Reviews and Ramblings
MIDDENARDE - PART 7 by PurpleXVI - 12/12/16
MIDDENARDE - PART 6 by PurpleXVI - 12/12/16
MIDDENARDE - PART 5 by PurpleXVI - 12/12/16
MIDDENARDE - PART 4 by PurpleXVI - 12/12/16
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GM Startup Guide by PurpleXVI - 06/10/09
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DORF FORT ELLPEE by CAPSLOCKGUY - 10/19/08
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Looking back to see what you can break the game with, I also noticed that the knack Trailblazer, which improves the party's travel speed(not under any particular conditions or after any check), just straight increases travel speed by 25% for the entire party. There's no party size limit, there's no "isn't cumulative"-note. The average walking speed is ~3.1mph, however
, it doesn't say this is our travel speed with any particular method of travel
So, you know, fuck it. Think of the fastest medieval method of travel you can, a bunch of fast horses, sailing ships, or, hell, the 250 years ahead we can go with Anachronism. What was the fastest method of travel invented in the year 1700? Then tell me how many Trailblazers we'd need to propel that method of travel past the speed of sound, or light, or some other arbitrary absurd barrier. How about escape velocity?
Assuming a nice slow stroll of 3 mph (converted to 4.8 kph) and an increase of +25% with each Trailblazer, a group of 41 people would clock 45,138 kph -- which is 12.5 km/s, which is just slightly faster than the 11.2 km/s required to achieve escape velocity at sea level.
I did some sums with some super-fast 1700s ships too but it only dropped the group size down to ~32. It's probably easier to grab another 10 Trailblazers than it is to buy a ship, so.
So if I fired off one arrow, then rolled a 17 on my Visual Acuity check, I'd find two arrows?
In the grim darkness of Middle Ages Europe a small duchy is terrorized by local Birdlord who keeps sending his swarm of Trailblazer pigeons to join the parties of hapless travellers and immediately propel them into the stratosphere
Every time I try to put out a warrant for the Birdlord's head a crow appears outside my window and psychoanalyses me so hard that I spend 2d6 hours as a completely helpless wreck.
I apologize for starting off so many of these posts with quotes, but I some of these comments really help illustrate the bonkers shit in Middenarde, and it'd be a shame if they weren't in the archive, too. Thanks for helping make this review entertaining!
8 - SETTING
WHORES WHORES WHORES posted:
Towns and cities still found walls important even after their defensive use had waned because they forced citizens to use the gate, so their governments could tax and monitor trade going in, and pass useful laws controlling who did what where. For instance, cities banned whoring within their walls, or dictated that all brothels must be within one street of a certain gate.
What is it with RPG's and rules/trivia about whores, harlots and wanton doxies?
Rather than the fantasy staple of town guards ringing a bell and shouting “twelve o’clock and all’s well,” most big towns and cities had proper bands who would play brief musical bars every hour on the hour to let people know the time, and remind them the guards were still on duty.
I am in no way enough of a history buff to know how much of this stuff is true, so I'm counting on some passing good samaritan to do my work for me, and really just posting the things that seem almost hard to believe. Also Dear God, some of this is useful to know, like which names were commonly in use, in order to give a different atmosphere to a 1450's England than a 2000's England, but then we start drifting into irrelevant garbage like who takes whose name after marriage. And why the fuck are you dropping irrelevant trivia on what underwear peasants own? REALLY, THIS IS IN THE .PDF.
Peasant Pants posted:
The average peasant farmer wore a loose collarless shirt or undershirt of cotton, hemp, or linen, with either no underpants or loose linen or hemp underpants with open flies front and back, held up with string or linen ribbons. Undershirts often went down to the knee and split into two tails at the groin, so they fulfilled the role of underpants. They were often worn to bed.
Trousers would have traditionally been made in two parts, knee length mains and detachable lower legs that can be removed so they don’t get wet or muddy during messy work, but at this point one-piece trousers were starting to come back into fashion. Wealthier peasants would wear knee britches and woolen tights, to imitate the fashion amongst the aristocracy and wealthy merchants.
WHY WOULD ANYONE NEED TO KNOW THIS FOR THE PURPOSE OF AN RPG. When the players crash through a peasant's bedroom because they brought too many Trailblazers and their experimental tank made out of tower shields went too fast, he'll either be wearing pants because no one wants to look at his poxy balls, or he'll not be wearing pants because it's being played for comedy. We don't need to know which is more realistic.
Cock of the walk posted:
The more phallic you could make your footwear the manlier a man you were, although the priesthood threw a fit about shoes with points so long they turned back over to touch the top of the shoes, referring to them as the “devil’s claws.” When the nobles and merchants started wearing pointy shoes with testicle shaped bells, the priests declared it to be a sign of the end times. No one cared about this until peasants started to do it, at which point the nobility decided that whilst very phallic footwear for nobles is fine, if it spread to the lower classes it will eat away at their moral fibre and cause chaos, and the fashion ended overnight. This is why by Tudor times stylish shoes are square-cut at the toe.
I... okay, I know sometimes crazy shit happens sometimes. But this just sounds too bugfuck insane and apocryphal to be real. But, even assuming it was real, why would it matter
, if your GM is spending his time describing how much the blacksmith's shoes look like cocks, it's time to start inching slowly away from him at the table, by the time he starts in on the testicles bells, you can probably dive out the window with only moderately crippling cuts and run down the street.
