30 March, 2015

LARP Shield

In the quest to produce interesting LARP equipment, rather than the regular stuff that you can see everyone else possessing on the battlefield, I present my latest offering...



...after a day in the field, I'd like to report that the design was a success. The concept is a mystically enchanted, giant leaf.

To make it a bit more "LARP-safe", it needs some more padding around the edges, but otherwise it was good. The "gently serrated" edges also made good points to catch opponent's weapons on, to direct swords away from the body while opening up their defenses.

29 March, 2015

Hypothetical "Other Strangeness" Mutant Animal Derivation Listing

Here's the general listing of animals I'll be using for Other Strangeness... I know there are gaps in the list, I'm just trying to make sure I cover most of the interesting types. Are there any cool animals you'd like to see that I've left out? Note that some of these animals have been detailed far more than others, and some have outdated verb sets attached to them because they were added to the list earlier.

VERTEBRATES
Mammals
Aardvark – [claws], [burrowing], [good smell], [small x1]
Agouti – [], [small x2]
Ape – []
Armadillo – [hard armour], [], [small x1]
Baboon – [], [small x1]
Bat – Sn-Ch, Fly (Ch), Sense (Ch), Climb (Sn), Hunt (Sn), [wings], [sonar], [no hands], [small x2]
Bear – Fi-Kn, Bite (Fi), Wrestle (Fi), Navigate (Kn), Survive (Kn), [claws], [padded armour], [large x1]
Beaver – [teeth], [tail], [small x2]
Bison – [padded armour], [skeletal reinforcement], [large x2]
Boar – [tusks], [padded armour], [large x1]
Buffalo – [padded armour], [skeletal reinforcement], [large x2]
Camel – Ta-Kn, Navigate (Kn), Survive (Kn), X (Ta), X (Ta), X (), [dry survival], [no hands], [large x2]
Cat – Sn-Ta, Balance (Sn), Hunt (Sn), Convince (Ta), Seduce (Ta), [retractable claws], [nightvision], [small x1]
Cheetah – [claws], [teeth]
Cow – Ta-Kn, Calm (Ta), Perform (Ta), Diagnose (Kn), Survive (Kn), Meditate (Ch), [no hands], [large x2]
Coyote – [teeth]
Deer – [no hands], [antlers], [good hearing]
Dog – Ta-Fi, Bite (Fi), Tackle (Fi), Inspire (Ta), Scare (Ta), Navigate (Kn), [teeth], [no hands], [good smell], [small x1]
Dolphin – [sonar], [no hands], [no legs], [swim speed], [aquatic]
Donkey – [kick], [large x1]
Echidna – [burrowing], [claws], [quills], [good smell], [small x2]
Elephant – Fi-Kn, Gore (Fi), Tackle (Fi), Navigate (Kn), Survive (Kn), Remember (Ch), [prehensile trunk], [tusks], [padded armour], [no hands], [large x3]
Elk – [no hands], [antlers], [skeletal reinforcement], [large x2]
Ferret – Sn-Fi, Climb (Sn), Steal (Sn), Bite (Fi), Wrestle (Fi), Perform (Ta), [teeth], [good smell], [small x2]
Fox – Sn-Kn, Hunt (Sn), Steal (Sn), Solve (Kn), Survive (Kn), Bite (Fi), [teeth], [good smell], [small x1]
Giraffe
Goat – [horns], [skeletal reinforcement], [eat anything], [small x1]
Gorilla – [], [large x1]
Hedgehog – [burrowing], [claws], [quills], [good smell], [small x2]
Hippopotamus – [teeth], [amphibious], [no hands], [large x2]
Horse – Sn-Ta, Run (Sn), (), (), (), [no hands], [large x2]
Human – Ta-Ut, Convince (Ta), Lead (Ta), Construct (Ut), Repair (Ut)
Hummingbird – [wings], [heightened metabolism], [small x3]
Hyena – [teeth]
Kangaroo – Sn-Ta, Jump (Sn), Smuggle (Sn), (), (), [leap]
Koala – [claws], [dry survival], [small x2]
Jaguar – [claws], [teeth]
Lemur
Lion – [claws], [teeth], [large x1]
