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[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 7
04:34pm EST - 1/01/2016
In Dark Alleys


So this is the section on supernatural powers, which span the stretch from Incredibly Creepy to Incredibly Broken and with some boring ones besides. I'm really only going to bother with the ones from those two categories, though I'll mention the remainder to illustrate the stretch these abilities cover.

Note that these work exactly like normal Skills except that ranks are more expensive(10 or 20 points), they have a governing stat and we can buy more ranks in them for +4's to our rolls, hence it's roughly the same level of difficulty to make them unfailable(i.e., not difficult at all). Outside of two exceptions, WIL or AWR govern them all. So we've still yet to see what Psychodynamics actually do, besides provide a very over-complicated alignment system.

The chapter starts, predictably, at A, with some simple and unworrying abilities. Animal Form and Animate Toys, neither particularly unsettling. Though oddly enough, turning into an invisible ghost animal that can go through walls has a higher challenge level than turning into a physical wolf that is easily spotted, can't float through walls and might get shot by a farmer. We then skip through the B's until we hit Birth Servant. This is an ability that Androgynes get.

Birth Servant posted:

The PC must be in a body with a uterus and vagina to use this skill. The PC gives birth to a servant which does a pre-determined task or follows orders. Servants look like bloody fetuses which crawl around on all-fours. It takes at least 4 rounds to gestate and give birth to the servant. Duration:See below.

Easy (10): Mouse sized servant, 1 STH, 2 SPD, 1 BLD, can do 1 predetermined task, dies within 5 minutes. If it has fangs or claws it does ½ bladed damage, choose 1 ability (text box below).

Moderate (20): Rat sized servant, 2 STH, 3 SPD, 2 BLD, can do multiple predetermined tasks, dies within 1 hour. If it has fangs or claws it does 1 bladed damage, choose 2 abilities.

Hard (30): Cat sized servant, 3 STH, 6 SPD, 1 BDY, 2 BLD, can follow verbal instructions, dies within 24 hours. If it has fangs or claws it does 1½ bladed damage, choose 3 abilities.

Legendary (40): Dog sized servant, 4 STH, 8 SPD, 1 BDY, 3 BLD, 1 INCY, has near human intelligence, lives until killed. If it has fangs or claws it does 2 bladed damage, choose 4 abilities.

The noted abilities are stuff like claws, being amorphous or being able to fly. It takes "four rounds" to produce one of these creatures, and I'm guessing that a round is somewhere between a matter of seconds or a minute. Since this ability otherwise doesn't note that it consumes any health or exhausts an energy source, nor that you're limited to a specific number of servants... one creepy Androgyne wizard could flood half a city with murderous spider-fetuses.

After Birth Servant, we turn around and hit Blood Sigils, which is the opposite side of the spectrum, not particularly worrying, but incredibly broken.

Blood Sigil posted:

The PC can draw arcane symbols with his or her bodily fluids then energize them with his or her will such that invisible forces will accept them as ‘commands’. When seen by those who can see the invisible, the sigils appear to glow. Duration: 1 day/success or until the body fluids are wiped off or destroyed.

Easy (10): Anyone in the area will be either more or less likely to suffer from misfortunes and medical problems.

Moderate (20): Every hour spent in a marked building there is a 1 in 20 chance of dying of heart attack or stroke -or- anyone staying in a marked building heals 1 BLD and 1 BDY per day.

Hard (30): Mark someone for scrutiny by the powers from- beyond -or- cause a natural disaster to ravage a city -or- create a portal to ‘the citadel,’ an alien world inhabited by dangerous monsters.

Alright, so, Moderate basically turns any goddamn building into a fucking DEATH ZONE. Drawing these sigils appears to take no specified time. They can last for up to several days. So even assuming we don't crunk up to pulling off Hard sigils that smite the entire fucking city with tornadoes like we're playing Sim City and spamming the "Disaster" button, we can still murder dozens of people if we find some sort of relatively populated building(like an office building, school or hospital) and scrawl one of these in the damn basement. Or hell, even on the outside should work. And anyone who sees it who ISN'T supernaturally empowered probably just thinks it's some weird-ass graffiti scrawled by a hobo.

In fact since it doesn't specify that the drawer is excepted, it's probably a good idea to draw it on the outside to avoid that 5% chance of having an instant heart-attack.

The next ability is Change Gender and really wouldn't be that strange if not for the Legendary ability, which gets its own sidebar...

Change Gender posted:

The PC can change his or her sexual anatomy and appearance. Gives +10 to the roll if the PC is experiencing a strong orgasm. Duration: Permanent.

Moderate (20): Change gender, minimal change of appearance (PC will look like a ‘male version’ or ‘female version’ of hir last body).

