Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dogs and Cats Living Together - NERO 9th Ed.

All hell is breaking loose at the fact that as of 2400 hours on January 29th, NERO 9th edition was finally released, with a published rulebook and everything.

I know. I still don't believe it.

Now let's not jump the gun. It's released as a PDF, as it can be modified easily. It's still not available as an actual book, but plans are in the making for both hardback and paperback editions.

I'll stop babbling and get to the point already. What do I think of it? I think it's about 8-9 years late. But seriously, here's what I think.

From a game design perspective, I can find nothing outwardly wrong with 9th edition.

Granted, a lot of it is the same as 8th with the obvious additions of the playtests. But there are a few major changes that affect the game, which we'll discuss.

Skill Changes
Most skills remained the same, but there were some changes.
  • Slay/Assassinate now do a flat 100 damage, regardless of the number of profs you have. I can (and will) do an entire post dedicated to the why, but suffice to say that this is a good change for the game.
  • Waylay changed into a daily skill that requires positioning like assassinate, but no longer requires surprise. There is a cap to the number of additional purchases equal to 1/5 of your level. Duration reduced to 5 minutes. Good change.
  • In order to use alchemical gasses/coatings, you must have enough alchemy ranks to make the item. Gone are the days of Alchemy 3.
  • Wear Extra Armor is now required for fighters to reach max armor and max armor is only 40, but armor no longer breeches.
Race Changes
All about the same, but some races mixed around the "no 2-handed weapon" to allow a couple of different variations. Hobling dodge was increased to 12 build.

The big change is adding a racial slay to Barbarians. There's a lot of hate to this change, and I plan on discussing this in the other post, but my thought is that this is the best possible racial they could have given barbarians. The best.

Spell Changes
Disarm is now fumble, which doesn't require dropping items. I like this, as two parties going for a dropped weapon would almost always cause a dangerous situation. I might have pushed for 10 seconds, but I think 5 seconds is effective enough for a level 1 spell.

Circles and Imprisons last 10 minutes, wards and mystic locks now work with investures, and people can be added/removed with a level 7 spell.

Effect Changes
It's clear that the team that worked on this rulebook follows the Accelerant system, as most effects had their durations reduced. This has been a long time coming, since no one likes to wait for 10 minutes, let alone an hour. In addition, staff can use the "lesser" modifier to change any effect to only last 10 seconds.

This is fucking amazing. Lesser is an amazing tool that every plot worth their salt will use.

Crafting Changes
Crafting skills now give you double the production levels once you hit master (10 levels). In addition, you can increase your production further by adding silver or using a workshop. As is, you can now get 80 levels of production at a weekend event by having 10 levels in a skill.

Meta Content
Finally, the rulebook itself is a much better format for a new player to read. In it's current format, there are some contradictions that need to be resolved, but I like the flow. In addition, the OOG information about combat mechanics, marshaling, monster statting, etc is extremely useful. As I've said to others, if you want to be a marshal in 9th, expect to memorize the rulebook as it's got a lot of useful information.

Despite the fact that it's a long time coming, 9th edition is 100% an improvement on 8th edition. I fully suggest all chapters to start using the ruleset as soon as possible. Most players are more opposed to change rather than the changes themselves, and I think you'll find that while the balance will be slightly different, it will be better balanced than before.


  1. Mark Henry ~MariusFebruary 1, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    I read the abridged version of the differences between 8 and 9; I liked what I seen.

  2. Tell all your owners to convert now. These rules are better than the old ones.

  3. I am fighting the fight...I have no idea why people are resisting.

  4. People simply don't like change. I've seen it over and over again. They think it will make the game different, but the fact is that the game is already different, and the rules have to bend to match the game, not the other way around.

  5. I am perpetually astounded as to the sheer level of vitriolic rage that surrounds some changes. The open review period two summers ago was wretched in how many personal attacks I endured over relatively minor things. It was, and continues to be, a very sad indictment of NERO's community culture.

  6. I get a kick out of all the "slippery slope" arguments that people throw out. "Well if X rule changes, then EVERY PLAYER IN THE GAME will do Y, which will definitely result in major problem Z." Except they never tested this, or it was never tested at all, so they're just seeing rain and assuming that the sky is falling.

    The personal attacks really suck. I've had to deal with quite a few ornery individuals, and all you can do is tell them off as politely as possible and move on. There's one particular guy who just can't say a word without being an ass, but thankfully everyone else is mostly supportive.

  7. Guys,

    In the immortal words of 3LW
    "Haters gonna hate"

    I generally assume that if someone can't identify the reason why a change was made, then they have no basis for critiquing the effect of that change.

  8. In general, I support the new rules 100%. WAR will be morphing to them as soon as the issues are fixed.

    Haters are typically small people...

    We need open, honest communication about the rules. Overall 9th looks very promising - many of the changes have real potential, some are not particularly impactful, and there are very few OMG moments for me (and probably none that anyone would suspect...unless of course you've been reading my other posts ;-).