So, I got bored.
You know what's not boring? Spacefaring cyborg reptile secret agent wizards.
I've already outlined this game, but let's recap:
In a vast universe of squabbling galaxies, trouble can erupt at any moment: calamities, rebellions, coups, trade disputes, accidental hyperevolution, accidental necromancy, dimensional fluxes, awakening the sleeping armies of the lost Ghkrat, dreams becoming real, enthusiastic postgraduate researchers carelessly building an unstoppable army of invincible robot armchairs – the possibilities are endless. No conventional task force can be assembled in time.
In this unimaginably distant future, heroic teams of spacefaring reptiles maintain the tenuous peace between squabbling mammalian empires. No drifting wreck is too sinister, no jungle world too unexplored, no asteroid belt too pirate-infested for these fearless trouble-shooters. With modern technology and ancient wizardry, they preserve the fragile web of intergalactic civilisation. Only their hardy poikilothermic bodies can survive nanotech implants, arcane infusions and the harshness of intergalactic deepjumps. They are the Monitors.
Our intrepid bands of anthropomorphic armoured cyborg warlock lizards will confront a wide range of troubles, many of them violent. They may have to battle anything from a million-strong sea of rock-grubs, through entire ships full of parasite-possessed parrotfolk, down to a gang of vicious pirate jellyfish or a single giant robot.
This is, as noted above, entirely a first draft of the thing. Any or all of it is subject to change.
I'm basing this game loosely on the BRP system. It's going to be skills-based, and generally involve rolling under your skill to achieve success. I've not yet decided whether to use d20, d100 or something else for success rolls.
I feel that inherent properties should have some bearing on competence, something which BRP doesn't especially do, so I'm looking at a Stats + Skills system for rolls. If I go with d20s, then it would probably be something like trying to roll under (Stat + Skill - Difficulty). While most skills will tend to be associated with particular stats, I want that to stay flexible to handle different sitations; a scientific skill might be rolled on Education to evaluate something, Coordination to perform a procedure or Mind to instruct someone else.
|Agility||4||Sense of balance, flexibility and grace||Dancing, weaving through laser beams, tightrope walking|
|Coordination||4||Manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination||Defusing, massage, hitting, aiming, juggling, surgery|
|Education||4||Ability to recall trivia, facts, techniques, quotes and theories||Pub quizzes, study, pop culture references, blagging, imposture|
|Mind||4||Reasoning ability, patience and strength of will||Crosswords, debates, resisting con artists, not giving up, staring contests|
|Perception||4||Awareness of surroundings||Spotting clues, overhearing gossip, realising you’re in a simulation|
|Reaction||4||Speed of mental or physical response to events||Dodging attacks, blinking, catching a dropped plate, retorting, playing Snap|
|Strength||4||Ability to exert physical force||Lifting, hauling, climbing, wrestling, breaking, pulling back over cliff edges|
|Toughness||4||Fitness, pain tolerance, immune system and physical resilience||Hiking, holding breath, resisting drugs, taking a punch|
I'm not sure yet how stats will be generated. The current default value of 4 (for Monitors and equivalent NPCs) is pretty much arbitrary, and based on d20. This would give PCs a 20% chance to succeed at an average task with no appropriate skills whatsoever, which seems pretty reasonable to me.
There's at least one other "stat", Speed, but I'm not expecting that to vary significantly between characters. My initial thought here is to just a have a few broad categories of relative speed, which cover anything from lumbering fungus-mounds to speeding hoverbikes. Something like: Glacial, Very Slow, Slow, Average, Fast, Very Fast, Supersonic.