90% of this section is just utterly irrelevant trivia about clothes, names, titles and warfare. Well, I guess the warfare might not be totally irrelevant... except that there are no rules for mass combat or war in the main .PDF or any of the others. So if you wanted any sort of proper war campaign, you'd need to abstract like crazy, make shit up, or roll those potentially 10 times for every single member of a 500-man force involved in a fight... and their numerically similar opponents, too. And the two-hundred war dogs the PC's bring to the fight. There are a few relevant bits, like mentioning that medieval medicine wasn't very advanced and was composed of 90% leechcraft... but then a bunch of pointless trivia about what diet a physician will prescribe if you're tired and have no sex drive(mostly onions).
Butt medicine posted:
Suppositories, made of drugs mixed with beeswax or tallow, are good for patients who need a slow release of drugs to cure an ongoing, long term illness. If someone is too weak to feed themselves a doctor should try liquefying their food, adding some medicine, and pouring it down their throat. If that fails, a large funnel can be used to “feed” the patient via their anus; if they can’t keep their food down without it coming up again, just pour it in the other way and hope that helps.
Because what I need to know for an engaging game in an interesting setting isn't about any on-going conflicts or dramatic cases that could be used as examples or quest hooks, instead I need to know when the local witch doctor is going to jam a funnel into my character's ass and pour chopped onions in there. There's a lot on the horrors of medieval surgery and amputations... somewhat mollified by the fact that we know that if our character loses a leg, prosthetics will make him walk as good as new. This gets all of four pages, while religion barely gets two. Because ass funnels are more likely to drive medieval adventures than, you know, the fucking Church.
There's also some TERRIBLE focus, the section with the medicine is known as "Food and Medicine," then we get the Church section, and then after that a Meals section. Wouldn't that have fit better under Food and Medicine? The religion section, of course, wastes no time in telling us where whores a legal and what they're called. Thank you, Middenarde, thank you. I don't particularly mind that there's a chapter on "meals," though, again, what was historically eaten could be a nice bit of flavour for a game that actually tries to be historically accurate. You know, assuming that this game in any way succeeded at that. I'd also like to point out that the "setting" section only
focuses on England. Not even the British Isles in general, no Scotland, no Wales, no Ireland, literally just England. Not even goddamn France
Not sure we needed the "schedules," section, either, since it just tells us that people wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, go to work, eat dinner, go to bed in the evening.
JEW MAGICS posted:
Magic was believed to exist, many church scholars claim to have memorized the true names of devils as laid down by Solomon, and thus can command them to do God’s bidding and leave good Christians alone. One bishop of York claimed to have a fairy manservant, also bound in a similar way. After the 1480s, the church quietly cracks down on these claims, mostly for being based in Jewish Cabbala. After the 1480s alchemy is largely also left to the Jewish minority of Europe, but of course anything useful alchemists find becomes the property of trade guilds, particularly any advance in metalworking. Jewish alchemists in Prague in the 1460s experimenting with lead will stumble upon adding antinomy, making lead hard enough to cast into letters that hold their shape, and so inventing mobile type, a technology that Jews are promptly banned from using, and kick-starting the Renaissance. These intellectual forms of magic in England existed only within fringe groups of the church, which at this point includes all the universities.
Wait, is he saying that type-casting and printing are "intellectual forms of magic"? These wandering paragraphs are a wonder.
The GM's Guide is relatively short, so I figured I'd have it here at the end of the main book and then do the Adventure Modules book on its own afterwards.
What is the GM? posted:
The GM is not playing to win. A tabletop campaign is not merely an asymmetrical game that the Game Master is attempting to achieve victory in. A Game Master has absolute control over the proceedings and therefore must exercise restraint. In truth, the GM is not even constrained by the rules laid out in any of the books. You may strike your own path if you so choose, so long as your players find it fun. That is the only goal you are really trying to achieve: to give your players a good time.
The GM is not his or her players’ master. They can walk away at any time and are under no obligation to put up with you. When the relationship between the GM and his or her players turns from arbitrating to adversarial, or even antagonistic, games fall apart. Remember, you as the GM have total control only over how the game is played, not over the people who play it. Concessions may be necessary to keep them entertained, so long as they do not attempt to run the show through you. You should not attempt to impose your uncompromising vision on them if they don’t enjoy it; why should they stay if they’re not enjoying themselves?
As much shit as I give the writer of Middenarde, this is a good pair of paragraphs, and in general, the section on how it's the GM's roles to adjudicate and arbitrate, to keep everyone having fun, not just one person(and especially not if that one person is himself), to stay prepared, to be the guy who keeps track of the rules, is pretty solid. Wouldn't quite be Middenarde without some sketchy stuff in there, though, would it now?
In general, Middenarde allows for and even encourages characters to be manipulated and fought just like NPCs, and conflict might be resolved in-character through a duel, but if tempers grow heated, it is up to the GM to intervene and resolve matters.
This seems to suggest that PC's are subject to social skills just like NPC's. That's always a horrible idea. Never take away player agency that way, and especially don't let another player take away a player's agency, because once that shit is going down, unless one of them agrees that it would be an interesting situation or whatever... you've almost certainly got some antagonism going that's gonna be hard to tone down. But reading this section, for the most part, you get the impression that the writer has played in his fair share of games(probably even GM'ed a lot of them, considering how much he lauds the GM for being such an amazing and important person willing to do all the truly hard work...), some of which met painful ends due to drama, bad GM's or scheduling issues, and is trying to help future GM's avoid those things.
90% of the rest of the book is just a bunch of pre-made NPC and animal/monster enemies. This place does confirm that "Hyperborea" exists, however, since it's apparently where Griffons come from. Why not tell us something about that place, jackass? Seems more interesting than Cockboot County in England. And then a bunch of gems with magical powers like "is made from piss"(no other qualities) and "can cure any disease." In fact most of these gems are related to curing poisons and diseases, it gets a bit same-ish.
But, at least the GM's Guide got us another sweet piece of cover art. Could've been worse!