Manatee – [aquatic], [armour], [large x2]
Marten – [teeth], [small x2]
Mink – [teeth], [small x2]
Mole – [burrowing], [claws], [small x2]
Monkey – Kn-Ut, Jury Rig (Ut), Repair (Ut), Play (Kn), Solve (Kn), Climb (Sn), [prehensile tail], [small x1]
Mouse – [], [small x3]
Muskrat – [teeth], [small x2]
Opossum – [Claws], [Prehensile Tail], [Nightvision], [Play Dead], [small x2]
Orang-Utan – []
Otter – [], [small x2]
Pig – []
Platypus – [amphibious], [spurs], [poison], [], [small x2]
Possum – [Nightvision], [Claws], [small x2]
Rabbit – [Leap], [small x2]
Raccoon – [], [small x2]
Rhinoceros – [horn], [reinforced skeleton], [armour], [large x2]
Rodent – [Teeth], [good hearing], [good smell], [small x3]
Sheep – []
Skunk – [musk], [small x2]
Sloth – [claws], [small x1]
Squirrel – [claws-climbing], [small x2]
Tapir – [proboscis], [no hands], [good hearing], [small x1]
Tasmanian Devil – [Claws], [Teeth], [small x2]
Tiger – [claws], [teeth], [nightvision], [large x1]
Walrus – [teeth], [pressure tolerance], [padded armour], [no hands], [no legs], [large x1]
Weasel – [Teeth], [Heightened Metabolism], [Good Smell], [small x2]
Whale – [pressure tolerance], [padded armour], [no hands], [no legs], [sonar], [large x4]
Wolf – [Teeth]
Wolverine – [Teeth], [Claws], [small x1]
Wombat – [Reinforced Skeleton], [armour], [burrowing]
Zebra
Birds
Albatross
Chicken – [wings], [no hands], [small x2]
Crow – Ut-Ch, Dream (Ch), Fly (Ch), Construct (Ut), Jury Rig (Ut), Steal (Sn), [wings], [good eyesight], [small x2]
Duck – [wings], [no hands], [small x2]
Eagle (Predatory Bird) – Sn-Fi, Hunt (Sn), X (Sn), Dodge (Fi), Slash (Fi), Fly (Ch), [wings], [talons], [good eyesight], [small x1]
Emu – {no hands], [powerful legs]
Flamingo – [wings]
Goose – [wings], [no hands], [small x1]
Ibis
Kiwi – [small x2]
Kookaburra – [beak], [wings], [small x2]
Lyrebird – [wings], [mimicry], [claws], [small x1]
Ostrich – {no hands], [powerful legs]
Owl – [Wings], [Nightvision], [Talons], [small x1]
Penguin
Seagull
Turkey – [wings], [small x1]
Reptiles
Alligator – [teeth], [hard armour], [cold blood], [tail], [aquatic], [large x1]
Crocodile – [teeth], [hard armour], [cold blood], [tail], [aquatic], [large x1]
Frilled Lizard – Fi-Ch, Bite (Fi), Block (Fi), Attune (Ch), Dream (Ch), Climb (Sn), [cold blood], [small x2]
Iguana – Fi-Ch, Bite (Fi), Block (Fi), Attune (Ch), Dream (Ch), Climb (Sn), [cold blood], [small x2]
Komodo Dragon – [poison], [armour], [cold blood], [claws], [teeth], [large x1]
Skink – Fi-Ch, Bite (Fi), Block (Fi), Attune (Ch), Dream (Ch), Climb (Sn), [cold blood], [small x3]
Snake (viper) – Ch-Fi, Hypnotize (Ch), Command (Ch), Bite (Fi), Wrestle (Fi), Poison (Kn), [poison], [no legs], [no hands], [small x1]
Snake (constrictor) – Ch-Fi, Hypnotize (Ch), Command (Ch), Bite (Fi), Wrestle (Fi), Poison (Kn), [reinforced skeleton], [no legs], [no hands], [small x1 to large x1]
Tortoise
Turtle – Sn-Ch, Hide (Sn), Swim (Sn), Meditate (Ch), X (Ch), Block (Fi), [hard armour], [pressure tolerance] , [small x2]
Amphibians
Axolotl – [Amphibious], [small x3]
Frog – [leap], [Amphibious], [small x3]
Poisonous Frog – [leap], [poison]. [Amphibious], [small x3]
Salamander – [Amphibious], [small x3]
Toad – [leap], [Amphibious], [small x3]
Fish
Angler Fish – [teeth], [aquatic], [armour], [incandescence], [pressure tolerance], [small x2]
Blowfish – [poison], [aquatic], [armour], [spines], [small x2]
Carp
Fighting Fish
