[Uncharted Worlds] A space-opera game of exploration and debt



  • edited January 2015
    Well, the munchkin in me wants there to be a way to add infinite upgrades to my shuttle.
    Hehe, yeah, after a lot of playtesting on that front, limiting all Assets to maximum Class 2, with possibly Class 3 with a Skill, made it a lot less Swiss-army-knife-esque. That said, there is potential for Class 4+ weapons, equipment, vehicles and potentially even crew when it comes to ancient alien technology and such. And some of the upgrades would be unique to the alien civ. You could probably have a whole story based around finding, keeping and maintaining a Class 5 "Shuttle" with Living (+Regeneration) and Intelligent (+Self Control) upgrades, somewhere between Moya from Farscape and Kitt from Knight Rider.
    I guess the one thing I'm a little confused about is how the career kits work. I don't know why, but it took me until now to realize that the Utility Gear loadout includes 3 career kits instead of 2. I think it's because the first one is listed in the line with the loadout's name.
    Career Kits function a lot like "Adventuring Kits" from Dungeon World, full of just the right sci-fi gadget you need at the time. The main difference is that they are more or less unlimited, but they only have tools/gadgets appropriate for a specific career. They also affect the look and style of the character's clothing; if you want to stand out and look awesome, get a Personality Kit or Commercial Kit (or both!). If you want to go out in bad weather, get an Explorer's Kit. Kits were introduced recently, so I may not have written them up very well yet.

    Good point about the Utility Gear; I'll be sure to make the base bonus clear when reformatting the layout of the various Assets (chances are the base bonus/abilities of the Weapons and Vehicles are similarly difficult to notice).
    I'm not sure if this is an issue for anyone else, but I'm likely to just pick the stat boost for my origin, because those are the only bonuses that you can't get during play. Even if you choose an origin with non-stat boost skills that don't match your chosen Careers' skills, you can get those skills in play by accomplishing other XP milestones.

    Having a stat boost available in every career will make the other Origin skills more attractive. And now players could wait and see which stats they need a boost in and then take the boost in play.
    This is a very interesting observation that comes up fairly often from self-avowed 'munchkins'. Back in the earlier versions of the game, the Origin only had a stat boost. However, when making characters, I got the comment that 'just one more skill' from another career would 'tie the character together'. Cross-career skills were added to each Origin in order to give the option to build your ideal character from the get-go. The trade off was not having the +1 in a stat.

    Additionally, the way the milestone system works, if you have a skill in a career, it makes it much easier to earn a milestone in that same career simply by making use of the skill. In that regard, building towards a third career is easier for those who take a cross-career Origin skill. It's negligible, true, but it has come up in the longer campaign that I've run.

    Finally, the idea of adding a +1 in a stat through milestones is one I've been toying with. I'd rather not have them in the Career, though. Instead, it may go into the Healing rules; Critical damage can be repaired with prosthesis, and if you "spend" Milestones, you can gain better-than-average cybernetic or surgical upgrades, effectively giving yourself +1 in a stat if you don't already have a stat increase. Or something, that still remains to be seen. Maybe it'll have to wait until the (tentative) [Alien/Psionic/Robot] expansion book, where Mutated and Cybernetic would be 'careers' you could gain Milestones in to boost your stats. Just spitballing.
  • I like where you're going with that. I really am not a munchkin, I just like what's hard to get. Stat boosts are hard to get, so I'd probably go with those from my Origin. If they were available (no more than one per character), then I'd be more likely to choose a more flavorful Origin option.

    Oh, I sent you a PM, in case you haven't seen it. I'm new to this type of forum so I'm not sure how to navigate it all.

    I do like the idea of Moya. That was the greatest sci-fi show of all time. Basically a weekly version of Guardians of the Galaxy. It's a shame that so few people saw or remember it.
  • edited January 2015
    It amazes me how much writing the "long form" of the basic moves makes you re-examine them as much as playtests, especially looking at them with fresh eyes after a couple of weeks break. I've gone and made minor or major tweaks to all 5 of the stat Moves, stuff that I didn't even know was bothering me until I actually started writing it out and was like "who thought this was a good idea... oh yeah... -_-"

    The biggest change is the removal of the +Interface Move 'Program', replacing it with 'Access'. Basically, I felt that everything you could do with Program could be done with either Get Involved, Assessment or Face Adversity using +Interface on an open system. Instead, the new 'Access' Move is about getting past protections, encryption and other security. It's now less of a 'Command Computer' and more of a 'ICE Breaker'.

