Thursday, July 21, 2016

Alternate Metaphysics Mechanics for Open D6 III: More Ideas

DEX + Blaster + Force Point
     Welcome back, RocketFans, to another in our series on Alternate Metaphysics Rules for Open D6.  Of course, it may seem like I'm spending an inordinate amount of time on examples and rules specific to Star Wars, but since the Metaphysics rules in Open D6 were an evolution of the SW rules for the Force, what can you expect?
     The last two posts on this topic have generated lots of observations and suggestions on how to take my basic idea (i.e.: ditch the Metaphysics Attribute, all of the Force Skills and Force Powers, and just use Force Points) and make it work more smoothly with what we've seen in past movies and game materials.  When going through all of the comments, I tried to give all the ideas a fair look but keep true to the central goals I have for making a new system in the first place.  To re-cap, those are:

  • To reduce/eliminate the "Linear Warrior, Quadratic Wizard" syndrome.  Force Users shouldn't be so powerful that they punish the other players for choosing normal Characters.
  • To reduce/eliminate the inevitable complexity bloat, so the game can be played with a minimum of book-flipping.  As I've said before, the genius of D6 is that it can be played with only the Difficulty Chart and the Standard Skill Chart.  I want to still do that with Force Users.
  • Account for what seems like Force use among non-Force sensitives like we see in the movies.  Because, especially in Episode VII, we see it all the time.
      That last point is especially evident in the Battle of Takodana in The Force Awakens.  Poe Dameron makes ten kills in like, fifteen seconds.  A double ace in fifteen seconds.  Beat that, Anakin!

    But I put the above points in order of priority - I really don't want Force Users to have more Attributes/Skills available than other Characters.  It slows the game down so much when you have to take into account all the special rules and tables for Force Powers.  Many of you suggested Force Powers without Skills, Skills without Powers and other permutations involving taking one level of complexity off of the system while still leaving Force users more complex overall than their non-sensitive counterparts.  In the end I decided I didn't want that.  I've taken for granted for thirty years of gaming  that magic users would have more power and complexity than fighters, and having the opportunity to use rules where that isn't the case is just too tempting to resist.  So, I decided against using any suggestions that involved Force users having more Attributes, Skills or Powers than other characters.  
Also DEX Blaster + Force Point
     But that doesn't mean I have it all figured out.  One of the most common concerns I saw in the comments dealt with the comparative rarity of Force Points in the RAW.  As I said in the second post on this topic, we would need to modify how Force Points are gained, spent, and regained in order to depend on Force Points as our primary mechanic.  One of the ideas I already mentioned was automatically regaining spent Force Points at the end of a session, unless the use of the Force Point would grant a Dark Side Point. We also briefly discussed making it easier to gain new Force Points.  For one thing, we may need to establish a way to buy Force Points with Character Points, but frankly I haven't figured that one out yet.  The most deal-breaking complaint about how my alternate system would work is that lightsaber duels would burn through Force Points every round until they ran out, so pretty much whomever had the most Force Points at the beginning of the duel would win. 

KNO + Willpower = Extra use of Force Points.
          After re-watching Episode VII (What? It was only the fourth time - I saw the original Star Wars that many times before I was six months old.) I was struck by the final duel between Kylo Ren and Finn/Rey.  It was a textbook example of Force users calling upon the Force during a fight to augment their abilities.  The obvious example is Rey, near the end of the fight when Kylo Ren offers to teach her and she puts the smack down on him.  But Ren calls upon the Dark Side several times in the fight, when he punches his bowcaster wound in order to increase his anger and suffering.  Anyway, this gave me the idea to make it possible to use the Force when out of Force Points.  But after talking to Debra, who has an intuitive grasp of Star Wars all my years of trivia-memorization can't match, we came up with a way to get through things like lightsaber duels without having to burn a Force Point every round which - let's be honest - would get old real fast.

     So, Force Points activate a skill combination, like lightsaber combat.  Just like in the current Force Mechanics, this skill may now be "kept up" until the end of the encounter.  You may use one Force Point per encounter for free.  After that, like if you want to use telekinesis, You have to make a Willpower roll at Difficult to use a second Force Point in the same encounter.  The Difficulty on the Willpower roll will increase with every additional Force Point You attempt to use.

