION(and, apparently, the "YOU ARE A SNAKE"-disability also means no arms! That's fucking retarded and hilarious at once), but it's got a fucking GUN STRAPPED TO ITS HEAD. How is it going to make a subtle getaway? How? HOW? It doesn't even have any hands to take it off with after shooting that giant chicken! What's the point of an assassin who can't even OPEN DOORS? How is it going to get in anywhere without making a huge, obvious hole in [whatever barrier] or asking someone to open the door for it?
THE FURRY SPACE FUTURE, YOU FUCKERS
Anyway, next post I'll poke a bit more at chargen, maybe actually get far enough to understand what all these bonuses do or whether they really matter, and then make a retarded fursona. In space.
Character Creation Part 2Original SA post Hc Svnt Dracones
This post contains art of Mormon Charizard
So, in case everyone blocked it out, this setting has weird body shapes. I mean, weirder than being a cat or whatever, shit like "taurs." This is the chapter that has all of the weird deformities you can end up with, though you can bet that the amount actual treated as deformities with drawbacks are probably going to be minimal. We also can't just be Jeff Jenkins, Dog Detective Dude(Pththya, I want to point out that I made this comment before I saw your post, and only saw you when I previewed, so that's some weird fucking hivemind), we have to pick a wacky physical trait. This is an RPG about being human , guys. Each deformity has a drawback, a perk and a "momentum trigger," i.e. if you do a thing in combat, it "triggers" your "momentum" and you get a momentum boost, which is some temporary advantage. Some are generic, some are just weird and meaningless.
You must pick a Morphism, but if you don’t want to have any of the anatomically bizarre ones, take note of the first option: Plantigrade/ Digitigrade. All this does is describe whether your character walks on feet that look somewhat human (with the heel on the ground) or on paw-like toes. Pick the one most suited to your mental image and your Morphism requirement has been met.
So anyway. Let's go through the list!
Plantigrade/Digitigrade : For some reason, having normal person/animal person legs just makes you better at fighting and gives you more proficiency points. I don't know why. This is just how the setting works.
Atypical Patterning : You look real wacky, refer to the below image just for how fucking wacky you turn out. Looking like a GOFFYCK RAVER FURRY means you're camouflaged, no matter what your pattern is, as long as you're really acrobatic in fights, attacking enemies and then running away from them again. I'll also note that all of these weird deformities run with the whole "have a quote from each family of animal," despite them not being able to be stereotyped, and the ferret ones remain annoyingly fishmalky/hyperactive.
Hemivector : You look more human than most! Because humans are inferior to furries, you're more fragile, obviously, yet because humans are also sinister and deceitful, you become better at lying to people and talking them into things. Sneaky humans.
How did THAT get here? : Despite us being told about how the Vectors CLEANED UP THEIR GENES and MADE THEM MORE EFFICIENT, some weird mutation popped up in you anyway, and you get to mix and match animal traits. So you can be an alligator with feathery wings, a bird with fangs or something otherwise weird. It notes that these modifications are "non-functional," i.e. entirely cosmetic, and then a paragraph later notes that it just takes one brief doctor's visit and they become totally functional. Unless you actually do that, though, it's entirely a drawback that just makes you slower and, for some reason, it makes you a better wrestler/grappler in combat.
Mormon Charizard wants to tell you about Jesus
Hybrid : This finally explains a term I never really noticed much, earlier in the text, and hence skipped over. "Mutt-Reduction," which is a thing that means that while two given species can bang, and have kids, the kids won't look like a weird mix of the two, but instead purely inherits one parent's traits, appearance and family. Sometimes it fouls up, though, and the RACIAL PURITY of the Furry Space Future is despoiled, resulting in a Hybrid. It also means that anyone from either of your two parent species dislikes you, because RACIAL PURITY is good. The only advantage is that you get to pay for more "Gene Refreshment" boosts later on, whatever they are, I guess we'll learn. The "momentum" advantage for this one is the same as for the prior deformity, being "YOU ARE GOOD AT WRESTLING IF YOU PUNCH PEOPLE THREE TIMES IN A ROW."
Lateral : Remember those unfortunate furries that ended up with plain animal bodies because no one would do the merciful thing and abort them while they were in the types? This is them.
Being a tiny Gecko could be useful, but it also makes you rather vulnerable to boots. Lateralism affords the greatest advantage to disadvantage ratio of any of the Morphisms present here. Being able to slip through air ducts as a ferret or run at a cheetah’s true speed could be tremendously useful. But at the same time, you don’t have fingers or thumbs and you don’t stand upright. Consider your day to day tasks, and how many of them would be affected by even those simple changes.
Clearly the best use for this deformity would be to fluff your character as a pack of tiny geckos in a trenchcoat or suit who pretend to be a normal animal person. But I doubt the game would let you do anything quite that fun.
It’s worth noting, for the sake of roleplay and general association, that Laterals wear clothing. Despite the relative inconvenience of having to wiggle into pants, Laterals are Vectors: intelligent, integrated, contributing members of society who have been present since the earliest days of their existence. As such they are subject to the same rules of decency: you don’t wander around nude on the street. Laterals rarely begrudge it; they have as many feelings of modesty and as much desire to decorate themselves appealingly as any other person does. It’s a bit more difficult to get dressed without hands, but no one said having a rare morphism was easy. In most casual situations the illusion of decency is enough: a jacket, shirt, something to cover the majority of the body. Other people can then exercise the restraint of not looking where they shouldn’t. If nothing else, it keeps them from being confused for wild animals.
(Note that one of their bonuses is actually that they can be confused for wild animals, so, say goodbye to that minor bonus if you don't want people looking at your balls all day)
Good luck, you get to look like one of those pitiful animals whose owners make them wear pants, a shirt and some sort of retarded hat. Who even came up with this miserable fucking idea? Also, I note that snake-species furries HAVE to take this. I guess this means that no snakes, first off, have any limbs at all, and secondly, that most of them are fucking tiny. Unless you're a goddamn boa constrictor or something, what are you even gonna do? All you really CAN do is coil up on a chair all day and watch TV. At least a lateral, say, tiger, would have some paws to bop stuff, or a lateral bird would have a beak and claws to maneuver things around.
Aside from whatever advantages you might get, whatever minimal ones they might be, from your choice of animal, your only real advantages are in combat(socially and skill-monkey-wise you get completely shafted with massive penalties for just about anything more complex than pushing a button or saying hi), where you don't provoke HSD's version of Attacks of Opportunity and have a constant cover bonus due to odd size and shape. So you're great at fighting! With a body that can't wear most armor. And paws(or claws, if any), that can't wield most weapons. And. Well, I guess maybe we can glue a sword to your head.
This tiger looks so sad that someone made it wear a dress.
Micro-ism : You're tiny. Or, at least as tiny as your originator species was. I guess this is a better choice for Swarm Of Geckos Man than actual Lateralism, which just makes that modifier even more pointless. Their main advantage is, obviously, being absolute dodge monsters in combat, and the fact that they can still wield weapons(though they assume them as being some size categories larger), so they're basically Laterals except better , they even get the same permanent cover bonus on TOP of more dodge bonuses. This deformity is an excellent chance to highlight how fucking annoying the Mustelidae quotes for all of them are, though.
Mustelidae: YOU’RE ADAWWWARABUUUUU!
Imagine that sort of shit for every single "morphism."
Note, that while Micro-ism applies hard maximums to some physical stats, lateralism does not, and while lateralism allows, even outside of the GM fiat usually required for multiple morphisms, and even suggests, combining with micro-ism, it's not required. So technically you can be a tiny Lateral animal with absurdly maxed physical stats. Play a fucking sparrow and min/max your way to one-shotting people with one peck of your beak. I wonder if the game will let us do that.
Taurism : This is the only way for snakes to have limbs(arms only, though, no legs), which also buffs them up to normal human size, meaning that you can't be a tiny snake with a pair of beefy arms, like a horrible mutant Trogdor. Avians get another special variant of this, in that it just detaches their wings from their arms, actually making them angel-shaped, and explaining why they might be less shit at flying than other avians... though I'm not sure whether that would actually be the result. I mean, it actually seems like a way more awkward location for the wings with regards to actual flight(though perhaps better for dramatic posing, angels can look pretty cool).
One of their combat advantages is that you can attach a machinegun to their back and use them as a "stable firing platform." That's actually a reasonably entertaining idea. Aside from that, all they're good at is rushing enemies and shoving them around, which I guess is handy, assuming that this game has non-shit grappling rules. But what are the odds of that?
Can't be a furry RPG without fetishbait. Why is her midriff even exposed? Can't she afford clothes that fit?
Canidae: Alright, alright, I get it, you were young, you thought the kitsune look was hot, we’ve all been there, it’s time to get it removed. Maybe. Maybe not. It’s natural? Are...are you doing anything tonight?
Not, and I repeat, not , a furry fetish RPG, guys. Get it straight. But aside from helping someone at the game table get their rocks off, all it does is let you slap people around with your tail better in combat, and make you a mild pariah in social interaction.
With that out of the way, though, we can start to actually touch the system ! Because now we're gonna do the things that actually affect our dice and things!
Actual character creation!
Beats the character sheet from Eoris, at least
So, anyway, note the Mind/Body/Community/Economy columns. We assign dice to those, we've got a D12, two D10's and a D8. For everything we roll using one of those columns, we use that die, and it's about rolling high, so obviously we've got one good, two average and one poor category. If we assume we put a D12 in Body, and need to roll to do something STRONG, and we've got five dice in STRENGTH, we roll 5D12, and we need an 8 or better on any one of those for a success. I've heard of worse systems. Most modifiers add or subtract dice, and specialties(called "proficiencies") add static modifiers to every die in the pool. So if we had a proficiency called BEING REAL STRONG, we'd be rolling 5x1d12+1, hoping one or more of them would be an 8 or better. If something is trying to do something to us, we roll a "save" instead, which is a single die(if we somehow use our Body to make a save, then a D12), plus one of our "defenses," which then has to beat whatever the difficulty of the incoming attack is. This is my understanding of the system so far.
And... it's actually not a bad system as such, I've certainly seen worse. Of course, it takes more than the core mechanic, we also have to assume that none of the numbers we get to use are completely unbalanced.
It's also not just aesthetics that the four columns are split into two blocks. We've got eight dots to assign to one block, and six for the other. Everything has one free dot to start with, we get another free dot from our choice of Family, and everything maxes out at three on chargen. Crunching a few numbers, this comes out to roughly ~70% chance of success for 3d12, ~65% for 3d10 and ~35% for 3d8, assuming no bonuses from proficiency, circumstance, morphism, etc. and that it's a totally standard out-of-combat roll. This, again, actually seems pretty fair. We can have a decent number of 3d12 and 3d10 skills to roll, and we start out with a reasonable chance of success, so we're not going to be failing at everything right out of the gate.
My main issue with the next part is the terrible terminology and some overlap.
Mind:Dexterity represents your mind’s ability to wrap itself around new ideas and come up with creative ways to approach a situation.
Mind:Resilience represents your ability to bounce back from or resist mental trauma.
Mind:Acuity represents your ability to perceive patterns. In everything.
Mind:Strength represents your intelligence, in terms of sheer horsepower. It is how well you cogitate, how quickly you can compute a solution to a problem, or how much knowledge you can absorb and retain.
Mind:Presence represents your spiritual wholeness of being. A little abstract, but it plays a role in your ability to resist supernatural attack, operate supernatural equipment, and in some cases, exert your willpower over others.
For instance, Mind:Dexterity and Mind:Strength... how do I decide whether a situation needs RAW THINKING or CREATIVITY? Mind:Acuity feels like it should just have been called "perception," and Mind:Presence like it should just have been called "charisma" or something just a bit more traditional, though I appreciate the urge to try and stuff everything into a neat scheme, it doesn't always work out well.
Body:Dexterity represents your physical ability to manipulate small or complex tools, move, stretch, or contort.
Body:Resilience represents your ability to bounce back from or resist physical trauma.
Body:Acuity represents how acute your body’s sensory organs are. How well you see, how well you hear, how well you smell and what information you might pick up from your various senses.
Body:Strength represents the physical strength of your body. It also represents your endurance.
Body:Presence represents how wholly you embody the paragon of your being. Don’t confuse this for “beauty,” as it has nothing to do with whether or not you’re a pretty person.
A few minor oddities here, Body and Mind:Acuity could both overlap at points, it seems odd that Body:Strength is for Endurance, when there's a Body:Resilience right there, and I'm really not sure that any game needs more than one "Charisma"-esque stat. Though I do appreciate that they point out that Body:Presence can also be used for stealth, so stealth isn't purely a function of being dexterous(which often ends up being a god stat in a lot of skill-based RPG's), but also a function of knowing how to look unobtrusive. But seeing as how Body:Presence is entirely about LOOKING EXCEPTIONAL, it seems odd to put it in there, it would seem to fit better with Mind:Presence, in that it would seem to be an understanding of how your appearance works and how to modify it... if that makes any sense, I've been looking at this thing on and off for like, over an hour now, and it's probably doing bad things to my SAN score.
Community:Dexterity represents your ability to move throughout different communities without committing social mistakes.
