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Old 09-25-2010, 08:33 AM   #1
JCD
 
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Default In Nomine Second Edition: What have we learned?

While the GURPS 4e thread seems to have fallen apart, I wanted to discuss what changes the hardcore fans would like to see if IN ever did a second edition.

We all know that In Nomine had a number of rules inconsistancies that needed fixing. But there were other expectations by the designers that did not in fact play out.

For example, I recall Archangel Beth mentioning that the Corporeal combat rules were pretty much an afterthought, since they orginally thought that most combat would take place in the Celestial Realm. WHY they thought that is a mystery to me, since a couple days in the penalty box seems a lot better then having pieces of your soul carved off, but maybe that's just me.

Additionally, I think they underestimated exactly how HARD Celestial combat was in execution, taking a great deal of time. Unless you had some major Song and attunements and (prefereably) outnumbered someone radically, killing anything Celestially was difficult. I don't know if this was a flaw or a feature.

***

So, besides finding a decent editor <cough> how would you clarify what IN was and what you wish it would become. White Wolf seriously revamped it's WOD. Would IN be served by such a makeover?

Here is my list:

A third side to the binary Heaven/Hell dynamic. IsNorden is already trying to do that purely with Ethereals. I am not sure I fully agree with her because, for example, how many worshippers does Odin actually have these days? But something could be done. At least in my games, there seems to be a strong element of Outcasts and Renegades. Why not gather them with some strong Ethereal groups, and a few genius loci, and Words held by Ethereals into a small but significant Gray Faction?

Easier Celestial combat. Or putting a mechanic in which allows Celestial combat being forced. Or emphasising that retreating to Heaven just because you got bushwhacked means failing a mission. Or Dolerous Weapons, weapons which do Corp AND Celestials damage.

A splatbook which expands on combat. Leave the simple rules in place, but allow those who want more sophisticated combat rules to have access to them.


A bit more direction in exactly what angels and demons are supposed to do. Their jobs are a bit nebulous.

I think less Superior interaction. These guys are building blocks to the Universe in some ways. They really don't want to (nor should they need to) hear all about your defaceing some cemetary markers.

A simplified Disturbance system which is accessible.

More ZAP and ZOT in the Songs. I am not looking for D&D whiz bangery, but the actual combat Songs are few and weak. The Celestial Song of Light takes about 4-6 maximized shots to deal with a moderately strong Celestial without using a LOT of Essence (and if you do, you can't shoot it as often) I might as well be using a gun. It's cheaper. This is NOT the Fire that took out Gomorrah. One imagines the Conflict between Legion and all the other Superiors as using vast forces, not pipsqueak flashes of light.

I know I'm in the minority here, but I would love to have some unconsciousness rules which didn't involve almost killing the Celestial or shooting him full of an elephant's worth of tranquilizers.

What are your thoughts? Be radical! What about IN suddenly being an all Outcast/Renegade game? What would you fight tooth and nail to keep and what do you consider too stupid for words?
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Old 09-25-2010, 10:27 AM   #2
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Default Re: In Nomine Second Edition: What have we learned?

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Originally Posted by JCD View Post

A third side to the binary Heaven/Hell dynamic. IsNorden is already trying to do that purely with Ethereals. I am not sure I fully agree with her because, for example, how many worshippers does Odin actually have these days? But something could be done. At least in my games, there seems to be a strong element of Outcasts and Renegades. Why not gather them with some strong Ethereal groups, and a few genius loci, and Words held by Ethereals into a small but significant Gray Faction?
Actually, your suggestion is more or less what ISNorden is doing lately. Her games include literal "Gray Celestials" who have transformed as thoroughly as any Fallen angel or redeemed demon ... I personally sometimes call it "side-stepping." There's even a short list of Superiors who hold "neutral" words such as Survival, Luck, or The Twilight (not to be confused with sparkly vampires, please).
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Old 09-25-2010, 10:57 AM   #3
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Default Re: In Nomine Second Edition: What have we learned?

As for what I would want in In Nomine 2.0:

1) Clearer organization and better cross-referencing. Since Beth is now at the helm, that would be a given, but I'm just saying.

