Kromore by PurpleXVI
"The Adventure"Original SA post
So, end of the month, which means time to spend money on potentially terrible RPG's to look at. As usual, I'm going in blind and really only ranging ahead if I encounter any
interesting terms like "Phallus Space," so you'll get to experience this as I do. This game first came to my attention when someone popped into an IRC server I frequent to ask if someone could hook him up with some HOT WAREZ of Kromore, which got me curious about what this HIP NEW RPG could possibly be. Turns out to be, as mentioned, basically a one-man effort to crank out 350+ pages of fluff and rules for the RPG that appears able to cover pretty much anything. At least according to the sales blurb.
Kromore Roleplaying Game!
I crack open the book and it looks reasonably organized compared to a lot. Glancing at the index, for instance, the fluff is in the back , for once, rather than forcing us to read an ill-advised novel before letting us play the game. Basics, chargen, rules and then fluff. I suppose this means we'll be frontloading all the dry stuff and saving the real laughs until the end.
Or does it? DARK BLADE, that's a profession name right out of someone's shitty fanfic.
No, really, that's the title of the very first chapter. It gives us the basics of what a roleplaying game, as per usual, elaborating in detail on the role of the storyteller, how to tell a good story and... some... weird phrasings, and some suggestions that seem a bit on the line of encouraging railroading and DMPC's to keep the PC's on track and on mission. But seriously, weird phrasings, the next one is a particularly odd one that seems kind of strange given that the developer doesn't seem to have English as a second language.
is this even English? posted:
Sometimes if players choose not to get involved in a situation a great story element to develop a mistaken identity theme can occur. Use all story that occurs around players to drive back to the larger story. Every choice including inactive choice is part of a story.
This form of manipulation of a story is called organic story telling and will create for your players the knowledge and belief that they can actually change the course of a story simply by making a different decision.
Adding a third grey area of perspective will layer realism of your story creating a deeper imaginative universe.
The third line is mostly just there because the phrasing, again, seems awkward as fuck. But in general this entire chapter seems to heavily imply that you shouldn't actually let your players affect the story, or go off on their own adventures. Keep driving them back to the "larger story" and give them the "belief" that they can change the story, which may again just be shitty phrasing, but seems to imply that they should only BELIEVE they have the power, not actually have it. Then after that, the book dropkicks us into EXAMPLE COMBAT before we've even had a look at the rules basics.
“Kromore is on the verge of total civil-war between Steam Rebels and those who favor tech advancement. This real issue lingers at the back of your head as you ride the bumpy, uncomfortable, and yet highly familiar upper D train across the exposed open track over Mavens Sky District. The sound of steel reverberate a steady cha-chunking as the train car whistles against the steam filled airy exterior. An old Mavish woman clutches her purse next to a red skinned Gyxan who has been eyeballing a gold watch hanging from the lapel of a short and whiskery Laerish. The Laerish seems to check the watch impatiently every few seconds. He is finely dressed with a small bowler hat atop his head. Also in the car are three passengers. The first passenger of our players is Steve's character, Steve please describe your character."
The example of play rolls on with, well, excessive rolling. EVERYTHING gets a roll, even for NPC's.
Player Jane: "Ut oh. I quickly yell for everyone to duck."
"Ut oh?" Have I mentioned that this thing blatantly needs the loving care of an editor? Anyway, the players are on board a train, the train gets attacked by a driveby shooting from a hovercar, lots of dice are rolled that we don't really know a damn thing about because the example of play is well before the example of rules , a guy steals a watch and runs off, and then the example ends, continuing into some advice that's mostly praising itself about how awesome the example was and how great an example it was, specifically, of all the previous advice.
As the Story Teller you can always change the outside hovering vehicle to a civil police ship that is arresting the Laerish for stealing a top secret watch,
A top secret watch . But really, there's some good advice here, like what to do when the players ignore your carefully crafted railroad to engage in something they find more interesting.
Some ways of getting stories back on the right path are by reminding the players of story goals through a third party, friendly messenger, newspaper article, television program, or deadly assassin.
Without involving actual enemies to hack and slash, weather and natural disasters can add realistic layers to the story, but adding in Deux-Ex- Machina (god like) moments often can make the players feel insignificant. Use your major events sparingly and only to drive the story back on track or add drama.
For instance, have the world and NPC's nag them about the main plot until you lose your temper and try to have them killed. And don't forget that Deus Ex Machina should only be used for
When dealing with Story Telling never take the power away from a player. Don’t tell a player how their character feels, instead present them with a scenario and ask them how their character feels. This motivates role playing and a bond between player and character. It’s also a lot more fun.
Don't take away power from the players by telling them their character's emotions, allow them to properly roleplay the anguish of being trapped in an unfeeling, railroaded world where evil assassins and blizzards stop their every attempt to deviate. I mean, this isn't bad advice, it just seems kind of hilarious when it's right after all that other shit. Then the book harps on a bit about how there are rules for literally everything you could ever want to do in or outside of combat, which seems to me less of a promise, and more of a threat that no matter what we try to do, we're going to be fucking rolling for it.
Sometimes the best stories start with the simplest of concepts . Here are a few of our favorite plot hook ideas: Rescue a missing person from some villains. Explore a cave or ancient tomb. Survive a natural disaster and travel back in time to stop it from occurring. Defeat a power hungry leader who is exploiting their citizens. Track down a stolen item and the one who stole it.
Outside of Bill & Ted, I don't think I can recall many stories with time travel that I'd define as "simple." Time paradoxes and becoming your own grandpa aren't exactly GM's First Adventure.
Players will find the system easily adapts to any game setting world.
Challenge fucking accepted, this claim requires testing. Start considering what worlds you're convinced Kromore won't work for, and we'll see how it turns out. My guess is that it's going to be basically "all of them." But who knows? It sort of flows into the "basic rules" chapter which tells us literally everything except the basic fucking resolution mechanic. We get told what the stats mean, how we calculate HP, how we calculate how much we can throw, what languages we know, and so on, all sorts of stupid minutiae. The closest we get to actually getting a basic mechanic before launching us headfirst into chargen is, as far as I can parse the bad phrasing, the mechanic for skill checks, where our skill level is a static modifier, and the associated stat is the number of D4's we roll... but no one tells us what the "average" DC should be, so there's no real way of judging whether it takes 1d4 or 10d4 to make us competent at something. I mean, it even tells us what the difficulty "categories" are("basic, easy, medium, hard, epic, legendary, unimaginable, uncanny, and in some cases ungodly."), but neglects to point out what a given "difficulty" translates to in DC.
Off to a great fucking start, here. I'm expecting some fucking gems once we get into the actual chargen, and even more once we hit the fluff.
Character CreationOriginal SA post
Those are all excellent suggestions and I'm going to go ahead and expect that exactly
of them can be implemented in the game. Also, Tasoth, you're a fucking monster.
So in Kromore's defense, at least the character sheet doesn't look Eoris-levels of bad, but much in keeping with the rest of the writing so far, the author just cheerfully launches into everything with what I can best describe as bad pacing. The very first page of chargen is just a huge smear of mechanics and how to calculate derived attributes. Also apparently how much you can carry, drag and push is derived only from your character weight, not your Muscle stat, just the first of what I'm going to assume will be many puzzling design decisions. Chargen seems to start off with a "lifepath" sort of thing, where we follow a flowchart through four decisions that give us some starting bonuses, as well as helping determine our starting money.