Hard (30): Change gender and appearance (change ethnicity, build, hair color, features, etc.).

Legendary (40)- Change into an androgynous being with no genitals, multiple genitals or inhuman genitals.


With a legendary Change Gender roll, the PC can have genitals that are not on any natural being on the planet. The PC’s genitals can have any form and be made out of tissues with all the powers of any other part of the human body. It would not be impossible, for instance, to create genitals with working eyes.

The most popular configuration, often called ‘the flower and the snake,’ allows the owner to engage in any sexual activity a male or female could, as well as to:
-Reach out up to 7 ft. (2 m.) to grab and manipulate objects with 25 STH.
-Pierce objects with a probe doing 3 bladed damage (pierces armor as 6).
-Grab onto flesh with retractable barbed teeth (do negligible damage unless the flesh is ripped away, which does 3 ragged damage) and reel the flesh in at 25 STH.
-Feel objects with extreme sensitivity (+20 to touch based AWR rolls).
-Chew up (and later spit out) wood, flesh, plastic or softer types of stone and metal. Does 2 ragged damage per round.

I think this particular quote really requires no fucking commentary at all. Jesus, Brian Vajra, why would you ever come up with this?

Another broken power is "Command Misfortune," which the Animists get, because OF COURSE the weird foreigners are focused around talking to animals and cursing people! You basically scream at a local spirit to harass someone, and most of the time it'll just give them a nosebleed or make them cough for a few minutes or something similar... but there's a random chance they'll just straight-up have a fucking stroke or heart attack.

It's followed up by "kill a motherfucker straight-up in cold blood," which Survivors get. As long as they get the ability to See Reapers... they can also buy the ability to command Reapers, and the 20-difficulty one is "command a reaper to collect a specific soul." We seem to be swerving rapidly into the Kult territory of "a lot of these powers are only marginally useful, the remainder will let any player with half a brain kill everything, even if he isn't trying to min/max."

I mean, shit, it doesn't even take a fucking ritual or any time to command a godddamn soul-collector, apparently. It's difficulty 10 to send them to a specific place, and 30 to tell them to ignore a specific soul. So you can pretty much just order them all to fuck off if you want a group of people to be safe.

Flesh Control lets you shapeshift and min/max your physiology. Interestingly enough there are no downsides to fucking it up, you won't accidentally give yourself sickle-cell anemia. And it requires no knowledge of medicine, biology or anything else to know how to improve your body. Since there's no limit to how often you can do this, or any requirements to doing it(except that the changes require nutrients, so I guess you can't do it while dieting), you can just spam rolls over and over until you succeed and get some pretty solid boosts to your physical stats(for every level we have, Strength, Endurance and Speed can be increased by +4. Considering that the max natural level is 20, that's actually a pretty respectable boost). A single Hard check also allows us to heal fast enough that we regrow lost limbs overnight.

Really overwhelming me with my character's potential fragility here.

We then hit the three signature powers of the Lost, which are all three hilarious and incredibly breakable. Behold.

Get Lost! posted:

The PC can dislodge himself or herself from space and time by becoming lost. The state lasts only as long as the PC doesn’t know where he or she is. Being intoxicated gives +10 to skill rolls. Anyone following the PC (keeping the PC in sight) will become lost and will end up wherever the PC ends up. Duration: Until Stopped.

Easy (10): Get lost after walking around an unfamiliar neighborhood for an hour.
Moderate (20): Get lost inside a large office building.
Hard (30): Run around a corner and get instantly lost.

So, since we can booze up to boost, just having a high Willpower means we can basically sprint around corners and jump around in places without a care.

Homing posted:

Prerequisite: Get Lost (1). While in a lost state (see Get Lost), the PC can think about where he or she wants to go and will end up there more-or less instantly. Duration: Permanent.

Easy (10): End up in the type of neighborhood (but not specifically the location or city) the PC wants.
Moderate (20): End up in a specific place the PC has been to before.
Hard (30): End up where a specific item or person the PC has seen before is currently located.
Legendary (40): End up in a place the PC has never been to but which has been described to the PC (including places outside this reality).

Now, okay, firstly we can just warp around without abandon, especially if we've had a drink or just have a decent Willpower or a few ranks in Homing and Get Lost. But the shenanigans are already kicking in: Any place that has a corner to walk around allows us to use this, so we can basically easily warp into stores we've been in during the day, gank shit, and warp out again. Our finances are now resolved, as are any needs for weaponry. Oh and we can probably win just about any fights we get in.

If we want to REALLY be a dick, though, we get enemies chasing us, pop into some really dangerous location(or just somewhere quite far away), shake them, and then pop out again alone, leaving them to be incredibly miserable somewhere they can't hurt us.

