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From the prow of your ship you see the island come into view. At first it is nothing but a glint on the horizon, then a shining sphere.. a ...

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Sci-Fi Stir Fry.


My experience with Science fiction is  limited, but not completely  nonexistent. I'm familiar with the big two, Star Trek and  Star Wars. On the Star Trek side I am mostly familiar via osmosis and playing Star fleet battles back in J.r. high. Star Wars on the other hand I have seen the movies and simply don't care that much about them, just not to my taste.
Other than that, I was a huge fan of Robotech and Battletech when I was younger. Battletech in particular has had a grip on me over the years. I still harbor a glimmering fantasy that someday I will run a game where the players pilot giant robots and  beat up aliens.  Lately we have been playing a Sci - Fi Rpg of "Stars Without Number" which truth be told I haven't  read up on the rules beyond making my character Luckily  the GM has been kind enough to say things like "Just roll and add 5, tell me what you get" and nursed me along a bit. I have been having fun with the  game even if my mastery of the rules set is sub-par. (and that's being gentle) I have never been a hard Sci Fi  fan either. No Traveler 2000, no Larry Niven, no dancing around singing,  "The Ringworld is unstable." Much like Star Wars, just not my thing.

Most of my Sci fi roots are firmly planted in the soil of campy  60's films about giant iguanas and  alien invaders who mostly look like us.
As an example I rank "The Forbidden Planet" high among my  favorite moves.

My other big exposure to Sci - Fi is through video games. X-com, to a lesser degree Fallout, Gears of War, Halo, Mass Effect, Destiny, and especially, the Borderlands series are all sci fi based properties I have enjoyed over the years.

With  all these influences in mind I have been fiddling with my own thing based loosely on the  borderlands style shoot and loot concept, mixed with a bit of space hulk, and some tabletop miniature wargaming dropped in for good measure. *

Not so much a storytelling game, unless the story being told is about characters making aliens blow up. More of a Smash and Grab combat focused RPG. I'm calling it "Loot Box A-Go-Go" for now.

Here's the selling point and naturally I'm not selling anything. I'm just kind of brain dumping on my  blog as usual.

With this game I am embracing the  one shot game in that each character has load out of abilities that can be changed every game, are activated sequentially during an adventure, and reset when the adventure is over. In concept it's like going from level 1 to level 15 in D&D every game if the  player rolls well enough.
While embracing the  one shot, I am also embracing  development over time , by making  most of charater statistical improvement linked to gear. Gear is found during an adventure and  is conceptually similar to guns found in Borderlands.
Examples:

  • A character's level will not make it easier to hit, but a better scope will. 
  • You might find a new gun that is better than your old one. Or find a new attachment that makes your old gun situationally superior.
  • Your shield is your hit points, improving your shield can/will save your life.
  • Gadgets can help fill the gaps where a team does not have relevant skills.
  • You roll to hit based on your skill level, these are guns we are talking about trying to die out of the  way or what ever is not going to work all that well all that often.



The initial key thought here was this: Space is  incomprehensibly vast. The  Strongest adventuring  human , as compared to the weakest adventuring human is not  that big a difference when compared to that vastness. Traditional Stats take on a less important roll. The Character's survivability is going to be based more on what tools they can find and what decisions the players make as a group, rather than their actual innate abilities.


The biggest challenge for me is creating the  charts and such to randomly generate loot. To use the Borderlands example again, that game has a loot generating algorithm to do the dirty work quickly and efficiently. I don't. I need to use paper and dice to hopefully produce some information ritch results. My gut tells me to make guidelines and then tell the Gm to make up loot to stock the game. It would work. (has worked for all these years of D&D right?)
My heart tells me random loot drops are AWESOME-SAWWSSSS and I want to make that a working aspect of the game experience.

That's it for now.
I will provide a bit more by way of Looty information once the  game is being tested and tried.

Thank you for reading.
-Mark.