2) More options for celestial combat, to help speed it along and make it more interesting. A friend recently crafted some rules for using the "natural weapons" of a celestial form, such as using a Seraph's snake-like form to constrict and crush, or the razor-edged wings of a Malakite to slash for extra damage. I'll check and see if he minds me reposting them here.

3) I'd like to take the example lists of Fates, Destinies, Needs and Honorable/Dishonorable Deeds from Liber Servitorum and bring them into the core rules. Fates and Destinies in particular can be tricky for even experienced players to grasp -- "No, just dying horribly is NOT a Fate!"

4) Likewise, the "Geas chart" from Superiors: Lilith and Fall of the Malakim would probably be better served by being in the core rules.

5) I've said it before, I'll say it again: Make the first Vessel/1 or Vessel/2 free. You don't send an astronaut into space without his spacesuit.

6) Increase the number of character points available at creation: even "Forces times 5" instead of "Forces times 4" can make a big difference. There's a lot of cool stuff available to angels and demons in this game, but the lower point budgets often make it moot.

7) More "sample Relics" in the core rules. Not to the point of replacing the Reliquarium, of course, but more examples would make things clearer to players and GMs.

8) Put in the Grigori, just as was done in GURPS In Nomine. You know you want to. :-)

9) I think a "Book of Battle" (Liber Bellum?) would be a great supplement, either for a new edition or the current one.

10) And yeah, easier unconsciousness would be a help.

Personally, I like having a fair amount of Superior interaction in my games ... used judiciously, it can be a lot of fun for everyone involved.

I think the "binary" setup of the core universe works pretty well ... it's a "high concept" approach that gets across the core idea quickly ... but a "Book of the Grays" for those who want a potent third celestial side would be an excellent thing to have.
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Old 09-25-2010, 12:27 PM   #4
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Default Re: In Nomine Second Edition: What have we learned?

I'd like to see some of the stuff in the Corporeal Player's Guide moved into the core rulebook myself. Especially the free skills for humans. Cause it just makes sense.

Oh and fixing Jordi's writeup, since the dissonance conditions could easily make Jordites unplayable in most campaigns if the GM is strict about them.
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Old 09-25-2010, 12:29 PM   #5
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Default Re: In Nomine Second Edition: What have we learned?

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Originally Posted by Rocket Man View Post

3) I'd like to take the example lists of Fates, Destinies, Needs and Honorable/Dishonorable Deeds from Liber Servitorum and bring them into the core rules. Fates and Destinies in particular can be tricky for even experienced players to grasp -- "No, just dying horribly is NOT a Fate!"

4) Likewise, the "Geas chart" from Superiors: Lilith and Fall of the Malakim would probably be better served by being in the core rules.

5) I've said it before, I'll say it again: Make the first Vessel/1 or Vessel/2 free. You don't send an astronaut into space without his spacesuit.



I think the "binary" setup of the core universe works pretty well ... it's a "high concept" approach that gets across the core idea quickly ... but a "Book of the Grays" for those who want a potent third celestial side would be an excellent thing to have.

Lots to agree with here.

Fates and Destinies really need more explanation.

I would take the geas rules from GIN and apply them. Right now, a Lilim bringing a guy 6 cups of coffee , or cleaning his toilet six times could get a geas/6 on him. That doesn't work. With the GIN rules of 4 geas/1 = 1 Geas/2 would mean that a geas/ 6 would require more then a thousand cups of coffee.

I've never read EPG, but I guess that was what they were trying.
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Old 09-25-2010, 01:05 PM   #6
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Default Re: In Nomine Second Edition: What have we learned?

My wish list:

1) Clear organization of the core rules. It's very hard to recruit new players (short of offering sexual favors) when it's nearly impossible to figure out how to play from the core rules. In other words, I am strongly supporting Rocket Man on this point.

2) Massive simplification of the rules in a few places, with the complexities broken out into optional modules for those who want to keep them.

