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Author Topic: [Space Ranger RPG V0.1] Starting again from scratch.  (Read 8385 times)
CSBone
Member

Posts: 65


« on: October 29, 2005, 01:13:40 PM »

Space Ranger RPG V0.1

The goal of this thread is to get feedback, design suggestions and criticism for Space Ranger. My personal goal is to make this a solid sci-fi RPG to explore the edge of singularity from the POV of the guys who make sure everybody keeps playing nice with each other…the Galactic Confederacy Space Rangers.

First I want to thank both Gregor Hutton and Lance Allen for the comments and suggestions they made in the original feedback post started by Gregor. They sent me around the Forge with some direction and have gotten me to rethink some things and ask some questions I didn’t even realize needed to be asked. So…Thanks Guys!

Alright, from the beginning:

Premise

I want Space Ranger to be a screaming fast (low handling time), sci fi RPG about the individuals who keeps the myriad people (and I use this term loosely) of a mindbogglingly complicated and infinite cosmos playing together without starting a galactic Armageddon.

Space Rangers are, themselves, a combination, good guys, superheroes, special forces and outlaws. They are the ultimate type “A”, get-it-done, I’m-so-far-outside-the-box-I-can’t-see-the-box, over achievers in a universe where spectacular potential is the norm. Space Ranger STAND OUT! I started with the idea of a very black and white morality but I think it will be more fun to have a little more ambiguity. Space Rangers ARE the good guys…but they don’t always get it right. Sometimes my TRUTH and your TRUTH are polar opposites. I want to be able to explore this dichotomy…and have a ROCKING time doing it!

I want the play style to be: GM sets the scene, with some kind of feedback mechanism from the Players. Players then decide how their characters are going to address the situations. Conflicts are resolved in a Fortune in the Middle mode from a single die roll with the Players narrating their actions with penache, style and big freaking balls! GM escalates, rinse and repeat. The Conflict level keeps accelerating and escalating with bigger and bigger conflicts and stakes until the session ends with a cliffhanger or a massive “blowoff”. Everybody, GM and Players, takes a deep breath, says “Whoa,” and then can’t wait to jump back in and crank it up again.

I also want play to be from Conflict to Conflict. Games should start “in media res” a-la James Bond and go till the conflict is resolved. Downtime should be mostly off camera. My motto, “Start with the guns, end with the guns.”

Setting

400 Trillion sapients spread out over a million worlds and 10 times that many starships and space stations divided between the highly balkanized Galactic Confederacy, three  “Bug” Ecologies (one of which is HOSTILE) and the Dickensian corporate/feudal Empire of Man with independent worlds, space-stations and starships sprinkled through the entire volume. The setting is high-tech, trans-humanist, trans-alienist and hard sci fi from the word go. With lots and LOTS of guns.

Having read Vincent Baker’s tack on narrative weapons and the online material about equipment in DitV and Joshua Newman’s (glyphmonkey) Shock, I now know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I want to handle props (weapons, armor, equipment, vehicles, etc) in a comprehensive and consistent NARRATIVE mode. I also want to build a set of worldbuilding/conflict building mechanics right into the rules.

Character Creation

This should be fast with low handling and near infinite possibilities. Coming up with your concept should take more time than actually generating the character… but you should be able to put up a playable concept in less than 15 minutes.

I want the Player to feel okay with having their Character doing the suicidally heroic and then be able to create a new character and jump back in. Dying shouldn’t slow down the game, but dead needs to be dead. Otherwise there is no real chance of Horatio-at-the-bridge, remember-the-Spartans, none-shall-pass type heroism. Sacrifice for the right reason should MEAN something.

I like Traits over Attributes and Skills and I want the simplicity of There Is No Spoon but even more so if possible.

Conflict Resolution

I want conflict resolution to be Exchange Based (see FATE for definition) Fortune in the Middle and Narrative based on a SINGLE roll. Right now I’m thinking using a modification of the mechanics from “There is No Spoon” and Twists from FATE using either a d10 or a d20 to reduce granularity but I’m completely open to other ideas. The most important thing is that it is SCREAMING fast (lowest possible handling time and complexity).

I’d also prefer fewer dice rather than more dice because I keep my dice in a small matchbox and would like to have all the dice I need for a game without having to get more. Strange but true.

Reward Mechanic

The Characters are going to start, at the very least, competent. In most cased your Characters ARE the cavalry. While making your Character better should be a small part of the reward mechanic, I am far more interested in a reward mechanic that rewards the PLAYERS. If they can transport those Player rewards from Character to Character that would be even cooler. Whatever the mechanic, however I want to design it so that it can’t get out of hand and make a long running Player’s Character so extremely more effective than a newer character that you can’t play the two together.

SO there it is. I am restarting this tabula rasa. The floor is now open.

Try not to spray too much blood around as you are gutting the emperor. It seeps into the furniture and makes things hard to clean up.

C. S. Bone
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CSBone
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2005, 01:15:38 PM »

Here is the first of the rules so far, modified from my original design.


Conflict Resolution

To resolve any conflicts in Space Rangers you will need two d10 dice. It helps of they are different in some way so that you can designate one Trait die and the other an Edge die.

You do not roll for any action that would be considered easy or normal. Space Ranger assumes that your character is utterly competent and would succeed at any easy or normal task. 

