[Solar System] Discouraged by crunch landscape preparation

Started by CedricP, March 18, 2010, 12:20:34 AM

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I am discouraged by my crunch prep.

My group want to play a campaign with the Solar System and last week we had a good session zero.
I told the group that as the GM, I was interested to explore a shipwreck or a colony situation where the characters have to band together to survive, explore their surrounding, meet the native populations and deal with all the tension and the conflict it will generate, etc.

I asked a lot of questions and we came up together with:
-It will be science fiction, something like Fading Sun, a mix of medieval and hight tech.
-After a space battle, a prison ship and a enemy ship crash on a uncharted primitive jungle world.
-Some of the guards survive, some of the prisoners survive. Players can create characters of both side.
-The prison ship come from a theocracy empire were technology and psy powers are heretical.
-The prison ship contain hardened criminals, political prisoners, psy users, scientists, cyber augmented people, and huge troll like humanoids used for force labor.
-We also came up with other details about the theocracy, the planet and the enemy ship.

At the end of the session everyone were very enthusiastic and we talked about possible character concepts and interesting keys.

We decided to wait for the next session to create the characters.

Now I have to make some crunch for all of this, I have asked for some tips about how to represent cyberwares and I started trying to build a abilities & secrets landscape but I was unsure about what could fit together, how specific it need to be, etc... so I started looking on the internet for crunch landscapes and now after reading many forum posts and the World of Near web page, I feel overwhelmed by all the possibilities.

At first I was enthusiastic about preping the crunch, but right now after some fedling, I am discouraged by the size of the task and I am confuse about how much stuff I need to do.

My questions:
-Shoud I have done the crunch with the players on session zero? (Do you ask your players to prep their own crunch?)
-Can we just build up the crunch landscape as we play? Will it bog us down a lot?
-Maybe I could only prep the cyberware, psy and troll crunch and it will be ok? Starting with only a rough crunch is fine?
-Maybe I should just tell the group that we will drop the cyberware, psy powers and trolls if no one want to use them for their characters?


What character ideas were tossed around?  Which of them excited interest?  That's the crunch you'll want to focus on.

It's true there are a lot of options, but you don't need many to make this kind of game be engaging.  I really, really like Solar System crunch!  However, I would feel comfortable using a handful of Abilities related to each Pool (stuff that I suspect will be important to the game - some fighting, some scouting, some arguing and backstabbing, some survival, scavenging, science, some color specific ones for the theocracy, the cyberware, the psykers).  Then the Secrets from the Solar System book - maybe limit Mighty Blow to the trolls, Blessing to the theocracy types, and maybe a couple of Talent-types for psykers.

Keys are worth reflecting on, because I would want to make sure the players were engaged and that the Keys were immediately relevant to play.


The characters ideas were: the ship doctor or a scientist who was doing secrets cybernetic surgery, a troll with the key of the tribe who consider the other survivors as his tribe even if they don't aknowledge it, and a criminal with a lot of contacts within the prisoners. But they were only rough idea, everyone wanted to take the week to think about this. Also the player interested by the criminal came up with interesting details about the cyberware and the psy powers, so he is maybe interested by those two elements.

Eero Tuovinen

This is a good general question.

My overall answer is that you shouldn't get intimidated by published crunch packages like World of Near - those are biased towards high crunch and intricate solutions simply because the GM in question cared enough to publish it, unlike the guy who's just throwing something together for actual play. Something you publish for others to use is obviously going to be more detailed and show-off than something you just throw together for a single campaign. The game works quite fine with much less. Were I in your situation, I'd probably go into the session with the following:

  • Decide how you're going to deal with cybernetics, psionics, trolls, theocratic society and high tech vs. low tech. No need for large and detailed crunch arrays here, it's more important to decide what these things mean, if anything. For instance, do you want to make the idea that the characters come from a feudal society to matter mechanically? How should it matter, generally speaking? If you do, then you can think up some crunch related to that.
  • What is the thing with the indigenous population and the planet in general? Remember that the Story Guide has strong backstory powers, this is not a game where you strive for consensus on the setting. Therefore you have to think up something interesting for the planet, something you yourself find intriguing. Make crunch for the important bits, too, and consider using the key element rules.
  • Once you have a sense of the "important things" in the setting, meaning the showy front-and-center elements, create crunch touchpoints for those things. Remember that anything and everything can be handled by just abilities, practically speaking; if you have no particular inspiration for how to handle trolls, just give them a "Troll (V)" Ability and call it a day. Let more complex crunch flow naturally, and only use as much as you feel comfortable with.