Most of it seems relatively setting-agnostic, meaning that Kromore might at least slightly deliver on being able to function through any of its five supposed settings, though quite a few lifepath options get "piloting" and "tech," which I'm not sure how relevant would be in the "fantasy" or "medieval" settings. Also, while we've had the basic stats explained, and know what they would benefit us for, we've had no skills explained so far, so, for instance, "Operate"? What does that help us do? And of course, almost all of the lifepath bonuses are skill bonuses. Also some puzzling choices, most of the bonuses to skills are static +X bonuses, and we've been told that skill ranks are static +X's to things we do, while stats define how many D4 we roll.
But there's a "+1d4" to skills in places, does that mean that I get a RANDOM bonus for choosing this lifepath option? Or that I get another 1d4 to roll whenever I use that specific skill? This isn't explained anywhere. In general, though, the lifepath doesn't seem too badly constructed, and is followed up by assigning points to our basic stats. It's a pointbuy system and, as a first for any pointbuy system I've seen, actually lines up some suggested stat arrays for new players, as well as doing some of the basic math for the player(how many free points a given array leaves them with for the next stage of chargen. Though the terrible organization of the writing and the occasionally "I ran this through Google Translate"-tier phrasing made me confused on the actual calculations and made me think the book got some of them wrong at first.). As clumsy a first impression as Kromore gives, this is actually a nice touch, as pointbuy is something that can occasionally trip up new players.
Players should remember they will automatically receive an equal number of free abilities to their attribute score totals.
A number of free abilities EQUAL TO their attribute score totals, as it turns out. But anyway, small slip-ups aside it's time for the EXCITING RACES OF KROMORE and oh my God what's wrong with your FACE .
Hahahah, what the fuck? Is she a smurf or something? Uh, I guess we've got four colours of human, the weird fucking things from Avatar with huge noses instead of huge eyes, and dwarves.
If players decide to choose a Human race they must select which nation the Human is from. Each Human race holds grudges politically and socially against one another.
I look forward to a list of all the human nations that have existed throughout KROMORE's 10,000-year DETAILED HISTORY, cross-referenced by which ones existed simultaneously, and with each one having a detailed rundown of who they hate and who they get along with. I'm pretty sure, though, that we're just going to get, like, five nations, and two of them will have a sidenote of "Only exists during STEAMPUNK ERA" or "Blown up during SCI-FI ERA, replaced with LASER COUNTRY." And, of course, only humans avoid being a monoculture.
All races start with the bonus language of Trade. Trade is a language comprised of 100 different words, phrases, and sign language symbols used for basic means of communication.
Wait, so, there's 100 words, 100 phrases and 100 sign language symbols? Or there's 100 if you tally up all the words, phrases and sign language symbols? Because the latter's not going to let you do much communicating beyond asking where the fucking toilet is or ordering a beer.
Natural Defense applies to a characters dodge and is always constant even when the character is caught prone or disabled.
Which makes me imagine a team of commandos trying to assault a sleeping Metal Man and falling all over each other because even though he's asleep, his Natural Defense is somehow still applying to his Dodge. I don't know if +2 is a lot, but I hope so, because that would be fucking ridiculous and a little bit hilarious. Like, I could see if it was applied to armor of some sort, but dodge? Why dodge ?
Natural defense for some races is higher due to the races small stature or the races thicker than normal skin.
Oh, I guess because the designer is a lazy sack of shit and went with D&D-style "armor"/defense as being a rolled-together lump of all your defensive attributes, both dodging and armor.
Due to social relations, size, and origin several races have negatives applied to them. These are not bad qualities of the race, but represent their social and physical standings in the ever changing political world of Kromore.
I like how it represents their standing in an EVER-CHANGING WORLD, but apparently over 10,000 years, the world doesn't change enough for these things to be different during different periods. Jesus fucking Christ. This is even more offensive when the game, a paragraph later, acknowledges some degree of change in that some races only exist during some periods... and of course those are all shunted off to the appendices, but include, we're told, H.I.V.E. Vampires and "realm races."
“Bendai khu beiz’nehet y’ Razz-I”
-Death without battle honor is Razz-I
Why fucking bother to translate it if you leave out translating a word that's core to the fucking meaning of the statement ?
So the Ferrians were transported to Kromore in "the 70th century BSC" by the "Tesck" that have so far gone completely unmentioned anywhere. They live on a continent referred to as "the jungle paradise of war"(???), and they used to live on another continent, but something fucked it up so that it's now "vastly uninhabitable for sustained life." As opposed to very temporary life, I guess? Fucking hell.
The Great Metal War during the era of Steam and Steel left it destroyed after the humanoid Innate wielder inhabitants formed an alliance with the allied nations against the Kalin Parliamentary Order. Metal Men arrived and destroyed the small island continent, a destruction the land never recovered from.
Hmmm, yes, these sure are a lot of terms. Not that I give a shit what they mean. But the whole thing is basically meaningless without knowing who the fuck these people or things are, what "humanoid Innate wielders" are.
Though the Ferrian have cat like appearances in the eyes and face, they are far more human than cat despite their tails and ears which are both docked at birth.
Nothing about them is fucking catlike, at all. Has this person ever seen a cat?
Exiled Ferrian in their native tongue are called “Razz-I.”
So "death without battle honor is exiled Ferrian"? Aaaaaargh.
Whatever, these guys are basically Cat Orcs/Klingons. BATTLE HONOR, tattoos, live in noble savagery, can wear their SUPER HAIR as armor, don't do much with technology unless it's for war, and when they're in other cultures they're mostly mercenaries or criminal muscle.
Many Ferrian do not seek honor battling amongst the stars unless something proposes a threat to their home.
The author of this is supposedly from New York, born and raised. You wouldn't have fucking guessed it from this writing, would you? I would've guessed, like, Poland, myself. Maybe Dutch. If I quoted every single fucking awkward or downright WRONG term or phrasing, I'd be quoting the entire fucking book so far. Did you know it's possible to "miss-use" magic? I just learned that, from this book.
Their existence was declared a mistake after many rebelled slavery in the Order’s military. Thousands of Metal Men were dishonorably discharged into space before their existence was revealed, but thousands more managed to escape.
Hard to tell if he's making a joke or actually thinks that a "dishonorable discharge" involves throwing someone away into the ocean or space or something. But anyway, they were a magical experiment into making SUPER SOLDIERS that accidentally developed free will, like basically every super soldier project in any piece of fiction, ever. At this point it would be a surprise to have an android that actually stayed true to the spirit of its programming or an artificially created species/creature that didn't eventually eat its creator.
In addition to their immortality the Metal Men all begin life at the age of twenty seven and never age beyond it. Their previous human memories are gone,
Except I guess they used to be humans, yet no matter what, they're always 27 years of age? What if you turn a child into a metal man? Does he become huge and buff? Do old people turned into metal men become young and strong? Can you even do that? Can they reproduce in any sort of way, resulting in a horrific sudden aging of metal man babies? Apparently they're engineered not to procreate, but some "metal women" mutate to "reveal" offspring(what? WORDS MEAN THINGS). So I if all metal men are instantly 27 years of age, that's gotta result in some weird stuff when giving birth, or possibly an Alien-like explosion during procreation. Gross.