This means that a Player only needs to roll if the circumstances would be considered difficult and the outcome could have a detrimental or salutary effect on the Characters.

The standard method of conflict resolution is Exchange Based, Fortune in the Middle with the Players narrating their own successes or failures. This means that the Player declares their action for this series of maneuvers and blows in the broadest of terms (I’m going to shoot at him, I’m going to try to sneak by the guard, etc.) then rolls their Traits die and their Edge die to find out how effective their Character is going to be.

Once the Player knows what happened they narrate the action for their Character AND their Antagonist based on the roll.

This is key. It is the Player, not the GM that narrates the effects of a Success for a Player. The GM only narrates Successes if a Player is not involved or if a non Player Antagonist gets a Gonzo Success.

If appropriate the GM and the other Players can modify the narration based on the level of the success if the Player is taking it a bit too far. A Player also does not necessarily have to narrate a Success as a success. A Player could narrate a Success as a failure that gives the Character an Advantage later on.

Example: A Ranger is sniping at a charging Rinox and gets a single success. Rather than dealing a Disadvantage to Rinox, he asks the GM if he can get a point of Advantage should the fight go to melee range. The GM says yes and the Player narrates how the shot creased the Rinox across the skull causing no real damage but pouring blood into it’s eyes making it less capable of seeing the Character when it finally closes to melee range.

The GM or a consensus of Players has a final say on this.

Below are the possible kinds of Tests. Every conflict is resolved with two dice in this manner as follows:

Standard Tests
Standard Tests are made when you are attempting any action that would be affected by both skill and luck and a Character has an Edge of at least 1. Most conflicts are resolved with a Standard Test. Players can make Static and Opposed Tests.

A Static Test is used when there is not someone else or something else trying to specifically stop you from accomplishing your goal.

An Opposed Test is used when more than one individual , Player or Antagonist, is involved and more than one has a roll. In this case the higher success level wins. If there is a tie, then no side gains a significant advantage.

To resolve a Standard Test, roll the Trait die and the Edge die. An Edge Success is always better than an Trait Success but a Double Success is truly extraordinary. This means that:

  • If you roll under your Trait with your Trait die you have a Trait Success.
  • If you roll under your Edge with your Edge die you have a Edge Success.
  • If you roll under both your Trait AND your Edge you have a Double success.

If a Character gets a Double success and the Opponent gets NO successes this is a Critical Success. In this case a Player can choose either to take their 3 Advantage (See Combat below) or they can narrate a “Gonzo” result (Thank you Jeff Diamond for the idea!). This means that the Player can take the Author stance and narrate an unexpected result, a “wild” success that is COMPLETELY unrelated to the expected result or a “wild” failure that advances the plot and/or moves the game along. The result CANNOT break the laws of the universe or the verisimilitude of the game.

Example: Ranger Sara Levi rolled a Critical Success when bullyboy Boaz Neet put his Ripper against her head. She decided a dead Boaz Neet was a good Boaz Neet and narrates accordingly. Two rounds later she got another Critical Success and her Player realizes that being in a gunfight with 5 Slavers is going to whittle her down if she isn’t real lucky, so she narrates that one of her shots blows a hole in the cockpit. This is bad but since she had previously narrated herself outside the cockpit, when the pressure door slammed shut on the Slavers she has a fighting chance to make it to the escape pods and get out before the whole shuttle is pancaked on the ground. Her actions killed nobody directly, and in fact could be classed a failure, but ultimately it moved the story along in a positive manner.

Some Tests have a difficulty modifier. These are only applied when actions are clearly more difficult that they would normally be. Dificulty Modifiers are suggested by the GM or a concensus of the Players and can range from –1 to –5.

Edge Tests
There are circumstances in which a Trait has no real likelihood of affecting the outcome of a Conflict. There are also circumstances in which a Player wants their Character to attempt something that is unlikely to succeed. In these cases the Player would make a Edge Test.

Roll the Edge die. If you roll under your Edge with your Edge die you have a Edge Success. A Edge success would beat an Trait Success but not a Double Success.

Trait Tests
Trait Tests are made when someone without ANY Edge attempts any action.

Roll the Trait die. If you roll under your Trait with your Trait die you have an Trait Success. Any other type of success beats an Trait Success.

Combat Tests
Combat works exactly the same way as any Opposed Test.
 
There are 3 basic ranges for Combat.
  • Hand to Hand (which includes fighting with the hands and feet as well as short to medium melee weapons like knives, clubs, hand axes and short swords)
  • Close Quarters Battle or CQB (which includes longer melee weapons like long swords and spears and close range gun fighting with pistols and shotguns)
  • Sniping (which includes any long range weapons fire


For most characters they will pick 2 ranges to start at a Trait level of +5 and one that will start at a Trait level of +4 unless improved at character generation with Traits or through character growth.

The Character with the best Successes gets to decide what happens to the opponent.

If there is a tie then both Characters are considered to have ended up without resolving anything. Shots may have been fired and dodges, blades may have been crossed but the ultimate outcome gives neither Character an Advantage or Disadvantage.

For each level of Success achieved, the winner gains a level of Advantage.

Example: If a Ranger punches a Thug and gets a double success and the Thug gets no successes, the Thug gets 3 levels of Disadvantage. This is also a Gonzo Sucess so the Thug is about to get chumped too.

