Thursday, February 11, 2016

Psi-Wars -- Adjusting Templates Cont'd

Last week, I looked at designing templates using GURPS Action 4: Specialists and flavoring them to feel appropriate to Psi-Wars, and then I built a template, proving the concept.  So! I think the next step is rather obvious: Build more templates!  Lots of templates!

But which ones?  We could rebuild the GURPS Space templates, but GURPS Space keeps its templates deliberately generic. It features astronauts and colonists for realistic sci-fi, and it has heroic engineers and dashing space captains for more Star Trek-inspired games, and so on.  It represents a decent starting point, but it needn't control the destiny of Psi-Wars.

Then what do we need?

I find it best to start by looking at my core activities and creating templates that serve variations of those themes.  Those variations can follow themes themselves, and by crossing axes of themes, you can get an interesting variety of templates.  A good example of this is how D&D took the various combat roles (Fighter, Mage and Thief) and crossed them with sources of power (Martial, Arcane, Divine) to swiftly create a variety of classes(Martial: Fighter, Warlord, Thief. Arcane: Spell sword, Wizard, Bard. Divine: Paladin, Cleric, Assassin).  We can do the same with Psi-Wars.

Psi-Wars is a setting about war, so we need people to fight those wars: Troopers, heroic fighter aces, and the dashing officers that lead them into battle.  Those hit two of the three "core activities" of Psi-Wars.  The third would require a Spy.  We also discussed having a diplomatic corps, so having diplomats might be interesting.  And Psi Wars would not be Psi Wars without Psi: We need some psychic Space Knights.

But what about our Bounty Hunter? Where does she fit in all of this?  Star Wars features a division between core and rim.  Nobles reside in the core, where powerful politicians give speeches that set armies to marching.  The desperate reside on the rim, holding onto galactic life with the tips of their fingers.  They live in a world full of crime and poverty, where warlords strip planets bare and gangsters sell their daughters into slavery.

So we should copy that division.  The templates I just mentioned belong to the core.  The bounty hunter is the hardy Trooper of the rim.  The Assassin would be the lethal Spy of the rim.  The agile Smuggler fulfills a similar role to the Fighter Ace, and the Con-Artist fulfills the same role as the Diplomat.  We don't have an officer (the Rim lacks leadership, that's part of its problem), but we could have a Scavenger, someone who picks up the pieces of the past.  And the Space Knight could fit in either world pretty well, but let's add a Frontier Marshal as our hero-of-the-rim, because I liked that imagery.

Thus, we have for templates:
  • Diplomat: Social manipulation, politics and intrigue
  • Fighter Ace: Combat experts who bring the fight to the enemy in space.
  • Officer: Leadership, command and tactical excellence.
  • Space Knight: Heroism, psionic powers, and martial arts
  • Spy: Infiltration, espionage and deception.
  • Trooper: Combat experts who bring the fight to the enemy
  • Assassin: Infiltration, deception and murder
  • Bounty Hunter: Combat experts who FIND the enemy before bringing the fight to them.
  • Con-Artist: Social manipulation, street smarts, and the art of the deal
  • Frontier Marshal: Justice, survival skills, a quick blaster, and a horse with no name.
  • Scavenger: Technological skill, gadgeteering improvisation, and  scrounging excellence.
  • Smuggler: Agility in a ship, and also the art of the deal.
That seems to cover us.  We begin to have a better picture of what this world might look like.  And we also have... wow, 12 templates?  That's a lot of work.  Hmm.  Well, in keeping with my principle of "Fail faster," I'm going to build just a few of these, and then see how well they work.  Future iterations might expose new possibilities and, of course, we haven't actually built our setting!  Who knows what new ideas might bubble out of an actual, detailed setting?

Some Notes

In building these templates, I noticed that I often used a few skill sets that needed quite some work to fit into a sci-fi setting.  I have noted them below, in case you want to build along:

Esoteric Weapons

Advantages: Enhanced Parry 1 (One melee weapon) [5]
Perks and Techniques: A total of 8 points from weapon perks and techniques from Furious Fists.
Skills: A total of 12 points from any of Fast-Draw (any weapon). Thrown Weapon (any) or Knife, all (DX/E), Force Sword, Parry Missile Weapon, Shield, Shortsword, Spear, or Throwing all (DX/A).


Civilian Spacer
Perks: Old Space-Hand [1]
Skills: Freefall (DX/A) [2], Mechanic (Starship*) (IQ/A) [4]; Navigation (Hyperspace) (IQ/A) [4], Pilot (Starship) (DX/A) [2], Scrounging (Per/E) [2], Spacer (IQ/E) [4], Vacc-Suit (IQ/A) [2]. A total of 4 points in Freight Handling and Smuggling both (IQ/A).

Military Spacer
Perks: Free-Fall Fighter [1], Old Space-Hand [1]
Skills: Freefall (DX/A) [2], Mechanic (Starship*) (IQ/A) [2]; Navigation (Hyperspace) (IQ/A) [4], Pilot (Starship) (DX/A) [2], Savoir-Faire (Military) (IQ/E) [1], Spacer (IQ/E) [4], Vacc-Suit (IQ/A) [2]. Three of Artillery (Guided Missile) (IQ/A) [2], Gunner (Beam Weapons) or Beam Weapons (Pistol, Rifle or Projector) all (DX/E) [2].
*All the various “Mechanic” skills out of Spaceships are too many. In Psi-Wars, Mechanic (Starship) can fix stuff on a Starship.

New Perks

Old Space-Hand: Gain +1 to DX or HT to resist personal disasters associated with space and spaceships, including space sickness, resisting radiation or vacuum and buckling down during a high-G dodge. If using the Casualties table from GURPS Spaceships, apply instead a -1.
Free-Fall Fighter: Improve your Free-Fall DX-limit by 1 for the purposes of combat (including firing high recoil weapons or striking opponents)
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