Monday, June 22, 2015

Trek to the Stars part 10: An Interlude of Mechanical Endeavor

Previously on Trek to the Stars:
Initial thoughts
Part 1: The Pitch
Part 2: Skill roll basics
Part 3: Potential Campaigns
Part 4: History in brief
Part 5: Keys and Secrets
Part 6: Timeline and Technologies
Part 7: More technologies
Part 8: Character Creation(rough)
Part 9: Stress and Fallout

This is going to be a bit of a repeat of some of the stuff I wrote in previous posts, as well as some broadening and redefinition of the ideas presented. I had some issues with how the dice rolled were kept, and overall I still have some issues. This will be a really mechanically heavy post, but I will try and keep it concise and...who am I kidding? I will just sort of ramble like I normally do and eventually something that might work will come out.

Trek to the Stars: Mechanical Interlude
Basic Dice Rolling
You describe what actions your character takes, reacting to and acting upon the world as the GM describes it. When you encounter a situation with great import or significant chance of interesting failure you must roll dice to see if, and how well, your succeed at overcoming the situation. In other words, decide what you want to do/achieve and then consult the rules if they are needed. When asked to roll the dice you gather up a pool of six sided dice equal to your rating in the relevant skill and decide on the approach you are using(current approaches are physical, mental, and social). Dice rolling should only occur when both success and failure are interesting results. You roll these dice against a difficulty set by the GM and told to you at this point. You then roll the dice from your skill. You then will pick out a number of dice equal to your rating in the chosen approach. If you can pick out dice that, when added together, are higher than the difficulty set by the GM then you succeed at your intent. If you roll lower than the difficulty you either directly fail, or the scene becomes more complicated and dangerous by your success. Should get exactly the difficulty, that is a critical success and it means really good things, depending on the skill and the scene.

Let it Ride
Once you have rolled for a given skill in a given situation that roll stands until the situation changes significantly. No rerolls(unless you have a secret that lets you reroll) or trying again. Think carefully on spending your resources, you won't get a second chance.

Character Points
Your character will have a variable number of character points that you can spend on a given roll. Each point spent on a roll lets you roll an extra die or keep one more or one less die that you roll. You gain Character points though Keys and through failure. If you keep rolled ones you also gain a number of Character points equal to the number of ones you keep. When you spend Character points to increase a roll, you also place an experience point on that skill equal to the number of character points spent. I am a little uncertain on what to call Character points as I am not a huge fan of the name. However I am not really sure what else to name them.

The Time In Which Things Occur
Trek to the Stars divides up time into various increments. In fact time is separated into two types, character time and game time. Character time is the time it takes for a character to do a thing. It can fluctuate rapidly and jump back and forth at the whim of the story. Game time is divided thusly. A scene is the amount of time it takes to deal with a given interaction or complication. It is variable in length, but once the interaction or complication is over, the scene is done. A Scenario/Adventure is a series of interconnected scenes. They are bound by characters and a general goal. Once that goal is no longer viable(whether through success or failure), the scenario is over. A campaign is a series of Scenarios that may or may not be connected by a through line or goal. I am currently debating whether to use a smaller increment than scenes, called rounds. If I go with rounds that would start to focus the game on task based resolution, which is totally a way to go, but I am uncertain if it is a way I want to go with it.

I had a bit of a breakthrough the other day when I was working on the character creation. The skill list alone doesn't really work well. Back when I first outlined the rough skill system I mentioned using something like approaches from Fate Accelerated. Now I have expressed my dissatisfaction with using Approaches before, but I think I have a way around my issues with that. I went back and forth on a bunch of different ways to frame the actions implied within the skills. I thought about using Approaches directly, and I may still give that a go. However I came across an idea in Cortex Plus that I liked. You break down the actions by the situation as it arises. Currently I am using Physical, Mental, and Social as my Approaches for keeping dice. That does feel a bit Task-ish to me though so I am open to ideas on improving the ideas herein. I also think that, unlike skills, approaches should max out at five. You start with one at 1 and two at 2 for a starting character. They improve as skills do, but they require more experience to improve than a skill would. This is because you will always be using one of the three approaches. The number of dice you keep has been a running issue with this game for me. I am close here, very close, to something really playable.

Stress and Fallout
Player Characters have access to a stress track that allows them to mitigate fallout. Rather than taking a hit(or failing) they can take stress(two stress to mitigate a critical hit or whatever). Every point of stress you gain removes a die from your skill rolls, with one major exception. Your character must pick a type of approach to specialize in. When using that specialized Approach gain a die for every point of stress you take. However, once you have taken all you stress you begin taking fallout. Fallout is very bad stuff. You do not want Fallout. Fallout subtracts from the dice you can keep. It is very very bad. Stress returns after a brief rest period, just have a scene where the characters are resting or doing non stressful things. Fallout is more serious. I am working on recovering from fallout, but am a bit uncertain on how to do it. I want it to draw players deeper into adventure, you know? I see it as driving play in someway. Sort of a call to action. Maybe each bit of Fallout acts as a Key in someway? I am still digging into this. More to come on this.

As you can see I am rapidly approaching playtestabilty(well, official playtests, you know what I mean. I have been playing around with this for a bit on a local level, but I need to see it in the wild to really get it). I would love to hear any thoughts, critiques, or comments on this. Let me know what you think. Even if I don't use your ideas, hearing differences of opinion stimulates the mind.