2a) Rewrite the disturbance rules; any rules that I have to set up two spreadsheets (normal and Grigori) for is violating the "Keep In Nomine Simple" heuristic. Strongly supporting JCD on this.

2b) Artifacts: Present a bare-bones artifact creation system in the core rules, maybe just the table from Liber Reliquarum, p. 26. More detailed rules should be available as an option for those who want them, but I'm not really happy with the ones given in Liber Reliquarum.

2c) Combat: Ditch the order of actions in the combat summary on p. 68 of the core rules. Just have people take turns, regardless if their action is supernatural or not. If I wanted to look up a table to figure out whose turn it is to act, I'd be playing HERO system and using a Speed Chart.

3) Simplify resonance results so that they're easier to remember. It slows down play, trying to remember if it's CD 3 or CD 4 that gives hobbies/motivation/whatever.

4) I'm thirding the motion for improved unconsciousness rules.

5) Fix the intro fics (A Bright Dream, etc.) The tone is slanted towards a fairly Dark, Low Contrast version of IN - which is a perfectly valid tone, but not the only choice. Better to start off the Core Rules with a Medium Brightness/Medium Contrast to set expectations around the center of the range, then have vignettes later in the book(s) showcasing other Brightness and Contrast settings. Also, make sure that all actions taken in the fic are compatible with the current (2nd Ed.) incarnation of canon, whatever that is. Finally, front-loading with 17 pages of fic is too much wordcount spent on fluff.

6) Grigori. You can use some of the pages cut from intro fic to squeeze in Grigori. Strongly supporting Rocket Man here.

7) Mortals. I'm a big mortals-player, and I know that a lot of people find them unplayably weak. Personably, I'm able to design a playable 5-Force mundane or 6-Force Soldier - but that's dependent on weighting them Ethereally heavy to maximize efficiency of the freebie mortal skills suggested in the CPG, and usually making them lucid dreamers to exploit the high Ethreal Forces. I'd like to see mortal design rules improved to make other builds playably efficient too. Strongly supporting Andygal, and going further.

8) What Andygal said about Jordi.

Things on other people's lists that aren't on my own wish list:

9) "Third side": I don't want a third side in canon; it'd work fine as an optional non-canon expansion, but it would substantially change the theme of In Nomine.

If there is a third side to the War, it should be driven by humanity. As mortals develop technologies that make resonances obsolete, as mortals take conscious control of human mindshare, they shift from pawns to players. Humanity is a potential third side that maintains the core In Nomine themes of free will tipping the balance between Destiny and Fate and of the relative importance of humanity being the central issue of the Fall.

But honestly, I'd rather leave third sides out of canon, and just have a section on "Options of Third (or more!) Sides in the War" that presents seeds, but makes it clear that they're an "in my campaign" choice for the GM.

10) Cel Combat: Leave the difficulty of soul-killing alone; I've done a fair amount of In Nomine MUSHing, and the difficulty in soul-killing a character makes In Nomine one of the best RPG systems out there for a faction-based MUSH. In a medium where it is expected that much of the roleplay will be driven by conflicts between player characters, it's great that you can corporeally kill off an enemy (thus thwarting his current Role-dependent plots), but the player still gets to keep the character that he's put months or years of work into.

The big thing to make vessel-loss a real handicap is just to make sure that the Role is lost also - and that Roles are critical to achieve IC goals. That means giving the PCs more complex, longer-term goals than just "Whack the enemy". Goals like "Foster the development of a potential Tether" are really good for this style of play; they require the PCs to work by subtly influencing mortals, without stirring up enough disturbance to disrupt the Tether-potential.

11) Celestial jobs: I think this is best left up to to the GM. (And channeled through NPC Superiors.) The openness is good, in that it lets GMs decide what sort of campaign they want to play and it allows players a wider variety of character concepts within the splat constraints.

12) Superior interaction: I wouldn't mind a rewrite of the invocation rules, since they're rather arbitrary. But I feel that Superior interaction levels in general should be left to the GM. PCs can get their mission briefing from their Superior - or just from the local Seneschal. What's appropriate varies from campaign to campaign.