     This would mean you could make multiple doubled Dice Pool rolls with the use of a single Force Point, and that may seem over-powered to some.  If this is the way we go, then Force Points will probably remain as difficult to gain as they are in the RAW, but still be regained at the end of a session.  Also, there's a lot of room to tweak this mechanic - Should you lose 1D off of your doubled Die Pool every round the boosted Skill is kept up? Or lose one pip per round?  If you fail your Willpower check, is the Force point still spent? Should there be a hard limit on how many times you can summon the Force this way per encounter? And it also has implications for Force Ghosts - perhaps by succeeding in Willpower rolls, a Force spirit could manifest after using their supply of Force Points?

Because Star Wars!
   I'm also interested in situations where using the Force is outside of a Player's control.  There seem to be instances, like the two pictured above, where the Character's don't seem to be using the Force, the Force seems to be using them. When Rey shot the Stormtrooper, for example, she first left the safety on, then dodged a blaster shot without trying while taking the safety off.  Then, her first shot went way wide, while the second hit dead on target.  This is fine as far as it goes, but I swear it looked more like the blaster was moving her arm than Rey was aiming the blaster.  And then there was the way she looked at the blaster after shooting the Stormtrooper, like it had a life of its own.  Its the exact look we see Han give his trusty DL-44 after shooting a Stormtrooper behind him without looking.  His arm jerked around seemingly without volition before the shot, and Han looks at the gun like it was alive afterward  What do you think?  Does the Force, like Luke asked in A New Hope, control your actions as well as obey your commands?  If so, how would we make a mechanic for that?  As always, leave your comments below or on G+.  

     Until next time, RocketFans, May the Force be with you!  


Monday, July 18, 2016

Starphin Map and a Modest Proposal

Had to finish the Bow so I could measure the decks...
   Happy Monday, RocketFans!  I've been contemplating all of the suggestions I've received over the last week having to do with our alternate Metaphysics mechanics and the ideas are slowly evolving.  Expect a new post on the topic Wednesday, maybe.  For today, I am happy to present the first completed deck of our capital starship, the  Starphin Treaty Frigate!

     This deck was fairly easy to do, as I already knew what I needed.  Situated just below the upper sensor dome, this deck would service that machinery, house the main communications antennae, and have coolth (not my word, okay?) pumps and tanks for the after radiators and heat sinks.  In addition, the upper ring of shield projectors are on this deck, a pair of shield generator nodes, and a pair of inertial compensators.  This was the best place for the ICs, in my opinion, as this tall fin would be likely to snap off the first time the Captain order flank speed without them.  But enough talk, deckplan below!
030 Deck
     This is not a deck with much human habitation.  In fact, outside of the insulated forward sensor substation and the after sensor room/pump house, the antennae and sensors would fry any organics in the maintenance spaces when the electronics are active.  This is a deck primarily for droids, and probably not regular R-series astromechs, either - upgraded R1s, with their reactor-drone casings, are possibly the only robots that can service the sensors and hyperwave antennae while they are in service.  For fun I used a classic design for the hyperwave transievers - except for the color and size, they are identical to the antenna mast on an Imperial Mk I Star Destroyer.  I went with a pair because I needed the lift tube to be on the centerline of the deck.  
     As you'll see in the next several maps, the machinery for the four turbo lasers on the decks under this one take up so much space that I've had to do some creative arranging to get everything to fit and still have space to move from one end of the deck to the other.  It would be simpler if I could just have two lift shafts, fore and aft, to reach all sections of the following decks, but the hanger spaces below make that impossible.

     For what is easily the largest mapping project I've ever attempted, I find myself running out of room easily... 

     This deckplan  turned out to be 15 tac squares wide and another 15 long, not counting the heat sink.  That's fairly large - and this is the smallest deck on the ship.  And there are forty-nine more.   Which brings up the ugly little question of how exactly I'm going to be able to publish this monster?  The PDF would have to be a couple of hundred pages, take about six months of work, and sell for at least fifty bucks to recoup even a fraction of my time and effort.  I mean, I enjoy drawing spaceships, obviously, but this is my job and I can't just work on unsalable projects and expect to get the bills paid.


     I have a Patreon account, and a handful of fans who support my work by pledging a dollar or two a month to see more content on this blog and to get access to my existing PDFs for no extra charge.  It occurs to me that through Patreon, I can get the kind of money I need to work on this project, and the Alternate Metaphysics book, and all the other big ships I want to map.  You, my dear RocketFans, can get all those goodies just by pledging a dollar or two a month.  It's good math; For the cost of a fifty-dollar book, which most of us couldn't justify buying, you could pledge a dollar and keep it up for over four years, in which time I will write a lot more than one book of plans. After all, in the last four years, I've written and published 42 books.   That a lot better deal. 