Which brings us to injury and dying. If a Character accumulates enough Disadvantage that they can no longer take a Trait action then the Opponent can narrate the outcome any way they would like. This is never good - but it does not necessarily mean death. A Ranger might, for instance, only want to shoot the gun out of the Thug’s hand. If the Character’s death isn't appropriate, there are many other options including severe injury, unconsciousness or incapacitation, etc. There is also the possibility of gaining Advantage. The point is to prevent the Character in question from acting, and make his life difficult (and that of his fellows).

Characters who have lost all of their Advantage and are not declared incapacitated in some manner by the Player’s narration can only make Trait Tests at +1 and if opposed by any character that still has Body chips even Trait Successes will beat them. Incapacitated Characters cannot make any rolls until they have enough Advantage to make a roll. Once they do, they can act normally again.

Non-Combat Tests
This same combat process can also be used for Non-Combat Conflicts like negotiations, gambling, seduction (if the GM allows it) and so on. The only real change is that the Advantages lost are only lost in relationship to the Non-Combat Conflict involved.

Should the Non-Combat Conflict degenerate into a Combat, the Character would still have all of their physical Advantages, although, depending on the circumstances (and the GM’s decision) the loser of the Non-Combat Conflict might be at a Disadvantage in the following Combat.

Healing and Regaining Body
For every scene that a character is inactive, off-stage or constrained by the whims of their enemies or their injuries, they receive one Advantage back. It is always up to the GM what constitutes a scene. The GM or a concensus of ALL of the Players may also award Advantage to PCs for doing extremely cool or interesting things, or for creating dramatic opportunities. It is possible these chips can take your total number above a Character’s normal amount but only for the duration of that scene.

The "Woah" Rule
In the Space Ranger RPG amaizing things happen all the time. However, should a player describe something so impressively cool that everybody at the table stops and goes "woah" – or words to that effect - the Character’s success may be assumed to be even better than what was rolled. GMs might award an extra Advantage (or more) of damage, give the PC an Advantage for the scene, improve the situation in the PC's favor or prevent something bad from happening (such as another PC being injured) among other things. (Thank you Steve Darlington!)

Advantage

Advantage or Disadvantage in the Space Ranger RPG has a specific meaning. In Character vs. Character Conflict anything that makes things easier for one side or the other is an Advantage. These could include, but are not limited to:

  • Superior Equipment: Superior equipment could be a sword vs. a knife or a rifle vs. a pistol.
  • Superior Position: Superior position could be the high ground or having someone surrounded or being on hard packed ground when your opponent is slogging through the mud.
  • NEED MORE EXAMPLES!!!


If Advantage would raise Trait to +9 or higher, the Trait becomes +9 and any extra raises Edge. Neither Traits, nor Edge can ever be higher than +9.

Example: Sara Levi whips up her shotgun to blast a pug ugly that dropped from the tree above and is charging her. She is a Master of the Shotgun (Trait +8) is using HeaviShot Ammunition (+1 Advantage) and has the Advantage of Superior Position in the form of range (+1 Advantage). Since that would give her an Trait of +10 she instead gets an Trait of +9 and a Edge of +1. With her revised Edge of +6 Sara rolls a series of Doubles. The pug ugly drops on the branch like a sack of potatoes and is less than a menace in next to no time.

Equipment

The default assumption is that you have the correct equipment and or weapons to do what you need to do. Working without the correct equipment will either give you Disadvantage or Difficulty Modifiers.

Some Equipment may also give you Advantage. Superior Equipment may also give you a positive Difficulty Modifier in Static Tests. If these modifiers would raise Trait to +10 or higher, the Trait becomes +9 and any extra raises Edge.

Note: Superior Equipment is not that common. Most Equipment simply makes it possible to do things without penalty.

Also a weapon with ammunition uses up 1d6 “shots” of ammunition every round of combat unless the weapon is specifically a single shot weapon. Double barrels weapons and sniper weapons can be considered single shot for purposes of determining ammunition use if appropriate. Automatic weapons can use up ammunition even faster.

These very simplified rules on equipment should not however discourage Players from being creative in describing their Characters or their stuff! Half the fun of playing RPGs is the cool stuff you can have. A set of vintage replica .45s may not have any more effect that a .9mm Ripper by the standards of the rules, but they definitely help define a character.

There are, of course exceptions. Some weapons are so powerful that they do extra Disadvantage if they hit. As always the GM or a consensus of the Players is the final arbiter.


Alright, now I need some help.

First things first, I have a Death Spiral and I HATE Death Spirals...I just happen to hate hit points even more. I need a better damage system but I'm too wrapped in the old paradygms to figure a new one out. I 'm just not sure where to begin.

Second problem, There is no real way to drop an Opponent in one shot, if Narratavistically appropriate unless you get a Gonzo Success. I need something consistent that affects all Characters the same way but gives Players an Advantage and "Thugs" a Disadvantage such that a Ranger can mow down "stormtroopers" with impunity if that is what the Scene calls for without bending the rules. Any suggestions?
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CSBone
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2005, 08:07:05 PM »

A possible answer to my own questions came to me last night.