Community:Resilience represents your ability to recover gracefully from failings in your reputation, or typecasting caused by your breed, career or morphism.
Community:Acuity represents your ability to pick up on problems, events or shifts in the local community simply by being there.
Community:Strength represents your reputation. It doesn’t necessarily make it a GOOD reputation, it’s just how widely your name is known in your community.
Community:Presence represents your influence throughout the communities of the galaxy. The higher the rating, the more fingers you have in other people’s pies.
This whole thing just gives me unpleasant flashbacks to Exalted and its desire to basically try and make "social combat" function like physical combat, right down to initiative rolls, but with arguments instead of swords. I repeat that I really think this is way too many kinds of charisma, and that a third kind of perception that only works on people, seems like a step too far in that category, too. You can already use Mind:Acuity to note if something's up just by people-watching, just look for patterns. And Body:Acuity should let you help spot anything that stands out or that people try to hide, simply by being eagle-eyed, so Community:Acuity seems to exist just to get shafted.
This Stat governs many of the behaviors of your Ledger, which is one of the primary means characters use to advance their wealth and influence in HSD.
Economy:Dexterity represents the diversity of your Ledger. It helps keep your finances safe from market fluctuations and makes you more appealing to corps looking to hire someone with good market presence. In the balance process, this lets you re-roll the dice used to determine your credit value for the day.
Economy:Resilience represents the ability of your ledger to recover from outside attack.
Economy:Acuity represents your ledger’s ability to pick up on new opportunities and invest in your absence.
Economy:Strength represents the strength of your investments, and how much they pay. It also contributes to a corp’s willingness to pay you more for a contract, and your ability to demand more money for a sale.
Economy:Presence represents your physical footprint on the landscape of the corp market. You can use this Trait to “throw your money around,” which can get you admission to events or locations only interested in dealing with a certain class of individual.
I had a few gripes with the other three categories, but they were largely okay, perhaps with a few adjustments here and there, but this one is fucking shit. Firstly, how can your ledger even be different from anyone else's? They're all running on the same, ancient calculations and software, that no one is allowed to edit and no one can hack. So everyone should just have flat 1's(defined as "normal") here. Secondly, outside attack? How is anyone even going to attack your ledger? It's unhackable , as we're told, and since everyone's investments are automated, how would anyone even attack yours, specifically? And hell, if ledgers CAN be attacked, sabotaged and people's finances actually damaged, doesn't that mean that, despite all we're told, there probably are , poor, suffering furries that can't afford all the necessities of the day?
And wait, "in my absence"? So ledgers AREN'T automated, after all, but actually require furry intervention to function? And if people can intervene, and hence potentially fuck up, again, doesn't that mean that there are probably plenty of furries that DON'T have what they need, and the whole concept of the ledger as automated, behind-the-scenes welfare doesn't work ? Colour me fucking amazed.
As for the Strength and Presence, options, here, I mean, come on, aren't they basically Mind:Presence and Community:Presence? But with a modifier called "filthy fucking rich" for Economy:Presence? The existence of this entire column is a terrible fucking idea. Go home and revise your homework, furry designers. They even admit that this whole column, on the whole, gets less checks and has less game impact than the others, so can't players just fucking dump this one hardcore down to its d8's and survive by stealing gear off dead enemies or starting the game by robbing some stores and whatever, since they can min/max themselves into unassailable superthieves/adventurers who now just need gear?
Now, what I will congratulate the devs on, even if they bungled it a bit, is the way they did their "specializing." It's a better version of White Wolf's Physical/Social/Mental split, in that even if you go Body, you've got some degree of social interaction to fall back on, if you go Mind, you've got something willpower-esque to fall back on. Unfortunately with the huge, missed thing that there's no combat whatsoever outside of Body, and nothing about knowing and thinking outside of Mind. The attempt at mixed categories, a sort of "archetypes," if you will, was a decent idea. Maybe if it had been something like... Savage/Civilized/Noble instead... Savage has RAW PHYSICAL CHARISMA, savage weapons(melee, brawling, etc), knows about nature, survival, that sort of thing. Civilized knows society, understands books, uses firearms, makes reasoned arguments for social interaction. Noble gets along socially by dressing in a way that impresses people(he has the money for shitloads of diamonds, after all, why not make a hat out of them?), has fancy, flashy weaponry, and uses his social connections as his form of "charisma."
But that's basically just designing a game from scratch, rather than pointing out how they could have not fucked up, so, eh.
At any rate, what I'd like to do at this point would be to read through the rest of the chargen, make fun of what needs making fun of for being stupid or poor design(and praise any of the, unlikely, gems to be found), then try and see how hard I can break the system. So, what sort of breaking should I aim for? Combat monsters? Invisible stealth guy? Something completely absurd like a five-inch gecko that Fist of the North Star's his enemies? Someone who breaks the game with money?
El Gecko Lives!Original SA post Hc Svnt Dracones
Fursona Construction Simulator v1.0
Alright, let's see how badly we can break this game. The orders were for one combat monster(Lateral), one money monster(Scrooge McDuck) and one Total Fursona Nightmare(as many Morphisms as possible, Taur and Multiple-tails required). I'll start off with a detailed run-through of my Lateral Reptile(Gecko) character, and I'll probably breeze over the others a bit more. We'll start from the order the book presents things, so first Family, Reptilia, which contributes +1 die to Body: Resilience(though it doesn't let us go above 3 at chargen, so it's not really that noteworthy since we're not THAT hurting for points to share around) and a +2(a static +2, not a die, mind) to rolls to resist poison and disease. For Species, we're obviously a Gecko, so we get a (static) +1 to Medicine(but why, anyway? Are Geckos in any way stereotypically related to health or anything?) and two further +1's that we can share around as we please.
Now, I'd like to note that literally every species gets a "+1 to X, +2 other proficiencies of your choice," so why not just give them all a +1 to X and then have the "+2 to proficiencies of your choice" in the generic chargen sections that apply to everyone? Augh.
And then there's Lateralism, which gives us -1(dice, not static) to Community:Presence checks, but only conditionally, so I guess it's up to the GM if anyone finds us unappealing for looking like a normal animal, and a -3(static, in this case) to the generically named "Operate" for anything that's not specifically made for us to use.
We get three of our family-specific "Reclaiming Surgeries" for free, and, having read ahead, the "reclaiming surgeries" are basically a bunch of stuff related to the animal's pre-furrification form that give bonuses. For reptiles, some of them are pretty rad. Nobody gets attacks of opportunity against us, so we can run right up to someone and suplex them, this pleases me, and we get an "automatic +1 cover bonus." Since I haven't read up on combat, I have no idea if this is bonus dice or a static bonus or what the hell it is. But I'm guessing it's good.
El Gecko with his favourite futuristic weapon: a folding chair
With that out of the way, we can start cracking on the raw numbers. Obviously our D12 is going to be assigned to our Body stats, El Gecko is a legend among brawlers, D10's for Mind and Community, and the D8 for Ledger, because El Gecko cares not about money, only justice and sick suplexes. Five of our eight dots for the Body/Mind side of things go to pushing Dexterity, Resilience and Strength up to three dots each(each starts at a free one, we get another one for free in Resilience from being a reptile), a further two go to Presence, because what's the point of a wrestler if he's not flashy, ridiculous and attention-grabbing? And the last goes into Acuity because we want to see enemies.
Our Mind stats are solid 1's because El Gecko has taken a lot of blows to the head from folding chairs over the years. Ledger also gets left entirely at 1, because El Gecko is too stupid to realize his corporate agent has been ripping him off on contracts ever since he was first signed up, and that leaves our six free dots on that side of things to be assigned to Community. We pick Acuity, Strength and Presence to get our dots since El Gecko is all about raw charisma, not about subtle maneuvering or figuring things out.
As is my habit by this point, I'd also love to point out all the potential character builds/concepts the system prevents. Remember that the 8/6 has to be assigned Body+Mind or Community+Ledger. So you can't, for instance, make a rich and popular celebrity, because anything applied to Community stuff(popularity) would make you poorer(Ledger). Likewise, anyone strong is basically draining away his brains. So you couldn't, for instance, make a poor and somewhat socially awkward(due to isolation) ascetic who's been meditating, training and studying for some task for the last five years.
Body(D12)/Mind(D10)/Community(D10)/Ledger(D8) Dexterity ***/* /* /* Acuity ** /* /***/* Resilience ***/* /* /* Strength ***/* /***/* Presence ***/* /***/*
Hit Points: 60
Readiness: 2(I think this is our Initiative)
Mind Dodge: 2
Mind Resist: 2
Body Dodge: 5(Edit from Future Purple: Despite what anyone might think, no, this isn't actually used in combat at all, except against grenades. You can't actually DODGE attacks at all.)
Body Resist: 6
Thankfully we have no fucking clue what any of these numbers really mean, as all we've been told so far is really the difficulty for beating an unopposed roll(get 8 or above, with modifiers, on one of the dice we roll).
Next up, proficiencies! While our raw dots in something decide how many dice we roll, proficiencies are the static modifiers applied to all of our rolls. First we pick one corporation, and assign eight points to their allowed proficiencies. Then we pick a second, and assign six points to their allowed proficiencies. We also get +1 to a specific proficiency from our species, and a further +2 proficiency points to assign from it, but it appears there's no limitation on where we can assign those. We also can't have more proficiencies at 3, than we have dots in Mind:Strength, and nothing can be at 4 or higher at chargen.
Now, they fucked this part up a bit, because there's basically no proficiency you can't find by just taking two different corporations during chargen(fluff-wise they're the ones you've been raised by and worked for, respectively), yet MarsCo's entire "thing" is that they have access to all proficiencies... but none of them can be raised above two. There's literally no reason to pick MarsCo at all, it's 100% disadvantage. It's also a POINTLESS disadvantage, since at most you can have three proficiencies at 3 at chargen, and you can just raise those proficiencies, most likely only one or two, with the proficiency points you get from another corp and then pick all of your others from MarsCo! It's stupid.
Anyway, we go with Pulse because we're a jock, and raise "CQC"(Close Quarters Combat, apparently the catch-all melee/brawl skill) to three, or "Masterful," rating. None of the other skills seem particularly relevant to being a combat character at all(except for Ranged Combat, but obviously we won't be using that with El Gecko), so I'll save the proficiency points there for later in case it turns out that any of them have any actual combat application. Now, I'd like to point out that Operate is one of the proficiencies here, and that you can casually increase that to a +3 at chargen. Laterals get a -3 to Operate for anything not made for them, and that's applied to all laterals, whether they're snakes, dogs or whatever. With three d12 in whatever stat Operate uses, and the proficiency and penalty cancelling each other out, you've got a ~75% chance of success, meaning that a snake or a ferret can operate heavy industrial machinery about as well as a trained operator on most days.
I'm not sure if it's to their credit that it's possible to circumvent hard-set penalties and do ridiculous shit if you want to, or if it's the devs' failure that they made their supposed hard penalties so easily avoided.
We also get nebulous "allegiance points" for the corporations that we choose to have been raised by or been related to, but as most other things in this chargen so far, we really don't know the impact or importance of anything we're doing, but we're informed that it's on a scale of -5(worst enemy of a given corp) to +5(Board of directors!). Considering that +3 is the minimum necessary to be EMPLOYED, that's a very narrow fucking hierarchy of power. Not much room for middle management.
Being an Employee of a megacorp as a player character is a little different than being a general, run of the mill corporate peon. Player characters are always considered valuable assets, and are held on retainer rather than being put behind a desk all day, which leaves them free to pursue their own interests until they’re needed.
Yes, this is what being employed is like.
But anyway, chargen isn't over yet! Now we have to pick a "Focus!" Skills are organized into five more or less arbitrary groups(for instance, CQC, Ranged Combat, Security and Survival are in the "Combat" group, but stuff like Athletics or Sneak, which would most certainly be relevant to a combat situation, definitely more so than Survival, a skill for surviving in rough terrain, are in the "Generic" group. Booksmarts is in the Science group, but not in the Engineering group. Streetsmarts are Generic, rather than Communication, and so on.). For each skill in a group that you have at 3 or higher, you can get a Focus Ability!
Focus Abilities are a bunch of abilities that can be used Once Per X, anything from once per Day to once per Combat to once per Session(a terrible measure, mind, some groups have short sessions, others have very long ones. And Days are shitty measures, too, some adventures have barely one encounter per day, others have dozens in short, compressed spans of time). The large majority of the abilities outside of the Communications group are all combat-related, though, having little roleplay use, and the Communications abilities can be mostly described as "how to make the GM hate you utterly," since they largely amount to "social mind control," that allows you to effectively brainwash NPC's without really having plans or arguments to back it up, and just go wherever and do whatever.
And, once again, this whole chapter is full of numerical bonuses that we still don't know the worth of. Is a potential +3 to damage for an entire fight worth it? Overpowered? Tiny? We don't know, because we have no idea how much damage anything does yet. What is a "Battle Pool," even, and why would I want a bonus to it? Some concepts can be deciphered just by their name, but what the fuck is a "Battle Pool"? And of course there's also the usual paragraph-to-paragraph inconsistency we've come to know and love. An ability that temporarily boosts your Allegiance with a corporation to (by investing money from your ledger in them, and how, again, do we do that, if ledgers are all automated?) 3 gives you some pull with them and describes you as an "investor," but that doesn't make sense since we've been told that 3 is the bare minimum required to be an entry-level employee, so why would that give you any pull or interest to them at all, especially when the description states that they "know investors are temporary"? So it's effectively the same as them giving a temporary data entry monkey access to corporate benefits.