    Anywho, as a bit of a sneak peak, I thought I'd post what I have so far for Chapter 03. I'd appreciate any comments and impressions about the mechanics/functionality of the Moves and readability of the sections, especially by folks who have seen older versions. I know it's a bit long to read, but I'd also like to know if the full description matches what you expected about the Move.

    Preview of Sector 03 - Ops (Moves)
  • edited January 2015
    Had a great playtest last night, which really allowed me to get my hands dirty with the combat, and find what felt the most natural and fluid. What came of it was a fast-slowmo-fast style in 300 or Batman Arkham Asylum, jumping from one pivotal maneuver/attack/dodge to the next, speeding through the motion in between. The GM describes an enemy action and asks the character how they handle it. They follow up the player's answer with another action and asks again how they handle it. No rolling (the Open Fire or Launch Assault roll has already been made), just rapid-fire this then this then this.

    In the case of partial successes, the GM can easily fold the consequences into that rapid-fire sequence, even prompting the character to fill in those details.
    Example: The character with a shotgun that fires explosive rounds (+Messy, +Property Damage) flanks a group of thugs holed up in a doorway. He rolls 9 for his Launch Assault as he charges them. I made the assumption that the character was going lethal (it's explosive shotgun shells, he doesn't have much choice here :P) I haven't quite made my choices as to the 7-9 consequences for partial success at the time of rolling, instead I let things flow and look for opportunities.

    GM: The first one turns and only has the chance to say "urk", how do you deal with him?
    Character: "Urk" in this case translates to "where did my intestines go?" I shoot him in the gut.
    GM: The explosion almost tears him in half, spraying viscera. The second thug turns and fires his own scattershot wildly, blowing out the lights*. He pumps his shotgun again, but before gets a shot off...
    Character: His head gets blown off.
    GM: The body hits the bloody metal floorplates. His shotgun goes off a second time into the ceiling, briefly illuminating darkness. At the far end of the hallway, the last thug scrambles back, firing his pistol at you. The bullets ricochet off the floor, ceiling and walls**. As you fire he stumbles/dives back, and goes over backwards down a flight of stairs. What limb did you hit? ***
    Character: His right leg, blew it clean off.
    GM: The flash of your shotgun briefly illuminates him as he half tumbles half crawls out of sight in the darkness. You'll have to hunt him down if you want to finish the job.****

    *This is a minor "collateral damage" consequence
    **I found it fun to describe shooting and missing with enemies. Threaten without threatening. Stormtrooper 101.
    ***Since he wanted to kill, I went with a "the enemies suffer a lesser fate" consequence and decided to let the last one get away with a missing limb.
    ****This is a "situation shifts" consequence; If the character wants to finish the last thug off, instead of an Assault in a lit hallway, the next engagement that the player will roll will be hunting an injured thug in a dark stairwell.
  • That's all from one roll? How much was described (or said) before the roll? Or in order to trigger the roll?
  • edited January 2015
    So the way Open Fire and Launch Assault work is that the GM groups NPCs together and make that squad/gang/pack a single threat, and a single roll is needed to engage and overcome that threat. The size of the groups can differ, based on how challenging the GM wants to make the encounter. If I had, say 6 thugs, I could make an easy encounter with a single group of 6, harder with 2 groups of 3, have a special character in one group alone (because they're more awesome/better equipped) and a second group of 5 goons, etc. Groups can also be divided by location (one coming from the east, the other coming from the west) because they can't be engaged at the same time.

    (I go into this in the Chapter 3 preview of the move (posted previously) and will go into more detail on how to run combat encounters in the GMing section)

    In this case I had a group of 3 shotgunners who took cover in a doorway. There were other groups in this fight; a pair of riflemen on a balcony below the character's platform, and a gang of 4 thugs with pistols and combat knives coming in on a gantry above them. The other characters were dealing with their own targets (the Scientist dropping a cryo grenade in on the riflemen, the Pilot using his rapid fire (+Area) SMG to suppress and drive back the group coming from above.)

    The Soldier of the group (the dude with the explosive shotgun) decided to take on the gang holding the door. He didn't want to charge head-on (because that would be suicidal), so he kept low and used stealth to access another door that joined back up with the room they were bunkered in. (Face Adversity +Mettle (overcome opposition using stealth)). Once in, he charged them, shotgun blazing. I called him to roll Launch Assault (roll+Physique, because it was a physical, close-quarters charge). A success (partial in this case) allows him to choose the fate of the group he engaged, based on his description of how he was going into the fight. In this case, guns blazing with an explosive shotgun really had only "dead' and "maimed" as options.