13) First Vessel free: Better to just give everyone enough Resource points to cover the difference. That way you're not screwing over mortals by giving celestials even more of an advantage than they already have. Also, there are plenty of celestial concepts that don't require a vessel to be playable: Kyriotates, Shedites, young Celestials, and anyone not on corporeal duty. (Yes, some people play Marches-based campaigns.)
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Old 09-25-2010, 03:53 PM   #7
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Default Re: In Nomine Second Edition: What have we learned?

I absolutely agree with Andy and Jennifer about strengthening mortals. They get short shrift, IMO. One can argue that this is true in Supers games, but if the War is truly about the humans, they must have something on the ball. Clueless but not weak.

I am almost playing around with the idea that every mortal to whom the Secret is revealed garners a note of Dissonance in the Celestial(s) involved. Why should demons keep the Dei Obscura without it? That is just off the top of my head. Sort of in keeping with the Paradox rules from Mage.

I'm thinking Jordi either needs 'no Dissonance' for his write up (though the fact his Servitors cause no Disturbance when in animal form is pretty huge! I hadn't known that before and it shall be highlighted) or 'does not unnecessarily harm animals outside of a predator/prey/self defense relationship.' Humans are animals too.

Eli probably needs a Dissonance condition.

I would disagree slightly with Jennifer in that I think, whatever the contrast levels, the game needs more examples of fiction. Perhaps shorter pieces more spread out which highlights the styles of Choir/Bands, and Superiors. I very much enjoyed the piece on Dominic in Heaven and Hell and it helped me understand him and his Servitors better.

(I tend to play low contrast games, so I'm curious what a medium contrast would be like, much less high)

Like the ideas on artifacts

I think the game has some strange dynamics because there is no fear of death in the game. The emphasising the loss of Role will help offset that, but as a matter of course, GMs far more prefer to give goodies then punish the players (outside of their thick streak of sadism in adventure development. KIDDING). I like not fearing player death...but I see a problem too.
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Old 09-25-2010, 07:43 PM   #8
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Default Re: In Nomine Second Edition: What have we learned?

If we're talking about more fiction-examples of IN, I'd personally wist after the idea of actual IN short stories, novellas, or longer...

*wiiiiiiiiiiist*
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Old 09-25-2010, 07:48 PM   #9
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Default Re: In Nomine Second Edition: What have we learned?

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Originally Posted by Archangel Beth View Post
If we're talking about more fiction-examples of IN, I'd personally wist after the idea of actual IN short stories, novellas, or longer...

*wiiiiiiiiiiist*
From your lips to God's ears. I don't suppose you envision yourself having a role...

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Old 09-26-2010, 05:41 AM   #10
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Default Re: In Nomine Second Edition: What have we learned?

Here's my list:

- Go through the list of Dissonance conditions by superior with an eye toward making it easier for different character concepts to work together.

- Make humans easier to play and less incompetent.

- Make the d666 a 3-18 range like GURPS (helps with above, too!) and link CD to margin of success to reduce randomness.

- Don't make the rules any more complicated than they already are

- Make Disturbance easier to track; more narrative, maybe

- I liked GURPS IN's idea of linking Discord to rolls to resist

- Ahh! Kyriotates! Jordi!

- Change the way celestial combat works*; narrow the range of Body hits for physical combats

- No "3rd faction", please. There's already plenty of politics on the sides that already exist, thanks!

- Streamline Songs so that durations, effects, etc. are more predictable.

- If Superiors get expanded, I'd rather see someone new (Marc, Jean, etc.) than Michael or Dominic for the fourth time.

- Keep the focus on Christianity and the "Book" religions, please! If individual groups want to get all "American Gods", that's cool, but it shouldn't be a big part of the default game.


We could call the new edition the "New Testament"!


------
* I agree that it should be -hard- and -inconvenient- to permanently kill a Celestial, since I love the marriage of the satisfaction of defeating an opponent with the joy of making a villain recurring. I even like (in principle) the idea of Force-stripping, since you get Remnants and other cool bits. But it TAKES TOO LONG. I'm not sure what the solution is, really.

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