Friday, 23 November 2012

Just the facts ma'am

While trying to find time to lay out my map etc. I've been scribbling in my notepad (because that is a lot easier to get away with at home!).

This is a topic that has reared its head as I try to amalgamate The Department of Fabricant Management and 5150: New Beginnings. As you probably know I was looking for The Blade Runner Experience with my acquisitions of DFM and 5150, I can see real merit in both, but have plumped for 5150 as my système du jour.

However 5150 is not investigation orientated, it seems more comformtable operating on the other side of the law, and why not. However I'd like to unlock the potential to make it into something more akin to a police procedural, as always I see a number of options, so getting down to business:

DFM - I could use The Department's system straight, there is nothing wrong with it, although I don't really like the fact that you choose the prime suspect at the beginning of the campaign, I feel this should be either something that comes from the story, or is thrown at you by the game mechanics. There is a nice split of evidence required to play the prime suspect's 'showdown', and you have budget thrown in too which is another neat mechanism, but all in all, could do better.

Technoir - this is something I touched upon in an ealier post, this game has 'Transmissions' (you can get a free one from the TechNoir website). Ultimately it is a matrix of 36 (d6 by d6) 'things' that can be randomly selected, you can then piece this together to form a story/crime as the investigation unfolds. It holds real promise, the only downside being that you are limited to 6 of each category (these being Connections (or people to you and me), Events, Factions, Locations, Objects and Threats). The advantage of these though are that they are bang in that bleak future/cyberpunk feel.

Fiasco - again something I mentioned in that earlier post, of interest are the numerous Playsets with varying degrees of appropriateness. These are very similar to Technoir, only with more options and different categories. For instance looking at one it has Relationships (with 6 subcategories and then 6 items in each), Needs (emotional and physical), Locations and Objects (all with 36 items), I think this may be what they all have, just with different subcategories. These are pretty good too, with several left field suggestions, like a Post-it note with several passwords. I can see these being randomly determined to great effect.

FU/Mythic - this is for true story heads/ role-players. You could just use Mythic and/or FU to generate the story, as I have explained probably many times before these are basically Yes/No generators, ask a question, get an answer. It is surprising how effective this truly is, as one question leads to another, all you need to add are various random tables, which 5150 has in abundance. This is a possibility but I feel 5150, and those that choose to play that, rather than an RPG, probably want something more concrete. This is an 'always available' add-on, especially FU (which also uses d6).

Larger Than Life - yep, another of Two Hour Wargames rulesets. In LTL you enter each scene in search of a clue, sometimes you get it and others you don't, when you have your clue you roll dice add it to your accumulated clue total and if you beat the target number you play the final showdown. This is a perfectly valid system, but I feel it lacks detail, maybe coupled with some of the above this could work extremely well.

5150: New Beginnings - finally of course is 5150 itself. You could use the tables that determine a mission in a sort of reverse order, i.e. you catch a suspect and he reveals a small part of the mission, you then need to find out the target, the mission type, the employer/sponsor, and the hired perpetrators. This has the elegant simplicity of just using what we already have in 5150, however there are difficulties before I start high fiving everyone. To start with, in 5150 you determine the employer first, when this is really what you want to discover last, and then this unfolds into the next table etc. in essence we need to start at the branch of the plot and end with the root, not the other way around. As you can imagine this then becomes far more complicated.

So where does all this summarising lead me? Well, as always it leads to some wild concoction of bolted on systems which I try as hard as possible to keep streamlined. So what is this wild theory?

Deep breath.
Take the TechNoir/Fiasco model tables (not decided which yet, is 6 of each enough?). Randomly determine the various entries using 5150, Everyone Everywhere, Fiasco playsets, TechNoir transmissions, even Kellri's City Blocks or whatever takes your fancy.
Play out Encounters (including some new ones I will reveal later!), to get clues like LTL and DFM.
Randomly determine the nature/details of the clues using the TechNoir/Fiasco system or logic.
Roll your Savvy skill dice and add your successes to your accumulated clues to determine if you have enough evidence (Target Number to be decided, but 10 sounds good). If you beat the TN choose/select a Showdown (again to come!) and play!

And that's it, basically rehashed LTL clue gathering, with details added by the randomiser of your choice that you weave together as you choose! It's really simple isn't it? and all that detail for that? Well, sometimes you need to jump through hoops to learn to take the easy route!

Addendum: Since I originally worte this post I have gone on to produce a sort of rough draft of what it might look like in a THW rulebook. I have e-mailed this to Ed (THW commander-in-chief) in case it interests him, which is why I did not make this posting at the time. It's been a couple of weeks since then, so I thought, why not reveal something of it? So that's the meat of the idea, and if I hear back one day I'll let you know.

Until next time Steve

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