     If you look at my Patreon homepage, you'll see I currently get $60 a month in pledges.  I deeply, deeply appreciate every bit of support I get from my patrons.  In order to be able to give away the Starphin maps, the Metaphysics book and the other projects I would love to work on and don't have the time, I would need to reach a goal of about $200 a month.  If a hundred and forty people were to pledge a dollar a month, I'd be home free and you would all get free books.  We've been getting close to twice that in visitors a day since I began posting on D6 topics again, so I know it's possible.  

     So that's where we are, RocketFans.  I'll keep mapping and showing off the un-keyed deckplans on the blog for as long I can afford to.  If we hit $200 on Patreon, I'll release the full deckplans, maps, keys and stats and keep designing and mapping ships large and small, for as long as you want me too.  

    I'll even take requests.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Starphin - class Frigate WIP II What the Stats Mean

     Work continues on the Starphin-Treaty Frigate, RocketFans.  Today, we're going to dig a little deeper into the design of a large capital ship by looking at all of the systems, sub-systems, and ancillary spaces that need to be present in order for the Starphin to perform it's mission.  First, we look at the stats, then extrapolate from those what we need.  Simple, right?

Improved version
  I wish.

    Designing a spacecraft using even the most generous of standards is difficult.  There are a lot of little things that you have to account for and keep track of.  Fortunatly, I've been blessed with an enormous amount of help form folks like Winchel Chung, Robert Brown, Curtis Saxton, and of course the Incredible Cross Sections books.  But enough shmoozing - let's dig in, shall we?

     First of all, lets look at the ship's crew and passengers. Crew is set at 175, assuming that there will be at least that many droids.  There are five gunners per turbolaser, for a total of 30, an additional 14 quadlaser gunners, a platoon of toops (32), fifteen pilots (fighters and shuttle!) and fifteen support crew, with room for eighteen more passengers, such as command staff, additional personnel or what ever.  That comes to a total of almost three hundred people.  So, right off, I need to have beds for that many.  But there is so much more that a crew needs then just a rack to fall into.  We need galleys, mess halls, heads and showers, for starters.  Obviously, we also need some kind of sick bay and dispensary.  Depending on the mission, we may need a dental unit, OBGYN, medical lab and imaging, bacta ward, and morgue.  But think of all the places we never see in science fiction that logic tells us has to be there.  There must be a ship's laundry, tailor, supply office, and a canteen to buy toothpaste and razors or whatever they use in a galaxy far, far away.  But there are even more considerations.  After perusing the general plans of the WWII escort carrier Thetis Bay (CVE-90), I discovered all sorts of space I never thought about.   Cobbler.  Barber shop.  Film lab (well, computer lab in SW).  Bakery. Post Office. Payroll Office and safe!
Just some of the systems I've had to find space for...

      Now, some of these amenities may seem like too much for a such little ship. While the Starphin is a Frigate by treaty and a Corvette by size convention, in reality, it is a Cruiser.  That's because it's consumables are listed, just like its Corellian ancestors, as being one full year's worth.  According the RAW from the REUP Manual a ships consumables are "A measure of the ship’s air, food, water and fuel and how long it can travel before having to stop for refueling and resupply."  This means that the Starohin needs to carry enough food, water, spare parts, tools, aviation fuel, tibanna gas, oxygen, uniform socks, laundry soap, replacement forks, disposible medical supplies, laser optics - everything, for three hundred people, for three hundred sixty-five days.  That's 109,799 crew-days of supplies.

     A Star Destroyer could carry that many crew-days of supplies, but then a Star Destroyer has almost fifty thousand people on board.  Fortunately, supplements such as The Darkstryder Campaign, novels such as the unfinishable Children of the Jedi give us solutions in the form of hydroponics bays and "full enzymatic breakdown" recycling technology.  Also, one can assume, since Humans and Duros  started forging the space-lanes twenty-five millennia ago, such technologies will be fully mature and operate at the peak of theoretical efficiency.  But we'll still need water tanks, plant bays, and vats of recycling material and processors. Spare parts get almost the same treatment, as self-replicating factories are a part of everyday life in the galaxy, one can assume that broken parts can be recycled into new ones with minimal feedstocks in storage.

     See?  Not impossible problems, but stuff you have to think about if you want realistic deckplans.  Next time, we take a look at the top-most ten decks of the Starphin, and actually start mapping some deckplans.  Here's a look at some of my behind-the-scenes-work, so you can get a taste of what I've been trying to deal with.  Enjoy!