|Administration||Education||Accounting, bureaucratic procedures, filing, loopholes, organisations, office politics, paperwork||Spot corruption, exploit procedures, identify appropriate contacts, play officers against each other, apply for grants, forge permits, guess where documentation is kept, interpret jargon|
|Archaeology||Education||Excavation, artefacts, sites, papers, scholars, recent prehistory, patterns of use and change||Spot likely sites, deduce routes and resources, identify buildings and artefacts, know relevant academics, explain abandonment, date materials, perform excavation|
|Art & Craft [type]||Any||Make, decorate, modify, arrange, perform||Knitting, blacksmithing, painting, hairdressing, writing, dancing, singing, flower-arranging, carpentry|
|Artillery||Coordination / Mind||Vehicle-mounted or platform-mounted weaponry||Coordination for manual, Mind for computer-assisted|
|Astronomy||Education||Constellations, eclipses, comets & meteors, star names, orbits, star science, life cycles||Guess planetary properties, identify star systems, deduce origin of interstellar matter|
|AV Technology||Education||Photography, recording, manipulation||Take clear photos, video events, record scandalous conversation, conceal message in song, fake photo|
|Bargain||Mind||Negotiating, haggling||Barter services, hire a guide, sell equipment, buy cheap goods|
|Biology||Education||Botany, cytology, ecology, genetics, histology, microbiology, physiology, zoology, paleontology||Develop vaccine, identify creature, understand food chain|
|Brawl||Agility||Hand-to-hand fighting||Punch, wrestle, kick, headbutt, bite, restrain|
|Chemistry||Education||Substances, chemical interactions, synthesis, analysis||Neutralize explosives, synthesise chemicals, identify unknown substances|
|Climb||Strength / Agility||Climb, balance||Climb a tree, shin along a beam|
|Computing||Education||Assembly, software, data, security, theory and personalities||Build server, write program, follow data flows, track hacking attempt, hack system|
|Conceal||Perception||Legerdemain, camouflage, covert placement||Carry a weapon undetected, hide a vehicle, apply camo makeup, place a bug, make a hidden cache, stash incriminating evidence away from the cleaners|
|Cybernetics||Education||Identify, understand and use cybernetics and robotics||Use robotic surgery bay, synch with battlecruiser, pilot scout mech|
|Disguise||Perception||Change appearance, posture, voice, costume, scent, bioreadings||Impersonate an individual, adopt a persona, avoid recognition, theatrical effects, fancy dress, leave red herrings|
|Dodge||Reaction||Avoiding physical dangers||Avoid falling rocks, attackers, grenades|
|Drive [type]||Reaction||Drive, evaluate and perform basic maintenance on vehicles; types at GM's discretion||Tail a getaway car, drive a boat through rapids, get a tank out of soft sand, dock with an alien spacecraft|
|Electrician||Mind / Coordination||Evaluate, fix, patch or sabotage electrics and electronics||Hotwire vehicle, fix motor, short-circuit machine, reroute burglar alarms, disable robot|
|Explosives||Education / Coordination||Assemble, prepare, identify, detonate, defuse, demolish||Blow the bloody doors off, demolish bridge, spot suspicious package, disarm missile|
|Fast Talk||Reaction / Mind||Bluster, bully, startle, overawe, disdain, fob off, charm, distress, bluff||Excuse trespass, bluff past a guard, get a signature, obtain an invitation, avoid a fine, borrow a car|
|First Aid||Mind / Coordination||Revive, splint, soothe, de-sting, bandage, resuscitate, Heimlichise||Stop choking, treat burns, stop bleeding, splint a limb, administer painkillers|
|Geology||Education||Rock types, basic paleontology, minerals, mining, landscapes, seismology, vulcanism, terrain stability, water sources||Locate mineral seams, predict eruption, find water, identify fossil|
|Gravity||Education||Cope with, manipulate and understand variable gravity||Work effectively in high or low gravity, use gravity to pull off combat tricks|
|Handgun||Agility||Shooting, maintenance, identification||...|
|Heavy Weapons||Strength||Bulky and unwieldy weapons, often mounted or gyro-supported||Autocannon, missiles, flamethrowers|
|Hide||Perception||Avoid pursuit, surveillance or patrols||Lurk in bushes, evade CCTV, disappear into a crowd|
|History||Education||Knowledge of current events and historical past||Identify obsolete technology, recognise historical figures, identify heraldry, recall political scandal|
|Language [type]||Education / Perception||Listen, speak, read, write, analyse||Converse, understand gossip, read inscriptions, appreciate poetry, impress crowd|
|Law||Education||Legal systems, emergency services, cases, personalities, institutions||Conduct a case, impersonate police, avoid charges, recall criminal cases, draw up contracts|
|Light Weapons||Coordination||Infantry weapons||Rifles, blasters, sniper rifles, grenade launchers|
|Listen||Perception||Hearing, listening, eavesdropping||Detect an intruder, locate a songbird, pick out password|
|Locksmith||Coordination||Locks, clockwork, hotwiring, doors and windows, puzzle boxes, physical traps||Open doors, copy keys, disassemble items, hotwire cars|