But aside from that, if new-born metal men are a rarity, and they're all functionally immortal, does that mean that the player is most likely centuries, if not millennia old, and hyper-experienced compared to every other member of the party? I guess this is just completely ignored. And mind you, if metal men don't care about aging, what about other biological necessities? Do they need food and water? Do they breathe? Maybe this would be relevant to address, considering that their description makes them sound like fucking robots (metal skin, no aging, no natural procreation, outside of mutants, have trouble with "complex emotions.")
I'd also like to point out that while the Ferrians got an entire page to themselves, all the other species basically get a single half-page column. Also for some reason only half the races(Ferrian, Metal Man, Laerish) get a quote, while the other three(Gyx, Human, Zatilok) go without.
The Gyx get literally no biological or sociological details shared about them. Nothing. They're just some red dudes that the "Tesck" dropped off on Kromore a couple of times over the eras and who were generally enslaved or murdered by roaming packs of xenophobes, but now they're free.
The Gyx are known deadly with a small blade due to thousands of years in servitude.
Apparently a history of being enslaved means everyone assumes you know your way around a shiv. Or that you DO know your way around a shiv. I can't tell.
GAH, it doesn't get any less horrifying the second time
So, the Zatilok are apparently the only true natives of KROMORE, a bunch of NOBLE SAVAGES, not to be confused with the NOBLE SAVAGERY of the Ferrians.
Though they are the oldest, the Zatilok are the least technologically advanced of all Kromorian races. They are referred to as space monkeys by Kromorians, because they are no more apt at flying than a monkey is in space. A term used negatively against Zatilok.
This also makes no sense to me. Firstly, they're pretty clearly feline-inspired. Secondly, why would monkeys have trouble in space? I mean, if anything, a semi-prehensile tail, and feet that can be used for grabbing and clinging far better than human feet might actually be an advantage in a zero-G habitat. Hell, I'm pretty sure a lot of apes and monkeys would transition to zero-G/micro-G pretty fast, faster than some humans, in fact, once they got the hang of it. But anyway, yeah, they're cats, JUST LIKE THE FERRIANS, GUYS, NOTICE HOW CATLIKE THE FERRIANS ARE, but more catlike than the Ferrians because of their "furry complexions."
“There was a wee man named Harboro Sam, He took up some drinkin’ with main sail in hand,With nothing but hot air to sail him to land, He shored up to sailors, befriending with man,He threw down his skivvies and threw up his hands SHOVE OFF UNLESS YE DRINKIN!”
–Laerish drinking tune, unknown composer, unknown meaning.
Everything in this book has an "unknown meaning."
During the time prior to the Three Kingdoms and over the era of Three Kingdoms, Laerish lived in barbaric clan houses and sailed long ships. The Laerish of this time focused on pillage and wealth along with technological advancement.
Their inventions eventually allowed them the ability to control technological trade and after several thousand years removed their instinct and aggressive anger from their social personalities.
So the Laerish are basically honourable Irish(or Scottish? Can't tell) drunk techno-vikings. Or something. Also they've got almost no women(for some reason?). Also everyone likes the Laerish despite the fact that the Laerish used to raid everyone and now, apparently, maintain a stranglehold on high-tech trade because they're just so good at it.
Wow, Christ, this is off to a great start. I'm going to handle the humans in a separate post, because it turns out there's actually a few pages' worth of nations/human variants. Not that I expect them to be particularly inspiring, but dealing with this writing is a bit of a challenge.
Humans of Kromore and ProfessionsOriginal SA post KROMORE
Humans of Kromore
So, I was mildly wrong, there are 17 human nations, six of which are restricted by era, and the remaining 11 of which have existed, apparently, for the entirety of humanity's existence on Kromore. Obviously humans are not from Kromore since only the Zatilok are natives.
The disparity of Kromorian Humans are as vast and as their Earth ancestors. Though they share a historical bond, Human’s of Kromore distinguish themselves by the Kromorian nation they hail from.
All humans share an ancestry to Earth with the exception of Daeadrin who have an unknown alien origin. A merging of Daeadrin and Humans becomes the future Kromorian races. Though both Daeadrin and Kromorian Humanoids are identical at first glance, the Daeadrin are immortal.
Hmmm, yes, I'm sure that it's entirely reasonable to simply list an "immortal" race alongside the human races. Certainly immortality would result in exactly the same culture and statistics! It actually does, and Daeadrin don't even have the highest skill bonus total or anything. I guess they spend a lot of their immortal lives doing nothing productive that they can learn from. In general the human nations are described haphazardly, sometimes we learn what wiped them out, sometimes we don't, sometimes their government style is mentioned, sometimes it's not, the only constants are average weights and heights, and what their diet largely consists of. Not sure why the latter's so important unless the book contains a detailed section on gluten and nut allergies later on.
This section also reveals that when Earth was threatened by an alien species wanting to suck it dry of resources, humanity just relocated en masse to the rest of the galaxy. Considering that humanity had the ability to just do this, apparently before this insurmountable alien foe destroyed them or enslaved them, you have to wonder why humanity hadn't spread to the rest of the galaxy before then. Earth refugee humans are also for some reason far less restrained by their culture than the other nations, just getting a pool of free skill points to assign however they want, rather than having four to six culturally pre-assigned skill points.
Also note how every single non-human species live in exactly one location, with one culture, while humans have spread everywhere. Lazy fucking writing. Also note how there's an "Outlander Human" nation, even though they're specifically described as the "humans without nations or borders." I also skipped over dozens of terrible wordings because you guys have the gist of the bad writing by now.
Note that even though the game prides itself, in its sales pitch, on not having "pre-determined classes," instead it has pre-determined professions , which are basically treated like 3.x/5e classes, you gain a new "level" every time you level up, and you can use that to continue a profession you already have, or straight up just grab a tier of a new one. The text in the book here even admits that professions "resemble the concept of 'classes'."
I do legitimately like some of the art, though. This is really well done.
The one in the heavy armor carrying a two handed weapon in one hand while killing you with the other. That's a Soldier.
Soldier: Continuing in the proud tradition of shitty fantasy RPG's everywhere, by and large all the soldier gets is increasing numerical bonuses to shooting/stabbing things, or using things that shoot things. It turns out that "Operate," at least by the description here(yes, we still have no skill descriptions, so while making our character we have to guess at what half these things actually benefit), is about "operating" vehicles, meaning that's yet another huge part of the lifepath chargen that only really works with post-fantasy/post-medieval stuff and... hey, wait a minute, that also kind of means Soldiers don't fit into that stuff for shit either. So much for being setting-agnostic. About the only hilarious ability Soldiers get is "Weapon Redirect." Any time an enemy within reach of the soldier fails any action, including some attacks(specifically grapples and charges), the soldier just gets to pick them up and throw them away. It doesn't even have to target the soldier, and seems to completely ignore the target's weight and size. In fact , it specifically just says "attacker," so potentially a charging tank attempting to run someone over would count, or a giant robot just trying to move past and failing some check.
In general, though, even 3.x Fighters get more options than these poor goons(well, after a couple of feats, anyway).
SOME of the art, I don't like all of it.
When everything begins to spin and the room grows dark a Medic is hopefully closing in. Lofting the wounded onto their shoulders and carrying them to safety, the Medic will slap a bandage on wounds before the target can realize they are pushing them back into the fray of combat. After all, who else are they going to hide behind as the bullets come flying past.
