Since we’re moving from the conceptual state toward implementation, let’s take a look at the character and inventory screen mockups as they are a good indicator of what to expect.
Key Concepts:1. Tagged Skills
The tagged skills will increase at a faster rate (let's say x1.25). INT will no longer give overall XP bonuses but define the number of tagged skills instead (up to 4 tagged skills at INT10). Thus a smart person will be able to excel in a larger number of disciplines. 2. Party-Based Mechanics used in DR
Charisma will determine the number and quality of your party members. The party size will range from 2 to 4. Experience points from quests will be split between the human party members (a droid will have its own leveling up mechanics and won't cost you any XP), thus a smaller party will be able to gain levels faster. 3. Feats & Character Levels
Your characters will gain levels using experience points from quests. When you level up, you’ll select feats, unlocking or improving your abilities. The feats will be an important aspect of character development (i.e. they won’t give you minor bonuses but help you develop your characters along specific paths: lone wolf vs squad leader, offense vs defense, gunslinger vs sprayer or gadgeteer, melee vs ranged, which will go beyond which skill to develop, etc) and make as much of a difference as the skills levels.
The skills will determine your chance of success with certain tasks and the feats will define what you can do and how you can use these skills to maximum advantage. Basically, the feats will define your character much more than your skills. 4. Skills & Learn by Using
You will not gain XP for killing, talking, sneaking, picking locks, using computers, fixing mechanical things and such. You will not increase your skills manually. Instead your skills will be increased automatically based on their use.
- The main problem with a party-based, skill-based setup is that even with a 3-man party you can easily cover all skills you want to have. You’ll have a fighter/talker, fighter/thief, fighter/fixer, which is something we’d like to avoid. The ‘increase by use’ system solves this problem in the most natural and logical way possible. Your abilities reflect what you do, not how (usually arbitrary) you distribute your skill points.
- It reinforces our party-based goals. If you let one of the party members do all the repair work while you concentrate on other areas, losing this party member would hit you hard and you’d have to make sure (via choices made during quests) that he/she would stay with you no matter what.
- It rewards consistent gameplay. Let’s say you need to deal with a gang that stands between you and that door over there. If you kill them, everyone’s combat skills will improve a bit. If you talk your way through, only your dialogue skills will go up.
Instead of counting how many times you did something, we’ll assign a certain value (let’s call it learning points) to each activity (attacking, killing, fixing, sneaking, convincing, lying, etc). So killing a tough enemy or repairing a reactor will net you more points than killing a weakling or fixing a toaster. Basically, it will work the same way as XP but go directly toward raising the skill that did all the work.
1-10 ranks with hidden grandmaster ranks going above 10. So essentially a 1-20 system. Basically, we don’t want someone to max a skill and then have the xp go to waste, so we will allow raising the skill above 10 in the unlikely event of someone going over 10 via extreme specialization. 5. Evasion
Evasion is a DEX & PER based skill. It doesn’t give you a chance to avoid attacks like AoD Dodge but rather makes you harder to target, reducing THC against you. Each rank reduces THC by 5% up to 50% at slvl10. Against melee attacks Evasion is twice as effective (i.e. 10% THC reduction per rank). 6. Stats:
- STR – carry weight, melee damage bonus, min requirements for heavy (two-handed) weapons like plasma canons.
- DEX – determines AP (Dex + 2) and combat sequence; same as in DR
- CON – determines HP (CON x 5)+10, number of implants, and resistance to poison, knockdowns, criticals and other harmful effects while in combat. The goal is to make toughness more than just hit points as +5 hit points don’t really make much difference. So the focus should be on resisting harmful effects. Implants: 1 at CON4, 2 at CON5, 3 at CON6, 4 at CON7, 5 at CON8, 6 at CON9, 7 at CON10
- PER – THC modifier for all weapons, reduces the effect of flashbang and smoke grenades.
- INT – determines the number of tagged skills: 1 at INT4, 2 at INT6, 3 at INT8 , 4 at INT10. Reduces Brainwave Disruptor effects.
- CHA – determines the party size, 1 follower at CHA5, 2 at CHA7, 3 at CHA9; max party size is 4
In most cases the implants won't give you direct bonuses (cellular regeneration and subdermal armor are the only combat implants) but will assist with "gated content", either allowing to bypass stat checks or unlocking extra content in the first place (like interfacing with the ship's systems via a bridge officer's datajack). Basically, the implants are closer to what we did in AoD than to Shadowrun, in case anyone's wondering.8. Reputation
General reputation will be checked in dialogues, but it will also give the players a better idea of what they missed via low ranks. Personal beliefs will be shaped by your decisions and checked in dialogues. We’ll start the game with 10 "old-school" questions which will both introduce the setting and define your character a little bit (the starting values).
* * *
It is the Year of Our Lord 2754…
You will never feel the sun’s warmth under a blue sky, never hear the wind in the branches of a tree, and never swim in the ocean, because you had the misfortune to be born on the Ship. You have never seen Earth, and you’ll never see Proxima Centauri either, your past and future both sacrificed by some dim and nameless ancestor to the greater good of the Mission.
Starfarer, they called her, a pretty name for a retrofitted interplanetary freighter. She had already been twenty years in service when she was rechristened, and showing every minute of it. No one is certain the Ship will actually reach its destination, and nobody much cares, since no one alive now will live to see it. Fatalism is the prevailing philosophy of the shipborn. Make the best life you can and consign all your what-ifs and might-have-beens to the void.