I myself approach crunch creation by developing important individual points like the cybernetics issue in the other thread, and then fitting them together like puzzle pieces; thus I create things like Ability lists last. It might, however, be easier to begin by listing some Abilities and Keys that would be common to the setting. You could even leave all the other crunch for later, most things can be done with just Abilities and Keys.

One more thing to note is that Solar System is somewhat agnostic about the issue of heavy rules vs. light rules; as you can see in the World of Near, the system can get rather intensive in the crunch department, but the default is just the opposite. The thing to do is to play at the level of crunch you're comfortable with. People sometimes tell me that they don't see the point in piling huge amounts of extra rules on what is a perfectly serviceable light or "freeformish" system; my answer is that they do not need to, if they don't want it. Crunch is only used in this game insofar as the players feel like using it.

Looking at your specific questions, I'd have to say that you can certainly create the crunch on the fly, especially if you're willing to revise it as better ideas come along. Pretty much the only reason to create things before play is to have some inspiring scaffolding that you can hook things on. For instance, if you know in advance how trolls are different from humans in absolute mechanical and thematic terms (the same thing in Solar System), then you can build other things to match. If you know that the thing about cybernetics is going to be that they allow you to buy piles of bonus dice, then the decision to make psi powers also give piles of bonus dice is significant; you're saying that psi is just as good as cyber, and the two are in fact indistinguishable for practical purposes.

There are good reasons for creating crunch that player characters do not immediately take, too. One reason is that your job as the Story Guide is in part to provoke player characters to change and define their identities. In a setting with cybertech I'd expect that sooner or later somebody is going to get their arm blown clean off in an accident, after which the player gets to choose between being a cripple or installing a sweet cyber-arm. Whether player characters have cybertech to begin with is somewhat incidental from this viewpoint; the important thing is whether the setting includes these options.

Finally, it seems to me that your setting is pretty well-defined and flavourful. It shouldn't be too much trouble for us to help you out with the other aspects of it, such as the psionics, trolls and such. I have something lying around for all of those if you want to look at how others have done similar things. No reason to work on the crunch alone if you like the sort of things we produce here and feel like doing it alone is a chore. The only reason not to have outside consultation is if you want a really specific thing and don't want others to mess with your creative process.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.


What I find intimidating, is that there is so many ways to represent something with crunch. You have to make choices and since I have no experience with the game I dint really know on what to base my preferences. Well, I was also effectively intimidated by the crunch packages of World of Near, The West and the steam punk animatron crunch. But your answer help me to put things in perspective.

I will regroup my notes and work a little bit on them to experiment a little by myself, then I will post the result here for advices.
(We don't play this weekend, so there is no rush) 

Eero Tuovinen

When uncertain, go simple, is my advice. "Going simple" might mean using something another person made with critical eye, ready to change things that don't work for you. It might also mean being minimalistic and only creating thebare necessities in crunch.

Do showcase your creative process on this in more detail, soon. I like your scenario set-up and wouldn't mind displaying my thinking on simple psionics rules and such.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.


Crashing on Midian.

Notes on the setting colors:
At the head of the theocracy is a prophet who preached in the wastelands again the cybernetic warlords and the corrupt church who supported them. The prophet was a hight powered psy user, he was close to the people and loved by many. But once he overthrow the warlords he experienced a psychic ascension and became a living god. As a living god he became very distant and some say cruel and inhuman. His cult now is in the hands of his priesthood, who are maybe ruling the solar kingdom in his place. Under the living god dicta, ancient technology, cybernetic and science were declared dangerous and heretical.

Most of the planets of the theocracy systems have been devastated by war and are post apocalyptic wastelands.

Spaceship technology have been preserved by the family of spacers who maintain those spaceships. Those penitent family are considered tainted by technology and must remain in space to avoid contaminating the faithful. They also hide themselves behind veils when they have to meet the faithful on board their spaceship.

