Showing posts with label Mechanics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mechanics. Show all posts

Monday, November 23, 2020

The Standard, Non-Standard Ammo Options

There are some games where it is a core mechanic to track ammo. In Battletech, Star Frontiers and D&D, tracking ammo is important. In these games, ammo is a consumable core to the player's ability to play by the rules. How many missiles, gyrojet or arrows can one person pack around? It is tied to believe-ability. 

However, in other games it is in the rules but somehow violates the spirit of the game. Star Trek and Star Wars come to mind. How many characters on TV or in the movies run out of ammo? Only when the plot calls for it. 

Most games will fall someplace between the two extremes, such as any d20 game. Where the amount of ammo does not seem relevant, I prefer to use a different mechanic. In a modern setting with characters carrying normal firearms, I assume that all characters and NPCs are spending a bit of their time reloading as the opportunity presents. This means they almost always have bullets available. 

To add some tension, if the character fails their attack roll by rolling the worst possible number (say, a 1 in 20) then they are out of ammo and need to spend time to reload right now. If the rules have a mechanic for a jammed gun occurring on a one, the first time they roll a one they are out of ammo and if it happens again on the very next roll, the gun has jammed. 

Some games have weapons that simply don't work like a machine gun or semi-auto pistol. A blaster in Star Wars or Phaser in Star Trek are very unlike modern firearms. In the movies, they never run out of ammo unless the plot calls for it. As before, if a character rolls a 1, their weapon has malfunctioned. It makes a noise and nothing happens. To get the weapon working, the player needs to make a successful to hit roll to make it start working again. That seems like an oxymoron rule and maybe it is. The tension comes from the fact that the enemy knows there is something wrong and the hero can't shoot. They are drawing attention to themselves. Having the weapon suddenly go off in the enemy's face is just like Star Wars. And in Trek, fiddling with the controls almost always works. 

On the off chance these advanced weapons experience two back to back failures, then they are out of action until a repair is made, usually outside of combat. 

For most games where ammo tracking is important, I make sure the story provides ample reloads or parts where shooting is not required. My D&D players love "defending the castle walls" because by their nature, defenses have plenty of ways to get more ammo to the defenders. 

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Pluses and Minuses, Pools and Podcast

In Star Smuggler, characters make to hit rolls. They have to roll over a certain number which is varible with 2 dice. Although the rules do not say it, the character receives one die for skill and one die for the quality of their weapon. The rules establish that if you have no skill with a weapon, you can't make a to hit roll. However, theoretically, if you ignored that rule you could have an unskilled character blasting away with a very, very low probability of hitting. 

For starship and boat weapons, the roll is different. You need to roll 1 or 2 to hit. A pair or more of ones indicates a critical. The player receives a 1d6 per roll based on the tech level of their weapon, up to a maximum of 6d6. 

In other parts of the game, there is a standard roll of 1d6 or 2d6, where the character can have pluses and minuses modify the roll. The roll is usually used to determine what of 6 or 12 things happen next not how good you are doing. The evaluation of "good" or "bad" happens as a result of reading a paragraph or two describing an event. Getting in a fight is supposed to be bad, but if you have large party of characters that idea is flipped on it's head because the player can dominate the battlefield. Getting a cool new item is supposed to be good, but if you don't have room for it, it's useless. 

The D&D player in me only noticed the standard roll of 1d6 or 2d6 with modifiers and could not conceptualize why giving modifiers to weapons fire does not work. I know, I've tried. It's because those rolls are from a dice pool, a concept that is totally foreign to me.  

This is a case of knowing your rule sets and having a great background in games, mechanics and theory helps a lot. I am all about D&D while I find Traveller to be entirely opaque. Traveller fascinates me because I can't figure out how the game master and players use the game mechanics to make great things happen. I've heard of people playing one Traveller campaign for decades, as I have been doing with Star Smuggler. The basic mechanics make that happen. 

In D&D, my campaigns fizzle after a few weeks or months because the characters reach a point where the truly fantastic has to happen over and over each session to make the game go. The rules lose their gritty danger as the characters improve. That's baked right into D&D while Traveller has a totally different mindset where it's not likely that your character will mechanically improve at all. They get better and smarter, but everyone is still one blaster shot away from death. It's the psychological threat level that changes, not the characters abilities. It's all in the scope of the story. 

This is probably the reason why I've been listening to Safco Cast so much. I am sure most listeners are looking to Jeff Koenig and Bob Loftin Traveller experiences, I am listening for their Gaming experience. It's this whole "new" world of Traveller that fascinates me not for the world itself, but the whole mechanical framework that makes the play happen. In the last episode I listened to, they spoke all about dice pools and it really sorted out some issues I had with Star Smuggler because of my person experience with D&D. Bob and Jeff are truly enlightening, because of the way they present the Traveller rules while also looking other systems like Cepheus and make great comparisons in how things are done. 

Amazing. Why don't you give them a try? 



Sunday, March 20, 2016

How to get the Deeds done – Wehnimer’s Landing Temple

Deeds are critical to avoiding death’s sting. Obtaining Deeds in The Landing is fairly easy and is one of my favorite places to purchase Deeds.
The basic formula for deeds is:
101 coins for the deed plus your level times 100 plus the current number of deeds times 100.
This formula works in the Landing, River’s Rest, the Caravansary, and Icemule Trace.
There are a couple of caveats, in River’s Rest you may only use gems. In Hearthstone Manor you may use wands but no coins. In the Temple in The Landing, gems are worth triple their value. In Northern Caravansary you may only use items while in Icemule Trace you can use items in addition to wands but no coins.
In Wehnimer’s Landing, the temple accepts silvers and/or gems, and the gems are worth triple their value. This appears to be the best value for your money.
Enter the temple, go through the black arch, go through the tapestry, use the mallet to hit the chime two times then kneel. Drop your gems and coins and hit the chime again.
If you attempt to kneel before hitting the chime twice you will receive a warning. Once complete, you are escorted from the room.
Trivia 1: In the old days, there used to be ONE tapestry and people would line up to use it. You literally had to wait for others to figure out the puzzle.
Trivia 2: The Caravansary sells a Ruby for 5000 coins. By the formula, one Ruby will always be enough for one deed for characters 100 levels or less and having less than 48 deeds. For the 49th deed, you need to drop one coin and for each deed beyond that you need to drop an additional 100 silvers. This is only possible at the temple not the Caravansary’s deed shrine.

Game Mechanic Shafts

Sorcerers are known to have one of the cruelest game mechanic shafts – low strength and/or constitution and a requirement to tote a ton of kit to work spells. Many spells require some sort of component: 740, 735, 725, and 714 just to name the major ones. Bottles, rune stones, ink, paint brushes, pens, chalk and so on.
For this reason, I role play a slightly built sorcerer with glasses and robes. No one should be surprised when he rummages in his backpack for a bottle or sack for some found prize instead of wielding a weapon.
This isn’t the greatest mechanical screw in the game. I think the record holder is the old Tapestry in the Temple, Wehnimer’s Landing’s. Back in the day, the Tapestry was a unique item and space. One character at a time could enter that part of the Temple. So, queue it up and play nice for a deed. Yes, one deed because you were pitched out by the acolytes, just as you are now.
This mechanic was removed years ago, but I still recall the wall of text and line of characters waiting their turn.