If Traits are designated as being static, or mostly static, and only Edge is affected by Advantage and Disadvantage then I only have Death Spiral on one die. Since that Death Spiral would be modified by most Props, Relationships (If I can figure out how to implement them with this system), Advantage and Disadvantage the Player’s Characters would have an advantage over GM Antagonists. Also if I designate the base Edge relatively low, then if a Character had enough Advantage or the “Thug” had enough Disadvantage, the “Thug” would become effectively a one-shot target.

Which would now make it possible to redo character creation.



Characters in Space Ranger are defined by Traits and Edge.

Traits are descriptions that define a Character by describing something about that Character. They provide Advantage or, sometimes, Disadvantage and make the Characters unique. Traits are a mostly static value, unaffected by environment.

Edge is a description of how good a character is in relationship to his environment and other characters. Edge is not a static value. Edge is affected by Advantages and Disadvantages.

All Characters start with a base Trait value of 5 and a base Edge value of 3.

Beginning Characters start with one Trait at –1 (a value of 4), two Traits at +1 (a value of 6) and one Trait at +2 (a value of 7).

All Players then choose one Area of Expertise for their Character. Possible Areas of Expertise include:
  • Agile: Agile Characters start with a +1 Advantage when doing anything related to be fast or agile.
  • Brawny: Brawny Characters start with a +1 Advantage when doing anything related to being strong or tough.
  • Smart: Smart Characters start with a +1 Advantage when doing anything related to knowing something or being smart.
  • Social: Social Characters start with a +1 Advantage when doing anything related to Social interactions or diplomacy.
  • Technical: Technical Characters start with a +1 Advantage when doing anything Technical.
  • McGyver: McGyver Characters who have a chance to improvise a tool have no penalties to actions when they don’t have the right tool.
It is possible to have other Areas of Expertise with the permission of your GM.

Space Rangers also have their signature implants, which include:
  • An internal computer/recording system
  • Ring carbon bones
  • Strength, reflex, auditory and visual enhancements
  • Integrated body armor
The total package is completely undetectable to anything short of a full body, deep tissue scan and gives the Ranger +2 Advantage when doing anything that might be affected by having the implants.


C. S. Bone
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CSBone
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2005, 11:22:16 AM »

I’d really like to meet Vincent Baker…but I’m not sure if I want to punch him or kiss him…

Why? Well…

I was reading the lumpley games website and saw a link to Roleplaying Theory, Hardcore . Feeling smug with myself for ironing out the gross problems I saw with Space Ranger’s mechanics I decided to skim through his notes and comments…and found out I’ve not addressed my real problems and issues at all.

The NERVE, pointing out that:

  • my present system is still Task Resolution, not Conflict Resolution
  • my present system does not really address the type of suspense I want (of course the Players are going to win, the question should always have been HOW? Not if.)
  • my present system has no way to address stakes so that Player action, up to and including the death of their Character, has any meaning
  • my present system does not yet have a set of useful tools for doing invention or adding meaning “in media rez”
  • my present system does not encourage the out of scene kibitzing that is half of the fun of tabletop games
  • my present system does not yet have rules that force the GM to heap on the conflict and escalate the stakes and help him or her do it

He’s pointed out all of that and I’m not even sure he’s seen Space Ranger yet.

Damn you Vincent Baker…and thank you. (Actually, I’m going to say it with greenbacks…I just purchased a copy of DitV.)

Until you truly understand the problem you cannot even begin to address it except by accident.

Ok, so I’ve got a set of basic rules. And they’re not going to do what I want them to do. That sucks.

Seems I’ve got more work to do.

C. S. Bone
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2005, 03:13:27 PM »

Hello,

This game has already received a very solid discussion in [Space Rangers] Unofficial feedback, and I agree with the points and conclusions there. To summarize, play should have more Situation than just fighting; granted, the game is about "fighting out in the cosmos," but beyond that, it's still just about "fighting out in the cosmos," in a kind of loop.

For this thread, you're already embarked on some great reflection and I hope this post isn't going to be a step backwards. It's based on the original submission, and maybe the benefit will arise from kind of putting it and the posts above on a sort of trajectory.

I'd like to focus on the resolution system, which I consider to be very strong and full of neat ideas. Frankly, I think it represents a good distilled use of the sources you cite, to the point that it's really yours. But ... on the other hand, it contains a couple of nasty little crusts and lesions remaining from the sources, or reflecting your own lack of trust in what you've written. Here we go.

1. All that stuff about Areas of Expertise is a waste of time, we already know that characters have blanket scores. Apply throughout - there's point at all in talking about what Areas are relevant in combat. The ranger is fighting, he or she has that blanket score, and we're done, time to roll. No need to parcel it up into types. [Note: this comment is pretty much obsolete; I think you've solved it already.]

2. The text shows classic timid-virgin shifting regarding narration. As it stands, you say all this stuff about "free player narration" and then backpeddle quickly to give the GM final cut rights. I'd reverse that if you want to be in player-narration land.

3. Terminology: oooh, my brain hurts when I read stuff like "for rolls with no opposition" and similar.

These distinctions all make sense: Standard, Spark, and Expertise. Basically A + B, A, and B - all good. On the other hand, take a big gun like the space rangers use, and shoot the whole opposed/static concept full of many holes. Kill'em. No, really, I mean it. You'll thank me in the morning.

4. Give the "whoa" rule to anyone at the table, like PTA's fanmail

Best,
Ron
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CSBone
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2005, 07:45:52 AM »

Quote
This game has already received a very solid discussion in [Space Rangers] Unofficial feedback, and I agree with the points and conclusions there.