Actually taking any of these abilities before you've read how combat works or what equipment does wouldn't make any sense, so we'll put that on hold temporarily
Now we hit the "Ledger" part, i.e. how to figure out your starting funds. You add two of your Ledger stats together, roll 1d8 multiplied by that, and add 30. This is your starting money for weapons and armor, roll it again for your starting money for "general items"(what's a general item? Anything not gear and armor? What about implants that have offensive or defensive functions?) and roll it a third time for your starting savings, that you aren't allowed to use at chargen... but can use after the first session or whenever your GM arbitrarily states that you're allowed to. It's supposed to prevent players from making "too big" purchases right at the start of the game, but unless the GM rushes players into somewhere out on the cold fringes of civilization right away, I can't see how this would prevent the players from just saving some money for after the first session. It's stupid.
Also "any money not spent goes to your general funds," so, again, you can ignore their arbitrary start-up purchase categories and just save your money, then spend the first session going shopping(or second, if your GM is going to be retarded and follow the advice about restricting the savings).
How do we get more money? Our Ledger makes us more money at the end of literally every session. We roll a single Economy die(so if we've got our D12 in Economy, one of those), add our ledger score(those two stats added together from earlier, Econ:Strength and Econ:Presence) and then multiply it by the total number of dots we have in Economy. We can also make an Econ:Resilience+Finance and/or Econ:Acuity+Finance check. For every die we get on that which is 8 or higher(I assume that's what it means by "number of successes, since it's not been defined yet"), we get a success, and we multiply by number of successes(and if we get zero successes, multiply by zero, you fail). This is kind of a terrible decision if you've not focused in Economy, but it could basically mean that after a couple of lucky rolls from the first session, you've quadrupled or quintupled your starting funds and are now ridiculously rich.
There's an alternative rule which gives every player 75 credits, flat, at the end of every session instead of rolling for it. This, hilariously enough, basically invalidates all your Ledger stats and completely lopsides the entire chargen system by cutting out a quarter of it. Brilliant game design .
Anyway, on to Equipment! A category that already gives us some incredibly retarded things from basically the first page, like the Cleansweep(tm), made for Search and Rescue teams. It indicates lifeforms... and, on purpose, doesn't indicate where those lifeforms are, since it would make the search-and-rescue teams be lazy and not thoroughly sweep everything, if they could just, you know, head straight to whoever's trapped in the fucking burning building or buried under the avalanche or whatever. Jesus Christ. The book even calls this design "annoying, but a good decision," yet never justifies why it was a good decision.
There's also a bunch of stuff I can't see why a PC would ever need, like a "Flowform Generator," that allows you to levitate water, and that's literally it. It's a bulky, complicated device that allows you to fling water into the air and keep it there, which, I guess, might be handy if you're fighting enemies in a boat or something, or if everyone can swim, you could make a hugely obvious set of stairs to let you swim to/from something, though since it caps out at 30 feet of height, I can't really imagine it being easier than just finding a fucking ladder, and since it's huge and obvious it won't be useful for stealthily circumventing something. The field is also complicated to reposition, so it doesn't have any use as a portable device for drowning enemies or anything of that sort. And no, sadly, it must be from "pools at least a foot deep," we can't use it to levitate the water inside people and throw them all into the air then run past.
Remember how being a limbless or fingerless/thumbless lateral was supposed to come with disadvantages ? Nope, for a tiny price(20 credits) that literally anyone can pay at chargen, you can have a telekinesis hat that allows you to glue guns to your head and push buttons(or pull triggers), albeit at short range, with your mind.
But most of the "general" category of equipment is frankly pretty forgettable, unless you really want to keep track of how many tents you've got or how many months' worth of rent you can pay. I have seriously yet to experience the gaming session that was made more exciting by figuring out whether the PC's could pay for their apartment or not. El Gecko doesn't care until we get to the weapons chapter, browsing through like fifty descriptions of futuristic assault rifles and reaching the "Hard Edge," which does our Body:Strength + 3 in damage(6, or maybe 7 to 14, because for some reason Hard Edges, despite being melee weapons, have an "ammo damage" listed as well, of d8, even though they don't actually use any ammo, being swords . I have no idea if its a misprint or intentional because it makes them pretty unambiguously the best possible weapon without even being the most expensive or hard to acquire), costs 50(the max we can start with among our three rolls is 168, but since we're already min/maxing a combat monster, obviously we rerolled until we got three maxed rolls while the GM was distracted) credits and is available from all corporations. We just choose that we aren't buying anything with our funds, El Gecko doesn't pay rent because he's always looking for new opponents to fight, and start the very first session by hitting up the nearest BuySpot to grab one, fluffed as looking like a folding chair with really sharp corners. We also glue the Vibrox boost to it for 20 credits, allowing it to basically ignore most armors and chip away at the remainder.
(Also, while all the generic gear, like drug injectors and tents, notes whether Micros/Taurs/Laterals can use it, or whether it costs more for them, nothing, at any point, makes such a distinction for weapons and armor, so presumably any dog can carry a Percussion Hammer in its teeth and wear power armor to make the Brotherhood of Steel jealous)
Speaking of armor, said chapter makes some annoying omissions that seem to refer to rules that were edited out at some point. Living Armor, for instance, can sometimes freak out and act on its own, rather than doing what you want it to(either berserking or sprinting for cover), and it says that when it does this, it uses its own stats, not necessarily yours. Yet at no point are its stats, or which specific stats it overrides, listed. It does work interestingly, though, rather than just being a static wall of defense, armor is a raw pool of extra hit points, which can be destroyed or worn down. This is actually something I'm a fan of, since it prevents annoying issues from other games where you need to make sure armor isn't so big that it makes half the party's attacks plink off while also keeping it high enough that the other half of the party can't just one-shot the big bad. Here, everyone can contribute to knocking chunks off of armor, and armor that doesn't give 100% coverage can still let "status effects" seep through.
Feeling relatively positive about these mechanics I then try to read the combat chapter and start feeling dizzy and nauseous due to the shitty organization of it. I'm still not entirely sure I understand how combat works, but... first, we look at our Readiness, one Body die + Readiness is our initiative score, highest always goes first, every round. 6+Readiness is how many things we can do in one round, some things eat up more than one point from this "Battle Pool"(and the number of times we can do a given action in a round is also limited by stats, stupid people, for instance, can only make one attack action per round, even though they can jog all over the battlefield) There's also a "Nerve Pool," a morale rating for each side, and if it drops too low for NPC's, they run, but... actually it's entirely meaningless to calculate or keep track of for players, it turns out, because the rules specifically say that the PC's can just elect that they're fighting on despite their Nerve Pool hitting zero. Why even HAVE this mechanic except for the hardcore grogs who MUST HAVE RULES for everything? There's even a paragraph later on pointing out that you can just go ahead and scrap the Nerve Pool entirely, but...
This system was designed to grant players a unique RPG combat experience in which caution and discretion is rewarded, rather than encouraging players and enemies to just rush into oncoming bullets with insane courage and kill whatever it is that’s bothering them at the time.
You're clearly murderhobo-loving swine if you want to play without the Nerve Pool.
There are also some surprises, for instance, ranged combat always uses Mind:Acuity as its stat, it doesn't matter how good your eyesight is, or how dexterous you are, or anything of the sort. All it takes is a stat previously described as...
Mind:Acuity represents your ability to perceive patterns. In everything. Hidden messages in code, connections between events, whether or not someone is related to someone else by virtue of their physical appearance. It also allows you to notice things others may miss. Often used in examining speech or text, this is typically combined with Booksmarts, Investigation or Spot to notice specific things about what you’re looking at. It is not used to physically locate something in a room.
Pattern-recognition. Pattern-recognition is the most important skill for firing a gun and hitting a target.
But, you know, who gives a damn about that. We've got a MELEE COMBATANT, here. After parsing the poorly written rules, I see that because we're stupid, we can only attack once per round, though we can sprint pretty well across the battlefield to bop the shit out of someone, also due to our huge Body:Dexterity, we roll 1d12+3 four times, and each result of 8 or greater is a hit. There's no dodging, or dodge skill, for melee. Or for ranged combat, for that matter, it appears that using cover is the only defensive action applicable to anything. I also think whoever designed the mechanic has played too many videogames, because you use cover by expending "defensive actions" to give enemies a penalty to hit you(assuming their shots would have to travel past the cover you're behind), but you get a penalty to your own attacks as well if you expend defensive actions before you make attacks, but since no one can attack you on your turn(barring you provoking attacks of opportunity by rushing past them), why not just assume that characters only actually take cover at the very end of their turn? Rather than adding a stupid GOTCHA rule if some STUPID NEWBIE does his actions in the wrong order?
In general a lot of the rules have weird things going on, two-weapon fighting, for instance, lets you reroll any of your main-hand weapon's attack dice, rather than giving you a boost to damage or letting you roll even more attacks, but warns that you "have to abide by the second roll." Which is weird, because you don't have to reroll the whole pool, by the wording, and there's no separation between a good success and a middling success, it's just a success , so just reroll the failures and leave the rest unrerolled. Also it doesn't care at all what your off-hand weapon is, as long as you have the Body:Dexterity and CQC needed to wield it, so you could pick up a stick and wave it around in your off-hand and still get the bonus.
Anyway, we've got four rolls that each have roughly a 75% chance to succeed, which means that we can easily succeed on 3 of them most of the time, at which point they do 7 to 14 points of damage each, for an average attack of 21 to 42 points of damage, with a further +3 to each attack that hits because we're a Lateral, which gives us a bonus bite as part of every succesful attack, jumping our damage from 30 to 51. This doesn't tell us a lot , but even the game's toughest armor for PC's only has 160 HP, and the average is closer to 40 or 50, meaning that EL GECKO can sprint up to enemies and shatter their expensive powered armor with a swing or two from his folding chair without much effort(or, actually, I remember, just plain IGNORE their armor if it's under 50, due to the Vibrox modification for his weapon, which most armor in the game is, or will be after the first hit or two). If we have an old branch in our off-hand, or a lead pipe or a small flag, anything that counts as a weapon to cheese the two-weapon rules, we can pretty much guarantee four hits per round, increasing us to 40 to 65 damage.
Taking a glance ahead to the "Adversaries" chapter, it's entirely possible for El Gecko to two-shot one of the supposedly near-undefeatable enemies of the setting, the "Whispers," or one-shot the "Palemen" that supposedly killed everyone who tried to investigate what was happening on Earth. The Whispers can do a pretty dangerous level of offense, but the weapons they're wielding are classed as "Medium" and hence can't parry El Gecko's "Hard Edge Folding Chair" which is classed as "Large." So it's pretty much down to whoever win's initiative whether he just wades into combat and smacks them around casually. In a shocking twist of the game devs actually remembering Laterals are around, they note that Laterals can't carry shields and weapons at the same time... unless they buy the aforementioned "magnet helmet" and attach the shield to it, suddenly making El Gecko with a large shield the equivalent to a mobile bunker(between the shield and his cover bonus for being a Lateral, enemies suddenly need a 12, not an 8, to hit him, meaning that a large number of enemies simply won't be ABLE to hit him at all. They'd need at the very least to be rolling D10's, and even then they'd need +2 or +3 on their Ranged Combat to land a hit, in melee the shield just works as an extra pool of HP), dual-wielding a stick in his teeth and a folding chair implausibly held in both front paws.
Also, in case you're about to call this post "ridiculous" for letting a gecko wield weapons... I'd like to point out that the "Lateral" morphism does not deny them the option to wield weapons and even, specifically, mentions them using weapons.
This is also what he can do prior to me taking a look at armor, cybernetics, reclaiming surgeries and magic, which would probably make him completely ridiculous even with the minimal money his Ledger stats would let him earn in a dozen or so sessions before the GM would start throwing the setting's "big bads" at the party.
It also turns out that Laterals, arbitrarily, can't grapple at all, except against other laterals, which seems bizarre to me, because some of the most dangerous animal attacks I've heard about, involve animals(like, say, alligators or crocodiles) latching on a human with their teeth and dragging them around, perhaps underwater, or just trapping them in a murderous, crushing bite.
And yes, in case you're wondering they put the huge rules/combat chapters in between the chargen/equipment chapters and the chapters with more chargen stuff like Reclaiming Surgery, cybernetics and becoming a Furry Space Wizard. Yes, this game has space magic, of course it does, we'll get to it.
I think this makes a pretty good initial case for them not having playtested their system worth shit, though. Next time, we'll see if Scrooge McDuck can somehow get the weapon with the "Annihilate" attribute(does 1000 damage worth to any target hit, or anything in between the weapon and the target. The strongest enemy and the strongest armor combined result in 260HP) from chargen or within a few sessions of it.