General Fish (freshwater) – [aquatic], [armour], [small x3]
General Fish (saltwater) – [aquatic], [armour], [small x3]
Lungfish – [aquatic], [amphibious], [armour], [small x2]
Piranha – [teeth], [aquatic], [armour], [good smell], [small x3]
Shark – Fi-Sn, Hunt (Sn), Swim (Sn), Bite (Fi), Rip (Fi), Smell (Ch), [breathe underwater], [pressure tolerance], [padded armour], [no hands], [no legs], [good smell], [small x2 to large x2]
Swordfish
INVERTEBRATES
Ant – [good smell], [extra limbs], [small x4]
Bee – [wings], [extra limbs], [good smell], [stinger], [small x4]
Beetle – [heavy armour], [small x4]
Butterfly – [wings], [extra limbs], [good smell], [small x4]
Centipede – [extra limbs], [armour], [small x4]
Cockroach – [armour], [climbing claws], [extra limbs], [small x4]
Crab – [armour], [extra limbs], [aquatic], [pincers], [small x3]
Cricket – [leap], [extra limbs], [armour], [small x4]
Dragonfly – [wings], [extra limbs], [armour], [small x4]
Earthworm – [armour], [regeneration], [no hands], [no legs], [small x4]
Firefly – [wings], [extra limbs], [incandescence], [small x4]
Fly – [wings], [extra limbs], [small x4]
Grasshopper/Locust – [leap], [wings], [armour], [small x4]
Jellyfish – [aquatic], [poison], [extra limbs], [small x3]
Leech – [armour], [no hands], [no legs], [small x4]
Lobster – [aquatic], [extra limbs], [small x3]
Millipede – [extra limbs], [armour], [poison], [small x4]
Mosquito – [wings], [proboscis], [extra limbs], [small x4]
Moth – [wings], [extra limbs], [good smell], [small x4]
Octopus – [tentacles], [no hands], [pressure tolerance], [extra limbs], [small x2]
Scorpion – [poison], [extra limbs], [tail], [small x4]
Sea Cucumber
Slug
Snail
Spider – [poison], [spinnerets], [extra limbs], [small x4]
Squid – Sn-Ut, Squirt Ink (Sn), Swim (Sn), Construct (Ut), Jury-Rig (Ut), Solve (Kn), [ink], [beak], [no hands], [extra limbs], [small x2 to large x4]
Starfish – [extra limbs], [regeneration], [small x3]
Tardigrade (Water Bear) – [pressure tolerance], [armour], [hibernation], [small x4]
Wasp – [wings], [extra limbs], [good smell], [stinger], [small x4]
PAST ANIMALS
Mammal
Argentadon – [claws], [teeth], [heavy armour], [large x2]
Hyaenodon – [claws], [teeth], [large x3]
Mammoth – [prehensile trunk], [tusks], [heavy armour], [large x4]
Megalodon – [claws], [teeth], [heavy armour], [large x3]
Megatherion – [claws], [teeth], [heavy armour], [large x2]
Smilodon – [claws], [teeth], [armour], [large x2]
Thylodon – [claws], [teeth], [heavy armour], [large x2]
Bird
Terror Bird
Reptile
Allosaur – [claws], [teeth], [heavy armour], [large x3]
Ankylosaur – [claws], [teeth], [heavy armour], [large x3]
Brontosaur – [claws], [teeth], [heavy armour], [large x5]
Diatrymon – [claws], [teeth], [heavy armour], [large x3]
Dromaeosaur – [claws], [teeth], [heavy armour], [large x3]
Duckoid – [claws], [teeth], [heavy armour], [large x3]
Koolasuchus – [claws], [teeth], [heavy armour], [large x4]
Pachycephalosaur – [claws], [teeth], [heavy armour], [large x3]
Plesiosaur – [claws], [teeth], [aquatic], [heavy armour], [large x4]
Pterasaur – [claws], [wings], [armour], [large x1]
Sarcosuchus – [claws], [teeth], [heavy armour], [large x2]
Saurinoid – [claws], [teeth], [heavy armour], [large x3]
Stegosaur – [claws], [teeth], [heavy armour], [large x3]
Triceratops – [claws], [horns], [heavy armour], [large x2]
Tyrannosaur – [claws], [teeth], [heavy armour], [large x3]
Amphibian
Fish