I really can’t thank Gregor or Lance enough. They pointed me in the direction I’m going and their comments and suggestions were extremely helpful.

Quote
To summarize, play should have more Situation than just fighting; granted, the game is about "fighting out in the cosmos," but beyond that, it's still just about "fighting out in the cosmos," in a kind of loop.

I think you’re dead on. Now that this is no longer Ronnie fodder I’m trying to find a more balanced and open premise to explore with Space Ranger. Yeah, they are the ultimate bad-ass psuedocops of the universe but they are also the perfect media with which to explore a universe too. Because of their mandate to go places and fix problems they are also perfect “Adventurers”. Just not sure, yet, where that takes me. I don’t know if I want to design the game to explore the patrol/cop aspect or the superspy/vigilante/adventurer aspect…or if you can explore both. Also I am as much interested in the morality of a universe at the edge of singularity as much as the technology. I am as interested in the people as the place and possible situations. I personally see three possibilities for how the universe could be in the future and the Confederacy, Ecologies and Empire represent those possibilities. I think it would be great if I could create a game that would allow people to explore those possibilities and then make their choices as to what they want to do in the real world to get themselves and us a little closer to the reality they want. Any chance to exercise my personal escapist fantasies about shooting bad guys with big guns is a bonus.

Quote
For this thread, you're already embarked on some great reflection and I hope this post isn't going to be a step backwards. It's based on the original submission, and maybe the benefit will arise from kind of putting it and the posts above on a sort of trajectory.

Can’t step back. Every comment will be taken in such a way as to move me forward. So use big guns and don’t worry about the warning shots. I can take it.

Quote
I'd like to focus on the resolution system, which I consider to be very strong and full of neat ideas. Frankly, I think it represents a good distilled use of the sources you cite, to the point that it's really yours.

Thanks for the complement. I hope as the system evolves it will become even stronger. I realize the longer I work on the system, the more it will diverge from the idea source but I also believe in the axiom, “I stand upon the shoulder of giants.”  Telling people who those giants are seems only correct to me. There is a certain major gaming company whose stuff I really liked once upon a time that shall remain nameless (atomic number 46???) who does not do so and I decided a long time ago I was never going to be like that.

Quote
But ... on the other hand, it contains a couple of nasty little crusts and lesions remaining from the sources, or reflecting your own lack of trust in what you've written.


Can’t blame the sources, gotta blame my own inexperience and insecurities.

Quote
Here we go.

1. All that stuff about Areas of Expertise is a waste of time, we already know that characters have blanket scores. Apply throughout - there's point at all in talking about what Areas are relevant in combat. The ranger is fighting, he or she has that blanket score, and we're done, time to roll. No need to parcel it up into types. [Note: this comment is pretty much obsolete; I think you've solved it already.]

As you can tell I came to the same conclusion although I didn’t quite know why. Seeing you put it together this way makes it clearer in my head why it doesn’t work.

Quote
2. The text shows classic timid-virgin shifting regarding narration. As it stands, you say all this stuff about "free player narration" and then backpeddle quickly to give the GM final cut rights. I'd reverse that if you want to be in player-narration land.

I guess I’m still unclear on the concept. Could you expand on this or point me at a source to get my head a little clearer? I read your Essay on Narrativism and I guess I just don’t quite have the terminology down enough for it to make much sense yet.

Quote
3. Terminology: oooh, my brain hurts when I read stuff like "for rolls with no opposition" and similar.

These distinctions all make sense: Standard, Spark, and Expertise. Basically A + B, A, and B - all good. On the other hand, take a big gun like the space rangers use, and shoot the whole opposed/static concept full of many holes. Kill'em. No, really, I mean it. You'll thank me in the morning.

Got it. Simplify terminology. Use gun. Boom!

Quote
4. Give the "whoa" rule to anyone at the table, like PTA's fanmail.

Guess this is an extension of comment #2. I like it!

Quote
Best,
Ron

Thank you for the suggestions. I’m going to start another rewrite this weekend and see where I end up.

C. S. Bone


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CSBone
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2005, 12:16:22 PM »

Alright, here are my notes on how I'm planning on revising conflict resolution. Any feedback would be appreciated.

Conflict Resolution is Exchange Based, Fortune in the Middle with the Players narrating their own successes or failures

Can be Social or Physical.

Social – Gambling, Diplomacy, Flirting, Negotiation – Anything that cannot get you physically hurt.
Social conflicts cannot be raised to Deadly.

Physical – Anything that could get you physically hurt.

Conflict Resolution Process
  • Declare Stakes for the Exchange.
  • Assess Advantage.
  • Declare Action for the Exchange.
  • Roll 1d10 for Traits and 1d10 for Edge. Roll under Advantage modified score.
  • Assess Roll. Trait beats Nothing. Edge beats Trait. Double beats Edge. Nothing vs Double is a Critical Success
  • Assign Disadvantage. Trait vs Nothing = -1. Edge vs Nothing = -2. Edge vs Trait = -1. Double vs Nothing = -3 or Gonzo. Double vs Trait = -2. Double vs Edge = -1
  • Player narrates action for the Exchange.
Repeat until Scene is finished.

