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

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Life, the Universe and Everything - November

OK, so I now realise that me and gaming seem to be mutually exclusive activities, and I have again left it a long time between updates.

So, I will begin a monthly round-up of my activities, and hopefully there will be something of at least general interest.

So what have I been doing?

Writing - I have finally given in and started writing a children's book. There are two reasons it is a children's book, first I have two young-ish daughters myself (7 and 10) and I want them to read it, secondly it means that I can really whip through at a great pace both in wiritng and plotting, i.e. a shorter book. I don't want to reveal too much but I will say it is fantasy and the possible start to a series. Also with the many distractions too I am actually writing it, which means I can do it pretty much anywhere.

Android-ing - I finally managed to persuade my other half to get a tablet, I've been helping the kids with Angry Birds and other Android crazes. If any of you know of any good role-playing or boardgaming related Android apps, let me know!

Working - in the past I have just felt knackered, now I've actually started to work in the evenings too and the sitaution is not looking good for the next couple of months, a real downer, but then there is always the light at the end of the tunnel.

Rules writing - I actually have a post lined up trying to get a police procedural theme into 5150: New Beginnings, and I've actually gone on and written the rules! Unsurprisingly I have not play-tested them one bit, other than sense check, but I think I have finally honed senses for these things (don't we all!). Look out for this in a couple of days.

Ideas - I still get ideas, or hear things that I can tweak to an as yet unstarted or partially started project. For instance this morning I thought about using cards instead of a pre-designed map for my Knight Errant idea, to make it more random and re-playable. Why did I think of this? I have no idea! Obviously my shower gel reaches parts other gels don't reach!

So at the moment the writing bug has bitten, I really hope this goes well and I actually finish the first book. When I do I might approach publishers, who knows?! If I can turn out 1 to 3 books a year I would like to do it full time (the writer's dream!). And if that doesn't go well I've always a few back up ideas...

Until next time Steve