OTHER
Plants

Fungi

27 March, 2015

Defining the "Other Strangeness" world

I've been thinking of something more than just the characters in this game, it's collaborative storytelling, so it makes sense to spread the load when it comes to making the environment at the start of the campaign.

I'm just spit alling at the moment, but here's my initial thoughts in this regard.

Every player gives a wide overview definition of 2 regions of the city

They get a total of 25 points to divide between these two regions, the points may be spent on the following categories.
Safety 0-4 (0: Dangerous, 1: Unsafe, 2: Patrolled, 3: Relatively Safe, 4: Very Safe)
Infrastructure 0-4 (0: Ruins, 1: Minimal, 2: Poor, 3: Adequate, 4: Good)
Building Density 0-4 (0: Sparse, 1: Low, 2: Medium, 3: High, 4: Skyscrapers)
Industry 0-4 (0: None, 1: Low, 2: Medium, 3: High, 4: Industrialised)
Commerce 0-4 (0: None, 1: Low, 2: Medium, 3: High, 4: Business District)
Residential 0-4 (0: None, 1: Low, 2: Medium, 3: High, 4: Condominiums)
  [NOTE: Industry + Commerce + Residential <= Building Density + 2]

Special Features - first one free, then 1pt each (with requirements)
Waterfront (no requirements)
Landmark (2+ safety, 1+ building density, 1+ commerce, 0-2 industry)
Zoo (2+ safety, 1-3 commerce, 0-2 industry, 1-3 infrastructure)
Power Substation (2+ industry, 2+ infrastructure)
Sewers (2+ infrastructure, 1+ building density)
Subway (3+ infrastructure, 2+ building density)
Train (2+ infrastructure, 0-2 building density)
Motorway (2+ infrastructure, 
Small Parks (1+ safety, 0-3 building density)
Open Parkland (1+ safety, 0-2 building density)
Sporting Arena (1+ safety, 1-3 commerce, 1-3 residential)
Shopping Complex (2+ safety, 2+ commerce, 2+ residential
Warehouses (1+ safety, 1-2 building density, 2+ industry)
Abandoned Warehouses (0-2 safety, 0-3 building density, 0-2 industry, 0-2 commerce, 0-2 residential)
Farmland (0-1 building density, 1 industry, 0-1 commerce, 0-1 residential)
Military Base (3+ safety, 1-3 building density, 1-3 industry)
Cathedral/Temple/Mosque (2+ safety, 2+ building density, 2+ residential)
Airport (2+ safety, 1-2 building density, 1-3 industry, 1-2 commerce)
Hospital (2+ safety, 1-2 residential)
School (2+ residential)
University (1+ safety, 2+ building density, 2+ residential, 1+ commerce)
Ghetto (0-2 safety, 2+ building density, 2+ residential)
Police Station (3+ safety, 2+ building density, 1+ residential)
Courthouse (3+ safety, 2+ building density, 1+ residential, 1+ commerce)
Docks (Waterfront, 1-3 building density, 2+ industry, 0-3 safety)
Art Gallery / Museum (School or University, 3+ safety, 2+ building density)
Cemetery (0-2 building density)
No organised crime (2+ safety)
Irregular power (0-1 infrastructure, 0-2 industry) (zero cost)
Bad Part of Town (0-2 safety) (zero cost)