If a Character gets a Double success and the Opponent gets NO successes this is a Critical Success. In this case a Player can choose either to assess 3 Disadvantage or they can narrate a “Gonzo” result. This means that the Player can take the Author stance and narrate an unexpected result, a “wild” success that is COMPLETELY unrelated to the expected result or a “wild” failure that advances the plot and/or moves the game along. The result CANNOT break the laws of the universe or the verisimilitude of the game.

Advantage is assigned to a Character by it’s Player subject to the consensus of the other Players. Advantage can be:
  • Environmental
  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Assigned by Players for “Whoa”
  • +3 for Raising the Stakes to Deadly

Disadvantage is taken from Edge due to losing a conflict. If Edge goes to zero, Character is incapacitated. Unless a Player Character “Raises the Stakes” to Deadly a Player Character can not be killed. Non-Player Characters who are Incapacitated can be killed if the Player so narrates it.

If Player Character “Raised the Stakes” to Deadly and Edge goes to zero, the Player Character is Dead. This is the only way to kill a Player Character.

The GM is considered a Player. His or her job is to set the scene, accelerate the action, escalate the conflicts, and narrate the actions of all Non-Player Characters and Antagonists. Beyond that he or she is NOT in charge of the game in the traditional sense of the word.


C. S. Bone
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CSBone
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2005, 10:15:58 AM »

I almost forgot:

Edge can be lent from any Character to any Character for any reason once per Exchange so long as the lending Character retains at least 1 Edge. The lending character gets to share the Exchange narration based on that loan.

Example: Ruuk is going to a meet but doesn't trust the people he's meeting so he takes out some insurance in the form of Sara sitting on a rooftop with a Cassegraine Dinosaur Laser Rifle. The meeting goes south in a hurry and as the bullets start flying it looks like Ruuk is going to get incapacitated. Rather than reacting herself Sara's Player lends Ruuk 3 Edge from Sara (She's got two extra from the laser and one from good position) and narrates that she starts shooting indescriminantly at the thugs trying to wax Ruuk. He now has an Edge of +9 and starts rolling doubles and adds another notch to the legend of the Rangers as he plows through a seemingly impossible number of opponents.


What do you think?

On a slightly different note, my initial publishing goal, beyond the Ronnie, was to publish a free copy of the rules ONLY (no color) as a PDF or RTF and then publish a 60-100 page "setting bible" to be sold as a PDF. I want to follow that with a polished peice in the 150-300 page range that would be set up as a all in one "Campaign Setting/GM Guide" that would be published as a PDF or POD.

My question: Is this a good route to take or should I look at other options?

C.S. Bone
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CSBone
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2005, 07:53:14 PM »

Okay, so here is what I have so far:

Character Creation

Characters in Space Ranger are defined by Traits and Edge.

Traits are descriptions that define a Character by describing something about that Character. They provide Advantage or, sometimes, Disadvantage and make the Characters unique. Traits are a mostly static value, unaffected by environment.

Edge is a description of how good a character is in relationship to his environment and other characters. Edge is not a static value. Edge is affected by Advantages and Disadvantages.

All Player Characters start with a base Trait value of 5 and a base Edge value of 3.

Beginning Characters start with one Trait at –1 (a value of 4), two Traits at +1 (a value of 6) and one Trait at +2 (a value of 7).

More advanced Characters may have higher values.

Non-Player Characters often have lower values.

MAXIMUM TRAIT VALUES
·   1 Trait at –1 (4)
·   Base at 0 (5)
·   4 Traits at +1 (6)
·   3 Traits at +2 (7)
·   2 Traits at +3 (8)
·   1 Trait at +4 (9)

All Players then choose one Gift for their Character. Possible Gifts include:
·   Agile: Agile Characters start with a +1 Advantage when doing anything related to be fast or agile.
·   Brawny: Brawny Characters start with a +1 Advantage when doing anything related to being strong or tough.
·   Smart: Smart Characters start with a +1 Advantage when doing anything related to knowing something or being smart.
·   Social: Social Characters start with a +1 Advantage when doing anything related to Social interactions or diplomacy.
·   Technical: Technical Characters start with a +1 Advantage when doing anything Technical.
·   McGyver: McGyver Characters who have a chance to improvise a tool have no penalties to actions when they don’t have the right tool.
It is possible to have other Gifts with the permission of your GM.

Space Rangers also have their signature implants, which include:
·   An internal computer/recording system
·   Ring carbon bones
·   Strength, reflex, auditory and visual enhancements
·   Integrated body armor
The total package is completely undetectable to anything short of a full body, deep tissue scan and gives the Ranger +2 Advantage when doing anything that might be affected by having the implants.

Conflict Resolution

Conflict Resolution is Exchange Based, Fortune in the Middle with the Players narrating their Character’s successes or failures. The GM is considered a Player. His or her job is to create the world for the other Players, set the scene, accelerate the action, escalate the conflicts, and narrate the actions of  Non-Player Characters and Antagonists who are not directly affected by the narration of a Player. Beyond that he or she is NOT in charge of the game in the traditional sense of the word.

Conflict can be Social or Physical.
·   Social – Gambling, Diplomacy, Flirting, Negotiation – Anything that cannot get you physically hurt. Social conflicts cannot be raised to Deadly.
·   Physical – Anything that could get you physically hurt.
 