|Mechanical Repair||Coordination||Evaluate, fix, patch or sabotage structures or physical machinery||Reroute plumbing, repair fence, fettle engines, cannibalise machinery, patch hulls, reinforce viewports|
|Medicine||Education||Preventative care, surgery, medication, epidemiology, disease, poisons, parasites||Treat poison, treat disease, give vaccinations|
|Melée Weapons||Agility||Knives, swords, clubs, flails, lightsabres, gauntlets||...|
|Navigate||Mind||Positioning, route-finding, memorising, map and chart use||Pinpoint your location, find your way, memorise turns made by your kidnappers' vehicle, map an area|
|Occult||Education||Myths, artefacts, magical practices, tomes, sorcerers, spirits||Recognise names, perform rituals, identify artefacts, identify a practitioner's traditions, guess intentions|
|Operate Heavy Machinery||Mind||Understand, drive and maintain construction equipment, engines, boilers, large machinery||Operate jump engines, repair a heating system, use a crane|
|Perform [type]||Perception||Music, drama, oratory, dance, mime, web design, flower arranging||Show off, put on a performance, evaluate a performance, earn a living|
|Persuade||Mind||Convince someone to accept a particular idea or stance||Reconciliate enemies, get long-term asssistance, successfully plead innocence|
|Physics||Education||Forces, materials, electromagnetism, optics, radiation, space-time||Design devices, predict flows in hydraulic system, understand experiments, baffle laser alarms|
|Psychology||Perception||Reactions, motives, character and intentions||Sense suspicion, anxiety, concealment, over-eagerness|
|Research||Mind||Archives, references, fact-finding, googling, online tracking||Find a document, track a person's online activity, locate relevant references|
|Ride||Agility / Reaction||Any riding beasts, cycles, hoverdiscs, or similar light vehicles||Control a frightened animal, weave through trees|
|Scent / Taste||Perception||...||Trace gas leak, detect alien, anticipate chloroform, notice drugged coffee, appreciate wine|
|Sneak||Agility||Move, work or talk without undue noise||Slip past guards, talk in class, quietly remove wheels from car full of mobsters|
|Spot Hidden||Perception||Secret doors, ambushers, tripwires, clues, disguises, concealed weapons||Find spots of blood, recognise repainted car, spot feet under bulging curtain|
|Swim||Strength / Toughness||....||Escape from sharks, swim against a current, rescue drowning person|
|Throw||Agility / Strength||....||Agility for accuracy, Strength for distance|
|Track||Perception||Locating, following, identifying tracks, concealing tracks||Incorporates use of trackers, IR trails and other physical tracing technologies|
|Xenology||Education||Knowledge of cultures, linguistics and artefacts||Guess use of bizarre artefact, know taboos, identify obscure species|
Skills with a [type] category I'm thinking will be used with specialities. The exact breadth of the specialities are up to the GM; they might decide to ignore specialities entirely. As an example, the Drive skill might have very broad specialities, like Space, Air, Land, Sea and Burrowing; or alternatively Sail, Steam, Draught (animal-drawn), Motor and Gravitic. You could also break it down further: Automobile, Train, Sailing Boat, Powered Boat, Submarine, Tunneller, Draught Vehicle, Aeroplane, Balloon. For very large vessels (battleships and the like) this skill alone wouldn't be enough to control them; you might combine them with leadership-type skills to direct a crew, rely on Computing to have the ship pilot itself, and so on.
It is, at first glance, a very long list of skills, but in my defence, it's not as long as the BRP list than inspired it. In particular, I've decided to forego skills for individual weapons, and create broad skill groups instead. To some extent that's weird because this game will probably be rather more combat-heavy than, say, Call of Cthulhu. Looked at another way, it makes sense for that reason: the adventure genre gives people rather more leeway with adapting to different weapon types without worrying about exactly how good you are with a particular size of club.
Obviously there's loads I haven't done yet, not least coming up with some version of a magic system. Expand skills to include some magical options? Have specific, esoteric spells that can be learned? Some combination of the two? I dunno.
I'll also need to think about things like more detailed mechanics, likely stat and skill ranges, how stats and skills balance, whether I want skills to be comprehensive or a nice bonus, progression (if any), injury... at the moment I'm slightly inclined to just have Bad Things reduce stats directly, which would impair associated skills and eventually leave someone ineffective. It would also avoid having secondary stats. We'll see.
At the moment this is a very skills-heavy system, but there's always the niggling thought that I could go entirely the other way and cut things down to a small number of broad skills. I miiiight end up trying that, just to see what happens. Anyway, it's late.
Opinions, comments and suggestions would be much appreciated.