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  • Dystopia Rising questions.

    The Dystopia Riding ad material says that there are more than twenty types of varient humans in the setting. What kind of variations? Hard Sci Fi evolutionary human variations or science fantasy human variations? Or is it something in between?

  • #2
    While I may be a bit simplistic, most of the people are regular humans in general with cultural differences (some live in towns, others are nomads, others live from the land, etc). But not all, there are some mutants, with different characteristics, one group for example are capable of extreme physical powers, while other look like zombies.

    It’s more about fantasy than science, but there are a good variety of things that are just the exponential progression of different groups from real world.

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    • #3
      I'll tell you what I know and you can judge for yourself.

      In the world of Dystopia Rising there are no longer "regular humans" per se. Humanity as we know it has Fallen - what we have now is what rose from its grave and must contend with the question of what it means to be human in this new, broken world.

      In-world, the vast majority of survivors (including the player characters) don't really know what happened, only that the world used to be different and something - or several somethings - happened to wreck all that. This was generations ago (your survivor is of the fourth generation), this is important because we don't actually know what year it is - survivors just use "generation" instead.

      One of the things that happened was some sort of pandemic - a fungal infection cleverly called The Infection.
      All survivors are infected.
      The infection changed humanity on a fundamental level and in many ways, some of which are beneficial to the survivors and others which are harmful and scary. Survivors are capable of surviving all kinds of things (stabbings, bullets, radiation etc) that "oldcestors" (=us) couldn't. They're not invulnerable and they certainly don't want to get hurt, but the Infection made them more resilient as a whole. This is because the fungus seems to regenerate their bodies, which also allows them to come back from the dead (important: they're not immortal, they don't want to die and dying is always dangerous - coming back is not a guarantee, especially if you've done that more than once, and you can eventually become a complete zombie).

      This is important, because zombies are also a thing and survivors don't think of themselves as zombies even though they share some common traits and are connected through the Infection.

      This mutated humanity is divided into Lineages or "families", each of which is sub-divided into three Strains. It is important to note that many of these seem to be not only American-centric but specific to a specific region of America (North East, or "Nor'East" as the survivors call it). Other places may have different Strains.

      All the various Strains are something like a cross between the Castes from Exalted and Clans or Tribes from Vampire or Werewolf - members of a Strain share certain traits, develop certain abilities and skills and have similar stereotypes and mindsets, at least to a certain extent.

      All strains may have strange characteristics and something about their appearance that's a little off or even zombie-like - some, like the various Mutants and Evolved Strains can look almost alien. It's rarely extreme, for the most part people still look like people, but some of those people might have needle teeth, spikey spines, greenish skin, milky white eyes or webs of dark purple veins. Some of them might look like the Ghouls from Fallout.

      There are Lineages such as Landsmen, Eliteriat and Townies who mostly look more on the normal side (they're just as Infected, though).

      On the whole, Dystopia Rising isn't very hard in its brand of Sci Fi - it's more on the fantasy side. I'd put it somewhere on the Fallout scale of things, but there are also things like Psionics and Miracles that sort of nudge more towards the fantasy side. Plus, the whole coming back from the dead and certain psionics having the ability to kind-of tap into the zombie hivemind (the Grave Mind)


      • #4
        I think the Grave Mind is really cool.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Penelope View Post
          I think the Grave Mind is really cool.

          It really is.
          There's a couple of interesting Strains that have a special relationship with the Grave Mind.
          The Unborn, a Strain of the Devoted, have that cool white eyes thing and are devoted to the Grave Mind, from which they gain psionic powers in the Onyx Path tabletop version.

          Like I mentioned earlier, all survivors are infected, but the Full Dead are a Strain of Gorgers who are full fledged undead - they look like zombies, their hearts don't beat and they don't feel emotions (but they remember emotions and what feeling emotions was like). They're walking dead who "awaken" and gain sentience as well as the memories of someone (or several people) from before the Fall. They hear the Grave Mind's whispers.

          There's a secret society called the Servants of the Undying that seeks to understand the Grave Mind, join it, harness it, learn from it.

          And finally, there's a kind of psionics who are called Mori who study Necrokinetics - psi abilities that allow them to pass among zombie hordes, connect with the Grave Mind, psychically demolish raiders and even gain limited control of groups of zombies (the dream, am I right!?).

          The only thing that can take the wind out of your sails with this coolness is how the psionic ability uses are designed - pretty much any psi ability use requires you to spend Momentum. What's Momentum? It's a communal group resource for the entire group that is gained quite slowly and from what I can tell unreliably, which means you basically have to negotiate with both the Storyguide and all the other players around the table every time you want to use even the smallest of your abilities, nevermind going full Mistress of the Undead...


          • #6
            From my experience playing, momentum can be gathered faster the more of them the players roll dice.

            Every time a negative condition apply to a situation you gain a momentum and every time you fail a roll you gain a Momentum, so if you are hurt and fail you gain 2 momentum.

