Some of you might be familiar with the Exigency campaign
. Thatâ€™s the culmination of a few playtests seeking to eventually produce something well-suited to- well, made for
- play-by-posts. The mechanics used (I don't really have a name for the system) need a review. They need documented, they need standardised, and ideally they need to be more adaptable to other settings.
So, come one, come all, letâ€™s figure out how this works like the good old days. And I know there were brainstorms prior to mine, I just can't find them. This space reserved for when people inevitably link me up. EDIT: hah, found some!
On Play by post games and the preparation thereof
A thread about GM'ing Play by Post Games
What it currently is
Bring back other dice!
As with many similar systems the basic core consists of 1d20 (representing effort and sheer luck) plus attribute, plus speciality, plus situational modifiers.
Thatâ€™s it. In the iteration used in the CF game, there is no dice used other than 1d20 for resolving challenges.
The system used in the Exigency campaign is perhaps unusual in that thereâ€™s no charisma stat or similar attribute, merely a Social speciality used in conjunction with Intelligence (calm appeal to logic), Willpower (passionate appeal to emotion) or Strength (traditional intimidation). Theoretically it could be used with anything relevant to the situation, just as with any other speciality.
When used elsewhere, thereâ€™s no reason that any number of attributes couldnâ€™t be used, as discussed in â€œWider changesâ€ below.
But Exigency uses Health, Strength, Agility, Focus, Willpower, and Intelligence, and specialities address the differences. So a high Focus, which governs things such as concentration and perception, would mean a character had superior eyesight/hearing unless they had a penalty to their Sense speciality.
Encounter powers and aspects
Encounter powers and aspects are more recent additions. Aspects are akin to perks or feats, granting various bonuses or changing how that particular character beats challenges- i.e., Martial Arts [Agility] allows the purchaser to use their Agility rather than their Strength when resolving hand-to-hand challenges or grappling etc.
Encounter powers occupy the same â€œslotsâ€ as aspects, and theyâ€™re very similar except theyâ€™re expended on use until the end of the encounter (i.e., the players get a chance to rest). Examples include Exertion [Attribute], which allows a character to take 20 on the associated test in return for temporarily losing a point of it, and Adroit Assault, which lets a character add their Agility to their Melee attack roll. At much higher levels, both are available in a use-at-will aspect.
The number of slots is dependant on the characterâ€™s Health for physical aspects/EPs, and their Intelligence for mental ones. I havenâ€™t figured out the exact formula yet!
Observations regarding the version used in the Exigency campaign
Iâ€™m actually slightly surprised at how successful itâ€™s all beenâ€¦ in general feel, that is. Further play testing will no doubt reveal the cracks in the balance. Health and Intelligence seem awfully powerful as attributes go, but respectively theyâ€™re the â€œprimaryâ€ stat for overall physical and mental proficiency so I think that works quite well. The biggest problem is consistency, and documenting exact rules instead of playing by feel, so to speak.
Grid Systemâ€™s character, Terrence, alternates between game-breaking effectiveness and borderline uselessness because of his telepath/empath build. This is more representative of the setting and the scenario than anything else, as some of the partyâ€™s encounters have been with psi-resistant or psi-immune hostiles, but as a buff/debuff character and interrogator Terrence has excelled.
tastydonuts has Dustin, who is the token Social expert and probably the best all-rounder. His only flaw is that he will snap in half if he ever has to grapple with an opponent strong enough to exploit his weakness and fast enough to negate his Agility. But between some good rolls and some good equipment choices, heâ€™s barely been scratched.
Egos has Cyril- heâ€™s been dubbed the ninja, and with good reason. Heâ€™s the Stealth and Melee expert and along with Cutter, heâ€™s taken down some incredibly tough enemies- oh, and once he wandered off and beat the entire line-up of a martial arts tournament while his colleagues fought a crazy cyborg. Apparently Adroit Assault lets you clean up when your Agility is that highâ€¦
Zetetic Elench gives us Alliah, the analyst. Thereâ€™s some crossover with her and Terrence when it comes to forensics and investigation and similar, but she has the advantage of being more physically resilient and not relying on psionic skills to get the most out of her abilities. More recently Zetetic had Alliah steamroll the defences of an enemy facility, which was a strangely strategical moment in a mostly action-and-conversation-based campaign.
Ryadic brings us Cutter, the party tank, proving that Melee is a viable ability even in the high-tech sprawl of the Exigency setting. Heâ€™s taken more damage than anyone else yet refuses to die- proving the (over?) effectiveness of the Health stat mechanic. Heâ€™s the damage magnet but he can sure as hell deal it.
AJAlkaline40 has Stephen. Stephen is a virtually superhuman genius who is a neurosurgeon by trade (everyone needs a medic) but has also demonstrated the adaptability of the Intelligence attribute by beating computer systems.
Everyone, in short, has had their fair share of achievements. The party is incredibly high-level by the standards of the system- â€œnormalâ€ people would have barely half of their prowess in attributes and specialities. Fortunately nobody excels at everything and everyone has taken very different approaches to similar situationsâ€¦ a typical RPG campaign, really.
Self explanatory- it seems slightly odd to dismiss anything other than d20s when rolls are made entirely through online, automated mediums such as Invisible Castle and its fellows.
For example, itâ€™d add greater variety to damage rolls, both dealing and suffering it. If an ability or accident can reduce a targetâ€™s Health or Willpower by 1d4 points, then it instantly adds greater potential depth than a flat value of 1 or 2.
Currently the system assumes competency on the part of the player characters- they can attempt first aid, bomb disposal, fencing, sniping, juggling, anything without actively having prior training/experience in the form of a speciality.
Iâ€™m not sure if Iâ€™m entirely at home with that, or if future players will like it. Iâ€™m tempted to take a leaf out of D&Dâ€™s book and just give in and implement trained and untrained skills. E.g., Medic, Tech, Marksmanship- trained, Melee, Evasion, Sense- untrainedâ€¦ or whatever turns out to work and make some sense. If you use an trained skill without investing in it, youâ€™re not entitled to use your +Attribute bonus, youâ€™d simply roll the d20 and take the result: and trained skills would cost an extra point to purchase in character creation. It would still be possible to make an omnicompetent utility character by pumping up your Intelligence (and Focus) and purchasing a swathe of trained abilities, but itâ€™d cost you.
And, again, maybe this is something else that could be used optionally. If your campaign involves the divine or the supernatural or the generally superpowered, maybe assuming competency is right up your alley.
The most obvious include reducing or increasing the number of attributes, or shaking up specialities so that they donâ€™t exist at all or so that characters have nothing but specialities with no basic attributes- it all depends on what works and feels best.
But if every character was only ten or so numbers, with no aspects or encounter powers or similar, thatâ€™d probably be too simplified. Theyâ€™d have a lot less character, for a start.
More complex potential changes include the addition of damage points, stamina, will (psi points/morale) etc. These did exist in the systemâ€™s earliest iterations but were quickly dumped for simplicityâ€™s sake- but maybe in some respects itâ€™d be welcome to have depleting stats other than primary attributes to play around with for damage and special abilities. Iâ€™m really not sure.
What Iâ€™m asking
What do people want from a system made with PBPs in mind?
What have you seen elsewhere that worked, and how could those mechanics/approaches be applied here?
Have you got your own system that [strike]I can rip to pieces and steal[/strike] we can discuss, as a whole and in its individual pieces?
A typical brainstorm. Hell, I'd want to hear from everyone, even if its just a suggestion for a name better than "CF PBP system"