Edited to a URL instead of an in-post image because I realized it contained some furry ass that someone's boss might not appreciate seeing if he happened to glance over their shoulder. Not spectacularly NSFW, but still, just in case.
Scrooge McDuck: Capitalist Space MarineOriginal SA post Hc Svnt Dracones
Scrooge McDuck: Capitalist Space Marine
So last time we discovered that simply pouring all your skill points into physical stats let you effectively murder anything you could get close to, up to and including the setting's supposed horrifying big bads that killed everyone on Luna. And you could do this as a gecko . But what if you didn't ignore all your ledger stats? What could you do then? Could you, perhaps, get a "V-801 Mag-Lance," a weapon with the attribute "Annihilate," which means the weapon does a staggering total of 1000 damage. In a line, counting off damage for every object(like cover) or enemy in that line, until all 1000 points are spent or all objects and characters along the line's passage which are hit, are eradicated?
That's a good question. The Mag Lance costs 1000 credits. It also has a size of "LAN" or "Lift-Assistance Needed," which means we can't move-and-shoot with it in the same turn without a Body:Strength of five, only achievable with a suit of powered armor(at least at chargen). It doesn't matter much since the Mag Lance specifically requires you to stand still to fire it anyway , but since the best suit of powered armor in the game, enough to let us actually survive a round of beatings from El Gecko(but not two rounds of it), only costs 500, we may as well see if we can get that, too. So our goal is to see how fast it's possible to milk 1500 credits out of the game's shitty Ledger mechanics.
So anyway, let's get started. Obviously we're going to be Family: Avialae, which gives us a +1 to Body: Acuity and lets us fly. Sadly, the closest we'll get in Species is simply Bird, so we're a Bird Bird who happens to look duck-like. Our "Morphism" will simply be the plantigrade/digitigrade one that means we look perfectly normal and don't freak anyone out.
Body(D8)/Mind(D10)/Community(D10)/Ledger(D12) Dexterity * /***/* /* Acuity ** /***/* /*** Resilience * /* /* /*** Strength ***/* /* /*** Presence * /* /* /***
So how much does this min/maxing actually get us to start with?
Our Ledger Score is Econ:Presence + Econ:Strength, so 6. Our starting cash is three rolls of (1d8*Ledger Score)+30, so minimally 114, maximally 234. Not quite enough to start out with a Mag Lance, admittedly. How many sessions would it take us to actually afford our instakill weapon, though?
Ledger Balance: Roll an Economy die and add your Ledger Score to the result; every dot you have in Economy is worth that many credits today.Add them all up and add the result to your Credit total.
So we get between 91 and 234 credits at the end of every session, simply as a default. On top of that, we can gamble with our profits by rolling Econ:Resilience and/or Econ:Acuity + Finance, with the former multiplying our Ledger Score by number of successes(every roll over 8), and the latter doing the same, but for our final profit result. We're obviously going to max out our Finance, so all our rolls are 1d12+3, meaning that it's basically impossible for us to get 0 successes on either roll and no multipliers whatsoever, and relatively likely that we'll get a multiplier of 2.
Assuming we just get average luck on our very first roll and get two multipliers of 2? 338 to 624 credits at the end of a session. Meaning that even if we completely flub most of the rolls involved, within three or four sessions(or less, if we get lucky, and it wouldn't even require getting that lucky) we could be hauling around an instakill weapon that can take down every pre-generated enemy in the setting and pretty much anything else the GM can generate. Give us a couple more sessions and we can be firing our weapon from a suit of powered armor that's basically like having our very own mech. Firing the weapon requires not having made any "move actions" the turn you're firing, or the turn prior, meaning that, going by the rules as written, you can just start firing on the first round of combat. The description makes it sound as though you need to spend an action setting up the weapon, but the rules for it don't actually require that, simply that you're not moving. So even in the middle of a fight, you can spend two turns firing off some other weapon, without moving, and then fire the Mag Lance, or you can simply fire the Mag Lance on the first round of combat since, with it being the first round, you haven't actually made any actions in the rounds before. And once we fire the weapon, it's basically all over for anyone we're firing it at, since even under the worst of possible circumstances(highest cover bonus), we've got about an 80% chance of hitting someone, and enough damage points to destroy an armored bunker and whoever's inside.
There's also some extremely poorly worded rules about our attacks being disrupted if we get hit in the round before we act(but since we don't declare our actions until our turn, we can just do something else if we get hit), but the way it's phrased "if you take hit point damage," suggests that as long as its our armor getting knocked around, and not us, we're still in the clear. And having our mecha power armor destroyed in one round would require a GM so out to get us that any fuckery we do within the realm of the rules would be meaningless anyway.
On top of all of that, the fact that we can also fly and buy powered armor to basically make us invisible is kind of chump change.
As mentioned, they also tucked away all of the cybernetics and surgery after the rules/combat chapter, for some reason, which I can kind of understand, because it's hugely underwhelming, even compared to the rest of the book. There are barely modifications, and about a third of them are basically cosmetic, while the remainder come with huge drawbacks or offer you stuff that you can get much cheaper just by buying it(like having built-in armor. Have fun paying twice as much as you would for powered armor that's three times as effective and boosts your stats, too!). Then there are the Reclaiming Surgeries, which vary between the neat and the retarded, but are mostly only things that Laterals would bother with(because they get them for free). Now, keep in mind, as I mentioned earlier, the fluff for all of the "Reclaiming Surgeries" is that they're about re-activating genes that your particular brand of animal had back when it was still an animal, and not an anthro thing, so...
Since when have dogs had genetically superior work ethic and healing saliva? Because those are some of the things they can recover with Reclaiming Surgeries. Also note that while dogs get these chump change boosts, reptiles get to be poisonous, scale sheer walls and regenerate lost limbs. So much for game balance.
Of course, I also promised you that there'd be space wizards in these chapters beyond the rules chapters, and damn straight, there are space wizards or, as the game calls it, "Transcendent Implants." Unfortunately, you can't even build your concept about being a space wizard or starting as one, the highest possible starting allegiance for a corporation is 2, and they require 4 before you can buy any, meaning that it's basically entirely down to GM benevolence whether you ever will have access to them, especially since only one corporation sells them. After getting one, it's also entirely possible that it'll be randomly locked at a power level where using it is literally suicidal.
Implants function at "Cuil"-levels, the higher the level, the stronger the effect(and the stronger the side effects), at level 5, using it means you die or stop being a PC in some fashion, usually in a very dramatic way. Your implant's Cuil level, at implantation, is decided by rolling 1d10-(Mind:Presence+Body:Presence), with a maximum result of five. Keep in mind that while Mind:Presence sort of makes sense for this, as it's effectively your "spiritual wholeness"-stat, Body:Presence does not make even a whit of sense for this, as it's your "physical beauty"-stat. But hey, sure, I guess being really fucking pretty makes you good at harnessing the POWER OF THE STAR GODS or whatever the shit this stuff is.
You also have a 1 in 4 chance of the implant you getting spontaneously turning into another implant after installation. Just because fuck you , dear player, for wanting to have fun with space magic.
Did I mention that some environmental effects, critical failures and Transcendent Implant usages can also escalate Cuil levels? Because self-destructing meaninglessly is what translates to "fun!"
If you took a Transcendent Implant and did not have enough Trait points to prevent the chance of a Cuil 5 implant, you leaped into this a little earlier than you should have. None the less, it is the character’s choice if they want to use their implant or not, and it could lead to a rather spectacular end depending on the situation. You can still use the small, utilitarian functions of your implant even if it’s Cuil 5, but if something should occur to force its activation, the You that was will be no more .
if something should occur to force its activation, the You that was will be no more
Man, who doesn't just love even more chances of random death?
But just to make things better, you don't always have to be at Cuil 5 to have your implant be useless and/or fatal to use! Let's take the Translocation implant, for instance. At Cuil 1 it lets you teleport(note, though, that as far as I can tell, the combat chapter doesn't seem to explicitly note what kind of action using these implants is. Is it movement? Offense? Standard? Support?) a given number of hexes in a fight. At Cuil 2, the same, but with a chance of being a bit off on your location. At Cuil 3, it drags along everything around you and the minimum warp distance is 10 miles... on a roll of 1 on the scatter die, you arrive a mile under your target location, if you arrive inside something solid, you die. Better hope you're teleporting to somewhere with a lot of caves. At Cuil 4...
4 Cuils: You and everything around you in a 100 foot radius translocate to an extreme location.
Roll a d10.
7-8: Random inhabited Jovian moon
Once you arrive at your target world, refine your position using the rules in the previous Cuil. If you roll 9 or 10, roll the dice again to determine which planet’s orbit you arrive in. If you roll a 9 or 10 twice, you don’t arrive in an orbit at all. Your character arrives in the black with no point of reference, perhaps not even in the same solar system, and is effectively lost forever.
We've confirmed that Earth would be suicide to arrive on(unless you're El Gecko or Scrooge McDuck five sessions into the game, anyway). Mars, Venus and an inhabited Jovian moon are alright, empty interplanetary space is basically the same as death, pretty much. Of course, you may also get 9-10 twice and get warped out of the game, or the Cuil 3 rules might dump you inside solid rock or something. Fucking, awesome, right?
Excitation, or Pyrokinesis, at Cuil 4, has a 25% chance of throwing your mind into the void after briefly turning you into a fire elemental. Excitation, or Telekinesis, has a 37.5% chance of instantly destroying your body if you touch anything after activating it at Cuil 4. And on, and on, and fucking on. Most of the powers are handy at Cuil 1, useable with danger at Cuil 2, then at Cuil 3, some of them remain useful while others are basically game-ruining/character-ruining, and Cuil 4 are pretty much always fatal or have a really high chance of being fatal, just in a slightly less instantaneous way than Cuil 5.
And remember, just a single one of these shit-tastic implants costs 1500 Credits, as much as it would cost Scrooge McDuck to become a living tank with the Annihilate-effect weapon that, I'll just remind you, can't backfire and wipe him out of reality .
So, they managed to somehow make a version of the psionics from Eclipse Phase which are even more useless to the player , despite largely involving the cool, reality-breaking exsurgent shit that you wished your PC could get to play with. That's a fucking accomplishment!
I feel like I've been reviewing this fucking game forever. But thankfully we should be down to just one fucking post after this, one last post of shitty art and shittier writing.
Bad Art and Worse RulesOriginal SA post Hc Svnt Dracones
The home stretch
So what's left? About 50 or so pages of Adventuring, Character Sheets, Advancement, Adversaries and ships, and I'm pretty sure there's going to be more retarded to find in there, or at least more shitty art. So let's chew through the rest of this pile of trash... and of course they fuck up right from the get go, with something as simple as suggested quest rewards.
> 300-500 for jobs with substantial personal risk.
Basically, a couple of sessions that we drag out with extended shopping trips or some sort of intercharacter drama can, unless we have rock bottom Ledger stats, basically land us as much money as a highly dangerous adventure . In fact, unless a given adventure only lasts one or two sessions, we're in fact almost guaranteed to earn more during it than we will at the end of it. Did anyone playtest ANY of this? Mind, they're allowed to "negotiate" for better payment, but it's not something they can mechanically roll, the book informs us, they have to have a legitimate argument for it. How about the argument that "hey, chief, I can earn more than this sitting at home and scratching my nads for a week, get fucked."?
Vectors don’t need to worry about muscular atrophy due to low or no gravity; they were specifically designed to adapt to such conditions.
And of course the everlasting parade of SPECIAL FURRY ABILITIES because ~superior genetics~ just fucking keeps on going, and going, and fucking going.
Fall damage is standardized across the game system regardless of what planet you’re on. It also applies in zero gravity situations where your character collides with objects.
Fall damage begins at 10 feet (6 feet for micro characters). Calculate how many feet you fell beyond 10, and multiply that number by 2. That is the accumulated damage on impact. So a character falling 30 feet with nothing to stop their descent hits the ground for 40 damage (20x2).
So, apparently velocity doesn't matter for this mechanic, which means that if you gently drift a hundred feet in zero-G at a snail's pace and then "collide" with an object, you'll gorily explode, going by the rules as written.
Remember how Eclipse Phase had transmitting a copy of your brain to another location, as a way of travelling, but with the cost of needing to use a local body and perhaps the complications that entailed? HSD just has magical technology that builds you a perfect body-copy on-site in a span of hours. Despite the fact that a "round trip" costs 1000 credits, which then includes the cost of manufacturing first one new body, and then a second, the game suggests that PC's can sell their organs to cover some of the costs. But why? Growing an entire new body is apparently fucking effortless, the work of hours , growing a box of new livers should take five minutes. Also, wait, why does a "Body Replacement" surgery, which just involves one new body, which doesn't need to be a carbon-copy replica of the original, cost 2500 credits, when this costs 1000? Can't a PC just ask for a new body to be transmitted to on arrival, rather than a copy of their old one?
There's a section on loans, which caps you at loaning 500 credits(your max is equal to your Econ:Strength*100, so in practice the cap is more like 300, but let's be generous), which we've already established you can just earn in a couple of game sessions with plain ledger rolls as long as you don't put them all at 1 dot or something.