            In DR:E, if I am not wrong, the characters have specific conditions that can generate momentum more often. You can explore this conditions, like when the guys that shine in the dark try to hide.

            An option that may bring some discussions among people is to explore prejudice against the character to gain momentum. Let’s say a Gorger walks into a bar, the bartender looks at him and point the gun at his face. He gains a momentum immediately, and 1 extra for every try (2 on fail) to convince him to give some water or food.

            Is that fair game? It can be if the players and Sg are ok with it. It can really be unsettling, but it’s part of the game (and the world).

            Edit: I forgot also that you can have conditions that are “self imposed”. Imagine all the flaws from WoD and CoD, you can turn them into conditions that, instead of giving you freebies or XP, gives you momentum when you face them.
            For example, being a kid can be an issue when you need to be listened by the grownup, when you need to reach something in the upper shelves, things like that. Whenever it happens, you gain a momentum, and if you fail a roll related to that condition, you gain 2 (1 base +1 for failing).

            It also includes people suffering from general prejudice, not only if you have a condition. A woman can’t express her ideas from mansplainig? momentum to the group. A black person is mistreated in a shop? momentum. Etc.
            Last edited by Mateus Luz; 06-19-2020, 12:24 PM.

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            • #7
              That's true, Mateus Luz, but it's still sketchy.

              While there may be situations where gaining Momentum could come almost automatically, notice that there's a few problems with this.

              First, there's the WoD-style imbalance between the Strain Conditions (not unlike how different Weaknesses would vary wildly in how they were felt in Vampire: the Masquerade). To put it this way, some people can only activate their Condition if they happen to be talking to a leprechaun on a Sunday morning while wearing a purple tie and other people have their Condition apply every time they step into a shadow.

              Some Strain Conditions are debilitating to the point where you might die or be in serious danger for having them trigger while others are irrelevant to the point of being a complete joke (such as Captain Obvious, the Condition of the Irons that makes them glow in the dark which results in a flat +1 difficulty to stealth rolls which is irrelevant because 9.5 out of 10 Irons are built as varying flavors of The Hulk and you simply do not care about stealth as an Iron).

              Some Strain Conditions might come up two or three times a session - others need the Storyguide to bend over backwards to have them apply once in a blue moon.
              Some can be resolved almost as soon as they come up, which makes them into just ez point farmz - others take a mini-adventure to resolve.

              Either way, getting the Momentum - either from a Strain Condition or whatever other source - is only half the battle for you if you're a Psionicist or a Faithslinger.
              Having gotten some Momentum, you still need to negotiate for its use with the rest of the group. Every time.

              And you won't always have an easy time getting the Momentum, there may be several characters who make use of Momentum and you might have a limited pool to draw from - in which case, your individual character may be locked out of half of her abilities not because of poor resource management on your part, but because every use of your character's psi abilities requires democratic consensus and comes at the expense of someone else's ability.
              This also means that when the group runs out of Momentum, it runs out of resources for every character regardless of whether or not they got to use their abilities.

              This would be kind of like having a D&D group where your rogue loses the ability to perform Sneak Attacks for the rest of the battle because the Bard just cast Dancing Lights...

              It makes no sense in the game world itself either - "well, my friend just pulled a neat stunt to shoot off a raider's gun from their hand so I guess I can't use my pyrokinetic abilities for the rest of the fight..."


              • #8
                Agree with you in all of that. I didn’t read all the conditions, but must agree. Not first time someone complain about the momentum to activate Psionics, and I also agree that is not interesting depending on the style of characters in the table (probably 90% of the time).

                You have 2 simple options (that don’t add any new rule to the game):
                Individual Momentum pool (not much to explain).
                Psionics causing Stress to the character if no momentum is available.

                Second option is a bit evil if you are in a game focused in stress, but may work fine if it’s more about action. If you combine with an individual pool, you can manage your stress and your power use by yourself.

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                Tomes of Inspiration - Rituals and Dark Magic in Fists of Flux


                • #9
                  Stress is not designed as an expendable resource in DR:E and trying to turn it into a Willpower-like pool or a Mana Pool is a very bad solution.

                  Non-Psi/Faith characters have only three "health levels" of Stress and even Psi/Faith characters may have all of four of those at character creation provided they have Resolve 3. Gaining a whopping fifth Stress condition level requires Resolve 5, which not only requires you to invest heavily in a single rarely-useful Attribute, it also means your character has to have a certain personality that may not be appropriate to your concept.

                  But regardless of that, using Psi Edges/Influences involves making a roll and if that roll fails you gain further Stress - which means that expending Stress as a resource on top of that is a good way to get from "normal, happy and healthy" to "Burnt Out" within one scene.