The Immortals (inspired by the Immortals from 300 & the Jedi) are the psy-user elite of the Living God, many of them were his disciples. Today all psy-user must receive the communion of the Living God and join the Immortals or be declared heretics. By receiving the communion, a psy-user receive the true-love the Living God, but he/she loose a part of his individuality. This communion imbue the Immortals with the power to negate other pys user powers. They are addicted to the love of the Living God and need constant communion rituals to keep this holy state of mind. They all wear peaceful masks of the Living god visage. They are silent and fanatical, but they are also imbued by love and will heal the sick and sacrifice themselves to help those in need.     

The Trolls inhabit the only non devastated world of the solar kingdom, a massive and savage forest moon. Since the Immortals of the living god could not scan or detect the soul or psychic presence of the trolls, the priesthood decreted that the primitive humanoids where soulless beasts.
They are now put to work as slaves and beasts of burden.   


VIGOR (Endure)
    * Athletics
    * Aim (low tech)
    * Brawl
    * Intimidation
    * Riding
    * Survival
    * Hardwork

    * Animal ken
    * Arts
    * Barter
    * Deceit
    * Charm
    * Sense danger
    * Stealth

REASON (Resist)
    * Aim (high tech)
    * Craftwork
    * Cooking
    * First aid
    * Speak
    * Orientation
    * Storytell


GUARDMENS (normal guards of the theocracy, some are faithful some are not)
    * Secret of speciality (guard weapons, interrogation, command)
    * Secret of restraining
    * Secret of discipline
    * Secret of equipment (guard weapon)
    * Key of duty
    * Key of faith

PILOTS (penitent spacers family)
    * Technology (R), Astro-navigation (R)
    * Secret of spacers
    * Secret of ship interface (cybernetic connection)
    * Secret of technology maintenance
    * Secret of equipment use
    * Key of family
    * Key of penitence

    * Praying (V)
    * Secret of communion (like blessing, but need to accept the faith)
    * Secret of scribing
    * Secret of speciality (preaching, counsel, prayer)
    * Key of faith

IMMORTALS (elite psy users of Living God)
    * Martial art (V), Praying (V)
    * Secret of psychokinesis
    * Secret of psy negation
    * Secret of soul contact
    * Secret of signature weapon
    * Secret of synergy
    * Secret of flying leap
    * Secret of equipment (armor &  weapon)
    * Key of lost sense of self
    * Key of communion (need to feel connected with the Living Good via communion)
    * Key of faith


    * Secret of contacts
    * Secret of speciality (personal weapon, criminal activity)
    * Secret of sudden knife
    * Secret of knife throwing

    * Secret of contacts
    * Secret of speciality (oration, arts)
    * Secret of inner meaning (Speak as writings)
    * Secret of scribing
    * Secret of explosive
    * Key of revolutionary

    * Secret of speciality (riding, survival, begging, hunting, trapping)
    * Secret of scavenging
    * Secret of evaluate
    * Key of survivor 

    * Secret of science (Science (R))
    * Secret of technology (Technology (R))
    * Secret of scribing
    * Secret of speciality (field of science, debate, surgery, research)
    * Key of knowledge
    * Key of the hippocratic oath (for medecin)

    * Secret of technology (Technology (R))
    * Secret of scribing
    * Secret of maintenance
    * Secret of engineering (create tech equipment)
    * Secret of equipment use
    * Secret of speciality (weaponsmith, armorer, cyberware)
    * Key of the craftsman

CYBORG (most of them are veterans from the cyborg warlords armies)
    * Secret of cybernetic enhancement (as Secret of enhancement)
    * Secret of enhanced sight
    * Secret of hidden compartment

WITCHES (wild psy users)
    * Secret of psychokinesis

TROLLS (primitive savage aliens)
    * Secret of Mighty blow
    * Secret of Knock-back
    * Secret of psy blank

I need help on the Cyborg and Psy crunch and I need to think about how to deal with science and technology.
The player who want to play a troll want to take care of the trolls crunch, so I will leave this to him.
I was also thinking that maybe the cyborgs could serve as a portable power source (something like the Iron-man energy generator).

In general, I want to make most of the groups dependant on others:
    * The spacers offer technology but need protection.
    * The Immortals need the priests for their communion rite.
    * The priest need protection and offer communion to the faithful.
    * The cyborgs need maintenance and offer their energy source.
    * The wild psy user offer powers but need protection from the Immortals.