A note to Guides: You do not always need to make loans available to players. Using just the rules mechanics it is possible for a team of players to borrow a substantial amount of money right off the bat. This is intentional, as it gives them a means to purchase things like ships without having to play a long campaign first. However, it can also be used to outfit them with high-tier weaponry much sooner than makes narrative sense. Players should keep in mind the sort of character they’re playing. It isn’t always particularly believable for the first action of say, a scientist or sports star, to take out two loans, go to the nearest store, and buy a high powered rifle and fully enclosed suit of active armor just on a whim.
I don't know, if I was a fucking PC in a sci-fi game sorta-styled as "horror," with monstrous space-creatures and fucking Libertarians all over the place, I know I'd invest in a sniper rifle and decking myself out like a Space Marine as fast as possible. So this seems like an entirely reasonable route of action, especially after the first encounter with something scary.
Why the fuck does the evil red bloodbad space creature of starterror have tits . Fucking Christ, HSD.
At any rate, the Adversaries chapter is mostly dull statblocks for a bunch of generic furry enemies, the only ones that get anything resembling fluff are Vitae Demons, Pale Men and Whispers. The red-titted wonder up there is a Whisper, while the Edgy Fursona above is a "Vitae Demon." Apparently if you can't feel pain, for instance if you're using Vitae, which also removes all need for nutrition or other things that generally keep a body and mind alive, it makes you go insane. Like, the whole description reeks of them having invented Vitae as a WONDER DRUG but then needing a reason why everyone wasn't just juicing up on it while letting the farms go fallow instead of having to eat, why they didn't just replace oxygen storage aboard spaceships and in spacesuits with it, etc., and they arbitrarily decided that while it keeps your brain alive without oxygen, and thinking without oxygen, and capable of controlling your body without oxygen, it just so also happens to make you go insane if your brain lacks oxygen.
For some vaguely defined reason.
So Vitae Demons are the completely crazy Vitae junkies that despite each vitae hit lasting only an hour, and despite their clearly not being able to function without it, somehow still exist. How are they paying for it? Is someone still hiring them when they're described as amoral sadists who know only violence? Do their Ledgers just keep piling on money for them anyway and corporate vending machines keep pouring out Vitae to sustain them? A Vitae Charge costs 150 credits, the book lists a Vitae Charge being consumed as lasting for "one hour" or "until the end of battle," whichever comes first. So a Vitae Demon, to survive, must apparently need... 3600 credits per day . This is enough to buy multiple Instant Death Cannons and suits of powered armor. So long story short, someone did not think about how the rules and fluff lined up, here.
Transcendent Manifestations are space ghosts. That's basically it, they're space monsterghosts that show up, do things because the plot requires them to and then... disappear? The game doesn't even really have any rules for why they show up, what they do when they do, or what makes them leave again. They don't even get any stats of their own, they just use some of the REAL TOUGH GENERIC GUY templates with some random superpowers slapped on. Also despite being Transcendent Manifestations, they don't actually get any of the space wizardry from Transcendent implants, despite the two being linked by fluff in very vague ways.
We don't learn anything about Whispers that we don't already know, they're bad and spooky and they kill dudes, and when they kill dudes, sometimes those dudes explode into more Whispers. They're also literally made from blood, when they die, they turn from "crystalline blood" back into plain normal blood. Also if you just hide for ten minutes, they'll turn themselves into crystal art installations. Seriously. If they can't find anyone to kill for ten minutes, they just shrug, merge with the nearest Whispers into a big crystal. If you attack the crystal, they all come back out again, but according to the fluff, blowing the whole thing up in one go will negate that. So just call in the Scrooge McDuck Battallion to nuke the fucking thing with their death rays.
Also if they try to infect someone who's got a Transcendent Implant, there's a 12.5% chance that the Whisper trying it, and all Whispers in the area, spontaneously explode. However, if the person with the implant ever tries to use their implant again, they explode, into more Whispers, without a save or any response possible, and if they don't have the requisite combination of stats and/or corporate allegiance to have information about this, the PC will just unknowingly be able to suicide at any moment by deciding to use their superpowers. Fun gameplay!
We also finally get art of the Pale Men... and they look a lot less Slendermanny than I had expected. Despite being TERRIBLE THINGS THAT CAN MURDER EVERYONE, they basically just have high stats and use guns, there's nothing really that unusual about them. The fluff doesn't particularly give them any motives or establish any behavior for them, and since they're all on Earth, which is a shithole no one wants to deal with... I can't really see why they would ever really feature into the game at all .
There's a section on ships which is largely space gun wankery, but does contain a section that's kind of weird. In normal combat, high-charisma characters can issue "commands," that basically buff comrades or allow them to switch places in the turn order, handy things like that, one of the few things I liked about the combat system, but it wasn't unique enough to merit my pointing out. In space combat, stuff like telling the ship to run quiet or telling people to "launch drones," is the counterpart, requires a specific level of charisma and command skill. Even if the "commander" is the one doing the thing themselves, instead of using a Mind stat and some sort of technical skill to know what to do, they still use Body:Presence(physical beauty) and the Command skill. The most complicated SPACE COMMAND is apparently ramming enemy ships, because "ALL POWER TO ENGINES" is clearly a complicated concept that only the most brilliant strategist can understand.
Other things that require a command check: Hitting the brakes and scanning an area.
So, the advancement section! Interestingly enough, the game doesn't run on XP or anything similar, but instead simply suggests giving a certain number of stat-ups/skill-ups/focus options per time played(either in number of hours or number of sessions), of course while this is somewhat novel, there's also no such thing as diminishing returns(more XP needed to be paid for the same amount of boost, for instance) or other things to limit hyper-specialization. It's also worth noting that you can't use these stat-ups to boost Economy and Community stats, and Mind and Body stats can only be raised to 3 this way. How do you get Mind and Body Stats up to 4 and 5? Why that's simple. Surgery! Surgery that you pay for... with ledger stats! It's at least somewhat expensive, being 1500 for a stat-up, either from 3 to 4, or 4 to 5, but it's not that bad if you really focused on your ledger stats. Also for some reason you can boost Body:Acuity by +1 just for 200 credits with an "Augmentation" operation that jams more eyes into your head.
I also somehow missed this, but for just 500 credits, you can get a Celerity implant that "levels up" one of your dice groups(d8's become d10, d10's become d12, etc.). Now, it can only be taken twice, and it has another 600-credit thing as a prereq, but one of our groups is already "maxed" out with d12's, so we only have three that need boosting, and that means we can just stat-dump something like Community and run around with three d12 groups instead pretty fast.
There does in fact not seem to be any surgery for improving your mind, now that I look around for it. There's Muscular Enhancement, and the Advancement section references a "Mind Enhancement" surgery, but it's not in the book as far as I can tell. Not sure if its an editing error or if mental stats really are capped at 3 for PC's.
You also can't increase Community stats at level-up time, only the GM can say when the party as a whole deserves to have them levelled up. But what about Ledger stats? Well. That's kind of funny.
Economy Traits grow as the player achieves certain conditions. Since your Economy Stat represents your footprint in the cash flow of the universe, it increases on its own as you achieve certain landmarks of wealth and importance.
Consult the following questions, and consider each one to be a separate condition.
Has the player completed three contracts successfully?
Has the player reached allegiance level 4 with a Corp? Temporary allegiance from abilities will not count.
Has the player team purchased a 1000 credit or higher item?
If any one of these conditions is true, you may add 1 to any Economy Trait. Once a condition has been met, it must be met again to count again. If you’ve reached allegiance level 4 in a corp or your team has purchased a 1000 credit item, you must reach it with a different corp or purchase a new one to receive the bonus again.
So, let me get this straight. If I start out by buffing my Ledger stats sky high, quickly earn 1000 credits, buy a death ray, then I get a boost to my Ledger stats, which will allow me to buy more death rays, or other stupidly expensive items(I guess it could be taken as meaning a different item each time, but I only need one Annihilate-status weapon, anyway). So it's like some sort of self-sustaining reaction where the richer I am, the faster I'll get richer. Then I'll use my normal level-ups to bump my body stats to 3 as fast as possible, so I can pay money to boost them even quicker... actually, surgery counts as an item, right? So hey, I'll get a ledger bonus for increasing my body stats under the scalpel, too!
This system is fucking stupid .
Also if you want the body/mind stat boosts you have to make a case to your GM that your character did something that made you deserve said stat boost. Hope your GM isn't a cockhead.
But what about proficiencies? Simple, you buy a trivial item that teaches you while you sleep. Seriously. As long as you get enough sleep for 14 days while wearing your stupid sleep-learning eye implant, you gain a proficiency point with no costs, penalties or checks, though it caps any given skill at 3(or 2, if you already have too many skills at 3). Considering that the item is of trivial cost, I'm kind of wondering why not everyone in the fucking universe has a baseline of 2 in every skill.
There are 30 skills, you can get up to at least 2 in all of them, 16 days per skill point(14 days of learning plus a two-day downtime period afterwards), meaning it'd take... 960 weeks, or 18 years, for it. So by the time everyone is out of their teenage years, they'll pretty much know everything, or early 20's if they don't make "Neuroplex" implants for toddlers.
Going above rank 3 requires "a special quest themed around the skill." I look forward to my exciting and inspiring Finance-themed quest my amazing quest themed around the "Swim" skill. Advancing above rank 3 also frees up another skill to rise to rank 3... players have the same max on rank 4 skills as on rank 3 skills. Rather than, perhaps, some sort of shared cap for "advanced" skills(anything beyond tier 2), indicating the difficulty of mastering everything. It's. Augh. It hurts my brain and it's fucking retarded.
And then the book just... ends. No metaplot suggestions, no premade adventures, nothing. Except for the list of fuckwits who supported the thing, accompanied by two last pieces of art crammed in alongside all the names.
A New ThreatOriginal SA post
So, Hc Svnt Dracones had its first expansion officially launched today. Is everyone tired of it or does anyone want to hear what 200 pages and 14 dollars gets you?
It's got more options!
Apparently also robot dogs and squidcats!
Hc Svnt Dracones: Extended Core: Post 1Original SA post Hc Svnt Dracones: Extended Core
Hc Svnt Dracones! The capitalist furry knockoff of Eclipse Phase, the one with blood ghosts and furry slendermans. It got an expansion(the first, unless you count a couple of pre-written adventures. Please don't make me do those, too. Please.) known as the "extended core," promising 200 pages(more like 184) of expanded fluff and rules! 32~ pages of fluff, and the remainder mostly dedicated to the chance to play as fish, bears, horses and mongeese(or mongooses, I have no idea what the proper plural is). It also has Blips, Cogs, Cogsunes and "Exonymphs." I have no idea what any of those are, but doesn't it just sound exciting? We also get a few chapter-start fluff pieces this time around. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be cringing my spine into permanent deformation when I read these.
Why is her nametag just "Elisa" mirrored? That's the laziest way to do "alien" script ever. Either that or she put her clothes on back to front.
Victory is the name of the first chunk of fluff we get in the Extended Core. It's a short and extremely pointless piece about an employee on a Jovian-orbit freeport space station doing some people-watching. Mostly it's an extremely long-winded way of going "gee, people are still social in space!"
Spacecraft were some of the only truly independent environments in the Sol system, as their ability to move people great distances unseen while transporting all manner of hazardous material made them too large a liability for corps to want to maintain control over.
It also keeps up the HSD "tradition" of completely failing to understand everything. In a society with no formal governments, only corporations, why would those corporations NOT want to control small, swift transporters of hazardous and illegal goods? In fact, isn't that likely one of the things they'd most want to control, so no one's sneaking around expensive, potentially stolen, potentially dangerous as fuck things? I mean, they might not be able to, but not want to?
Here are all the animals they left out of the core. In total, they seem to be: Bears, Sharks, Dolphins, Rats, Mice, Squirrels, Rabbits, Bats, Horses, Cows, Deer, Goats, Gazelles, Seals, Raccoons, Mongeese and Hyenas. And probably a few variants of those here and there. As usual, we get some weird damn design decisions all over the place, usually tied in no apparent way to what the actual animals are like or what human stereotypes of them are.
Bears, for instance, get a bonus to being pretty(Body: Presence) and the sense of smell. Why physical beauty? Bears are mostly known for being tough and strong, not for being particularly gorgeous. Rodents inexplicably have advantages when attacking others in combat(you'd think they'd be small and have an advantage on the defense instead.). It also remains weird that there's only one guy named as the "Creator" of both books, because sometimes it really feels like there's two authors on everything. For instance, the first book really went on about how good the furries were at having a better society than humanity, but even in that book the actual writing hardly supported that idea at any point, and in the write-up for the bears, the entire write-up is actually about how they're discriminated against and considered less prestigious and second-class just because the circumstances of their creation are less clear, literally a sort of caste-based-on-birth sort of thing. Maybe the author just thought it was a cute quirk and not a sign of being a backwards-as-fuck society.
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
All aquatic Vectors share a deviation from the traditional outlooks on certain morphisms, as they work pretty differently when “legs” aren’t part of your natural animal anatomy.
Not to mention, do they even remember the fucking fluff they wrote just a book back? I'm quite certain that the description of the whole Vector project was that it was basically human fetuses with animal parts grafted on, that the only ones that were outright based on animals were the half-retarded, servant predecessors of the true Vectors. Let me just dig up the damn quote...