Medic: Fuck all not-wizards, I guess. In the same way Soldiers just get +attack, all Medics get is +heal and the special ability to carry allies a very, very short distance. So unless your friend collapsed just on the other side of some handy cover, this is fucking useless.
As the rush of air blows hair wildly into the open sky and a smile breaks across their face, it's evident the Pilot is having that dream where they are flying again.
Pilot: The pilot is yet another one-trick monkey, in this case "fly better, fly better, fly better." Their few abilities that breaks the monotony is that above a certain level, they basically get a Red Baron-ish renown and get to intimidate enemy pilots just by telling them that they're in the air and fucking shit up, and that they get to "Cloud Fall." I.e., if they pass their skill checks they can drop from 100' with little to no damage, of course, if they fuck up their skill checks they probably die instantly, so you can't even really rely on it. And how often are you 100' off the ground in an RPG without your friends being so as well? I guess this might save YOU, but the rest of the party is still fucked. Good luck playing a Pilot unless the entire party does or it's a solo game.
Instinctive Foresight: Shady characters are found on refueling pads, in space stations, and within and environment vehicles are brought for repairs and construction. When the pilot is first to act in a fights initiative against enemies they gain a bonus 1d4 to their first attack in their rounds turn. Any time the pilot has a better initiative than their target they gain this bonus.
I also don't know why associating with shady characters somehow gives you an attack bonus?
Banned from DeviantArt for being too shit
The Officer excels at controlling a large force of men and women on the battlefield. Their leadership abilities are unmatched by any other profession. Negotiating or blasting their way through conflict, the Officer is always prepared for any battle. An Officer is available through the background origin or by Story Teller approval.
Officer: I hope you like sitting at the back of the battle with a megaphone and giving everyone boosts in combat, because that's literally all this class gets to do
Knight Agent: Finally there's the option to be a "Knight Agent," if you have high enough stats, totally not a prestige class, honest , which basically means you're a member of the Kromorian CIA. Interestingly enough, unlike the four preceding classes, they acknowledge that Knight Agents will function differently in different eras... which they accomplish by changing the gear, and not the skills. They have the ability to interrogate enemies... except they don't use it to interrogate, apparently they use it to yell at enemies in combat and scare them into lowering their defenses? Why is this ability called "interrogate" at all? They also get the ability to PASS JUDGMENT which... again has nothing to do with passing judgment in a legal sense, instead it just means that the agent now gets a huge bonus to fighting them.
With this level of fighter oppression, I can't wait to see what options wizards get.
Aristocrat: Interestingly, even though we have to beg storyteller permission to become an officer if we don't get it during lifepath chargen, nothing stops us from just declaring at level-up that Bob the Officer is now in fact Bob von Schnauzer, Officer and also heir to the Schnauzer mercantile empire. Despite being described as negotiators, diplomats and fast-talkers, almost every Aristocrat skill is somehow using their charisma to better beat up people in combat by distracting them. In fact, almost EVERY fucking ability so far, for all the classes, have been for combat. I think the only exception being that Officers get a military agent network that gives them a bonus on knowledge checks. Oh and I guess Aristocrats also get a monthly allowance depending on how charismatic they are.
Dark Blade: Half these guys' skills are prefaced with the word "Dark." Dark Sneak, Dark Survival, Dark Blade Veil, etc. which is no surprise to anyone. It also takes seven levels before this EPIC ASSASSIN CLASS actually gets any special ability making them better at sneaking. All their other abilities up till that point are just combat tricks. Did I mention that this game is REALLY FOCUSING ON THE COMBAT yet?
HELLO I AM A SUBTLE ASSASSIN, PAY ME NO MIND
Shadow: The first class to get almost as many non-combat boosts/skills as combat boosts/skills, generally related to stealth and traps, and avoiding being blown up by traps. A momentous day! They also have the ability to "trick" enemies in an undefined way to remove their actions in combat, at higher levels. They can steal "two actions" from an enemy, and as I understand it, PC's and NPC's only have three actions per round. Judging by the shitty wording, they can do this once per enemy adjacent to them... but nothing seems to require them to target different enemies, and it only costs them one action... so two Shadows working together could basically stunlock up to three enemies completely, as long as they're in relatively close quarters. Resisting being "tricked" is possible, but takes a "legendary" resistance check.
Inventor: Holy shit, this class only has one ability directly focused on combat. And it only took us nine classes to get there! Their one ability focused on combat is dealing double damage to artificial enemies, an ability that is, puzzlingly, named "Bad Breath." It's also, again, one of the few classes that acknowledge different eras. For instance, apparently even in eras without electrical devices, they're able to make short-distance, radio-wave remote controls that can set off, as per the book's example, trebuchets.
In tech level settings that do not allow for electronically machinery the device works as a short wave frequency radio or trigger device that can operate a trebuchet or device to be set off.
Christ, there's another 13 classes to go, including the "Combat" class category. Yes, Combat and Military classes are, inexplicably, separate from each other. At least the final category will be the various wizard professions, Sci-Magi, Adept, Sci-Priest and Demon Hunter. They, at least, have to be able to do some shit that not everyone fucking else can do. In fact, I think it's almost entirely guaranteed, by this point, that having access to magic will mean that they get a huge swathe of things they can do while fighters and thieves can eat shit.
More ProfessionsOriginal SA post KROMORE
"Outland Professions" are basically described as adventurers, characters who travel the globe getting into fights and stealing stuff. They consist of the Privateer, Mercenary, Duelist, Grifter and "Ferrian Vanquisher." Most of them are relatively unremarkable, aside from the Grifter and the usual bizarre wording and logic that pops up in some of the abilities.
Outland Trickster: The privateer is often stuck off grid from the rest of society. The privateer learns to combat the forces of mad men, wild beast, and thieves with the power of quick thinking. As 1 action and a hardsurvival skill check they can render a target prone until their next turn. The privateer uses their survival skill to find a weakness in terrain, environment, or enemy gear.
Because yes, I absolutely translate "often out in the wilderness" to "knows how to trip people up." Also note that despite this being related to fighting the forces of "mad men, wild beasts and thieves," nothing prevents you from knocking over a robot or a cop with this. It also simply specifies "target," so unless something is specifically unable to be knocked prone, you can flip over tanks, giant mecha and just about anything else with it. There's also no specified range, and the fluff on how it works is delightfully vague, so potentially you can do it from across a room as long as you can come up with an excuse? Or from even farther away? I mean, the fact that you can use a "weakness in the terrain or enemy gear" that, presumably, the player gets to invent himself opens it up to just about anyone, anywhere, in any situation, as long as you know they're there.
The real star, as mentioned, is the Grifter.
Grifter Charm: A grifter makes a negotiate check in combat as 1 action and gains up to 1 point of their charm attribute as a bonus to attack that chosen target until it flees or is defeated.
The Grift: A grifter can steal anything from a target they have declared their grifter charm on as long as the grifter is within reaching distance of the object. The grifter is not required a sneak roll to steal the object nor is the target allowed an awareness check as long as the grifter has initiated combat and succeeded their grifter charm.
So yes, we can literally steal ANYTHING from an enemy as long as we're within reaching distance and manage to "grifter charm" someone. If you wanted to be very technical, you could presumably steal someone's eyeballs or, if you rule that "distance" only considers how far you can theoretically reach, and not what's in the way, also internal organs. Also again, even without wording it to instakills, remember that we have three actions in a given round, and unless specified otherwise, anything we do seems to default to requiring one action. So even if we need to use one action to close up to stealing range, we can still steal a dude's weapon and armor. By the level where we get THE GRIFT, our Grifter Charm has also been upgraded to apply to three targets at once. So we can literally disarm an entire squad of dudes in one round if we can get into melee range.