Conflict Resolution Process
·   Declare Stakes for the Exchange. If a Player wants to “Raise the Stakes” s/he would do it now.
·   Assess Advantage.
·   Roll 1d10 for Traits and 1d10 for Edge. Roll under Advantage modified score.
·   Assess Roll. Trait beats Nothing. Edge beats Trait. Double beats Edge. Nothing vs Double is a Critical Success
·   Assign Disadvantage. Trait vs Nothing = -1. Edge vs Nothing = -2. Edge vs Trait = -1. Double vs Nothing = -3 or Gonzo. Double vs Trait = -2. Double vs Edge = -1
·   Player narrates action for the Exchange.
Repeat until Scene is finished.

Gonzo Success
If a Character gets a Double success and the Opponent gets NO successes this is a Critical Success. In this case a Player can choose either to assess 3 Disadvantage or they can narrate a “Gonzo” result. This means that the Player can take the Author stance and narrate an unexpected result, a “wild” success that is COMPLETELY unrelated to the expected result or a “wild” failure that advances the plot and/or moves the game along. The result CANNOT break the laws of the universe or the verisimilitude of the game.

Advantage is assigned to a Character by it’s Player subject to the consensus of the other Players. Advantage can be:
·   Environmental
·   Physical
·   Emotional
·   Assigned by Players for “Whoa”
·   +3 for Raising the Stakes to Deadly

Disadvantage is taken from Edge due to losing a conflict. Disadvantage takes away Advantage before it takes away Edge. If Edge goes to zero, Character is incapacitated. Unless a Player Character “Raises the Stakes” to Deadly a Player Character can not be killed. Non-Player Characters who are Incapacitated can be killed if the Player so narrates it.

Advantage can be lent from any Character to any Character for any reason once per Exchange so long as the lending Character retains at least 1 Edge. The lending character gets to share the Exchange narration based on that loan.

If Player Character “Raised the Stakes” to Deadly and Edge goes to zero, the Player Character is Dead. This is the only way to kill a Player Character.

Advantage refreshes at the end of a conflict. Edge, however, only refreshes at a narratively appropriate time. This means, if the Edge was narrated as being lost to physical damage, then the character must either have time to heal or be fixed up in some manner to refresh their Edge.  If Edge was lost in a social conflict and narrated as being publicly humiliated then it might not refresh for that group until the character does something to fix their humiliation.


So, now the question is how do I design a set of adventure building mechanics to go with this?

C. S. Bone



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JakeVanDam
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Posts: 38


« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2005, 12:09:16 AM »

I don't think anything beyond some world background, a rough idea of what a standard group of characters will be able to handle, and some guidelines for rewards are necesary in this style of game. The first is pure creation on your part. The second two will vary a lot based on what you want your game to be. If you want to create lots of dramatic final stands, I would suggest skewing things in a way that most adventures seem just a bit impossible to make lots of oppurtunities. I would definately structure rewards to reduce or, even better, reduce death spiral, so that there isn't a large mechanical penalty for taking a last stand.
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CSBone
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Posts: 65


« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2005, 11:03:36 AM »

Jake, thanks for the reply!

Quote
I don't think anything beyond some world background, a rough idea of what a standard group of characters will be able to handle, and some guidelines for rewards are necesary in this style of game. The first is pure creation on your part. The second two will vary a lot based on what you want your game to be.

 I agree about needing some background material, the question is, how much?

Likewise I need to add a scad of examples of how the mechanics work and at least one example of play to give people an idea of the type of characters and the style of play. 

What I have not quite figured out is a set of reward mechanics. While I do want a slight Character advancement reward, what I really want to do is to reward the Players for good play. Any suggestions on how?

Quote
I would definately structure rewards to reduce or, even better, reduce death spiral, so that there isn't a large mechanical penalty for taking a last stand.

Any idea how to reduce the Death Spiral without compromising the basic simplicity of the present system? I don’t want a hit point/body system.

Quote
If you want to create lots of dramatic final stands, I would suggest skewing things in a way that most adventures seem just a bit impossible to make lots of oppurtunities.

And herein is the crux of the question. Before I saw Dog in the Vineyard I would have simply given some rough guidelines and left it at that. Now having seen how Vincent does town creation, I feel I need to add some kind of system to help the GM create “towns” (only mine are space stations, starships and WORLDS), address what Joshua (gyphmonkey) calls Shock and populate the places with interesting characters and situations.

I think a GM needs some tools to help them know how far to “skew” and how close to “impossible” the adventures should be. Any suggestions how?

C. S. Bone
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Gregor Hutton
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Posts: 274


WWW
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2005, 12:53:19 PM »

That part of Dogs... really owes its ideas to Ron's Trollbabe.

What about the players decide how much of a _reward_ they want if they succeed and that then feeds into creating their _challenge_ and therefore the opposition in the adventure. So it's like set the stakes for the adventure as a whole? Just thinking out loud.

How to give (mechanical) reward without breaking the game (mechanically) is a tough one. Something like D&D did it by having an ever escalating set of challenges/levels.
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CSBone
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2005, 10:38:05 AM »

Hi Gregor!

Quote
That part of Dogs... really owes its ideas to Ron's Trollbabe.

I’ve only read reviews of Trollbabe and it seemed too limited a game to interest me so I’ve never purchased it. Perhaps I should change my mind.