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
MarsCo chose to approach the problem of intelligence from a different direction: they would turn the human into the animal, instead of the animal into the human. By manipulating cloned human “blanks,” or genetic fetuses built from scratch, and endowing them with the same appearance and features of the previously abolished species of bipedal pets, MarsCo reset the evolutionary clock and emerged with something new.
See? If anything the challenge should've been to remove legs, not keep them there.
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
Tauric Delphinidae and Selachii members transition to their lateral lower bodies just below the thighs, leaving a gap between the crotch and the lower body that’s absent on tauric snakes.
Do I even need to make the joke about it being a poorly-disguised fetish game when the author is giving you pointless detail about their crotches? I also can't get over how stupid the whole "taur" thing is. I mean, this game pretends that there's some vague scientific justification for most of its bullshit, but what the fuck would the inside of a "taur" even look like? I mean, even a classic mythological creature like a "centaur" only really functions because you don't think about it too hard. If you've got two torsos, do you also double up on all of the torso's contents, like the organs? Or do you just double the size of everything and shunt things "downwards" to make room, so the lower half is basically just one long intestine and maybe the kidneys? I could forgive a lot more of this trash if the game just said: "This is a furry RPG for furries, with some fetish elements in, which is why we're including everyone's favourite fetish: taurs."
But, my ranting aside, mostly the stuff about the "aquatics" is pointing out how their "laterals"(in case you don't remember, those poor sods stuck with a human brain and an entirely animal body) are even more fucked and useless than the land animal "laterals" because fins are even less suited for doing stuff meant for hands than paws are. They also sadly nix the option of playing a lateral shark in a suit of powered armor(a "bodyframe").
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
By the time the family Delphinidae left the tanks, millions of humans had died back home, and their new caretakers were forced to look in the eyes of a template they knew to be from a creature of near-human intelligence, and explain what was happening. Somewhere in that conversation so many centuries ago had to have been the revelation that it was unlikely Earth’s dolphin population was going to have much say in whether or not they survived the war.
I hate to repeat myself, but goddamn this is stupid. They're NOT HUMANOID DOLPHINS, EVEN BY THE GAME'S OWN FLUFF. THEY'RE CLOSER TO HUMANS IN REALLY ADVANCED FURSUITS. Also for some reason making dolphin vectors made the scientists feel icky because they were messing with the combined genetics of two sapient creatures, rather than one sapient and one not, while they didn't even feel slightly weird about anything else they did.
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
Lateral dolphins have luxurious lives compared to most of the landlocked Vector species. They’re among a very small population that can do the jobs given to them, which puts them in high demand.
These jobs never appear to be specified, so I have to wonder: What jobs can a dolphin do that a humanoid in a suit or a mini-submarine couldn't? Or even a remote-operated drone? I mean, they're LATERAL dolphins, so at best they can boop stuff with their nose or grab it in their teeth, barring specialized tools, and those specialized tools, if made, would really only let them replicate what you could otherwise do with a hand, claw or tentacle.
I wonder if they've got blowholes on top of their heads, now THAT would require some interesting biological rejiggery.
I also thought I'd have to rant at the book for being scientifically inaccurate for lumping orcas in the "Delphinidae" group, but it turns out they actually are. So there's your educational fact for the day.
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
The famous blowhole of this family serves little purpose on a biped and was removed in the original Vector design, but some Vectors have had them surgically added above their dorsal fin between their shoulders as a sort of physical statement of dedication to living below the waves.
That's right, extreme body modding in this case consists of plugging a hole in yourself, through your spine, leading to your lungs. It might be off-centered, but even then it sounds like a really terrible location for an extra orifice, not that there are any particularly good locations.
Sharks inexplicably get cat/reptile eyes, not sure why, since their eyes are supposedly pretty human-like and have round pupils in every case I've seen.
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
so much of Vector genealogy is built from scratch that it’s difficult to point to any one person walking around and say “you, you have a proud heritage of millions of years of evolution” because, by all rights, they don’t. If nature had at any point given the whole “two legged dog” thing a genuine go, it died out long before humans came along. The Vectors themselves aren’t even that; they’re clean designs that incorporate familiar traits and appearances from established genomes, but are at their core a fully artificial creature that began its evolutionary process from ground zero, 700 years ago.
But... but... just a fucking PAGE ago you made a point of someone doing EXACTLY THIS to a fucking dolphin Vector! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa...
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
Sharks eat to feed and more or less leave things alone otherwise. But if, for instance, a group of them was possessed of human intelligence, they would not be subject to those limitations. Include a little good old fashioned technology, and they would be faster, stronger, larger and better equipped for control of more than 70% of any given terraformed planet than any other family
That seems to bizarrely assume that "more than 70%" of any given planet terraformed would be oceanic. I mean, yes, I know that Earth is wet, but there's no saying that every other planet has to be just as soggy.
Inexplicable pokeballs in ears.
So there's a bit on rats and mice. The rats are dull, the mice were created by the rats for the purpose of slave labour, and the remainder of Vector society didn't do anything because if they liberated them, suddenly they'd have to take care of them for a while. Where's all the profit-motivated corporate charity and benevolence? All of the "logical" behavior that somehow ties profit to doing good and noble things for everyone?
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
There is a long standing jab toward family Felidae about having started three separate race wars in their history
Man, that's a lot of genocide. I love how the books can't decide if society is centered around species or corporate loyalty, because it feels like it changes from page to page sometimes. Anyway the cats inexplicably tried to kill/subjugate all the rabbits, and lost. Also despite it earlier(literally a page ago) saying that no one tried to save the mice from slavery until the mice rose up and saved themselves, now it's saying that the cats tried to, but failed.
Suddenly this anime atrocity with eyes so big I thought they were fucking glasses at first glance. That thing is supposed to be a seal, by the way
The write-up on raccoons also has a part where the surviving human scientists, before perishing as total idiots near the end of the fluff in the first book, create raccoons with some genes that they can spread to the other Vectors to eventually "cure" them of Lateralism. Keep in mind, it's basically constantly pointed out how Lateralism is debilitating and kind of miserable for most Vectors. They've got a human brain, but no real ability to interact with the world as a human, they usually can't even wear pants. Also keep in mind that the Vectors have Eclipse Phase levels of genetic modification and re-engineering they engage in pretty much at random, including resleeving. And yet they're outraged and basically burning effigies in the streets just because someone invented a cure for probably their worst genetic issue. Why are the creatures created by genetic engineering, who engage in it on a regular basis, suddenly absolute conservatives about a bit of biology?
What the hell is this monstrosity? Some sort of deer-cat-anime hybrid?
There's also a whole bunch of new mutations/morphisms in case you want to look more like your fursona. Want to be a bat with tusks? A shark with horns? A glowing raver raccoon? Go right ahead. You can do that now.
I also didn't quote a single thing related to horses and their ilk, but that's because there was literally nothing interesting there. Just more dully bad writing. Next up, though, are Blips, Cogs, Cogsunes and Exo-Nymphs. I'm willing to put money on at least one of those being retarded, and without having read ahead, I suspect that Exo-Nymphs will be the dumbest. Maybe Cogsunes, because that sounds suspiciously like a portmanteau of cog and kitsune.
Hc Svnt Dracones: Extended Core: Post 2Original SA post Hc Svnt Dracones: Extended Core
I keep wanting it to be Extended Core, because Core: Extended just sounds stupid to me
Considering the formatting, it was easier to just paste the entire bit of "fiction" along with the picture
So what the fuck is a "Blip"? This is a Blip.
Basically one-off prototypes grown in vats, entirely sapient, raised from children to adults, but because the Vectors are only opposed to genetic engineering when humans do it, made intentionally sterile so that they'll forever be lone abominations, never able to raise families. Unless they make their own Blips or something. Also there are weird rules against making too good Blips, apparently it's illegal to make a Blip that can do anything better than another Vector, so essentially all the law permits them to do is to be glittery sparkledogs.
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
They’re also a risky venture socially; Blips bring out one of the few cases of outright racism present in Vector society. Many Vectors have various views on various other species, but it’s mitigated by a feeling of connection due to their common origins. Blips don’t share that common origin. They’re the efforts of one (probably very well-to-do) individual who decided standard reproduction wasn’t good enough for their vision of the future and created a unique piece of work instead.
So superior to humanity, no racism, no discrimination... except for the huge examples boldly trumpeted all over the fucking fluff. Also bizarre judgments on the hobbies of the rich in a corporate-ruled state, when, since the corporations and advancement in them seem to be the core of society, you'd figure that everyone would look up to the hyper-rich and their hobbies and dream of being like them. Mechanically, there's no goddamn reason why Blips shouldn't simply be the way all characters are made, since they, by fictional law, have no advantages over the rest. They get to look how they want, and in the one thing that actually set some types of Vectors apart from others mechnically, reclaiming surgeries, they get to pick-and-mix what they want. The section ends on a note of the author begging people not to make Blips, to please try to fit their unique concept in under the existing "families," because if everyone's a Blip, Blips don't get to be unique and special any more!
That's Blips sorted, so how about Cogs?
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
when the Core Consciousness, the critical component of Cog sapience, was demonstrated and explained, they didn’t look at it with a thousand years of human contempt for machines, or with the self-assured security of mastery over their land and pride in their cities which they had built on ancient tradition and principle.
Sapient robots, basically. Honestly it sometimes feels like the author of this book isn't human themselves, because they don't seem to actually know how real humans think or act. How does humanity have "a thousand years of contempt" for machines? I mean, I can't even write anything that conveys how ridiculous this statement is better than the statement itself already does. Also wondering what "ancient traditions and principles" humans have for building their cities, urban planning is a relatively new discipline, it's not like we're using ancient Greek or Roman secrets to lay out our roads and avenues, because our requirements these days are vastly different from what theirs were. At worst we occasionally gank some "ancient" aesthetics.
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
At the center of every Cog is a single, constantly powered unit which serves as a continual input recording and analysis device. A brain, essentially, but one that behaves as an electronic analog to the biological construct. It experiences the world through the Cog’s senses, builds bridges between experiences as a normal brain does, and is only “programmed” in the same way any brain is; by reaction to stimulus. It possesses no operating system, no built-in abilities or applications, and no backup feature. It’s simply an information sponge. It even looks vaguely brain-like, and is the inspiration behind the ASR logo. Cogs have to live, in order to be living. They attend schools, learn about their environment, trade stories and gain skills through all the traditional means, and as such they build the same sorts of social and emotional bridges Vectors do. None of it is “simulated” any more than a normal person’s laughter or sorrow might be. It’s simply a result of stimulus, compared to a lifetime of experience. The system has functioned so well, that (beyond a few tweaks to make sure things don’t decay prematurely) it has remained unchanged for nearly a thousand years. Its similarity to organic construction has also led to one of the most universal social rules of being a Cog: the idea that being a machine does not make you a tool.
So the robots have brains that are EXACTLY like human brains, except made of metal. If the explanation is that vague, and the differences non-existent, why even bother to fucking explain it? Also they DO think and act different from organic creatures, because they universally have a retarded aversion to any sort of alterations to their body. I'm pretty sure it's easier to swap out parts on a machine than it is to engineer and swap out parts on a biological creature, so why they'd be averse to something that's easier and simpler for them, is baffling, except that they don't wanna be made into tooooools maaaaaaan.
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
Cogs have hobbies and physical aspirations like anyone does, and likewise want to train their bodies to be good at what they do. When your body is mechanical, it doesn’t “train” particularly well, and when your race disdains physical modification, it’s difficult to get “in shape” as it were.
ASR’s solution to this problem went hand in hand with its solution to “growing,” which was also a puzzler for a while. In hindsight, most agree that the whole thing could be accomplished more elegantly using modern technology, but no race has ever reacted particularly well to being told they need to upgrade themselves. Every Cog is entitled to a chassis update at set points in their lifetime (3, 5, 7, 9, 12, 15, 18 and 20 years old).
At some point they could've just written "we didn't want to make any special rules for the Cogs. Think up your own reasons why they work like everyone else." and it would've saved everyone a whole lot of wasted words and embarrassment. I mean, they even have genders .
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
Every Cog, regardless of registered gender, is entitled to the integration of reproductive anatomy. It isn’t gender specific, or even limited to a single binary (though you do have to pay if you want more than what your hereditary code entitles you to). Typically this anatomy is established by the birth gender and present in every chassis, but not attached to any functional reproductive system.
How does a robot even have a birth gender? Or, for that matter, functioning reproductive anatomy?
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
Visions of a hard dividing social line forced by sheer mechanical incompatibility demanded a solution. It was remarkably easy to fix, even if it did make for a disturbing reminder of just how “artificial” Vectors were to begin with. From the human standpoint anyway. The Vectors themselves thought the whole situation was pretty clever.
Among their reproductive options is a “womb.” The womb itself went through a long series of different attempts, designs and models (some of which were more than a little troubling) before eventually arriving at something akin to an internal manufacturing center.
"If they're too weird and we can't fuck 'em, they'll never fit in!" Exclaimed the furries, "We have to give 'em robot titties or there will be war!"
