So I was planning on getting more work done on the video adaptation of my review of Changeling, and was in the process of getting my web development tasks out of the way when my muse snuck up behind me, sat on my lap and lathered me with inspiration. It wasn’t really appropriate for the work place, but the inspiration lingers.
It’s for a pen-and-paper RPG, using these stories as background material. I’m going to ‘jot’ down some notes here, just to get them out of my head and continue working on what I’m actually getting paid for.
With appropriate credit to Bethesda, I think I’d like to use a version the SPECIAL system for character stats. The skill set will probably be slightly different from Fallout, as I’ll need to include things like Piloting, Astrogation and so on. Perks will also be different, and based on character origin & profession. As far as ship-to-ship combat is concerned, I’m thinking of developing a separate system called MARS that first considers the Munitions being used, factors in the Armor of the target, then the Range and finally takes into account anything Special about the weapon – if it’s made to pierce armor, if it’s radioactive, etc. – before making the rolls.
Characters will have 2 factions to choose from, Terran and Jovian. Terrans tend to be more intellectual and procedural while Jovians are more inclined towards altercations. The faction choice affects the final outcome of the character’s SPECIAL stats. Further customization comes from planet/moon of origin, with 4 for each faction. Terrans can come from Terra, Luna, Mars or Ceres, while Jovians hail from Callisto, Io, Ganymede or Europa. Planetary origin affects starting skill bonuses and makes some Perks available before a Profession is selected – some people are just naturally inclined towards certain things. I’m going to discuss Professions in the next section to try and keep my thoughts organized – things keep coming to me as I type this.
So there are four basic class types: Brawler, Shooter, Thinker & Speaker. Brawlers want to get into fights up close; Shooters want to stand back and… well, shoot; Thinkers use their brains both in combat and out; and Speakers talk a lot. But the Profession selection doesn’t stop there. There are also four types of employers: Government, Military, Corporate & Freelance. The type of class and employer the player chooses will determine their Profession, and thus their skill set & perk trees. For example, a Speaker working for the Government will be a Politician, while one employed by the Military is an Officer. Talking for a Corp makes you a Salesman, while working Freelance makes you a Con Artist. All Speakers have some basic traits they share, but the Officer is going to have some training with shooting things while the Salesman has better negotiating power.
Both Combat and Non-Combat Engagements will be handled with Skill checks, determined by the roll of percentile dice and affected by Luck & Perks. Space combat will start with a character’s Skill check which factors into the MARS system. Both person-to-person and ship-to-ship combat will have location hit percentages not unlike the V.A.T.S. in Fallout 3. Critical hits will likely have spectacular results, using the tables from Dark Heresy as inspiration.
Imitation, after all, is the most sincere form of flattery.
Ship-to-ship combat will also be interesting to develop. Smaller craft, such as fighters and small transports, will engage each other in “knife-fight” ranges, while capital ships hurl projectiles at each other at much longer ranges provided they don’t rely upon interceptors for protection.
Mood & Theme
The mood of the game will be somewhere between Firefly and the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica. There’s some space to explore within the solar system and beyond, but most of the drama happens in a relatively small arena, i.e. the space between Terra and Jupiter. There’s politics to hash out, credits to be made, battles to fight and technology to develop. Everybody has an angle and nothing is what it seems. The lack of stable FTL propulsion and any sort of alien species limits the scope of the action but allows for more personal storytelling potential, as well as keeping the mood more in the scope of a personal drama than a space opera.
That’s all I can think of at this point, and there’s going to be more to come as I let this stew.