Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday #17

  CP2013 had a hacking system. It was pretty cool if prone to GM fiat. But CP2020 had NetRunning. In this system, an entire ‘Run happened in a single turn in real space. To make matters worse, all the rest of the group did in cyberspace was slow down the NetRunner. Because of this, I ruled that either the entire group would be NetRunners or none of the PCs would be. NetRunning was a critical part of the setting, so I made sure the PCs had access to a friendly, reliable NetRunner (usually one of the first friends rolled during Lifepath). Other games have had this issue as well, Mekton, various Star Trek games and to a lesser extent, games that needed mass combat rules. In each case, you either had to have all the players involved in both the street-level system and the special subsystem or none of them. From this I learned to make sure that all the PCs are operating in the same arena/level with my designs.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday #16

I played CyberPunk from 1988 through 2004. Parts of it were flights of fancy (the EU forming), parts of it were sheer genius (mega-corps) and part of it was absurd (poser gangs). I felt inspired by Bubblegum Crisis, Blade Runner, RoboCop and Gibson. My style was to suppress the PCs while allowing them to change the world. One example was to give the players 1,000,000 EuroBucks each in their accounts. Then after they spend it, that is when the Russian Mafia comes to retreive their money. And of course there is the classic rescue that is actually an extraction. This was when I developed a habit of, "if things get slow, Ninjas!" Also, I really learned that there is no reliable way to make a recurring villain (thanks Mike!). The only complaint I ever had about CP2020 was the power creep as more supplements came out. It wasn’t as bad as Rifts with MDC riot armor, but it did escalate to the point where it felt like Power Armor was needed to enter a fight.
In my own games I do my best to avoid power creep and to enable GMs to throw the kitchen sink at the players.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday #15

    Many games feature Luck, gift dice or effort systems. I absolutely love Luck systems. The vast majority require you to spend these resources before the roll. The issue I have with this is one of risk vs. reward. You risk a resource that may or may not replenish, and you pin your hopes on attaining this one roll/accomplishment. However, you have no recourse if the one roll that you identified as being important to you fails. By and large, I allow players to spend these resources after the roll. It allows players to identify which rolls matter to them and allows them to achieve those successes on occasion. When I design these sorts of systems in my games, I make sure that players can use them after the roll as well.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday #14

    As part of my trip down the rabbit hole that is Palladium games, I played the heck out of Heroes Unlimited. For the uninitiated, this is a Palladium System-based  game where you play comic book-style super heroes. Buying super powers was easier than Champions or DC Heroes, but the powers were very specific. They didn’t have a bolt power, they have flame blast, energy blast, etc. The obvious disadvantage of this is that there were loads of powers. The back cover brags about having over 240 Powers and Magic Spells. The clear advantage was that each power got its own treatment so that fire blast and ice blast had rules for catching things on fire and/or freezing them. This was the first Palladium book I bought that had rules for integrating them with other Palladium Games. I latched onto this idea immediately, My crowning achievement was a villain that was a Kung Fu Weasel with 15 attacks per turn! Again, this system suffered from having the rules and subsystems spread around and hidden. Also, it rubbed me the wrong way to have an experience level system for Super heroes. I mean, what does a 1st level Superman™ look like in comparison to a 15th level Superman™ (also a reason why I never tried Mutants and Masterminds)? It was good fun though, but I eventually moved on to another game. Heroes Unlimited showed me the value of a universal system and the value of a detail oriented system.