                  The "Burned Out" Condition makes you completely unable to use Psi Edges and resolving it is one of those things that take too fucking long or involve encounters with some more purple-tied leprechauns.
                  If you get Burned Out, you're most probably going to stay Burned Out for an entire day and requires you to lump on additional Conditions (Trauma) that must be resolved separately, on top of having to burn 2 entire scenes on doing nothing but "self-care".

                  Before getting there, however, you'd be lumping on Stress conditions and penalties every level of Stress you incur, which would mean that any use of Psi powers also hampers those Psi powers and everything else you're doing that scene.

                  Making an individual Momentum pool is also a non-solution, as it defeats the point of the Momentum pool in the first place and you may as well introduce an Exalted-like Essence resource.

                  This all stems from one underlining problem with the game: DR:E is cool - it's just not very well thought-out, rules-wise...


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Serpent Axis View Post
                    Making an individual Momentum pool is also a non-solution, as it defeats the point of the Momentum pool in the first place and you may as well introduce an Exalted-like Essence resource.
                    I'm not expert on DRE - or even more like noob - but I'm versed in Realms of Pugmire, of the same author, Eddy Webb. RoP games use the Momentum-like Fortune mechanics where you collect points for later use on rolls and such. In Pugmire for dogs itself Fortune is group pool, just like normal Momentum. In Monarchies of Mau, cats can put each point of Fortune for common pool - or to stick them to themselves. In Buried Bones collection of designers notes, Eddy points that individual pools in Mau works, as people still do not stick more like 1-2 points of Fortune for themselves, on the general. My argument is that taking individual Momentum pools, have in mind most people will not hoard a lot of points for themselves if rules will not enforce it.

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                    • #11
                      I've only run one session of DR:E, but I've run quite a few sessions of TC:Aeon, which also uses the Storypath system, and my players have never had trouble generating Momentum. In fact, they have hit the Momentum pool cap a few times. On paper it might look hard to gain Momentum, but rolls fail often enough (even with 6+ dice,) and once combat starts you can generate Momentum every round with a Bruised Injury Condition.

                      Also, there is a feedback mechanism in the Momentum pool. The group gets +1 xp for spending half the pool in a scene. So, if the pool is small, they can spend only a few Momentum to get that xp, making the xp gain more efficient. However, if they have a large pool, they have to spend a lot more Momentum to get the same point of xp, and it encourages them to not hoard their Momentum.


                      • #12
                        Is there a list of the various strains?

                        What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
                        Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)


                        • #13
                          • Accensorites
                          • Red Stars
                          • Unborn
                          • Digitarians
                          • Pure Bloods
                          • Solestros
                          • Irons
                          • Reclaimers
                          • Unstable
                          • Full Dead
                          • Lascarians
                          • Semper Mort
                          • Mericans
                          • Natural Ones
                          • Quiet Folk
                          • Remnants
                          • Retrogrades
                          • Tainted
                          • Diesel Jocks
                          • Rovers
                          • Saltwise
                          • Baywalkers
                          • Yorkers
                          • Vegasians

                          Ian A. A. Watson
                          Onyx Path Community Manager
                          Trinity Continuum Content Lead


                          • #14
                            On the whole "there aren't many ways to generate Momentum" point: Strain Conditions are only one way to do that. There's an entire appendix of Conditions, and in fact, one early concern that came up during the Kickstarter was that there might be too many Conditions. But they're there because 1) this is a hard world where things go wrong a lot and 2) it ensures that there's always a steady flow of Momentum. Also, remember that equipment Flaws generate Momentum as well: in most Storypath game it's a pretty minor point, but "flawed tools" are a staple of post-apoc in general, and this game in particular.

                            As to why the group has to agree for psis to use their abilities, such characters are largely distrusted in the world. So it actually does make in-world sense, at least thematically: the group has to trust the psi completely. Of course, if you don't want to deal with that, you can just ignore the rule that players have to agree to Momentum use.

                            I'll accept that some people might find the Strain Conditions to be inconsistent. I would argue that a lot of that depends on the kind of game you're running, but honestly with over 20 of them to write combined with having to adapt from previous source material, I'll definitely encourage folks to rework the Strain Conditions to be more useful/valid for their home games.

                            But like with all our games, definitely tweak and adjust the rules for what you think works best at your table. These rules worked great in playtesting and evoke the feel of the setting I was adapting, but that doesn't mean they're the best rules for you. I look forward to hearing how your house rules work out!


                            • #15
                              Non-Momentum related question: I'm prepping a Trinity Continuum game where the players play in two different ages in time. One in the ancient, stone age past, and another in the future where they are archaeologists who discover the different effects the stone age group had on the world. I want to run the future setting as action adventure so TC works just fine as is, but I want to run the stone age part as brutal low fantasy and the cinematic action conceit of TC just doesn't fit very well. I want it to be dangerous, brutal and lethal. So the question, does/can Dystopia Rising do a brutal, lethal and dangerous game without modification, or with less modification than TC?