Each region is made up of a hex (some groups might use 2 or 3 adjacent hexes). The highest point region is placed first, additional regions are placed adjacent to this in descending order of value until all regions have been placed. 

Regions may be controlled by single groups (including corporations, police or gangs) (1-3 safety), contested by multiple groups (0-2 safety), or may be free (2-4 safety). Each player may create a single group and place them in one of the city's regions (as long as that region doesn't have the "no organised crime" trait). As long as the safety is 2 or less, multiple gangs can be allocated to the same region.

Then we'd look at some quick way to generate gangs or power structures that make sense in those regions. 

Needs more work, but for those players who like to detail their allies or spend time really getting into the development of the setting through their character background, this might help them do that. It might end up being abandoned, but the idea is out there now.

Making sense of Character Integration

Here's where my mind has taken the concept of backgrounds...

Let’s work off a more linear pattern for background/relationships. In this way, the benefits of the relationships are flat bonuses. Every level of a background/relationship provides a simple flat bonus (one advantage granted at the beginning of each conflict for each level in the relevant background. If a character is able to draw on more than one background at the start of a conflict, they must choose which one is most relevant, and they may gain a single advantage point each from other relevant backgrounds, during subsequent turns they might gain an additional advantage point from these other backgrounds up to the point where each background has contributed it’s maximum number of advantage points). A character can easily get the first level in a relationship, but it gets harder to improve this relationship to higher levels.

The first level costs one point, the second level costs 2 points, the third level 3 points, etc. But there is no limit to how far a character might be able to go. Characters with incredible psychic potential might have spent 45 points in total to earn 9 levels of power, they’d need to spend another 10 points to get that 10th level. Meanwhile a character just starting their journey to psychic awareness might spend those same 10 points to go from zero to level 4. I’d probably apply some kind of story requirement to the acquisition of new background levels, maybe even capping it to one level per game unless a specific in game reason saw a way around this…(you ran the last mutant frog out of town, you could probably spend 6 points to take their former level 3 stronghold as your own).

For communal backgrounds, I think that everyone should keep track of how much they’ve spent on the total. The first point spent gives access to the communal background, and every point after that is thrown into a pool that improves the background in the usual manner. Improving from level 6 to level 7 might take 7 points, but two of the character’s might spend three points each, while the third character only contributes one point to it. If everyone knows how many points were spent on the total, then those who spent more points might have priority in describing the specifics of the background, or gaining access to the points it provides. Nothing formal, more of a friendly agreement.

What happens when a character dies, or leaves the story for some reason? I don’t think it’s fair to just negate all of the points that this particular character added to the communal resource, nor do I think that this character’s legacy should simply remain intact forever. Instead I’d suggest that each game, the missing character’s contribution degrades by a single point, until it is gone. Or maybe roll a die, to see whether the contribution degrades…I’m not sure, and I don’t think I really need to get bogged down in that detail while there are so many other important things about the system and setting that really need to be addressed first.

Allies
Activation Condition: You must successfully contact an ally in one scene before their points become available in a subsequent scene.