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
Mother Cogs cannot produce organic offspring with this unit (that was attempted with the first few mechanical wombs, and the results were considered publicly unacceptable. And a little nightmarish.) Father Cogs can, however, produce organic offspring if the mother is a Vector.
The Cog can have their personality examined and extrapolated via a special ASR reproduction system, which will then translate all the relevant data into genetic structures for use in traditional impregnation.
How the fuck do you translate a "personality" into genetic code? WHY do you write this fucking trash as part of your stupid RPG? Also the robots are built to intentionally not be immortal, for no good reason except that, apparently, when you get old enough, you "live just to live" and stop being a consumer and corporations don't like that. In general they seem to have that attitude towards all their "employees," which is why they don't really offer anti-aging stuff for the biological Vectors either, which is retarded. People don't stop needing to eat, or stop enjoying entertainment, just because they get older. I mean, you could argue that very old creatures have enough accumulated experience, and enough jadedness, that they become dangerous manipulators and start needing to dig into Most Dangerous Game shit to get their kicks, that'd be an argument, but people don't stop consuming just because they get old. I mean, they may consume less if their biological and mental health are on the decline, but if they're just as spry as when they were 20, I doubt they'd want any less burgers, movies or drugs. Hell, their need for weird shit to still feel novel to them, could inspire crazy new markets and corps.
Vectors must also be dense as shit, because the tech for eternal life is there, the fluff states so, but some of them still sign up for contracts that include literal termination points shortly after 100 years of age, for no good fucking reason. At least the robots get it a bit better, their brains are programmed to upload them to Robot Heaven(tm)* once they get old enough.
* Actual heavenliness of Robot Heaven not guaranteed, as no one's ever actually checked up on the system except for two guys who don't talk about what they see, so the entire place could just have crashed or it could be fucking Purgatory or some such shit. Whatever, you're a sucker, and this system is retarded.
Cogs apparently also eat, and while the text declares that many of them have "neutral" chasses that don't clearly resemble any gender, all the ones shown so far are clearly either masculine or have robot titties.
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
Cogs are capable of eating food if they possess a mouth, but it’s purely for show. Chemically metabolizing the meal takes more energy than it’s worth when the rest of the body isn’t tuned to make use of it. Instead, Cogs are powered by an internal reaction system fueled by common elements in the air.
I'll just leave everyone to boggle over how retarded this quote is.
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
Cogs don’t “breathe,” but they do make use of air for a variety of other critical systems. It assists with cooling and circulation as well as element harvesting for their power source. Cogs can do without air for about 10 minutes before experiencing power loss and systems failures.
These are the shittiest robots ever, they can't even survive in fucking vacuum or underwater.
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
Debt is common enough in the Sol system, but centuries of social practice and careful social rules have put the burden of responsibility onto corptowns to ensure that prices of day to day life items are not so high as to forever drown their populace. There are, essentially, enough other options available that anyone who began the old human company practice of digging a debt trench at the company store would soon be without customers. Not to say it hasn’t happened, but on a surprising number of occasions, other corps have swooped in to dig people back out again, occasionally possessing the company in the process. Which, conveniently, gave them a population of new, thankful customers. Megacorps arrange these “benevolent takeovers” on a regular basis, sometimes against their own subsidiaries. It’s led to the volatile, occasionally violent hotzones Vectors are familiar with, but also kept many crippling business practices at bay.
Because gee, corporations would never think to make a cartel! Instead they engage in completely above-board competition with each other at all times, preventing harmful monopolies and hurfle durfle gurfle burf. Man, I'd sure love to trade the hellish horrors of government regulation for something as minor as "occasionally violent hotzones" as corporations have shootouts! Jesus Christ.
At least the frame creation rules give you a few new options. They don't just let you make metal versions of normal Vectors, but actually let you make stuff like that Squidcat from a page or two back, having six legs, levitating instead of having legs at all, etc. Sadly, for no clear reasons, all Cogs are limited to human torsos, symmetrical constructions, a single head, etc. Basically any weirdness you have will mostly just be from the legs down(the tentacle forms are an exception, since they also replace your arms with tentacles).
Sadly being a Cog won't protect you from the worst of Vector blights: Looking fucking retarded
I figure these guys are being levitated against their will, but the guy in the back just seems to be chilling out more than panicking or flailing.
Next time, Cogsunes! Exo-Nymphs! Whatever other stupid shit I find along the way!
Hc Svnt Dracones: Extended Core: Post 3Original SA post Hc Svnt Dracones: Extended Core
Surprisingly enough, Cogsunes are not robot kitsunes(or kitsune? Not sure on the plural there again.).
Instead they're these little fuckers. Remember the Pod morphs from Eclipse Phase that no one ever used because they were mechanically vastly inferior to everyone else, and essentially only good for novelty NPC's or if some PC really wanted to tank his numbers just so he could be a giant plant? Cogsune are kind of like pod morphs in that they're part organic, part robotic. Again, it's amusing that the Vectors apparently have a taboo against creating new outright organic species, but are cranking out these weird fully or partially robotic races every few hundred years just for corporate profits. Unlike Cogs, however, Cogsune aren't full citizens. They're made by one corporation, and all work for that one corporation, usually secreted away in their own little insular outposts where they do superscience research into forbidden topics(or using forbidden methods), in order to give said corporation some deniability on it.
It's never really defined what's "forbidden research" considering that creating new lifeforms(Blips and Bio-Probes), creating en entire slave species(the Cogsune themselves, the Mice) aren't really something that greater Vector society reacts to, and there's an entire major corporation dedicated to prodding at the soft, vulnerable underbelly of time and space(TTI, the guys doing the whole "Transcendent Implants" shit, you know, space wizards that blow themselves up most of the time) and just about everyone can buy huge railguns if they've got the money. So what's left as being socially unacceptable? Obscene art? Recreating humans?
Besides being modular(their big custom rule thing is that they can swap out limbs for specialized tools. Of course, pretty much all of the tool options for arms also preclude having enough manual dexterity to wield weapons or operate devices, so that renders the majority of them effectively pointless. Also their existence and operations are supposed to be semi-secret, but all of their robot replacement limbs are super-blatant) pseudo-robots, their main thing is that they're small(two feet tall) without having any of the limitations that "Micro" characters have, and also their chargen is radically different since they have no Ledger stats(they get funded by the other Cogsune or their parent corporation) and they have only one stat spread. Said starting stat spread makes them a complete social sperg and physically utterly brittle, but break the starting limit of 3 on three out of their five mental stats(and remember that the "Mind" stats are also the ones used for firearms, so this makes them combat monsters as well.)
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
Vectors represent excess and opulence that is, quite literally, larger than life, and Vector pop culture holds a certain fascination to some while simultaneously revolting others. Singing is a noteworthy example. Cogsunes like music as much as the next person, but singing uses an enormous amount of oxygen, something they themselves consume very little of. The fact that oxygen isn’t a finite resource for them is a non-issue; it’s the overuse of it that matters.
You should play a Cogsune IF: You want to roll your eyes and complain about all the normies and the "illogical" or "wasteful" things that they like.
Also all Cogsunes are functionally immortal since they've basically got the whole brain backup thing from Eclipse Phase going for them, complete with instantaneous, constant backups(no losing a month of memories and experience because your Stack fell into a star) and instant deployment of a new body for them(though it may take a few days for them to actually get back to where they were). Also they just get their replacement limbs by instantly transforming one of their existing limbs(after calling back home and asking for it to be done), then when they're tired of their new specialist limb, they can just plug it out and spend a couple of hours growing themselves a fresh normal one to plug back into the socket, keeping the specialist limb in their backpack in case they need it again.
These things really feel like the author had a pre-made "Cogsune" OC that he wanted to jam in with its own super-special rules that no one else got to play with.
I'll be honest, when I saw the name "Exo Nymph" my first thought was "oh boy, is this going to be some creepy alien fetish chapter?" Instead we get giant bugs. I like giant bugs, they're cool. I've always been a fan of the Thri-Kreen from Dark Sun, for instance, the Aranea from Red Steel, etc. Aren't you all excited to see how badly HSD will fuck up the first thing in it that might've been slightly cool?
They're essentially a species of gardener bugs, created by the original human scientists when they started the terraforming of Mars. Rather than trying to just create a stable ecosystem from scratch, with all of the pollinators and other little niches that'd need filling, all the delicate equilibriums that'd need balancing... they just created one species of relatively intelligent bug with a desire to maintain the system, who'd prune or sustain other species as needed, keep things pollinated, etc.(the game even addresses that this does make for a somewhat-fragile system since there's only one species that'd need to be hit by a poison or a plague to tank the whole mess) They're capable of having a lot of forms, modified by hive chemistry, so they can turn serpentine, grow wings, extra limbs, etc. oh and they can eat brains to consume knowledge and skills. Usually each others', as it's the fastest way for two colonies to communicate a lot of info, just send one guy who knows it all then let the other colony eat his brain.
Of course, that sounds more like what tiny little bug-sized creatures would do, when the art we've just seen is of a human-sized creature with a gun .
The answer is mad science. Some idiot Vector decided to make a human-sized, human-intelligence, human-sapience Nymph so he could talk to it for undefined reasons. He was successful, the nymph then decided that it needed to know more about its environments and did what it always did: It ate his goddamn brain. Which taught it to make more of its own kind, which it promptly did with the idiot scientist's lab equipment. I'll be honest, it's kind of cool that one of the PC options is basically as a creepy, buggy xenomorph that eats brains.
Most Vectors don't know that they exist(they know about the bug-sized ones, but not about the human-sized, brain-eating ones), so they lurk around the shadows and, if discovered, just pretend to be novelty Blips. They're also not sapient until after the first time they eat someone's brain, which is another fun thing. Their starting memories and skills are literally from their first kill. Unlike Vectors they're also not just humans in funny suits, which is refreshing, alien forms and actual alien behavior... though some of the potential for this is somewhat lost due to not really having their own culture, and really only Vector culture and Vector knowledge to start off of, which means they'll basically always end up kind of Vector-ish, but never quite(for instance, murdering other sapient beings is part of their basic biological functions, so they're unlikely to ever really feel super bad about that.). To further the Xenomorph comparison, they also steal the form of the creature they eat, to some extent. If it's got wings, they can sprout a pair, if it's aquatic, they develop more hydrodynamic surfaces, etc.
Mechanically they're somewhat less well-thought-out, basically whenever you eat a brain, you randomly reroll all your stats, despite the fluff stating that you retain all your older memories(though they're somewhat overshadowed by the latest kill), meaning that a poor roll can mean that after eating a brain, you're suddenly less competent than you were before. Set number arrays to distribute would've worked much better, as a single reroll session can make an exonymph either absurdly powerful compared to other characters, or completely useless. Each brain eating also has a 12.5%(one in 8) chance of making part of your last brain-eating a permanent boost, the same thing happens, via GM fiat, if you eat an "important character," i.e. an NPC who's supposed to be exceptionally good at something. Then you get a permanent +1 in their unique stat.
It's a cool idea, but again, mechanically troublesome because the book encourages Exonymphs to function in full-Exonymph parties(so they have nothing to hide), in that case, who eats Elminster's brain when you finally capture him for those sweet +1's? You can't share a brain, and there are only so many important NPC's around. You could easily have one or two PC's hogging all the actual bonuses. Also keep in mind that as far as I can tell, they don't get to "normally" advance in stats like other PC's do, their only way to gain stat boosts is literally by randomly rerolling all their stats through brain-eating, or eating important NPC's brains. Also that's how you generate your stats at the start of the game, just one big fat random roll.
Overall, I think this is one of the less offensive parts of HSD. Cool creature concept, less hung up on pretending to be scientifically accurate, novel mechanics for a PC, but sadly kinda pooches it on actually implementing those mechanics, as well as missing out on some important fluff. For instance, your body changes to mimic your last kill, but it never says if that happens instantly, or after cocooning like a bug, or what. There are also no vivid descriptions of bug sex or mechanics for what happens if a Vector tries to slip the dick to an Exo-Nymph, the lack of anything even vaguely fetishy is a refreshing change. Unless having your brain torn out by a four-foot tongue is your fetish.
After this, we're hitting a patch of mostly rules with less fluff, so there'll probably be less to comment on but... the art doesn't let up. Let me give you a sample so you won't be bored until next time.
I think this is legitimately the dumbest piece of art in the Extended Core so far. See, way back in the "new animals to play as"-chapter, we had a bit that read:
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
Tauric Delphinidae and Selachii members transition to their lateral lower bodies just below the thighs, leaving a gap between the crotch and the lower body that’s absent on tauric snakes.
I thought they just meant some little indent for the genitals to be in so the porn artists wouldn't be confused about where to put them, but THIS is apparently what they meant. Wow, that looks retarded and more than a little horrifying. Makes the poor thing look like something that should be put out of its misery, like some fucked up Cronenberg mutant. The, uh, "I'm missing some chromosomes, can you help me find them?"-face doesn't make matters any better.