The CAKE BATTLE ability is a bit later on, in another chapter, where any class is allowed to spend points to get a "Civilian Vocation." The first rank of the Chef vocation provides:
Cooking Persuasion: A chef gains the ability to cook amazing meals that can persuade targets by allowing the Chef to make a negotiate check against their target after feeding them a meal. The negotiate gains them x2 their normal bonus to negotiation against that target.
Also note that there's no limit on how long after eating a meal that they'll be easily persuaded by you. At the most aggressive you could rule that "feeding" means you have to at least serve it to them, so you can't be the owner of a candy shop or kebab booth that eventually makes an entire city vulnerable to his Negotiate attempts. So if you use your presumably sky high, if you're going for this, Negotiate abilities to charm your way into taking over an army's field kitchen or something, moments after dinner time you can declare you're starting combat and start liberating everyone of their gear.
It also notice that it just says a meal , not even necessarily a meal that the cook himself made. The RAW for Kromore is hilariously dire.
Weirdly enough this also seems to make the Grifter a far more potent thief in combat than out of combat and in any stealth situation, and looking up the rules for Negotiation, it's basically ROLL FOR MIND CONTROL. If you get 16 or more than the target number(determined by their Charisma), you can literally convince them of anything, and there appears to be no upper limit on how high skill bonuses can go.
Duellists and Mercenaries are both dull, except that mercenaries get the weird ability to make makeshift bombs out of "a simple fuel and a hard object. (Ex. Rocks, Tin can, Battery, etc.)," and can, at higher levels, and with a decent intelligence score, guarantee that they can make makeshift bombs so fast that they can make and throw them in the same round, and still have an action to spare. A quick glance ahead in the book reveals that these bombs made out of tin cans and batteries do more damage than "plasma sniper rifles," at least by just looking at the value on the tables and without involving any skills or other modifiers. By the point he gets to do this, the Mercenary also has three NPC companions, so he could just spend all three of his turns making bombs, passing them to his companions, and having them throw them. This seems to add up to way more damage than he could ever do by actually giving them or himself weapons, and cheaper, too.
Ferrian Vanquishers are only notable for the fact that their weapon is their hair, and telling us that apparently it requires "diamond blades" to cut Ferrian hair. Why no one captures Ferrians to shave them bald and weave an impenetrable set of clothes/armor out of their hair, I don't know.
Next up are the "combat professions," listing the Battler, Warrior, Combat Artist and Brawler. Including them, we now have the: Soldier, Duellist, Mercenary, Battler, Warrior, Combat Artist and Brawler, to list the ones that are just a fighter by any other name, and that's being very generous and leaving out some. In any fucking sane RPG they'd just be the same base class/profession but with different fluff and specializations chosen by the player after first level. And there's literally no interesting fluff or detail to any of them, they're all just a tiresome blur of combat modifiers. The Battler can go berserk and the Brawler is a 3rd ed D&D Monk, that's about it. The art does seem to try to outdo itself by being fucking awful in new and exciting ways, though!
And now it's time for wizard supremacy. Sci-Magi, who are chalk wizards. Adepts, who are sorcerers. Sci-Priests, who are "soulful combat fighters." And Demon Hunters, who are dark, brooding characters that no one trusts.
In addition to getting skill boosts and abilities of their own, some of them quite rad and even, dare I say it, kinda cool, Sci-Magi also have an additional column in their level up spreadsheet that no other class does, that grants them free abilities . Any class can buy into magic abilities, but these guys, in addition to getting as much shit as everyone else, gets them for free.
Chalk: A Sci-Magi can procure 1 piece of chalk every action without the use of an action to draw the chalk, but the chalk is required carried.
The Sci-Magi can also create chalk as 1 action and a basic focus check out of thin air if they need to. This created chalk disappears if the caster drops it and is only useable in a spell. Often casters use both created and drawn chalk for spells.
Chalk? Well, sure. CHALK, but what can a wizard do with CHALK? Well, for starters, a Sci-Magi can crush a piece of chalk, specifically, nothing else, to have it function as a flashbang that he's immune to. Chalk is also the item needed for most sci-magi abilities, drawing sigils, etc. and since he can just make more out of thin air, he can never really be disarmed of those abilities unless he's tied up. He can also find anything non-living(easily circumvented, just tell it to find the guy's shirt instead), without needing a check, as long as he has a "crystal" to imbue with a desire to find it, then he has a magical compass for finding it.
Doorway: A Sci-Magi can use chalk to draw doorways to the other side of a wall or structure.
Realm Fire: As 1 action the Sci-Magi can use a medium focus check to transform a piece of chalk into a blue fire like ball of energy.
Invisibility Spell: Using a hard focus check and 2 actions, the Sci-Magi can turn invisible with a crushed piece of chalk in both hands. ... Attackers make epic awareness checks to discern the location of the Magi.
An "epic awareness check" requiring that someone get over 24 as a result of d4's+skill modifiers. And no, it doesn't require any check to turn invisible, just chalk, chalk that you have an infinite fucking supply of. Without chalk, the sci-magi still has telekinesis and the ability to turn any reflective surface into a portal gateway. The text specifically calls out "the surface of the ocean on a still day," and specifies that it counts as one continuous surface, which happily negates the limits on how far two surfaces can be from each other. So, you know, have fun teleporting from one continent to another as long as the weather permits.
And this isn't even getting into the fact that anyone with Realm Magic can make an infinite army of ghosts. Yes, you heard me right, we'll get to that in the Abilities chapter.
Adepts don't get as much overpowered shit as sci-magi, presumably because they're not proper wizards and hence don't deserve proper supremacy. Instead they get to make inferior lesser classes like rogues feel irrelevant.
The adept can produce basic elemental items. The items are not completely stable and deteriorate into air after a number of mins equaling the adepts SOUL attribute. Often times the adept will create a key or something they are searching for without realizing it, but then the object vanishes again in a few hours. The items created are elemental in nature and fit into the hand of the adept as a solid item with no moving parts. Example: chalk, flint, wood, soft rock, metal, coal.
Suck it, lockpickers. Also if you want to break the game, point out that there's clearly permission for organic chemistry since coal is mentioned, and that there are plenty of toxic and corrosive substances that could do notable damage even if you didn't produce more than the weight/volume of a key, and they certainly have no moving parts. This stuff also takes up only one action and with an "easy focus" check to pull off, we can do it pretty much at will.
Homeopathic Touch: The adept can identify the status of a persons thirst, hunger, core temperature, sleep, salt hunger, and LP by touching skin to skin.
Though what the fuck is a salt hunger ? Like is that a term in another language that means something, but has no meaning when translated literally to English? Please. Help. But aside from making rogues irrelevant and checking if someone's cold or hungry, basically they can throw fireballs and heal themselves, that's it.
The Priest is a soulful combat fighter
The jazziest of professions, but it's hard to judge whether they suck shit or completely break the game until we get to the crafting rules, because that's literally all these guys get a bonus to: Crafting and being able to melt non-living matter with their hands. Of course since this is expressed in hit points' worth of damage to stuff rather than in some sort of narrative term or a volume of decayed matter, it's impossible to tell how much it actually matters. I tried searching the entire book and nowhere does it seem to actually list what, say, an average door has in terms of hit points, making this ability entirely pointless.