Wow!  That's a lot to keep track of.

It looks like most of  the Abilities are already represented in other Solar System material, so I only want to ask about two of them.  Abilities are usually more 'means' than 'ends', so when you include Intimidation, I would suggest thinking about how important it is to have an Ability that is specifically about threatening people; you might use Brawl, Deceit, Charm, Speak, or even Storytell to intimidate someone; in particular, have a look at the comments on intimidation and convincing others at the beginning of the Abilities section in tWoN, to consider what your own approach will be to these kinds of conflicts.

What brings Orientation Ability out of Survival, for this setting?

As for Secrets, many of them are also already covered in SS or tWoN, but I wanted to ask questions or make suggestions about these (if they are already represented somewhere and I'm not familiar or remembering, very sorry):

Restraining:  this looks like something specific, not just the normal outcome of conflicts that might restrain people.  Are you thinking the Guards simply have superior leverage (based on training, equipment, or something else?), or maybe they create powerful Effects that curtail their target's freedoms?

Discipline is associated with Battle, in tWoN; what Ability are you thinking of using here?

Spacers and Ship Interface should probably have some non-obvious uses if spaceships and space aren't going to used in your game (the impression I got).

Tech Maintenance, Science, Technology, and Engineering can probably be busted down to one Secret, like 'Tech Heresies', or something, giving access to Science and Technology Abilities (and maybe a mix of the Background and Difficulty Secrets from SS).

I'm very interested to find out what your vision for Knife Throwing is, as well as the Explosive Secret.

There is a Maladorian Ability called Scrounging, and they have a Secret called Scavenging Grounds that is nice; is something like that what you were thinking for your Scavenging Secret?

The Engineering Secret might be represented by Quality Construction (in SS), or might just be the Secret of Creation (Technology) from tWoN.

Immortals, as you present them, make me want to get crunch-crazy, so I think I'll hold off.  One thing I want to ask, though, is if you envision them being very similar to one another (in capability, in personality, even in appearance); if they are very similar, then you might want to condense the number of Secrets, Keys, and Abilities that are required to "really" be an Immortal.


Intimidation: I included it just because I was brainstorming about "jail fiction" themed abilities, but I had some doubts about it and your comment confirm them. I think I will remove it from the list.

Orientation: my thinking was that maybe someone who don't have a outdoor background could still know how to orient himself or maybe just to link some useful skills with Reason. But like you noted, I was also thinking about simply using survival.

Most of the secrets listed are just a note on my rough list.
Secret of restraining: I was brainstorming about "guards functions". Maybe they have special restraining equipment.
Discipline: I was thinking to write down a different secret from the one in tWoN.
Spacers: It was a note. I dont know yet what to do with it for crunch.
Knife throwing/Explosion: sorry nothing special here for now, I was just thinking about similar secrets from TSOY.
For scavenging I was thinking that maybe it could let someone "find" low rating equipments in the ship wreck and future ruins to be found.
Immortals: I agree, I should simplify them and make them uniform.

But I still feel like I have to develop a mini supplement for all this crunch. I like less and less the idea of having to work on all this stuff.

I am thinking of removing all the special crunch, I think I will just say that "normal" people crashed on the planet. No cyborg, no psy, no crunchy background stuff, just folks. I don't know, I still feel overwhelmed by having to create the crunch and I am starting to wonder if I should drop the game. I think that the colorful bits (cyborg, psy, etc) just distract me from the situation that initially interested me.           

Eero Tuovinen

I like that scenario myself, it's quite compact and to the point by my standards. Seems like a good beginning. Let me throw out some random thoughts on the different aspects of it:


The Abilities are mostly good (although I agree about Intimidate, insofar as I don't really understand where it could be used). I wouldn't worry about having a definitive list for those in a bottom-up campaign, anyway; you can do some things by creating a careful Ability list, but those are too much trouble for our purposes here - so what you need Ability-wise is mostly the Abilities that will be hooked into other crunch, while the common sort of Abilities can be improvised by the players based on what they want their characters to be good at. It's easy enough to accept new Abilities during chargen, you just need to check that you can imagine how the Ability is to be used in play.