Hc Svnt Dracones: Extended Core: Post 4Original SA post Hc Svnt Dracones: Extended Core
This section is mostly a section of various minor new rules adjustments, though for some reason it adds something you'd have figured would be vital to the actual core game, motivations and "compulsions." Motivations have no mechanical impact at all, while compulsions mean gaining a tiny advantage in exchange for a social flaw. This works about as well as it ever has in any RPG, i.e. not at all, since they mostly mean you're encouraged to do things adventurers already do. I.e. be aggressive, gather loot and stay with your friends. The only real thing of note is that there's a Motivation which basically means your character(somehow) has memories of the human era and longs dreamily for it, feeling more human than Vector. Basically you're a sort of reverse Otherkin. Aside from that, there's mostly new gear and body mods to implement.
Prehensile Tail posted:
Though not a trait associated with any of the major species in most Vector families, the genetic keys for tail control were carefully preserved and cataloged through those few members that possessed it as a potential advantage that could be used later. Pulse has wanted to make this particular trait universally available as a General Operation for ages, but it was, currently, classified as a heritage trait for specific lizards and rats, which protected it under ancient codes of conduct put in place to avoid potential unforeseen genetic complications from the mixing of incompatible genes that might someday result in the sterilization, and subsequent destruction, of a species. Only after years of testing, computer models and no shortage of payoffs has it finally been reclassified as a universal commodity.
So, firstly, the genes for a prehensile tail can literally just be cut-and-pasted to make one happen. This is worse knowledge of biology than Wraeththu.
Secondly, "protected under ancient codes of conduct"? What ancient codes? There's no global/interplanetary regulatory bodies, there are just corporations . Laws barely even exist .
Thirdly, people are literally producing their own fucking home-made mutant babies, corporations are literally making servitor species, why the fuck does anyone care about careless implementation of tails for the general populace?
There's also the "Hive Node" implant, which basically starts up a hive mind that others with Hive Nodes can join, giving everyone in the hive access to their memories, knowledge and perspective. It's described as making everyone superhumanly understanding and cooperative, with relatively little individuality... and seems to be described as more dangerous than drugs, Whispers(Space Blood Ghosts), the slenderman knockoffs from the first book or in fact most other things. I suppose there's an obvious joke present in a corporation-fellating RPG describing something involving sharing in the same terms as a dangerous drug.
And a bit of body horror that's reasonably well-done, essentially there's Nublood(replaces all your blood with a superior synthetic substance, and rejiggers your body to produce it instead of Blood Classic(tm)), and "Inteliformic Flesh," essentially integrating a very powerful self-repair system in a body that's been filled with Nublood. The downside is that the more repair you undergo as a result of being injured, the more of your body is replaced with the new flesh. It causes no mental damage, even when it eventually subsumes your brain, but it does effectively make you shapeless , until you're basically just a plasmic blob that can manifest limbs and pseudopods as needed. It mostly replaces your vulnerability to being shot with bullets with a vulnerability to ultrasound and electromagnetic fields, as well as water, since you end up being too dense to swim from all the tissue replacement.
Aside from that, 60 or so pages are wasted on dull, dull, dull stuff, mostly describing minor house rules you can choose to apply or not.
Honestly, the main draw for me in getting this to review was never whatever new abominations of the rules they were going to come up with, but the new fluff.
The ~Lore~ is given in a mix of IC and OOC stuff. IC is that kid explaining to the naked lizard-thing in the trenchcoat what her world is like, OOC is just, you know, narrators talking to us. For some reason this girl, supposedly ten years old, has an in-depth understanding of how mega-engineered arcology blocks work. Mind, how it works is retarded .
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
The building pipes natural light in through solar tubes and each of the levels has its own sort of ‘sky’ I guess.
Why would you pipe in natural light? I mean, even assuming that you could gather a bunch of it with reflectors and focus it down some mirror pipes or whatever... I'm pretty sure it would be 900 times more efficient, especially with Superior Furry Space Technology, to just make some lamps that emulate natural sunlight. Especially once you get much farther into the solar system than Mars, at which point there's a lot less natural light to work with in the first place.
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
“We get weather and stuff like they do outside, but it’s all on a schedule to keep it consistent.”
One of the points of living inside is that you don't get fucking rained on. Why would you add rain to the inside of a goddamn building unless you were a fucking idiot. There are even indoor storms . The writing also suffers terribly from sounding like something out of Moon People at times, where the author(even when its in a 10-year-old girl's voice) gives incredibly specific measurements of size on things that no one would ever need. Why would I need to know that exactly every 1000 square feet of the arcology is a modular section that can be removed and replaced? Why would I need to know that the bridge to the next arcology is exactly a mile long and a thousand feet wide? This doesn't even add any damn sense of scale.
Also, the author might've read my first review or just, somehow, come to the same conclusion I did. Because in the first review, I boggled over a device called a "Neuroplex," basically a learning-while-sleeping machine, which could give a PC proficiency in basically every skill. In fact, given the time scales presented, there was no reason why every single character in the setting should not have been proficient with every single skill. However! In this bit of lore, it's explained that the "Neuroplex" doesn't actually work, because it just gives you "knowledge" that you don't really understand. Which makes you wonder why it works for adults , then, since the kid explains that they can't use it to teach her and her peers.
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
“Tellll meee about the schoool, Elsie,” Stranger interrupted, and the young lynx bit her tongue. “Whhhyy aren’t yooou taught...wiiith a Neuroplex?”
Elsie refocused on the question and slowed her breathing. There it was again: a peculiar selection of information. She was vaguely aware that she was being kept from spinning out of control by the steady stream of conversation, though, so she didn’t press him on it.
“Oh, uh, heh. I’m sure plenty of us would like to, it’s just not allowed. I guess it’s for a good reason though. Something to do with context.” She tried to remember the speech she been given on the same subject. “It’s the difference between ‘knowing’ and ‘learning,’ right? ‘Knowing’ is what computers do. They have hard data about stuff and they can provide you with specific facts when you need them. But it doesn’t know anything about its own knowledge, you know?” She frowned, and tried to form the right words.
“The computer doesn’t think about where knowledge comes from, or its own mindset when it got it, or how it works with a completely different thing that might have some similar aspects. It’s just there, sitting in memory, with no real life context to help guide its use or branch into other things it’s doing. Because it’s just knowing, right? It isn’t learning. There’s no practice or mistakes or knowledge of what happens if you tweak this or that. It’s just data. “‘Learning’ is what school does. Part of it is about gaining knowledge, but a bigger part of it is about learning to be a person. It’s about attaching what you got in the class room to whatever it is you saw three weeks ago or overheard in a conversation. Or maybe watching the same teacher for weeks on end and figuring out through observation that when they come in unshaven it’s because they’ve been working late, but if they come in wearing fragrance, it’s because they’ve been drinking.” She smirked. “I had one like that. But see, if I got that fact in a Neuroplex, I’d have no idea what conditions led to that knowledge. I’d never be able to apply that learning process to the next person.
“If all school were Neuroplex-based, you’d end up with a bunch of people with textbook knowledge about their items and science and stuff and no clue about what it is to exist together. How to read people’s moods or learn about being a friend, or what they love or hate and for what reasons.
They’d have fact without experience.” She rolled her eyes, “I’ve met a few kids who were over-baked a little longer than they should have been, it’s the same sort of situation. It’s like listening to someone recite junk they got in an encyclopedia with no real idea of how to apply it to the world. Adults are allowed to because they’ve already pretty much done all the social growing they’re going to do I guess.”
This explanation is entirely retarded, and I'll note that I hate Stranger(the lizard guy)'s speech impediment so much after hearing his retarded alien drawl in paragraph after paragraph. Also, why not just teach the kids with neuroplexes, then let them run wild and socialize, if lack of socialization is really the only excuse for keeping them in traditional schools. The neuroplex doesn't put you in a LEARNING COMA for weeks on end, it's just something you plug into at night for a couple of weeks. But really, we already knew that this RPG was retarded.
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
Beaming information into someone’s head might teach them facts, but it gives them no life experience to attach those facts to. Knowing how to draw, for instance, is more than knowing how to construct shapes on a page. It’s having the experience with a pencil, the training to control your hand and apply the correct amount of pressure, the understanding of what angle the page should be at to be most comfortable for you, or how the room lighting should be arranged so as to best facilitate your thought process. These are things that are learned through practice, experience, time, trial and error. They are not constants, and they change from person to person, or even from day to day.
Again, what would the harm be in giving everyone encyclopedic knowledge before turning them loose to get "life experience" and, again, nothing in the neuroplex rules makes the proficiencies it provides any different from proficiencies that characters have gained from year-long learning. Also there's a weird sidestep into a paragraph about how kids in the HSD universe are more mature, earlier, because teaching methods are now better. I mean, in any other RPG it wouldn't seem suspect, but in an RPG where we've already had robot pregnancy, I really have to wonder if it's not an excuse for why statutory rape isn't a thing in HSD.
We're also taught about how THE LAW works in HSD. Basically one company has a monopoly on THE LAW, gee, almost like a government, and every other company contracts them for law enforcement because they're the only brand of law that people trust. If corps didn't contract THE LAW corp, no one would want to live in their corptowns or whatever. It seems kind of dull and unimaginative(what a surprise), you'd figure that in a corporate dystopia(or utopia) there'd be multiple competing brands, like Mountain Law, Coca Law and Pepsi Law, and no single contractor would rent out THEIR law, they'd only contract to enforce the specific employer's law. Though, if we're going by law enforcement corporations enforcing their own specific law, you'd figure that there'd still be fascist law enforcement, libertarian law enforcement, something in between, etc. and depending on personal preferences, people would choose their living space or employer depending on who they contracted with to supply law. But no, you just get one corporation supplying one flavour of Law which is very similar to our own, Earth Law.
Starvation and thirst are also apparently no longer things in the setting, which is, again, weird to me. It may be post-scarcity, but Eclipse Phase accurately predicted that corporations aren't limited by morals or ethics: If they control the means of post-scarcity, they can also enforce scarcities to make people consume their products and do their work.
Also apparently, despite the GLORY OF CORPORATE FREEDOM, you're not allowed to have kids if you're poor. On the one hand I'm surprised, because that's a step beyond the sort of fascism that any Earth nation I know of has ever tried. On the other hand, I'm not surprised by the disdain for the poor or the disdain for CHILD HAVERS.
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
Consider the setting: the solar system is run by corporate giants with nearly limitless wealth and power and control over just about every aspect of individual life. It’s a recipe for disaster, really. To their credit, the organizations in HSD all stemmed from a common mission statement laid down by the Mars corporation 700 years ago; a message of freedom, personal liberty and the right to not be contained and controlled by stagnant powers that could not keep up with their population. As publicly owned companies, they’re accountable to their stockholders, who expect them to respect that concept. Vectors have a long history of ending problems before they start, and more than a few tyranical organizations have been torn down from within when they became too obviously corrupt.
The rest of the sidebar this is from basically consists of "AND THEN VECTORS WERE MORALLY SUPERIOR TO HUMANS IN EVERY WAY. AND MORE ENLIGHTENED, TOO. AND THEY'D NEVER HUNT AN ANIMAL TO EXTINCTION, EITHER."
Afterwards the writing goes on a tangent about how cults are now called "universities" and how the kid stole her mom's pornos when the alien tries to ask her how babies are made. What the fuck.
Hc Svnt Dracones posted:
Birth method is determined by the father; if he is a male of an egg-laying species, the child will be born in an egg, regardless of the species of the child or the mother. Likewise if the father is a live-birth species, the child will be born live regardless of its, or its mother’s, species. This can result in a number of occurrences we as humans see as unnatural (cats laying eggs, birds giving live birth, dogs hatching out of a shell, etc.)
What in the FUCK again. Does this idiot have no understanding of the differences in biological plumbing required to lay an egg vs nurturing a living fetus? This isn't just some shit you handwave away, you FUCK. It's also explicitly described as something that the idiots who first made the Vectors implemented on purpose despite the extra difficulties. Fucking why .
The whole thing just ends on a sort of wet fart rather than an actual conclusion. The kid's parents were assassinated, and the corp wants to pick her up as a test subject for extremely vague reasons, and the big monster wants to protect her, and suddenly she realizes she can escape in a spaceship. But then the monster's on his own for a bit and he's all: "WELL, CORPSE, WHO I AM TALKING TO NOW(WHO WASN'T ACTUALLY COMPLETELY DEAD). I WAS ACTUALLY THE ONE WHO KILLED HER PARENTS, BUT NOW I LOVE HUMANITY AFTER ALL, OR SOMETHING, SO I WILL ARBITRARILY DECIDE TO SAVE HER INSTEAD. GOODBYE, CORPSE." and then he kills the corpse(that wasn't actually dead) and the whole thing ends.
It's 40 pages or so just to teach use the few tidbits I've noted here, that and some percentage chances for inheriting mutations like being a Lateral or a Taur or whatever. I mean, they even namedrop a couple of Vector religions and then completely fail to tell us anything about them except that one of them believes in an ouroboros or something. Fucking stupid, something that would actually have ADDED DEPTH(and probably been mockably retarded) to the setting, and instead text is wasted on a ten-year-old blushing as she tries fumblingly to explain to a giant monster what she saw in her mom's porn mags.
God, I'm glad this is fucking over.
Well, until the next fucking expansion, anyway. Jesus Christ, I'm almost starting to look forward to when Desborough finishes his stupid Gor RPG so I can review that.