Despite being in the wizard section, this one is actually a trap choice for fools who think fighters are relevant! That is to say, literally half their abilities don't work unless the storyteller is merciful and let them fight demons on a regular basis, as said abilities require demon blood, souls, etc. to craft items from. And of course their only actual cool ability, being able to trap demon souls in equipment for bonuses, is sequestered at the very top of their levels.
Tune in next time when we check out magic and abilities and how they let us become an evil overlord as long as we've got time to waste. And of course as long as we're a wizard, we don't get to break the game if we're not a wizard.
Pop quiz: Which of these three is it possible to do with/to a zombie: Negotiation? Intimidation? Or logical debate?
Because fighters don't deserve nice featsOriginal SA post
NEGOTIATION: Negotiation tricks auto succeed on the Zombie, Intimidations and logic negotiations always fail.
IMMUNITIES**: The spirit is immune to steel weapons and wooden weapons, stuns, KO, and poisons.
Hard: Identifying a face in a crowded market street, hearing a whisper from two closed doors away, or seeing a hidden item that took a great deal of time to hide. Doing a scan of an area to find hidden people or objects without the pretense of a Story Teller asking for the check is always a Hard or higher. This form of an awareness check is often at the level of a trained investigator or a detectives observation abilities.
THE RULES ("Surface & Stun From A Fitness Failure(S.A.S.F.A.F.F.)")Original SA post KROMORE
202 pages into Kromore and we actually get to the rules in any sort of concise format. We had a "RULES BASICS" at the start that only told us how many dice to roll, and nothing else. We had some scattered stuff in the Skills section on how skill checks worked and what a given difficulty of a check was. But it's not until 202 pages in that we hit the majority of the ruleset. Just to recap what we've already been told, though, because the game doesn't do that for us even though we were introduced to them a couple hundred pages back... the basic check is a roll of STATd4+SKILLRANKS with no weirdnesses or complications, no critical successes or failures, you either beat a static number(for most checks) or an enemy's roll.
The first thing the chapter tells us is that we're gonna need a board or battlemat(informing us in the process that hex grids are vastly superior to square grids), this makes sense when we check the index and find that literally the entire rules chapter is combat, leaving the full extent of non-combat stuff as what we can do with skill checks and the few spells that aren't about throwing some variety of painful elemental energy at enemies(or summoning things to cut their faces wide open). Then we're told how to roll initiative, what a round consists of(five seconds of real time, split into three actions that we can assign as we see fit, unless we do a single thing that consumes more than one action, like some spells... and about half the list of default actions, like attacking with a two-handed weapon or just about any skill check. Some things, like putting on heavy armor, require up to nine actions, meaning that they consume a total of three full rounds). All these actions are just actions I'll note. No major, minor, free, bonus or whatever separation, removing the need to keep track of any such goofery.
In the game's defense, it's all pretty neatly organized. There's one table that contains all the default actions, you can quickly check if something provokes free attacks if done at melee range and how many actions it takes... attacking and defending is also relatively simple. Rather than having separate dodge and damage resistance, like most modern games, or having one huge dodge pool like D&D, there's just one big soak/damage resistance pool. First dodge subtracts from incoming damage, then your shield, then your armor and finally it impacts your life points. Shields and armor also have their own pools of hit points, which, when drained, mean they're coming apart and can no longer soak up anything, as well as a damage resistance stat indicating how much they can soak per round. It's a bit abstract, definitely not for anyone obsessed with verisimilitude, but it seems like it'd make combat flow pretty quickly since you're just rolling once to attack(weapon damage + Muscle or Agility + your combat bonuses), versus a static number(Dodge+Shield+Armor).
FINISHING A TARGET
A character can spend a 3 actions to kill an unconscious and immobile target with direct contact to Life Points of that target. This is a target unable to fight back. Considered a mercy killing or a murder.
Despite my moderate praise, though, the writing is still fucking awful. What does it even mean to have DIRECT CONTACT TO LIFE POINTS OF THAT TARGET? This is nothing compared to the next section which uses CRITICAL CALLED ATTACK so many times it's lost what little meaning it has, including all its permutations like "critical called area attack" and "critical call called attack." For some reason the mechanic for making target attacks isn't just called attacks, it's critical called attacks. It's making me dizzy just trying to read these pages.
Any attack can deal critical damage. The amount of LP dealt in an attack to a region represents a critical hit to that region. A critical hit is a one time attack and the amount of LP taken at one time from an attack represents the devastating blow.
Sure, any attack can deal critical damage, but "critical damage" is something that only happens when you hit a specific region of someone, and you can only hit specific regions when making critical called attacks, not when just attacking normally(unless we're supposed to assume that normal attacks are critical called attacks to the torso/"body"? ...which it tells us several pages later, almost at the end of the actual combat rules). These sure are some words but fuck if they don't lose all meaning in this idiot writer's hands.
The rules for critical damage are surprisingly detailed and brutal, and reward having some sort of medic or healer in the party. Basically any attack will cause at least a temporary effect(in the case of limbs and body, most likely just a "scar" for low damage), but if you go more than 24 hours without medical treatment, a lot of them advance into becoming permanent effects(or if someone completely fucks up trying to heal a temporary effect). The name is a bit of a misnomer, though, as "permanent" effects can still be cured by medicine(and for that matter, "temporary" effects aren't temporary either, they don't seem to go away with time? I can't tell). It... doesn't say whether permanent effects replace the temporary effects, or simply stack on top, but I have to assume that they stack on top, otherwise broken bones would magically heal themselves after 24 hours.
Though either way it leads to some weirdnesses, like severed heads not causing death until 24 hours later, severed limbs not bleeding until 24 hours later, gushing arteries(which you'd be lucky to survive for a couple of minutes, 1 LP lost per round, 5 seconds, between 10 and 15 LP's in most cases, critical damage causing the bleeding likely already removing the majority of your LP's... a tourniquet can solve the problem temporarily, I suppose) turning into internal bleeding. A severed arm will, 24 hours later, cause the much slower internal bleeding(1LP per hour), while a severed hand instantly causes a gushing instadeath artery(likewise losing any "appendage," defined as an eye, finger, toe, ear or "other." That's right, losing an ear will make you bleed out faster than someone lopping off your fucking arm), yet broken arms and legs also cause instant bleeding... okay there's something fucking goofy here.
Moving on to the section about movement and facing, which is largely just common-sense stuff about when someone is considered to be facing, flanking, etc. I also have to give Kromore props for illustrating everything with diagrams. Most of it is, as said, pretty common sense, but it ensures that there's literally no doubt and everyone can follow along, even if they're relatively unused to RPG's and boardgames. It also starts to become obvious that Kromore is really envisioned as a combat-heavy boardgame, more than an actual RPG, in most cases, especially in light of all the character abilities being, in 95% of all cases, aimed towards combat uses only.
Also we don't have falling damage in Kromore. We've got SASFAFF.
Surface & Stun From A Fitness Failure(S.A.S.F.A.F.F.)