Other than that, you have a rather wide array of different concepts outlined here in great detail - I'm not surprised if you feel overwhelmed by the task of crunching up this many things for your first game. I suggest that you could take it a bit easier - no need to prune the fictional vision, but you don't need this much mechanical detail, really. Your outline resembles something one might create for publication, like the World of Near is. In this sort of pick-up campaign you can get by with creating stuff on the fly.

To iterate, the amount of crunch you really need to play the game is rather minimal, I don't think that you should tire yourself out in pre-developing material you don't even really know you're going to need. The game works perfectly well with around five Secrets already; those, Abilities, Pools and Keys are already plenty enough differentiation between player characters. Minimalism actually has benefits, too, as it gives the individual bits of crunch much more weight. I've played shorter campaigns with rather little explicit crunch, and my brother Markku routinely prefers much less crunch than I do myself.

An example minimalistic treatment

If you don't feel like doing a lot of predevelopment (which is perfectly reasonable if you're not planning to reuse the material later), here's what I'd throw together for an entirely passable treatment on the setting you've described:

Secret of Background (specify, choose Pool)
The character has a specific cultural background or occupation that is important enough to get mentioned. Each background is associated with a specific Pool of the player's choice - Vigor for being a wastelander, for instance. Whenever the character does something that resonates with the background, the player may activate this Secret to reroll any blank dice rolled into the Ability check. The player may also opt to narrate a short flashback to his character's past, in which case he gets to reroll '-' dice as well. The flashback should reveal us something either about the setting or the character. Cost: 2 points from the chosen Pool to reroll blanks, an additional point for a flashback.

This general Secret already satisfies the usual need for differentiating between characters. You don't have to annoy yourself with mastering a lot of different Secrets, really.

Secret of Equipment
Only technological tools can be equipment, primitive, archaic or improvised tools are handled by Effects created with a Survival (V) Ability. All pieces of equipment lose one level of quality for each scene where they are used. Otherwise use the SS or WoN equipment rules.

Secret of Maintenance
The character is facile with high-tech equipment and can usually keep it together through normal use. The player can pay Pool to prevent normal degradation of quality for any equipment he uses. Cost: 1 Reason per prevented degradation.

The equipment degradation is there to make continuous maintenance an issue. Perhaps have little boxes next to the equipment's name equal to its quality, so the player can just cross them off as the equipment degrades. Maintenance can be done with an appropriate Ability check, like explained in both SS and WoN.

Secret of Survivalism
Anybody can make an Ability check to construct shelter or make a wooden club or whatever. This character, however, has specific, solid experience in primitive living conditions; he does not pay Pool to create Effects out of any non-technological building, crafting or other constructive activities he might undertake. If no Ability check is made in relation to the work, the SG defines the value of the Effect on a 1-3 range, whatever seems likely.

This is the sort of thing you should push at the players once the game gets underway; nobody might have this at the start, unless somebody specifically wants to play a savage, but anybody might learn this with time. Character identities shift and former ship officers with their clean fingernails turn into Robinson Crusoe types.

Secret of Brutality
There's a big difference between being a brawler and being a killer. The player can spend Vigor to raise any Harm the character causes on a 1:1 ratio up to the Mortal level. The player describes how his character concretely injures the opponent, usually in a rather brutal manner.

Secret of Mighty Blow recolored, essentially. You don't really need more violent crunch, differences in actual fighting Abilities should be sufficient.

Secret of Restraint
The character has experience in police work and can incapasitate others in ways that do not involve crushing their skull, probably using some sort of simple tools like handcuffs or whatnot. The player gets to create an appropriate Effect when the character restrains a prisoner; the prisoner has to overcome the Effect value with an Ability check to escape the restraint. The restraint holds as long as the character pays for the Effect's upkeep.

This is mostly a thematic addition for those prison guards - not really that necessary, it was just easy to write so I did it here. It would be entirely feasible to just decide that anybody can do the above with an appropriate Ability; as the SS rules say, the SG can allow directly using Effects when appropriate, and it certainly is when you're specifically representing restraints with the Effect. Still, having a separate Secret implies that others can't do it, making the expertise of the prison guard character a bit more striking.