Benefit: You must name a specific ally for each point, such allies have their own statistics as though they were a character. Two ally points may be spend on a single ally to reflect an experienced veteran. [All ally points are spent permanently on specific defined individuals]

Drawback: Calling on an ally will often result in a favour that needs to be repaid; also, once an ally is killed or neutralised in the story, any points associated with the ally are permanently lost. [Disadvantages in a conflict may injure or even neutralise the ally, or may require bigger favours before they’ll aid you again]

Contacts:
Activation Condition: You must successfully reach one of your primary contacts before their points become available, otherwise only a secondary contact can be reached (half the usual benefits).

Benefit: You may name a specific contact for each point, where a named contact may provide an automatic success to a specific field of knowledge while you are interacting with them. Unspecified points count as generic contacts that may provide a standard d2 verb bonus when the points are expended. [Permanently spend points on specific named individuals with known areas of extensive knowledge, or temporarily spend points on generic contacts with lesser knowledge]

Drawback: Calling on a contact will often result in a favour that needs to be repaid. [Disadvatntages may lead to incomplete or out-of-date information, or may lead to bigger favours needing repayment before the contact may be used again]

Equipment:
Activation Condition: You must specify equipment items being carried, or be near the storage area for your equipment to gain its full benefits (otherwise you may have assorted generic items which provide half the usual benefits).

Benefit: You may specify items that exist in your equipment, where each point provides an automatic degree of success due to your familiarity with it. Unspecified points count as generic items and toolkits that may provide a standard +d2 equipment bonus when they are expended. [Permanently spend points on improved equipment, or temporarily spend points to access ad-hoc equipment of lesser quality]   

Drawback: When used, equipment may become damaged (thus requiring successful actions to repair them) or may become completely broken/lost. [Disadvantages during a conflict may lead to damaged or even irreparable items when they are used]

Influence:
Activation Condition: You must be in an area associated with your influence to gain its full benefits (otherwise only half benefits apply). The effects of influence are never instantaneous, they often take one or more scenes to manifest.

Benefit: Gradual accumulation of point expenditure may cause specific effects, or accumulate into wide ranging events that have significance influence on the long term narrative. [Spend points to overcome narrative obstacles where your influence might have some power, or to suppress negative effects resulting from failed actions in your influence’s field]

Drawback: Besides being slow, the use of influence might be cancelled by other people similarly using influence. [Disadvantages earned during a conflict may result in your actions being broadcast to other people with similar influences, or may see the influence permanently reduced]

Mentor:
Activation Condition: You must be in the presence of your mentor to gain the full benefits.

Benefit: Training from your mentor may be used to fulfil the conditions necessary to learning (or improving) abilities, your mentor may also assist in social or physical conflicts if the need arises. [All mentor points are spent permanently on specific defined individuals]  

Drawback: Once a mentor is killed or neutralised in the story, any points associated with the mentor are permanently lost. [Disadvantages in a conflict may injure or even neutralise the mentor, or may require some kind of penance before they will continue their teaching]

Psy:
Activation Condition: Psy is available at any time, but as soon as it is accessed, you are connected to the Dreaming (for all the benefits and drawbacks this entails).  

Benefit: Once connected to the Dreaming, you may spend these advantage points to increase the effectiveness of any psychic or mystic actions. [Permanently spend points on a continued link to the dreaming focused on a specific power. Temporarily spend points to enhance any powers you might possess, or resist the powers of others]    

Drawback: Excess use of psy may cause mutagenic instability, and may alert other psychics/mystics to your presence. [Disadvantages in a conflict may cause instability or direct injury, or may have some other form of psychic backlash based on the manifested effect (at the GMs discretion)]

Reputation:
Activation Condition: Someone needs to know you, or be associated with groups who know you, before you gain the benefits of reputation.

Benefit: Among people who know your reputation, you may spend these advantage points on social actions, or prevent incoming social actions that might impact your reputation. [All reputation points are spent on a temporary basis, to improve social standing in a given situation]   

Drawback: Calling on your reputation too much may see it diminish or may see it vanish completely. [Disadvantages may see people come to question your reputation, rendering it unusable until the reputation is restored]

Sanctum:
Activation Condition: You must be within your sanctum to gain the full benefit, if you are near the sanctum you gain half the benefit.

