Savage Space Playtest

Hello World,

no new poll this week! The result from last weeks poll can be seen on the left. It is clear people prefer to have freedom in their travel which is not surprising. I will use these to craft the new FTL travel system that falls in the combined territory instead of the fully free one.

I did not post something yesterday as I wanted to do this post here about the play test session for the Spaceships as Characters rules from yesterday. My usual gaming group was the willing victim. They had very little experience with these rules beforehand and it was educating to see how they approach ship design and the weaknesses they discovered. Sadly I to take pictures AGAIN so my apologies for the wall of text in advance.

First I had everyone create at least two ships each to have some variation in ships. There where surprisingly few problems. The system works and while the first ship took over an hour to create the second after it only about thirty minutes. They only had problems when the rules deviated from the normal character rules. For example that the amount of money was different then with a character or that the attributes had other uses. Other issues that cropped up where that the prices had a different scale than player equipment or that there where too few skills.

The results where interesting. My group is a mix of different player types and it showed in their ships. For example one of my guys is an old Battletech veteran and approach shipbuilding like mech design: How many slots can I free up to put as many weapons in as possible while still maintaining the intended ship function. He built clear “classes” like a pirate gunboat (fast with lots of weapons) or blockade ship (slow but tough with shorter range but more devastating weapons). Another is more a storyteller type player. He created ships like protagonists in a story. His smuggler ship had only one weapon and still lots of free slots for example. He did not spend all his available money either but part of it was a misunderstanding of the price structure win relation to the size modification. I will need to think about this again.

This led to some unbalanced ships but after all in the real world not everyone approaches these things the same way either!

The next step was of course to throw all these ships in the ring and have a dogfight. Interestingly no one commented on the lack of dedicated movement rules for spaceships. That made me wonder if complicated rules for drifting in space are really necessary? It looked like the normal vehicle movement worked out fine. Does anyone have an opinion on or experience with something similar?

During the fights we assumed every ship had enough crew to use all weapons and the crew would have d6 in all skills. The Ship itself had also one action per turn. This action was usually used to assist one of the crew instead of having the ship do something itself. The only exception was one ship that had a high skill in shooting and always fired the most deadly weapon itself. Due to the limit of available assists the extra rolling was minimal and did not disrupt the flow of the game. It had the feeling of a targeting assistance program or navigational computer being installed. We generally liked that. Everyone felt that combat was over too quick and far too deadly. The fight was Wildcard against Wildcard so should have lasted a bit longer in our opinion.

Afterwards we spent a lot of time discussing the issues here and identified a few reason for this. Firstly the Novice ranked ships had too many weapons. A normal player character can only shoot a single weapon at a time unless he has an edge that allows him to go akimbo. A Novice ranked ship can easily carry 3-5 weapons if the creator wants to. It happened fairly often that a ship got destroyed in a single round due to the attacker firing several times in one round and the wounds stacking up. Secondly so far there are no maneuvers that could bolster their defense or make them harder to hit.

As a result a few things have become clear I that I will have to re-balance and implement. Primarily I need to go over all the weapon prices and slot costs again or somehow devise an arbitrary limit on how many weapons a ship can have. A way of doing this would be to set a fixed amount of slots for all ships expandable by edges. For example we assume that all ships are normal size by default with 20 Slots. You can take the hindrance “Small” to create a fighter with only 10 Slots or the edges “Large “ “Huge” etc to gain more slots. That would move it away from the carrying capacity equivalent however, that I am quiet fond of.

I can Implement more skills for the ships as I feel it is not as big a problem as I first feared. Seeing skills as programs for the ship computer makes it only logical to have the ship able to help on varying topics. There is an issue with linked attributes however. It would make sense to link all skills to the smarts attribute when I take the view “it is all programs” and that would give that attribute a lot of weight. But it would devalue the other Attributes.

I will also have to review the decision of having ships be Wildcards. They do need more wounds than an extra of course or the danger for the crew would be too high. But having a wild die makes assisting a bit more powerful than I had intended. Not by much though. Being a Wildcard itself makes it possible for the ship to fully take over a characters responsibility too. Some players asked me why their characters should learn the ship operations skill when their ship can easily have a d10 in it. Removing the wild die for the ship would re balance this more in favor of the players. But this could also be useful for smaller groups. I may have to put an info box there, showing both options so the GM can make an informed decision for his group.

So there you have it. I learned a lot yesterday and I hope I can refine these into a better, more balanced and streamlined system.

Please leave a comment when you have some personal experiences with this systems or have any idea or opinion about the issues I discussed. I love getting comments and advice from others.

Read you soon!

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2 thoughts on “Savage Space Playtest

  1. I like the idea of skills as programs, I think that fits really well. When it comes to abilities I think there’s room for more than smarts. Even just within the CPU it’s about more than raw computational power, you have multiple processes going at the same time and juggling between them to have the right one prioritized at the right time could be seen as a kind of agility. Or better yet, take into account the physicality of the ship. Maybe the computer can track the target just fine, but it doesn’t matter if the ship doesn’t have the agility to line up the shot. Strength can be the raw power to throw into the engines or the structural integrity needed to withstand a maneuver. It might not map exactly to a normal character, but I think skills can be tied to all the attributes and still make sense. Spirit might be a little hard to fit things into, but even it might work if you think about it as specialized software/hardware. I’ve been playing around with idea of spirit linked skills as electronic warfare and countermeasures, but haven’t had a chance to put much thought into it yet or playtest anything. I’m looking forward to seeing what you decide to do with skills.

    • Thank you for your input, I like how you think the different attributes could relate to each other. Your idea of using Spirits as countermeasures could work well. And it would fit with the function of spirit as the attribute to un-shake the ship. Food for thought is always good!

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