Secret of Psychic Form
Most people's minds are fluid, conforming to any pressures with little resistance. To be a psychic you need a rigid, psychically solid mind. Characters with this Secret get to develop the Psychic (I) Ability, which can be used to communicate with other minds and mess with them (essentially like strong hypnosis in extent; memory modification and such only with penalty dice); use Resist (R) or Psychic (I) to resist if necessary. Cost: 2 Instinct per scene when messing with other minds; communication is free.

Secret of Telekinesis
Some psychics can generate physical forces with their minds. This isn't really something you can normally develop without disciplined study with explicit aid from other psychics, who need to shape your psychic form to the correct mindset for this. Still, no doubt useful. Requirement: Secret of Psychic Form Cost: 2 Vigor per scene.

Secret of Pyrokinesis
Lighting things on fire is actually easy, but it requires a powerful mind to get it going. Causes horrid injuries when turned against people, resisted with Endure (V). Requirement: Secret of Telekinesis Cost: 1 Vigor per scene, or 2 for non-flammable things like melting metals.

I have this pet manner of approach to psionic powers where I cost them per scene: it's expensive to get the power going, but once the psionic guy blows up and goes ape on you, he's not going to stop until the scene's done with.

Secret of Immortal Discipline
The character is one of these crypto-fascist jedis. The Psionic (I) Ability is associated with Reason as well, and the character can spend Reason to activate any psionic powers. However, the character only refreshes half of any of his Pools unless the refresh scene involves a Communion. Requirement: Secret of Psychic Form

Secret of Psionic Nullification
The Living God taketh away. The character can overwhelm another mind with the power of the Living God, stripping them of psionic crunch, Reason Pool, Reason Abilities or associated Secrets by scouring their mind. The power can remove an Ability check's worth of Advances, and it always removes psionic crunch first. The target regains all but one of the removed Advances as a free Advances. Can be resisted normally, and the same character can only be affected once per scene. The target takes a penalty die to any further actions in the scene due to the highly traumatic process that leaves lesser men drooling vegetables. Cost: 2 Reason. Requirement: Secret of Immortal Discipline

Just blocking psychic powers seemed like a pretty boring ability - seems like something any psychic should be able to try. Mental castration is much more fun! Of course the Immortals practice the lesser sorts of psionics, too.

Secret of Criminal Mind
Characters who actually do not conform to the ruling world-view, whether out of ideology or criminal pathology, have an advantage against people who can't imagine life outside the orthodoxy: the player can spend Pool (as per their own Pool caps) as penalty dice for any orthodox opponents in social conflicts or other situations where they can surprise the opponent by thinking outside the box.

Secret of Cybernetics
As per earlier discussion, I'd say. I've balanced the above with the idea that cybernetics lift Pool caps; makes some combinations pretty scary.

Secret of Trollhood
Trolls are immune to psionic powers, they simply don't register in the psychic landscape for good or ill. Furthermore, they're very strong and can spend Vigor for bonus dice up to the Ability rating on any Vigor-based Ability checks, as well as spending one point of Vigor on any other Ability check where their great bulk is of use. Obviously trolls tend to take circumstance penalties in social situations with humans, being the ugly brutes they are.


How does the above strike you as a starting point? The above Secrets and a bunch of Abilities and Keys (which are relatively simple to create on the spot for the most part, to tell the truth) should easily be enough to get characters created. A given character won't have more than a couple of Secrets at chargen, after all. After the characters are created you can develop more detail for any facets of the setting that you actually need; I'd love more crunch for the spacers, for instance, but it's not actually necessary for starting to play.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.


This is great! Thanks Eero, I had a hard time to figure out how to go simple with the crunch. With my lack of experience with the game, I think my first reflex was to try to mimic too much tSoY and tWoN crunch landscape.

Maybe if we had created the characters during our setup session, I think I would have seen that the situation dint really need a lot of crunch. We would have focused on the practical stuff.

Like I said in the Sorcerer thread were I was asking some advice on gameplay, our session zero for setting up our games were often tepid and I think we over compensated a little bit this time. Normally, since it is my first time running Solar System, I think I would have aimed for a situation where it is less tempting to think that it need a lot of crunch. But still, I am glad that your solutions will let us keep the colorful stuff we came up with. :)

I really like your minimalist treatment (and appreciate d. comments), I will certainly use all of this.