Benefit: When in your sanctum, you may spend these advantage points to reflect home area knowledge. [Permanently spend points to reflect traps, defences, and other features of your sanctum, or temporarily spend points to gain home ground advantages]    

Drawback: Once a sanctum is compromised in the story, any points associated with it may be permanently lost. [Disadvantages may see a reduction in the sanctum quality, or may see it unusable for a short time]

Status:  
Activation Condition: Status is linked to a specific group, and only members of that group are affected by it. Dealing with members of allied groups may allow up to half the usual benefits.

Benefit: Within the designated group, you may spend these advantage points on social actions, or prevent incoming social actions that might impact your status within the group. [Permanently spend points on a specific status linked to a successful action, place or event of significance to the group. Temporarily spend points to improve social standing in a given situation]    


Drawback: Calling on your status too much may see it diminish or may see it vanish completely. [Disadvantages may see personal status questioned, or may see the status/reputation of the entire group diminished (which will certainly have repercussions from other members)]

26 March, 2015

Old School Printing Methods (Part 2)

It has taken a little longer to get further in this series because I've had some complications in the process.

The gel bed is fine, but I'll show you some of issues we've been facing.



First, we get a sheet of carbon paper, then a sheet of gloss paper (gloss photography paper for an inkjet printer is optimal for this, but there are plenty of other glossy papers around). The gloss side of the paper is face down, in contact with the "inked" side of the carbon paper. In this case I've got a sheet of tracing paper as well.



I'll use a map of a familiar country to work through this process. I've pencilled it onto the tracing paper, the. Then next step is to get the image onto the glossy side of the paper using the carbon paper. For this, I use a stylus (a ball-point pen that has run out of ink would work just as well). Tracing the map, I get an image on the glossy side of the paper where it has been compressed against the carbon paper.


This is wrong!

It was based on my instincts from other printing processes.




25 March, 2015

Individual and Communal Relationships

I’ve been thinking a bit about the backgrounds/relationships in System 4, and how they link a character to the outside world. A few people have commented on the idea of having a communal pool of relationships that the whole group contributes to, perhaps along the lines of a group headquarters (or secret lair), or a general link between the wider party and the outside world.

With this in mind, I’ve been considering the idea of splitting the backgrounds into 4 levels, and running the numbers comparing triangular or linear progression.

Allies (I or C)
1 An ally
2 A few allies
3 A small group of allies
4 A large group of allies                   
Contacts (I or C)
1 Contacts in one field (or part of the city)
2 Contacts in a few fields (or parts of the city)
3 Contacts in most fields (or parts of the city)
4 Contacts everywhere                   
Equipment (I or C)
1 A few useful tools
2 An assortment of special gadgets
3 All sorts of implements, doodads, and apparatuses
4 Anything you could want to get your hands on              
Influence (I)
1 Able to manipulate (or gain advantages from) a specific field
2 Able to manipulate (or gain advantages from) a wide field (or a few specific ones)
3 Known as a mover and shaker throughout the city
4 Known as a mover and shaker across the country (or even planet)       
Mentor (I or C)
1 Not much more powerful than you
2 Significantly more powerful than you
3 True Master
+1 Commonly available                   
Psy (I)
1 Aware
2 Sensitive
3 Empowered
4 Mystic                                                 
Reputation (C)
1 Known by Name
2 Recognized
3 Feared/Revered
4 Famous/Infamous                         
Sanctum (I or C)
1 Private Hole
2 Secluded Shelter
3 Secret Bunker
+1 Fortified                                          
Status (I)
1 Associated
2 Accepted
3 Integrated
4 Respected                                         


I don’t think 4 levels really works, it’s feeling a bit too compressed, and maybe a bit too trite in some ways. Maybe I should just run with an open ended linear system.

Needs more work.