I could literally not make this up. They invented an entire custom acronym for something that fills a grand total of half a page and consists of checking how far they fell(which requires paging back to the skills chapter, and seeing what height a given difficulty of skill check for climbing fits with), then referring to the matching row for what kind of damage they take(stun or lethal), how much damage and how many rounds they'll spend stunned. Considering that life points are largely static after chargen, falling is actually surprisingly lethal in Kromore. Considering that most people will only have 10 to 15 Life Points, and that a fall of 26 to 35 feet will do 3d4 damage(3d4+3 if it's on to a hard surface), that'll make most unarmoured people splatter on impact. Mind, the scale isn't open-ended, damage caps out at 6d4(+5, for a hard or jagged surface), meaning an average of 20 damage from just about any distance(unless there are rules for orbital re-entry). With armor and shields being included in soaking falling damage... just a thick suit of platemail and a tower shield could let us survive a fall from near the edge of the atmosphere.
There are also a few weirdnesses here and there in the tables, being medium or large gives you a +1 to dodge, being one step up, huge, is a +2, then down to a +1 again for gigantic, 0 for enormous and -1 for colossal. Why that arbitrary bump for Huge?
More nice attention to detail in the combat rules, though, as we're told what side effects elemental damage has(rules for ice spells locking up enemy armor by freezing it, electrical spells breaking sensitive electronics, how long fires will continue to burn, and a handy table for converting ice magic damage to how much you can freeze solid, in case you want to use ice bolts to cross a river or something). Also standard damage values for various environmental objects exploding, like fireworks, gas tanks, etc.(according to the rules, the average person in Kromore is almost guaranteed to survive a "grill propane tank" exploding right next to him unless it rolls absolutely maximum damage. Most of my understanding of exploding propane is from videogames, but shouldn't that be relatively fatal? Of course, Kromore isn't too realistic. Cars in Kromore apparently explode like in Hollywood action movies, according to the table).
When something is frozen it requires time to thaw before it is useable again.
The table includes damage values for freezing warm-blooded creatures, but doesn't specify whether PC's survive cryogenic suspension or whether it kills them outright.
The end of the chapter is half a page of rules for time travel, which summarizes as follows: First we have to leave reality, then we have to use a captured soul of a Lovecrafty "Realm" creature as a guide to drag us back in time. We cannot go forwards in time beyond where we've actually been "naturally." However, any time traveller can bring along hitchhikers, and they CAN be brought further forward than they themselves have been. Unfortunately, all "technological" items crumble in the world outside the physical universe, so we can't smuggle plasma guns into the past and set ourselves up as a techno warlord. I've no idea what they define as "technology," though.
A character who alters a previous time will cause a ripple effect that generates a new time line.
This alternate universe exists within the realms and results in another matter realm.
Kromore’s history within this text represents the original history of Kromore, but that history has the potential for parallel versions if characters change the time line. This change allows for multiple versions and histories to exist within the universe of Kromore.
Coincidentally, the chapter titled "The Kromore Universe" begins on the next page, so I guess we'll shortly find out just what the canonical Kromore is like.
Right now, though, I'm kind of disappointed that Kromore wasn't more of an amusing clusterfuck in the rules section, so I'm taking a break.
The planet of Kromore is made up of nearly 40% water.Original SA post KROMORE
So I get back to Kromore for the final stretch, the fluff chapters, after two weeks of being too sick to write worth a damn, and I immediately wish I was sick for a third week: The fluff chapters are fucking awful. And not just the entertaining, Fieldsy kind of awful where every second page is about cocks, but also the sort of terrible editing that makes me wonder if Gene Ray wrote this. Sections will jump from a paragraph about alien invasions to paragraphs about how much of a random planet's surface is covered from water with no warning. Let me quote an example section, just so you can tell I'm not joking:
Fear of attacking unknown aliens from the worm hole located in the Alpha-1 nebula are often discussed as priority scenarios amongst high ranking galactic commanders in later era time lines.
Riddled with ancient islands and history, the planet Kromore has seen its share of alien visitors for close to ten thousand years. Most of the planets land mass has been either destroyed by nature, war, rebuilt by new nations, or formed into stable living environments.
The planet of Kromore is made up of nearly 40% water.
Much like the rest of the book, terms are thrown about haphazardly and only explained twenty pages down the road, if at all, and often the description completely fails to answer most of the questions you have. I'll try to put some sort of sense to the book's ramblings but it's not easy, so this will probably get a bit incoherent, too.
How the fuck you pronounce "Жo-Rin."
So anyway, the core of the setting is that the "Жo-Rin" are moustache-twirling evil aliens from an evil galaxy with an evil lich king, and the Tesck(the entirety of their description is "blind and matriarchal," they're blind because they're from a part of space without any light. Really.) are decently-nice Ancient Aliens who, in the face of the Жo-Rin conquering everything they see, evacuate species from their homeworlds and transplant them to others so they can survive. Unfortunately, despite having the capacity for inter-galactic travel(Earth is in this setting and is in a separate galaxy from the planet of Kromore, the Жo-Rin eventually conquer Earth and strip-mine it), they seemingly dump just about every species they rescue on Kromore, which is, in galactic terms, right on the Жo-Rin's doorstep.
It is believed the Tesck have gathered most of the life forms from the surrounding galaxies to the refugee planet Kromore in hopes of protecting them against the Жo-Rin and their vastly growing control on galactic space.
(The Tescians also apparently suck balls at this "rescuing species"-gig since Kromore has about a half dozen intelligent species, yet there's supposedly a couple hundred other sentient species that the Tescians never bothered to rescue or otherwise work with.)
The Tesck generally fuck around being useless albeit well-intentioned, then there's the Alliance(largely Kromore) who fuck around being "good guys" and mostly spend their time getting their ass kicked, the Prime(Earthling refugees with some other refugee species, none of which we're ever actually told a fucking thing about despite their supposedly being huge parts of one of the major factions in the setting) who can actually belt the Жo-Rin but then turn out to be dictatorially-minded and the Жo-Rin themselves who do evil things entirely because they're evil. Once you've read this, you largely understand the "metaplot" of the setting. It's in the specifics that things get really stupid, for instance, the Жo-Rin are a species of galactic conquerors... but a group of Kromorians in the fucking middle ages manage to defeat a Жo-Rin settlement attempt and drive them off.
This, coincidentally, also creates vampires when some idiots decide to eat Жo-Rin corpses, these vampires are just generally vampiric(about as generic as imaginable) and get recruited by the Prime as their secret police/special forces when they briefly occupy Kromore. This is a nice arrangement that lasts until the Vampires discover that the Primes, not being total fucking idiots, had made special vampire-killing gear in case their cannibalistic allies ever completely lost their shit and had to be put down.
The council discovers the Prime has hidden information about new weaponry equipment specifically designed to kill Vampires. The clash between Vampire and Prime is violent and leads to the fall out between Vampire and Prime overnight. A civil war within Kromore between Vampire and Prime leaves nearly all Vampire extinct in the year 4300 ASC. The small war opens the door for further corruption scandals to unfold within the Prime governments on Kromore.
Inexplicably, killing vampires somehow leaves the Primes open to more corruption than having a secret bunch of bloodsuckers with mind control powers as part of their oganization.
And since we're talking about vampires, let's also talk about the H.I.V.E.. Because they're the second secret underground species haunting everyone, basically they're little bugs that mind control people by crawling inside their spine and pretending to be the host for the two to four years until the host curls up and dies, leaving the larvae looking for another host. A brief side trip into H.I.V.E. fluff is one of the first side trips the setting of Kromore does, in the middle of explaining the galaxy's geography, revealing to us that the H.I.V.E. larvae both die rapidly without a host and are capable of just chilling out on an asteroid for years while waiting to crash on a planet where they can infect someone.
