Saturday, January 14, 2012

D&D Next / A concern

The internet is awash with opinion and conjecture about the pending 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons.
I have no intention or authority to add to it, but I do have a concern.

One of the possible goals of this new edition is to bridge the gap between OSG, 3.5 and 4th ed.

Does this mean WotC are going to sell us conversion guides?

Transformers Tech Specs / Half an RPG already

I may be behind the times, but I've only just seen Transformers Prime. Did you know it was developed by two of the writers behind Lost? Ok, also the two guys behind the Hawaii 5-0 reboot, but you can't have everything..

Anyways, my sudden resurging interest in 'classic' Transformers (as opposed to the Michael Bay travesty) reminded me of a thought I had a couple of years ago.

The classic Transformers toys came with a picture, brief character description and a rating of their various abilities: Strength, Speed, Endurance, Intelligence, Firepower, Skill, Rank and Courage - all rated between 1 and 10.

So, already we have a range of meaningful stats with assigned ranges.

To my mind, we just need to determine what system these stats support.

My original thought was a d10 'roll below your value' mechanic. This works for average stats, but means that characters with a score of 10 would automatically succeed, which is dull.

The other option is a target number mechanic - roll a d10 and add your score to it. Set 10 as a standard difficulty, and increase or decrease as the situation merits. Make 1's an automatic fail, and 10's an exceptional success, and you're away.

Hit points / health and damage

I guess you could either say that Strength and Firepower provide set values for damage inflicted, but again, that's pretty dull. A random element that allows for a range of results is far more interesting.

So, I guess I'd use Strength and Firepower as values to add to a d10 roll, which would give a min/max damage range between 2 and 20.
This would mean that hit points/health would need to accommodate this range, whilst still allowing Megatron to kill an Autobot with one shot from his fusion cannon, and giving said Autobot a chance of surviving said blast.
This would suggest to me a hit point range between 10 and 20, or a soak / damage reduction mechanic.

How's about hit points = Endurance + Rank, with Endurance also providing a set damage reduction value as well.
This would mean an attacker rolls Strength/Firepower +1d10 to determine potential damage, whilst the defender reduces the incoming damage by their Endurance score, and deducts any remaining damage from their hit points.
This makes it possible, but unlikely, for a Strength 1 Autobot to damage Megatron by punching him.

I'm sort of tempted to forego any 'to hit' mechanics, and speed up combat by having attacks hit automatically...
But, that removes a lot of the drama, and turns combat into a straight punching contest...

Speed should also play a part in combat. Definitely in determining Initiative, and also in determining the number of actions per round a character can take (observe Blurr in the original Transformers the Movie).
Speed could also be used to avoid incoming attacks as well. All of this does turn it into a combat super stat, though.

So. Revised system:
Attacker rolls Strength or Firepower + Rank +1d10
Defender rolls Speed +1d10 and deducts the result + their Endurance from the Attackers result.
This equals the amount of damage the Defender takes.

Each combatant has a number of actions each turn equal to their Speed.
They can split these actions between Attack and Defence. For example, a character with Speed 5 could fire two shots at an enemy and dodge three incoming attacks, or throw four punches and dodge one, or make no aggressive moves and dodge five incoming attacks.
To attack, roll 1d10 + Strength/Firepower.
To dodge, roll 1d10 + Speed. Subtract the result from the attackers successes.
Finally, subtract the defenders Endurance from the damage, and apply.

Difficulty to hit = 2x defenders speed. Endurance subtracts from the damage total as before, and any remaining damage is subtracted from hit points.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The NoN List / One shot festive Gumshoe adventure

There's now no chance that I'll run with this idea for the next eleven months, so let's blog it instead.

Before I go on, its probably best if you watch the first Tom Cruise Mission Impossible film, in which Hunt and his team must stop stop a NOC list from falling into the wrong hands.

For a while now I've had a half formed joke rattling around my head about Santa assisting police with their enquiries due to his extensive Naughty or Nice list.
He has clearly established an effective and secretive international intelligence network, and uses the information it gathers to keep records on every person alive in the world today.
Therefore, Santa would possess information valuable to any criminal investigation.

It's a poor joke, but a terrifying espionage scenario.
Especially if that list falls into the wrong hands...

I intended to run this using the Esoterrorists rules with a tweaked setting, although I now think that Nights Black Agents would suit it better, being a Bourne/M:I setting already.
I'll reserve judgement on that until I've read through NBA, though.

The set up is; the players are active operatives for an intelligence agency - CIA, NSA, MI5, MI6, MOSSAD, KGB, etc.
They have been tasked with retrieving an encrypted hard drive from a defector. They are briefed that the hard drive is infinitely more valuable than the defector.
The deal goes bad; a third party intervenes, the defector is killed and the hard drive lost.

Information points to a mole within the players own agency, and they are implicated in the conspiracy.

You'll need to decide who the traitor is, who he works for and how the players can track him/her down, retrieve the hard drive and clear their names.

So, what's on the hard drive? Only the previous years Naughty or Nice list.
This is best played after Christmas Day, and should be delivered deadpan.
The Hard Drive contains one, massive, rich text document - a seemingly endless list of names, ages and addresses in table format, with three extra columns.
The columns are headed Yearly Average, Nice Deeds, Naughty Deeds.
It covers the previous Dec 25 through to Dec 24.
If they specifically look, the players can find their own names with a scarily accurate summary of their activities for that year, including details of any covert, top secret missions they undertook.
They can also find the names of their immediate family, their superiors, known operatives from rival agencies, world leaders and celebrities.
The list could topple governments, compromise national security and ruin lives.
The players may even question whether or not their own agency should possess the list.

It's important to play the game as straight as possible. The only joke is the origin of the list, everything else is deadly serious.

For a supernatural element, you can include disturbing midgets with twisted faces, high pitched voices and bleeding edge equipment who are competing against the players.