24 March, 2015

Trying to add Depth Without Sacrificing too much Simplicity (again)

Some characters have natural advantages and disadvantages, regardless of the numbers they roll on dice during the course of a conflict. A character with hands that resemble animal paws is going to have trouble with feats that require fine manual dexterity (opposable thumbs were a pretty big advantage to early humanity), and a character with massive leg muscles (like maybe a mutant kangaroo) will have a huge benefit when trying to leap heights or distances. In keeping with the origins of the game (Palladium’s “TMNT and Other Strangeness”) there will be two levels of mutation away from the “human norm”, this gives us 3 general degrees for most things: “None”, “Partial”, and “Full”. To keep things simple, I’m going to state that those characters who have “None” for their relevant mutation (eg. “Hands” when dealing with fine dexterity) suffer a loss of 1 full success on their actions. Those characters who have “partial” mutations simply apply a –d2 to any roll where this are relevant.

One of the things that TMNT never really handled well in my opinion was the mutant transition where animal forms had no limbs what-so-ever (eg. snakes). In cases like these, I’m just thinking that certain tasks will be flat-out impossible. But on the positive side, evolving this far from humanity will open up new abilities and mutations (and more points with which to buy them). Another thing that just didn’t make sense in that game is the way that you can keep a completely human appearance while degrading hands and bipedal stance down to nothing. One of the common things about watching the “mutant animal” genre of cartoons (and reading the comics), is that “human appearance” is almost always one of the first things to go. I’m thinking of making that a prerequisite before other mutant deviations can occur.

Then we come to the issue of size. I’d like smaller characters to have an easier chance of hitting larger targets, but to have less chance of doing significant damage when the hit occurs. Conversely, larger character should have a harder time connecting their hit with smaller targets, but when those hits occur they should be correspondingly more powerful. From a simplistic perspective, the modified chance to hit is equally balanced out by an equal and opposite damage, so we might not need to worry about this mechanically at all, instead make it a narrative distinction. That feels like lazy design to me.

One option to overcome this might be through a comparison of animal “size classes”, where a smaller character gains a number of advantages on an action equal to the size differential, but they need to earn a number of successes equal to size differential in order to actually inflict damage.

Snickers is size class 4, Spot is size class 7. When Snickers attacks Spot (or looks for Spot when she’s hiding), he gains 3 automatic advantages due to the size differential. These are gained by Snickers every time he initiates an action against Spot, but may only be used on actions against Spot (let’s assume he loses all the advantages If he turns his attention to someone else). Since a single advantage point may be used to increase a die by d2, and a pair of advantages may be used to add an automatic success to an action, we can safely assume on average that Snickers will earn more successes in each strike of the conflict, but that he will need far more successes to actually deal damage (if that is his intention). It probably makes more sense for Snickers to play a cunning game against Spot, maybe leading her into traps that deal damage regardless of size factor, or engaging in social conflict where issues other than size come into play.
  
To work through this problem, we might also need to pull in ideas of how characters might resist incoming negative effects.

I’ve already added in some elemental ideas. These are drawn from European alchemy and/or Japanese mysticism, they also pull in the concept that most anime teams feature four or five characters who almost always fit the elemental stereotypes. Even the TMNT have four members, and a mysterious mentor who walks a balanced path between them.

Basically…
Air – Speed, Surface Appearances (ability to deal with ephemeral/social conflict).
Earth – Stability, Resilience (ability to deal with physical endurance/conflict).
Fire – Passion, Strength (ability to deal with motivation drains).
Water – Rationality, Thought (ability to deal with rational debate/puzzles).   
(These are also the stances, and generally the “attributes” of the characters).

I had also considered the idea that a character would have a higher “virtual air” score when facing a larger opponent (this makes them quicker in comparison), and a lower “virtual earth” score (this makes them easier to wound). The reverse would apply when facing smaller opponents. If this is the case, it would means that “Earth” is used to absorb physical wounds, similarly “Fire” might be used to absorb attacks on a character’s motivation/emotions, “Water” might do the same for attempts to confuse the character, and “Air” might buffer social attacks.


It doesn’t feel 100% right, but it’s a step in the right direction.