The planet spawns H.I.V.E. regularly, but without host bodies nearly all of the young hive lings die shortly after birth.
The home world of the H.I.V.E. is known to harbor massive amounts of young larva H.I.V.E. waiting for passing rocks and ships to latch onto.
(We're also told we can play a H.I.V.E. infectee, which comes with no downsides besides requiring "intense roleplay," and just gives us a grab-bag of expensive abilities for free. We only need to switch bodies every few years.)
Also keep in mind that for every paragraph I'm writing here, the fluff section of Kromore has ten paragraphs about, say, Kromore's moons(one is blue and icy, the other is red and volcano-y), after which we get told that wormholes are dangerous and full of bad aliens, and that Kromore is 40% water and that now the book is going to tell us why the Steampunk shit is totally justified and really works!
Steam transfer technology developed out of the end of the Age of Nations movement when fossil fuels and combustion engines were placed on the side line for a cleaner steam transfer technology.
The process involves tubing shaped in a 2-part cylinder consisting of a primary (tube side) and a secondary loop (shell side) made from special super alloy metal compounds. An exhaust valve is located often on the secondary loop allowing for pressure to release in the event of pressure build up.
Except no, we're not told anything. It winds up for explaining all the steampunk shit but then instead just tells us that steampunk stuff requires a cylinder made from special super alloy metal compounds, and that it has a safety valve. Also on Kromore, batteries that are literally just containers full of highly pressurized steam which are, in this setting, more efficient than actual batteries holding an electrical charge. Then, in the usual whiplash fashion, it's a leap into a paragraph about living conditions in modern Kromore, about how they were super cramped, and also about Kromorian identification papers when Kromore was occupied by the Prime. Apparently the Primes, if I'm reading this shit right, and I'm not sure anyone can read this right, would blow up Kromorian villages if the "galactic allies"(by which I assume off-world aliens?) of Kromore did not apply for Kromorian citizenship.
...and then we reach the actual Timeline for everything, way after all these fucking incidental facts.
The timeline is just so dull , it's literally an incredibly dispassionate recital of everyone who was ever at war with anyone, and when they were at war with them, and the occasional anomalous event thrown in. Like, a giant comet hits Kromore's moon and plunges the world into a hundred years of darkness, but that just sort of passes and the only real upset is that people get very angry at wizards afterwards for no real fucking reason, when they never had any problems with wizards before and wizards were completely unconnected to causing this. After the darkness passes, the Kromorians spend 450 years murdering the Жo-Rin who'd tried to settle their planet. This apparently happens well before the invention of the printing press, so I can only assume that these DANGEROUS GALACTIC CONQUERORS were literally defeated by swords, bows and maybe some primitive gunpowder weapons, especially since magic is still basically banned and no one's using it.
Like, this is roughly some 6000 years of history and the only noteworthy thing is the comet, the Tesck dropping off more loser species on Kromore and a bunch of savages with sticks beating up an alien species with plasma guns. Everything else is really just some permutation on "and then these guys invaded those guys and some other dudes were angry." It doesn't help that half this shit is never explained, like the STEAM METAL MEN destroy a nation by using nerve gas and the S-BOMB. What's the fucking S-Bomb? It's never been mentioned before, it's not in the armory section, it's nowhere else in the fucking document. Is it the STEAM BOMB? Did they parboil an entire fucking nation? What? Explain yourself to me, Kromore, you piece of shit.
Also now the Tesck show up and just hand over technology to people, but apparently don't seem to give a shit about all the warring and killing, and they're kind of absentee-parents considering they weren't around to give a fucking hand with clearing out the Жo-Rin or helping anyone when the planet had a hundred years without light. Somehow, floating cities are constructed before computers, not like you'd want anything to help you with all the calculations necessary to keep a fucking city afloat by whatever means you intend. Also for some reason the planet has an organized rebellion terrified of nuclear steam power(same as normal steam power, but now the STEAM BATTERIES are "charged" by nuclear reactors) and computers, also exploring space is now apparently commonplace without any mentions of space programs being initiated and the METAL MEN decide to all throw themselves into a black hole. A mysterious black hole.
It's almost a footnote that the Жo-Rin just wade in and conquer Kromore, the core location of the setting. It gets literally as much text as some minor trade treaty does earlier. Then in as much of a footnote, the Prime are introduced, showing up and saving Kromore from the Жo-Rin. They're described as "tyrannical," but this is rarely explained, except that they hate wizards and force everyone to carry an ID card. There are no great racial purges or abusive laws passed that the book ever tells us about, I guess we're just supposed to insert our own villainy for them. The metal men show up again, blow up the Tesck homeworld, turn out to have an evil virus corrupting their brains, fight everyone, get cured and then a paragraph later they jump into the black hole once more. 800 years pass without anything happening, one of the moons of Kromore turns into a pure dark void, swallowing anything that touches it, is designated a no-fly zone by the Prime, and then in the next paragraph we're told that mining on the moon(which was just a paragraph ago an all-destroying forbidden area) has unearthed a new horrific menace called the Leech.
Also the book keeps using "empirical" instead of "imperial" and it's annoying me way more than it should.
Two paragraphs ago, the Leech are described as "devouring" Жo-Rin ships alongside everyone else's, but now we're told that they're encountering the Жo-Rin for the first time and the two just casually form a symbiotic bond to become an entirely new species. The metal men return after 1600 years of being in a black hole and, despite being literally over a millennium and a half out of date, technologically, are totally helpful to the good guys by blowing up some Жo-Rin. At this point the fighting with the Жo-Rin is over 2500 years old and literally the only noteworthy thing they've done is to occupy Kromore for half a decade before the Prime booted them.
Congratulations, you're now caught up on all the notable points of Kromorian history. I.e. literally fucking nothing except that magic is now banned and we have space travel, compared to the start of the setting.
What remains of the book is mostly trivia, first there are the stats for Жo-Rin, Ancients(which can apparently just casually eat suns , why even stat something that powerful?), enemy Ferrians, enemy Gyx, enemy Zatilok(hidden deep inside a bunch of fluff rather than being with the other enemy stats), enemy vampires(the only enemies to get more than one type of stats, to account for different tiers of stats, apparently every enemy Ferrian is level 10) and enemy shadow demons(but no stats for Tesck, who only get a description, Metal Men, or so many other things we've been told exist). Next up, there's a bunch of forgettable data that largely amounts to telling us what sort of exports the various nations have during various time periods, practically nothing of any real consequence unless you really need to know that the Kingdom of Kelmoria was big on exporting hammers. There are the major religions, all of which have existed unchanged from the start point of the setting's history and then 10,000 years onwards... and that's the fucking book, really.
It doesn't make for an entertaining review despite being a frustrating read, because so many of the stupid, frustrating things are in the editing, and it's hard to really convey just how much it overreaches itself in trying to have TEN THOUSAND YEARS OF HISTORY and then devoting maybe five lines to fucking two thousand years of said history. And a major event like an entire species, the Metal Men, having their brains corrupted, and whatever it takes to uncorrupt them, taking up a grand total of half a page. The quest to cure an entire fucking species of a corrupting infection takes up less space than what was spent at the start of the book to tell us how to effectively railroad our players.
Fuck this book. But great news, someone else got me a new piece of shit to review. Whee.