Friday, April 30, 2010

Dark Space Update: Robots

The Dark Engine and the "Angelic" intelligences that guarded it have long stymied me, as they're a vital element of the setting but difficult to model well in GURPS.  I've finally managed to work out all the various elements: How they interact with the Dark Engine, how they can keep up with Sci-Fi Knights in Power Armor despite paying gobs of points for their shells, and so on.

I really struggled with that last element.  I envision the robots uploading themselves in shells like they do in Transhuman Space, except these are angelic, mythic shells made of awesome.  However, Possession and Puppet rules require you pay for your "most expensive body." The shell I finally settled on as a "standard" combat shell cost at least 1000 points, 250 more than a Knight, and less effective.  However, if I discarded this rule and allowed you to simply purchase superior bodies as puppets (15 points for that 1000 point body), following the logic that the body is really no different from power armor, I worried they would be "too powerful."  Eventually, though, this worry turned out to be of no concern.  A 750 point Angel with a 1000 point shell is about on par with a 750 point Knight with Power Armor and an Assault Cannon (a little weaker actually, and I'm ok with that).

However, this left the question of the Angel's "base" shell.  If you can purchase a super shell for a mere 15 points, why bother to pay for any ST of your own?  I eventually decided that in the Dark Engine, you have to use your "native" stats, and that your "base" shell (the standard looking robot) also uses these base stats.  Interestingly, this discussion lead to an interesting idea:

The Angels draw their inspiration from Wraith and, indeed, most of the "Angels" are really uploaded human intelligences ("Ancestral Emulations").  While pondering the fact that you had these static stats that you lost when you changed shells, I suddenly wondered if humanity might be able to "exceed the limitations of their shells."  All robots in a Seraphim Shell have exactly 18 ST, but what if some humans known for their strength got a little more out of their machine, and pushed it to 20 ST?  I thought this provided an interesting mechanic allowing players to define their character a little more, and express their innate humanity in a way that the robots lacked.  It also made humans "special," in a way that set them apart from their colder, mechanical robot kin.  Finally, it tied into this notion that robots tend to see humanity as "special," almost worshiping their creators.

With that out of the way, I'm buckling back down on the core game concepts (the Knights and their kin) and working towards making this playable, as some local players have expressed interest in playing.  However, I've finished Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising, so I have no idea how long I'll remain interested in this little project ^_^;;

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dark Space Update

I just finished with a rough draft of the Protocols of the Dark Engine. Some interesting ideas came up, and I have a much better idea of what the "magical" elements of the setting feel like.

GURPS: Create! Don't Convert!

A fond pastime of many GURPS-heads is the famed conversion: Take your favorite game, or better, your favorite book or movie.  I've mentioned before that I'm no fan of this process, and I think it's a waste of time.  Since I've picked up Dark Space, I thought I'd expand on why I feel that way:
  • Impossibility of Accuracy: As Byler pointed out once, you can't possibly get the feel of 40k correct because even the source material conflicts.  In the fiction, Space Marines are gods of war, each requiring anti-tank weaponry to defeat.  In the tabletop game, anyone with an assault rifle can take them down, it's just harder than taking down a normal soldier.  While this is a glaring example, the same holds true for many sagas, whether it's Star Wars, Aliens vs Predator (remember when a single Alien was a big threat?  And then, in Aliens, it takes swarms to take down 5 soldiers?), the Matrix, the Wheel of Time, or whatever else it is you're interested in.  Thus, no matter what you do, you'll always have someone who disagrees.  So why stick to the inconsistent source material anyway, when you can make your own?  Nobody will look at the knights of Dark Space and say "That's not the way they're supposed to be!"
  • Simplicity of Rules: 40k uses an entirely different ruleset than GURPS does, with different assumptions.  The same can be said of other games, like D&D or Rifts.  Trying to convert them over quickly becomes a headache for entirely different reasons.  Rather than worrying if a bolter is exactly right, it's much easier (better!) to simply grab Gyrocs with HEMP rounds and call it good.  In a conversion, someone will complain.  In a creation, nobody cares, and you're free to use the material that's already there, making things easier and faster.  Rather than fighting GURPS, you use its strengths to your benefit
  • Beg, Borrow, Steal: When you convert, you must slavishly stick to the source material, taking the bad with the good.  When you create, you're free to do your own thing.  40k is a terrible RPG setting, because it's designed as a tabletop wargame.  Space Marines simply don't go adventuring!  But, in Dark Space, I can say that Knights do.  I can also completely change the aliens you face, bringing elements from other genres and stories I quite like, making Dark Space less "Fantasy in Space," and more "Transhumanism with Medieval Overtones."
  • Enjoy the Adulation of Friends: If I published GURPS 40k, Games Workshop would sue my pants off, and rightly so.  If I publish GURPS "It's totally not 40k," it's much harder for them to claim that I'm stealing from them, because I'm not.  I've allowed myself to be inspired, but I've done my own thing.  And, as a result, I can not only publish, but people will enjoy the unique twists I've placed on my material.  It's true, I lose some name recognition, but you immediately gain that again when you slap "Inspired by" on it.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Werewolf: the Final Offering After Action Report