There's no range limitation at all, so just, say, take a holiday in China or something, and you've got a safe spot to dump people, friends, items and yourself. Hell, manage the Hard difficulty and you just need to have seen a bad guy once, and you can pop into his home at night and set his bed on fire or cut his throat.

But there's a third signature power for the Lost.

Grab Bag posted:

Prerequisite: Get Lost (2). If there is a container and the PC has no idea what’s in the container, the PC can reach in and pull out whatever he or she wants, given that the item is something that actually exists inside a container of this type somewhere in the world. The difficulty is based on the rarity of the item. When the PC uses this skill to get an item, that item disappears out of a container somewhere in the world. The PC can conceivably use this skill on his or her own pockets, but only if the PC is so out of it that he or she has no idea what might be in those pockets (e.g. is coming off of a week-long drinking binge). Duration: Permanent.

Easy (10)- Pull $5 or a plastic comb out of a pocket.
Moderate (20): Pull $50 or a pocket knife out of a pocket.
Hard (30): Pull $200 or a loaded pistol out of a pocket. -or- Make an object disappear by putting it in a pocket.
Legendary (40): Pull $1,000 or a picture of another PC’s mother out of a pocket.

So all this really requires is that we have some friends with pockets. Because we have no idea what they might have in their pockets, and conceivably somewhere in the world, someone has a gun in their pocket. Presto, whammo, infinite armory! And shitloads of cash besides.

On this page we also get told that Wonderlanders basically get to turn invisible, get +40 Strength, fly or a bunch of other superhero-style tricks. It's still as easy to activate as the other powers, but ADDITIONALLY they get up to a +15 bonus by meditating on it beforehand. So if they meditate/concentration for an hour, they can relatively easily have these powers for an hour or so. Either that or they can just activate them round to round, see...

The shortest duration possible is A Round. Activating the power only takes more than a round if the PC wants to concentrate on it beforehand for a bonus. Hence, there's really nothing stopping a character focusing up to turn Invisible for an hour and then using his Unarmed: Assassin neck snap to kill everyone in a ten-block radius because they can't see him coming, boosting it up with the +Strength power just before every neck snap to ensure that he succeeds.

I guess that would be horrible to WITNESS, heads popping off like champagne corks left and right, as some giggling invisible maniac twists their skulls off, but not particularly horrifying to play as.

Most of the other powers I'm skipping are just generic "HAVE VISIONS!" abilities or "DREAM TRAVEL," though one of two are somewhat cool, like "Masks," which allows you to dress up something like something else, and everything will see it as what it is dressed up like. For instance, put a Hulk mask on someone and everyone will see him as the Hulk. Put a stovepipe hat on a tree and everyone will see it as Abraham Lincoln.

It's not overpowered, it's handy and it could provide for some hilarious shenanigans. Someone needs to roll 1d20+AWR and hit 40+ to see through this so, yeah, if you get a good idea with this ability, mechanics aren't stopping you from trolling the world.

It is immediately followed by "Mortification of the Flesh," the signature ability for the Cannibals and oddly enough also available to Survivors. It's what lets you allow to maintain a "phantom" version of a body part, and it has a difficulty of 30, with a -10 penalty if used after removal, none if used during, and you can get up to a +10 bonus by chanting/meditating beforehand for long enough.

Every part we're already missing increases the difficulty by 5, though, so we can't just end up as a floating, ghostly torso unless we really dump all our skill points into this and have some crazy Willpower besides.

Obviously we can remove our arms and legs, and the resulting limbs act as though they have maximum human, or superhuman, strength and speed. Removed eyes give us Predator Vision Modes, and lacking ears allows us to understand all languages. As a bonus, missing an eye, yet still seeing with that eye, isn't really something that'll blow our cover, considering that people will just assume we're using our normal eye.

And there are a bunch more internal things we can remove without anyone being the wiser. For instance our brain, which hoses us down with sweet +5's to Intelligence, Agility and Awareness, so there's really no reason not to sit around chanting for ten hours while someone cracks our skull open and yanks out our gray matter as the first damn action of the game. Sure, we'll have to invest in 20 Willpower to make sure it succeeds(otherwise, yeah, we're KINDA FUCKED), but the total of +15 to our stats rather makes up for that. Removing the heart gives us a total of +15 more health points(+5 Blood, +10 Incapacitate), since we start with 12 total, THAT'S PRETTY HUGE.

With those being the two ones that would kill us very instantly if we failed, those should probably be taken first by any aspiring Cannibal, both for the sweet bonuses and because with the mounting difficulties, they're ones we really do not want to fuck up. Phantom Lungs would be another +11 health levels(+4 Blood, +7 Incapacitate), plus no need to breathe, phantom stomach/intestines removes our need to eat and if we remove our tongue we become a powerful telepath that can scream people psychically into submission.

