Cover and Defense

Two completely separate things, in this case!

At Seagull Rising, Jon Mollison talks about Cirsova’s cover art in comparison to some of the big-name magazines.

One thing, as a heavy fantasy-leaning magazine with most of our SF stuff being more Sword & Planet, we have ended up with more fantasy-esque covers. Worth noting, though, the guy on the cover of issue 2 has a pre-Star Wars light saber (Star Lances; the first Dream Lords book was 1975).

It may be a bit before we get an outer-space SF cover, especially since issue 5 is going to be Lovecraftian Sword & Planet, but we’ve always wanted to go for really cool, bright and colorful covers, not just to set us apart from so many of today’s magazines*, but because we want them to look awesome. We really could not have achieved this without Jabari Weathers, who is amazingly talented.

Meanwhile, Doug Cole at Gaming Ballistic has taken a look at our post on Parrying and extrapolated a bit on his own ideas for various defensive mechanics in RPGs. I don’t know that anyone will ever agree on the best mechanical way to handle the defensive utility offered by a shield, but Doug has a few of his own to offer up in his Dragon Heresy game.

*:Though FWIW, the cover art for Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction has almost always been a consistently bland and muddied mess of abstraction.

Parrying: I Get It Now

Sometimes you can know something, or two somethings, but they don’t quite click in your head for whatever reason.

I’d never been a fan of Parrying skills; why spend time not attacking when clearly the obvious way to stop being attacked is to kill the monster that’s in front of you? Games like Neverwinter Nights that are basically “D&D without a party” makes Parrying seem even more useless because while you’re parrying, no damage is being dealt!

One of my big pet peeves is that a lot of people do melee wrong; in D&D, once two characters are in melee, they are in melee period, until one of them dies or spends a round trying to run away. Characters who are in melee can be attacked by characters not in melee without those characters attacking becoming locked. Now, this is important for a reason: high HP low AC fighters and clerics lock down the bad guys by getting them into melee – those baddies so engaged  cannot just say “Well, I’m going to attack the squishy wizard/thief now because I’ve randomly chosen a new target!” They are stuck fighting those opponents until they die, run away, or kill them. While stuck fighting the bruisers, the baddies can be backstabbed and bespelled with impunity by the thieves and magic users, unable to strike back.

In comes Shitlord: the Triggering, which has a Dex-based Parrying skill unique to the Dickpuncher (Fighter) class. For each point of Dex over 13, the Dickpuncher can effectively improve his AC by one against the combatant he’s in melee with instead of making an attack. Now, my first thought is “He’s wasting his time parrying; why would he not just attack instead?” Then it clicked:

With an active defense vis a vis Parrying, a Fighter character can potentially lock down a much tougher opponent longer without sustaining damage to give thief classes more opportunities to backstab. As strong as a fighter’s attack is, a Thief’s backstab is ALWAYS better. Depending on the system, you could easily be doing 3-4 times as much damage per hit with a bonus against the enemy’s AC. The high dex parrying skill negates that huge attack advantage monsters tend to have over PCs and classed NPCs so that a fighter can go toe to toe against something that could very well cream him otherwise for an extra round or two. Yeah, he may not get his chance to do 1d8 damage, but the Thief is almost guaranteed to get 4d6 damage. As long as the DM is abiding by proper melee rules, the Fighter can always keep one baddie locked down so as to ensure that the Thief can get his backstab on.

Thank you for opening my eyes to this, Shitlord: the Triggering!

Also, this is not a real review, but silly Alt-Right shit-talk aside, S:tT looks like it’s a pretty solid retro-clone. It borrows from the best and presents it well, but it also brings in a few original ideas that are absolutely worth incorporating into your game. My group is fairly liberal, so I don’t know if I could get away with running this even as a one-off except for April Fool’s, but I’ll probably borrow several bits and bobs from it.  Also, thank you for not sorting spells by level.