The Ship was launched by a neo-Christian conglomerate dedicated to establishing a religious colony on a distant world. The original fifty thousand passengers, the so-called First Generation, were true believers in the Mission. They sacrificed whatever lives they had on Earth and demanded strict obedience to the laws of God and the Ship from their children.
Unfortunately, the generations that followed lacked their forebears’ fervent will to sacrifice. Dissatisfaction led to open revolt against the authorities, called the Mutiny, and the mutiny metastasized into a civil war. While the mutineers dealt a decisive blow to the old order, they did not eradicate it completely. When the fires died and the smoke finally dissipated, three factions emerged from the wreckage of the old order: the Protectors of the Mission, The Brotherhood of Liberty, and the Church of the Elect, each of them promising their own version of the future.
Like everyone else on the Ship, your beliefs have been shaped by your experiences. While these beliefs may change and evolve over the course of the game, let’s determine a starting point.
You’ve always thought:
1. Rebelling against the authorities was a mistake. The environment itself is hostile enough to human life, and order is always preferable to chaos. [authority 1]
2. The mutineers did the right thing. Why should the shipborn bow down to the edicts of a bunch of centuries-dead zealots? [liberty 1]
3. Though they would deny it, the mutineers were fulfilling God’s will when they toppled the old order. All shipborn bend to God’s will, just as all events proceed according to His Plan.[believer 1]
4. Who cares? You’ve got enough problems right now without fighting over history with a bunch of fanatics.
In fact, you would go on to say:
1. How could anyone presume to know better than the Founding Fathers? What was good for them should have been good enough for everyone. [tradition 1]
2. The Ship is a special case, which calls for strict measures. The laws established for everyone’s safety may have seemed harsh but they kept us alive and relatively prosperous for centuries. [authority 1]
3. The authorities were wrong. They should have accepted the need for change, so that it could happen peacefully and gradually, but waging war within the confines of the Ship was pure madness. [progress 1]
1. Life is change and to stagnate is to die. The systems by which the shipborn are governed must evolve. [progress 1]
2. Tyrants have always justified their decisions with noble motives, but all they care about is power. That power rightfully belongs to the people! Death to tyrants! [liberty 3]
3. Violence is never the best solution, but it is sometimes the only solution. [liberty 1]
1. We have to believe in God’s Plan because that’s all He has left us. This suffering must not be for nothing. There must be a greater, higher purpose. [believer 1]
2. Honor He Who Was Reborn and you too shall be reborn into the New World that waits at the end of our long journey. Come the Dawn! [believer 3]
3. Faith has always been mankind’s greatest asset, for faith alone continues to provide when reason, physical strength, and even hope have failed. Preserve your faith at all costs. [tradition 1][believer 1]
1. The farther away they all stay from me, the better.
The Ship suffered extensive damage during the civil war, but remains operational. The hull was breached in several places and frantic efforts to avoid a meltdown crippled the main reactor. Radiation increased in places to lethal levels, and several areas remain dangerous to this day. When a small percentage of children in the Habitat were first born deformed, they were branded Mutants and immediately shunned. The young were abandoned, and those whose defects didn't manifest until later were driven out.
With the condition of the fusion reactor degrading to dangerous levels, and the number of volunteers for jobs in areas exposed to radiation remaining few, the Mutants negotiated a pact with the Habitat, granting them protection from harassment and violence in exchange for their maintenance of the engines and other vital ship systems.
You’ve always thought that:
1. The mutants are an abomination in the sight of God. We should have eliminated their twisted kind when we had the chance. [phobia 3]
2. The mutants proved themselves useful by taking care of the reactor. As long as I don’t have to look at them, they should be free to live their lives. [phobia 1]
3. We’re all God’s children, even those with webbed fingers or deformed faces. Are you so beautiful you can shun them? [philia 1][believer 1]
4. The mutants represent the future, the next step in human evolution. That is why the ignorant fear them. In saving the Ship they saved the world as we know it. That debt can never be repaid. [philia 3][progress 2]
The place you call home is known as the Pit, and to some more affectionately as the Free City. Calling the towers of containers rising from the depths of a cargo hold a city is a bit of a stretch, and so is the other half of it. With no kind of law or government, freedom mostly means you’re free to kill or be killed. On the plus side, housing is cheap and keeping overhead low is a priority when you have nothing.
The real cities, makeshift metropolises sprawling across many decks, are called Habitats. They offer much better living conditions for those who can afford it, but to live there you have to pick a side among the factions vying for control. Nobody in the Pit gives a damn about their struggles, but like Earth before it, nothing in this world is free. Just keep in mind you might get more than you sign up for.
As far as you’re concerned:
1. True freedom meaning being free from laws passed down by your supposed betters. [liberty 3]
2. Some rules are necessary, or else we’ll descend into anarchy. [authority 1]
3. If freedom means living in an interplanetary shipping container and sleeping with a gun under your pillow, these Pit-dwellers can keep it. [authority 2]
4. Personal freedom is a luxury the shipborn cannot afford. To serve the Ship is to serve your brother, to serve your sister, and to serve yourself. Why can’t people understand that? [authority 3]