Oh and really, with the exception of using our telepathy, no one is ever going to tell that we have these changes unless we go to the doctor, and since they make us largely invincible, there's no reason that would ever happen. Both Cannibals and Survivors also get to pick Flesh Control, so at least numerically, both are just kind of broken compared to the others. Especially since neither are any of the Secret Lives that require you to kick out skill points in order to have a decent life.

Nihilist Rage is the following ability and it kind of amuses me. Remember how, in Otherverse: America, Lifers could hate/disbelieve evolution so hardcore that it would hurt mutants more? Cannibals and Scribblers get to expand this to a point where it affects all of existence.

Nihilist Rage! posted:

The PC creates an aura of disbelief of the physical world that causes all inanimate objects to crumble, break, fray or corrode. Duration: Permanent.

Easy (10): Things within 7 ft. (2 m.) become much easier to break (difficulty for STH feat or amount of damage required to break is halved). PR of armor is halved. Anything which degrades over time does so twice as fast.

Moderate (20): Everything within 15 ft. (5 m.) cracks, corrodes, sours or frays. Anything bearing weight (e.g. a chair someone is sitting in, the tires of a car) breaks or bursts. Parts of the room the PC is in may collapse. Nearly anything can be broken or destroyed with bare hands. Armor is ineffective. Machines and electronics don’t work.

Hard (30): Everything within 30 ft. (10 m.) cracks, melts, twists, blackens and corrodes as if exposed to a fire or strong acid. Sinkholes appear in the ground, clothes fall apart, buildings collapse. Weapons are too brittle to do any damage.

Legendary (40): Everything within 60 ft. (20 m.) disappears, leaving a semi-spherical crater. The edges of the crater are black as if there had been a great explosion. Anyone in the area is dumped into another plane of existence.

So let's assume we haven't min/maxed like crazy. This ability requires no warm-up, no rituals, nothing. And there are no obvious rituals or special effects marking us as the source. We might get pin-pointed as the center of the decay, but since every thing within 5 meters of us just started collapsing(what if we're standing next to a building? Will its walls give way?), people are probably going to be too busy to do anything.

Oh and since "nearly anything can be broken or destroyed with bare hands," we can use this to tunnel through walls or punch tanks apart, assuming that their own machinery doesn't rattle apart their now-fragile forms.

Also note the Legendary ability. Is it just me or is this starting to seem kind of anime?

Oh and Untouchable, the ability that turns Scribblers, the nerds, into complete combat monsters. See, basically it lets you close your eyes and phase out of reality, taking between half(difficulty 10) and none(difficulty 40) damage. Normally it requires you to concentrate, but you can use it reflexively in combat at a -10 penalty to your roll. Even then, if we've got good Willpower(which we probably have, since anything supernatural we do likely relies on it, no matter our Secret Life), we're pretty much guaranteed to meet the half-damage(10) and have good odds of getting to quarter-damage(20). If we know something is coming, 1/10th damage(30) isn't impossible either, and hell, at that point we can just close our eyes, put on some rollerskates and let our allies use us as a mobile shield, shoving us ahead of them, secure in the knowledge that we're basically immortal. Scribblers also get Mortification of the Flesh, so a couple of quick rituals to yank out our heart and lungs, and we've got hilarious amounts of health besides. And shit, we don't even know what body armor is going to do to us yet.

But we're already looking at 300% normal max health and 1/4 damage from all sources, aside from wacky magical/spiritual shit.

So, really, while a bunch of these powers SOUND interesting? Almost none of them seem like they fit in a goddamn horror game. Either it puts the horror powers in the hands of the PC's(Blood Sigil) or it gets closer to superhero stuff(Flesh Control, Mortification of the Flehs, Untouchable). There's no danger to using any of them(even the Animist power that opens you up to spirit possession says that your guardian spirit instantly boots out any malevolent spirits if they try to come close), unless you save replacing your brain/heart/lungs for last as a Cannibal and fuck up the roll.

Really, the impression I have of this game so far is that it would likely work far better if the PC's did not have Secret Lives, but instead the SL's were relegated to villains and NPC's as the supernatural shit that the PC's fight. I mean, imagine being up against a Cannibal society, never knowing if some guy in a wheelchair is about to shiv you with an invisible hand or just roll past. A group of the Lost could basically ruin your life by being able to go anywhere you are, or sending you off to far-off places, making you miss work, appointments, etc. Professionals could hunt you for knowing too much, Survivors could mark you as a sacrifice to the Reapers...

These are really all good potential VILLAINS, but kind of shit potential heroes in a horror game, and their powers really do not change that at all, only emphasizes it.




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