We started the game promptly an hour late (But this wasn't my fault: Dinner and clean-up ran long).  Even so, I bounced right into the story with my evocative beginning, brought the werewolves in and immediately hit that moment of "shared imagination space."  They never left character.

By the time we were finished, we'd killed one of the three demons, the players had identified the remaining two demons, and they had a solid idea of what he was going after.  I suggested twice (at midnight and then at one) that we stop, but they kept going until 2 in the morning, at which point the girls were nearly asleep (and one was still willing to go on).  So, it seems very clear that they enjoyed it.

The high points: As with Slaughter City, you instantly get this sense that you're stepping into a thriving world that's "in progress."  The players quickly identified with the NPCs and began to interact with them right away.  In particular, I think the fact that the spirit world was well defined (my description of the library earned an uttered "Oh wow," from one of the players) really helped create this sense of exploration and world-space.  The players had the freedom to go where they wanted, the characters worked well together, and to be frank, my players were all excellent.  One player, a hard core D&Der, was the high point of the game actually, with his pompous laziness (the player himself kept his chin up at all times) and the fact that players constantly underestimated his ability to get things done.  He was also the only player to frenzy throughout the game (getting your ass beat by a punk with a burning baseball bat will do that).

The low points: I'm not sure that this sort of sandbox design is good for a one-shot.  With a more "railroady" story, I can get the players right to where I want them, and we can explore the whole story.  This almost overwhelmed them.  One of the players commented that she could barely keep the NPCs straight for the first half of the game, and indeed, it's alot of NPCs and alot of stuff for a single session.  I also noticed that I hammered out lots of description at the beginning, and then I failed to keep it up.  The players didn't seem to notice, but I did, and I think a couple of scenes suffered as a result (one player posed as a teacher and wanted to teach a class.  I should have settled down and offered some solid description, some dynamics, at that point).  Finally, the action felt scattered and undirected, which is part of doing it sandbox-style.

Still, I never lacked for something to do, and you could see that the players adored it.  A resounding success, but still in need of refinement.  I'd like to revisit it, clean it up, and see if the Newton group would like to play.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Werewolf - the Final Offering: Speed NPC Challenge: Complete!

Less than a week, and I have all of my NPCs ready.

Lemme tell you, spirits are interesting...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Werewolf - the Final Offering: Speed NPC Challenge

I've got one week to finish prepping all of my werewolf material, including the setting, the plot, and about 25 NPCs.  I also have a test during this week.

Wish me luck.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Werewolf - The Final Offering Impressions

With my new Dramatic Combat system and some minor modifications at the suggestion of gamers wise than me, I thought that, perhaps, it was time to revisit Werewolf and see if it could hold up to my expectations.  And so, I agreed to run a Werewolf one shot for the Knights: Final Offering

Young Uratha Initiates have on final task to be accepted among the Forsaken: they must slay a demon. A servant of the Maeljin has secreted himself in a boarding school, and it's up to the werewolves to infiltrate the school and eliminate him. How hard can it possibly be for five werewolves to defeat one demon? Or pretend to be students?

I intend it to be like a mini-Slaughter City, a sandbox with about 20 NPCs, a rough direction for a storyline, and detailed setting information.  That way, it'll play differently every time I run it, and I intend to run it several times (perhaps even for my werewolf fans back in Kansas).

I'm currently working on the pre-made characters (pulling away from my "detailed/Interesting PC" model of the past in favor of a more Lady Blacbird style "Here's one character element that makes them interesting" and a solid build, as players never play "your" characters "correctly" anyway), and I must say, when you start getting into level 3 gifts, the characters quickly become more interesting than I anticipated.  I might be wrong about Werewolf being "too broken."  If you just loosen up the gift restrictions (You do not have to take gifts "in order, and taking gifts during character creation works the same as it does during actual play) and give the werewolves about 35 experience, you get some fairly awesome characters.  I'll share them later, perhaps.

Anyway, I'm excited, and that's a good sign.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...