Quote
What about the players decide how much of a _reward_ they want if they succeed and that then feeds into creating their _challenge_ and therefore the opposition in the adventure. So it's like set the stakes for the adventure as a whole? Just thinking out loud.

It’s an interesting thought, but the bigger question is what KIND of reward? I’ve capped Character advancement on purpose to keep the game at least a little manageable. But I’m still not sure how to allow even that. Experience points of some variety seems the most logical, but I’ve found that non-level based XP systems end up with some weirdly distorted characters. If I do go with an XP system for Character advancement I’m seriously considering a FATE type pyramid requirement but I’m not sure that XP is the best way to go.

None of that, however, addresses Player rewards. Now one thought might be that the game itself is the reward but I’m a little hollow with that. Another is an Action/Hero/Force point type reward that gives rerolls, but I think that kind of defeats the purpose and fun of Fortune in the Middle Narration. I have almost always found it to be as fun to narrate how bad my GM Characters got hosed as it was to tell how good my Player Characters did. Sometimes even more fun. I don’t think I want to remove that from my game.

Which brings me to the question…what does a Player want?

Quote
How to give (mechanical) reward without breaking the game (mechanically) is a tough one. Something like D&D did it by having an ever escalating set of challenges/levels.

I’m not a hot fan of the D20 ECL system for a lot of reasons, but the big one is that I hate the idea that a high level whatever can pretty much ignore anything if it is enough ECLs lower. I don’t like it in video games and I don’t want it in my game.

Don’t get me wrong, A Ranger should, most of the time, stomp on just about anything…but there has to be a chance that if they get lucky and you get unlucky, you could loose. Otherwise what is the point of playing? Might as well just write a novel…In the same vein, I also want tools for exploring social challenges, not just combat, which 3.0 doesn’t address well at all, having no comparable set of mechanics for social conflicts.

I can’t wait for the first time I get to watch a bad-to-the-bone Ranger who just saved the world try to talk his way out of a ticket for littering. “Uh, I don’t know what to tell you officer, they attacked me first…What do you mean I have to clean up this mess?…That building was over a million tons of material!” Yep…I’m gonna laugh my butt off.

But if I want to laugh, I’ve got to have the mechanics to back it up.

None of this answers my question about world building tools, though. Any ideas other than getting a copy of Trollbabe?

C. S. Bone
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JakeVanDam
Member

Posts: 38


« Reply #13 on: November 18, 2005, 10:13:57 PM »


I agree about needing some background material, the question is, how much?

Likewise I need to add a scad of examples of how the mechanics work and at least one example of play to give people an idea of the type of characters and the style of play. 

What I have not quite figured out is a set of reward mechanics. While I do want a slight Character advancement reward, what I really want to do is to reward the Players for good play. Any suggestions on how?

The more background you have, the easier it'll be to play the game right out of the box, but it will tend reduce the amount of creative freedom the players and GM have. It's a matter of finding the right balance what you want to do.
A lot of games give character advancement both as a reward for the character overcoming challenges and for the player roleplaying well, with a lot of variety as far as balance between the two sets. The more roleplaying points you get, as compared to more traditional experience, the more push there is for skilled roleplaying. The problem is, though, that it is a lot more subjective, which sometimes leads to accusations of GM bias

One could also reward players for good roleplay with more direct control over the story, or having the GM focus the story a little more on that player's character. This gets rid of a lot of the character advancement aspect of roleplying reward, but can make players who get fewer bonuses feel left out.

Another option is tangible rewards (ussually snack or a trip to the bar, depending on what's present). I've never played a game with this kind of reward, though, so I can't really comment on it.
Quote
Any idea how to reduce the Death Spiral without compromising the basic simplicity of the present system? I don’t want a hit point/body system.

The easiest way, afaik,  is to make it so that a new character is never completely outclassed by the other characters, ond that it is possible for the newbie to catch up. You could either make advancement very slow, so that the characters that have been played for a while won't have advanced a lot in the period that the new chatacter wasn't around yet, or design it so that a character built later than the rest of the group will be built to about the same overall effectiveness as the other characters. You could also set up advancement so that characters advance very quickly at first, then slow down later on, which will make it easier for a new character to catch up.

All of this assumes that the game has at elast some character advancement reward, which you don't have to do. No character advancement completely voids the death spiral issue.

Quote
And herein is the crux of the question. Before I saw Dog in the Vineyard I would have simply given some rough guidelines and left it at that. Now having seen how Vincent does town creation, I feel I need to add some kind of system to help the GM create “towns” (only mine are space stations, starships and WORLDS), address what Joshua (gyphmonkey) calls Shock and populate the places with interesting characters and situations.

I think a GM needs some tools to help them know how far to “skew” and how close to “impossible” the adventures should be. Any suggestions how?

C. S. Bone

The only thing I can think of is examples of play and sample adventures, prefferably with notes on which parts are so difficult that characters will almost certainly die, and which parts are so easy that it'll just be blown straight through.
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CSBone
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2005, 08:31:56 PM »

Well, I've made some more changes to the basic rules and posted them to my blog. I'm going to use it as a workspace till I find something better. I think I've finally got something worth playtesting. My goal is to run a playtest in the next couple of weeks and then take it from there.

I am also going to try to come up with some GM tools this weekend and see what y'all think.

C. S. Bone
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