I will go with what I have now and stop worrying. I will wait for our next session to have some actual play to see how it go before posting again.

(As for the native of the planet, I will wait a few sessions before introducing them to gain some experience with the game)   


We played our first session.

We started by creating the characters and by talking a little bit about them. Character creation was quick and nice.
-Dominic created a protective troll.
-Kyle a scientist who believe in the Living God.
-Jumanji83 a crime boss inspired from Al (the saloon owner) from the Deadwood serie.

Dominic choose the Secret of Trollhood with mighty blow and Secret of Body Weaponry and Disarm to build his troll on.
Kyle choose Secret of Technology Maintenance and Secret of Biotech modification (reason) for his scientist. But his main highlight was to choose Key of Faith.
Jumanji83 main secrets were Secret of Contact and Secret of Imposition and Secret of the Sudden Knife. Since he had created his character before the session he dint choose Secret of the Criminal mind (I was wishing that he would take it).
Sadly no one choose Secret of Background. It would have been nice to flesh out their character past with flash backs (but we still can do it without having to resort to a secret).

Kyle had some difficulty to choose his abilities for his scientist. We ended up giving him Science(R) and Repair(R), but after the game we changed Repair(R) for Technology(R) to widen it scope.

It helped to have the secret landscape that Eero preped for me, Kyle consulted it more then the other. Dominic and Jason mainly consulted the TSOY and SS books for their secrets. I had also preped a list of keys appropriate for the setting.

Well like I said, creating the characters made me realize that I should not have been so intimidated by the crunch.

We ended up using many crunchy bits from TSOY. Since TSOY is such a major influence, maybe that for Solar System it would be nice to have some examples of different approaches of a same crunch landscape to help us to think out of the TSOY box.

During the game I dint really use any secrets for my PNJ. But for now the prisoners are separate from the guards and I dint introduce the Immortals, I dint reveal any psyker and I disabled the prisoners cyberware (they need to unlock them with a electronic key). It nice to be able to take my time to introduce the crunch. (just with it secret of trollhood, the troll really did stand out physically).

Its also nice to have some idea of the crunch in advance. The question of technology maintenance already surfaced in our first session, even if we dint see any equipment deteriorate, having defined the crunch for it foreshadowed the issue.

(I want to post a AP somewhere soon).

Eero Tuovinen

Nice to know that you're getting the hang of the game. One thing you might want to do is to keep your own file of the types of crunch that are actually affirmed to be in play by the group, either because some characters obviously are using it or because the players have openly considered the crunch as an existing option. This will be useful in the longer term due to how you'll be able to tie new ideas into old ideas by keeping hold of some sort of an overall picture; it'll also help you in piling fictional weight in individual pieces of crunch. For example, you might wish to posit yourself the question of who, exactly, will possess the Secret of Mighty Blow in this campaign; is it something you get because you're big and strong, or is it perhaps a sign of killer instinct, like I suggested above in this thread? Value-lading the crunch landscape in this manner and tying it organically into the fiction makes the crunch more useful overall in informing and supporting vivid play. This is a somewhat abstract point that I myself find important simply because I don't much care for effect-first power systems in games; it's much more interesting if a character having some certain crunch also tells something specific about his identity in the fiction instead of having players pick abstract power packages that are then arbitrarily colored in afterwards.

What Keys did Dominic and Jumanji choose for their characters? That's probably going to be important in any further prep you do; the game works best if the players actually get to use the Keys they choose for their characters, after all.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.


I am already keeping a file of the available and affirmed crunch. We reserved Secret of mighty blow for the more physically imposing characters like trolls and cyborg with enhanced brawl (and big cyber arms). For killer instinct I reserve Secret of brutality or of the sudden knife (for character who have committed murder in their past). Technology and equipment oriented secrets, like Secret of maintenance will be for characters like engineers and spacers.
I want to add secrets to our secret landscape, by drawing a secrets map (like a relation map) as we introduce them in play. I think it will be fun to add crunch this way.

As for the player characters keys, Yep I know that I need to focus on them ;-) I wanted to address them in my AP.

Eero Tuovinen

That sounds good, I expect that you'll do rather well with the game once you get a few sessions under your belt. Have you prepared backstory material for the forthcoming sessions? Are you using Key Elements?
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.