Monday, November 7, 2016

Challenge Of the Star Knights: The Breath Of Eternity

Before the Fourth Extinction War was a time of unprecedented growth and advancement in the universe. The Elders, now long gone, created wonders beyond imagining and their understanding of the universe stretched the very notion of what was possible. One such discovery was Ikhai, the Breath of Eternity. To many it seemed a perfect combination of the Known and the Unknowable, the Sublime channeled through the mundane technology. None now know whether the Elders grafted the ability to channel Ikhai into the younger peoples, or if it was somehow innate within all life, but to this day Ikhai is a powerful tool and a weapon against the forces of the Unmaker.

I was originally going to focus this post on creating Sophonts and history as well as digging a bit into technology and how that will work in the game. I still plan on doing that post, so no worries in that regard. However as I was working on that I started having a lot of different thought on how to make Ikhai work and how that would work in the setting. So this post is going to focus on the metaphysical and supernatural mechanics and abilities of the game. Many of the influences I mentioned in the first post have supernatural power of one sort or another. Mass Effect has biotics(as well as some sort of telepathy), Hunter x Hunter has nen abilities, Harry Potter has magic, Star Wars has the force, and the Legion of Superheroes has full on super powers. So when setting out to do my version of mystic abilities in space, I needed to focus a bit on what feel I was trying to go for. Did I want a more mystical feel, like in star wars, or a more formulaic and well defined route like in Harry Potter? When I started this I was unsure the route I wanted to go, but as I dug into the mechanics I started to see the direction that would work best for me.

When I started to look at the mechanical aspects of the game(here and here) I had only the very roughest of ideas on how I wanted Ikhai to work. I wanted cool powers like in Star Wars and such, so I put a line in the pitch about having cool powers and techniques that allowed one to be awesome. I didn't have a firm sense of how awesome or what that might mean.

Usually when I approach a project like this I start with the world and work toward mechanics. In this case I had already set out to make a game that fit within the D6 System paradigm and so I had a solid mechanical foundation to start from. In looking at the mechanics and the possibilities within it I saw some of the edges of the game and how I could use that to help me deal with my world building problem.  So in this case I started with the mechanics and built the world out from there.

First I needed to nail down some ideas for using Ikhai in game. I started with D6 Space as that seemed like a very good place to tart when dealing with science fantasy space opera. From there I moved outward and came up with a number of different ways I might go when doing these sorts of powers.

Method One: Use the standard Metaphysics rules as they exist. The system is workable as is, however it has a couple of problems I do not care for. The first problem is the complexity of using Metaphysics powers. It is too difficult to easily do it on the fly, and the complexity seems to serve no purpose other than to exist on its own. The second problem is, in my opinion, much more difficult. Metaphysics is hard to be good at early on, and so is kind of useless. However later on it takes on a primacy in play and anyone without it cannot seem to match a dedicated Metaphysics practitioner. That second one won"t be a huge issue in my game as the assumption is that everyone will have Ikhai abilities and so will have equal ability to do cool supernatural stuff. It is something to keep in mind though.

Method Two: Every skill has powers built into it. Basically what I would do is take the existing power building rules for metaphysics and apply it to every skill. This would allow for a lot of flexibility and a lot of interesting builds. you could have two people with identical skills have very different feeling characters in play. However this does have a major downside. It would ramp up the complexity of the game significantly. I am not sure if that would be worth the end result, It also could cause major indecision in the players when making a character as they would have so many options available to them.

Method Three: Rather than dedicating a new set of rules for the Ikhai abilities I could use this solution I found on +Raymond McVay's website .  Using this method there are no powers laid out in the mechanics specifically. Instead you use force/hero/fate points to indicate use of powers. Basically anytime you want to something crazy you spend a point and double your pool in an existing pool. The hard part would be increasing the difficulty level to an appropriate amount in order use a skill to do the impossible. How difficult should it be to walk up walls or jump over eighty feet? This would require a fair but of testing and such, but I do like its simplicity. It also allows the powers to fit what the table wants rather than what some unknown writer wants. You can ask the players to define the power and its limits. This one is what led me to the direction I am currently leaning which is...

Method Four: In this method you roll your Ikhai skill at the beginning of a scene in which you intend to use the abilities. From that roll you gain a number of points(probably a set number and you gain extra for every three you gain above the difficulty). These points can only be spent during the scene in which you rolled for them. You spend these points on enhancing actions beyond what is possible. You may spend more than one point per action if you want(though there may be a cost for doing that, I haven't quite decided yet.  You spend the points one for one on any of the following enhancements: No Tools(lets you create tools out of soul stuff), Increase Scale(which could let a normal person attack a on a star ship scale or greater), Use at a range(point blank, close, far, extreme), or adding dice to a roll(these do not count toward XP like character points). I figure there might be more uses you could put these to, but I think that is a solid start.

By and large, when looking through these options I really like method four, however I could see some problems with it. I would love to hear any thoughts on how to improve on it, or if I should try and use one of the other methods, or even another method entirely I have not thought of.