Sunday, October 30, 2016

Challenge of the Star Knights: Ruminating on Rules Part 2

Part 1: The pitch
Part 2: Rules discussion part 1

There was only supposed to be one post on the rules mods I would be looking into for my game, However when writing up the last post I finding or inventing so many interesting ideas that I decided to split the post in two. In this one I will be delving a bit further in to rules mods and trying to explain my mindset a bit as I go through my options and choices. Lets get started, yeah?

Attributes and Skills
I could just go with one of the standard groupings of attributes and skills used in the various iterations of the D6 system throughout its long history. In looking through them, I found that I did not care for how they break down so much and I feel the need to work on a set of attributes that will fit my game a bit closer than the current sets do.

I ran across this post from the Walking Mind, and it is a fascinating look at how attributes are chosen and what that can mean for your game. I want to keep the number of attributes manageable, so I want less than seven, however I am not sure that three or four would do enough for what I want. I wan a game of rollicking space adventure focused around a group of students coming together to save the galaxy, or at least their section of it. Social stuff will be very important in that kind of game gaining and losing influence, the ability to work well together, and building networks of friends, rivals, and enemies all seem important. However at its heart the game is about playing Star Knights, so I think that there would be a lot of physical obstacles and confrontations as well. Though it is a school setting, I really don't see a need for a boat load of mental skills, as that is not really core to any activities they will be doing...maybe. So I think the breakdown on attributes that I want is two social attributes, three physical, and one mental. SO here are the ideas I have for the list:

Physical: Strength, Speed, Endurance(will probably change all of these names, but this gives me a solid starting point)
Social: Social Awareness, social control(less sure on these ideas)
Mental: Education(any Traveller fans out there?)

That is my current thinking on attributes, now to skills. Skills are both easier and harder for me. On the one hand I could just use them as they exist in the system and I know that will work. However I have had a few thoughts on this for a couple of different options for skills rather than just using the existing method.

Option 1: Don't have set skills but instead use something a little more freeform, like backgrounds. When a background would be useful in a situation add its level to the attribute dice for a roll and there you go. I am not sure I like this method, but it could lead to a lot of interesting stuff. I thought it worth mentioning.

Option 2: Instead of skill dice, you just have a rating with the skill which alters the difficulty(either subtracts from the difficulty number, or reduces the opponents die pool) of the roll. Again not sure if I like this, but it is interesting and would alter the way in which people look at the game...maybe.

Option 3: You have a maximum skill level(three or four dice) and you skills can never go beyond that. This is just a way to get around that huge dice pool people have mentioned many many times. Not sure I like this either.

Point of fact I am leaning toward a standard skill list with this game, though I will definitely be altering what skills are in the list and all that. I want the skills to feel more futuristic and also more school oriented. So any ideas on how to make that work by renaming existing skills would be appreciated.

The Basic Sketch on Ikhai Powers
This is currently very sketchy as I have a couple of different ways I could go with this and I am not really sure which is best or if I want to do any of the ideas I have had yet. My current thoughts are:

1. You have an Ikhai attribute with 4 skills however you choose one skill as your primary two as your secondary and the third is your opposition. Primary  skills cost the normal amount to advance and master. Secondary cost twice that to advance. And your opposition skill costs quadruple to advance.
Sense/hide energy/minds/thoughts
Manipulate objects
Create energy constructs

2. Your Ikhai abilities are an add on to existing skills and allow those skills to be temporarily boosted beyond what is possible. This is more nebulous even that the previous one as I am less certain how this would work other than increasing the scale in which that skill operates and maybe using skills without the needed tools...though that could get weird with stuff like vehicle operation...

I would love any thoughts on how to implement this as I think this particular facet of the game will be my biggest hurdle.

In standard D6 there is a bit of an issue with vehicles. The maneuver rating is added to the pilot's skill roll for dodging fire. By itself this is not such a huge issue, however it can lead to a massive disparity between the attackers roll and the defender's roll as the attacker does not get the same kind of equipment bonus. I have a solution to this that should work(I think).

When under attack you compare the maneuver ratings for each vehicle. If the defending vehicle has a higher rating then it gains a bonus d6 on the roll. If it has a lower rating then it has a penalty -d6 on the roll. That should reduce the number of dice added and all the odd results that follow while still allowing for maneuver ratings to matter.

Damage and Consequences
With  the D6 system there are currently two methods of handling damage, that I am aware of. Body Points and Wound Levels. After playing with them for a while I really dislike body points. They just feel off to me, and so I will be sticking with Wound Levels. Though I will be making some modifications to how damage works.

One of the issues that comes up with the wound system is that high strength characters can soak most damage, especially if they are wearing armor. I have a couple of thoughts on how to handle that:

1. When attacking  an opponent every die that is rolled that would be beyond what is needed to hit are added to the raw damage. So if you have four dice for attack and you need a twelve to hit; if three of your dice cover that 12 difficulty, your fourth die would be added to damage.

2. At the beginning of the attack action players may divide their dice pool into "to hit" pools, and "added damage pools", i.e. A character with 6d in Blasters can roll all six dice to hit, 4 dice to hit and add 2 dice to damage, or any variation of those 6 dice. The decision to divvy up between the two pools, gives it more of a tactical consideration.

3. This idea is a little further out there: Steal from Mouseguard and have a set of conditions that a character can mark rather than taking damage. This is kind of nebulous at the moment, but I think there is something to be said for it. It might also allow for social conflicts to have a little more tactical weight without having to construct a whole system for them.

Some Ideas that just didn't fit anywhere else
I had a couple of random ideas that I thought might be worth discussing, but didn't really seem to fit anywhere else so I will put them here.

If I wanted to add in something like Body Points, but I still wanted to avoid them on a systemic level I could add in force fields, like from Dune. Your force field can absorb a certain amount of hits and then it shuts down. I could even have a mystic Ikhai power that does a similar thing so that users of that could spend a turn making themselves tougher. Just a thought, and I will probably not use it. As soon as I did every Player Character would want to get a force field or that power, and the game would rapidly begin to revolve around that. Though perhaps the force fields shunt the damage into the environment and so cause hazards and problems for the heroes? As I said, just a thought that occurred to me.

I would like language and culture familiarity to be handled differently than skills. Perhaps a three tier system that lets you pick up familiarity rather quickly. You would spend CPs on it during the session. You may spend them(one per session) to gain the benefits of it in the moment. Once you have done that for three sessions(or something) you gain familiarity. And if you keep focusing on it like that you can eventually go native. Mind you, his would only be for games where people cared about different languages. Most gaming groups would not, and in fact that would be seen as a useless time sink.

A crazy idea: Seriously this is a crazy idea. I most likely won't use it, but it occurred and wanted to share it. So, if I choose to go with roll dice count successes(rather than normal roll dice add them up) I could do something like this: When you have increased your dice pool to ten(or whatever arbitrary number) rather than increasing it further you your skill drops back to 1d but your threshold for success goes up. So instead of a success on a 4+ you no get a success on a 3+. this would keep the dice pools lover and add in a sense of master(like in Heroquest/wars and Burning Wheel). Just a thought.

And that is the end of m first pass through the rules and the changes I will be making(or might be making) to the game. I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter as I am still on the fence on a number fo issues. Comments, critiques, and ideas are always welcome. That is it for mechanics for the moment. The next post will be a bit more on the universe the star knights inhabit and how I see that. Sounds like fun.