    Open Fire and Launch Assault are used in lieu of a dozen attack rolls, damage rolls and dodge rolls. If a single shot or strike would end the encounter (sniper round, mortar shot, knife in the back), then it's a discrete Face Adversity. When faced with a complicated combat encounter, rolling Open Fire/Launch Assault once per engagement/exchange and then doing a back-and-forth description of that outcome ended up working really well.

    I should point out that I chose not to harm the character despite his partial success; "suffer harm" is usually the top consequence of a partially successful or failed Open Fire/Launch Assault. But, in this case, because he had the advantage of surprise (successful stealthy maneuver to set up the attack) I didn't bring the full power of the consequences to bare. Had he tried the same tactic while charging straight at the door, I would have definitely shotgunned him for a severe injury as part of his consequences.
  • edited January 2015
    Oh, no I think I get most of that (even just from the example), and I noticed that you were aiming for a one-roll resolution from fights from the rules.
    Once in, he charged them, shotgun blazing. I called him to roll Launch Assault (roll+Physique, because it was a physical, close-quarters charge).
    This is the part I was asking about. One of the things that sort-of strikes me as a big feature of AW moves-style resolution is that the player describes a fictional action (or reaction to a situation) and then the particular move is decided based on that. Of course, Vincent also says the option of stating the move and then describing how the character makes it is also good. But it still feels very much like a system where we describe stuff that happens until we get to a question about the outcome, roll for it, and go straight to the outcome.

    It seems to me, in this example, that you are pushing the part where you roll more toward the beginning of the conversation (if that makes sense). Like, did the player say "okay, I assault them with my shotgun" or "I use the launch assault move now" and then make the roll? Or was there more description of the fiction than that?

    Hmm. I don't feel like this is as clear as I intended it to be. In my normal AW games, we would have more of the example assault conversation before the roll, and the description after the roll would be "here's a choice, what do you do" and we would be back into free talking really quickly. It seems like (and maybe I'm wrong) you've gone for the roll pretty quickly, and then presented the choices dictated by the roll result as the focus of the conversation. As in: "I assault them with the shotgun," "okay, roll it, "I got a 7-9," "okay now let's talk about what that means in the fiction."

    I'm not saying this is bad. I think it's an interesting choice. It reminds me of a lot of conflict resolution in games from the 00s. Probably plays well to making fights go faster, as well. If that's what you're going for and not just me being mistaken, though, I think you should try to be really, really clear that this is how you intend it to work, just because people will likely bring various other assumptions to your game when they play it (including stuff like my first paragraph after the quote in this post). Like, talking about how you group combatants together goes toward that, but even "6 guys = 1 roll" doesn't necessarily say where in the conversation the roll should happen.

    Hopefully that made sense.
  • edited January 2015
    double post, damn these interface changes
  • It seems to me, in this example, that you are pushing the part where you roll more toward the beginning of the conversation (if that makes sense). Like, did the player say "okay, I assault them with my shotgun" or "I use the launch assault move now" and then make the roll? Or was there more description of the fiction than that?
    Aaaah I see! Yes indeed, the "resolution" is known from the beginning, and all the combat actions that would "trigger" during the following conversation simply refer back to the original result. It's a bit predictive/scripted in that sense; we know the rough outcome from the start, lets find out how we get from here to there.

    So yes, the description of the fiction happens after the roll, which is triggered as combat is joined. This ended up with a pretty fluid back and forth without having to 'watch' for move triggers. It might be the wrong way 'round from what most folks are used to, but it ended up feeling very natural to me by the end of the session.

    Your point about making that aspect clear is very noted; I've left myself a reminder in the outline of my GMing chapter with a link to that post, just so I don't forget. Thanks for the feedback. :)
  • I think you did very well in describing the long form of the moves. The most important thing you say in this section, IMHO, is that Face Adversity is the catch-all move. Players of other games are going to have to come to terms with the fact that they don't have skills.
  • Thanks for taking a look Disco :)

    So: while writing the Acquisition moves, I started to get the impression that Favor and Debt funnily don't really fit directly into the Acquisition move. Instead, I'm toying with the idea that any character can call in a Favor or go into Debt with a Faction to cancel or greatly diminish social, political or commercial costs and/or consequences of a Move.

    Did your Command result in your crew getting arrested? Call in a Favor with the StarSec fleet and get that overturned. Did your Acquisition attempt end up too costly? Go into Debt with the RedStar Syndicate to get a loan (or put the squeeze on the seller).

    Of course, having Debt still means the faction will be looking for you to repay them.

    In this mode, Debt and Favor act like 'hero points/last-chance points/second wind'; a player-controlled alternate means of overcoming/mitigating certain consequences (within reason; the Faction they call upon still has to be appropriate to the consequence and currently operating in that sector. Also if the character's standing is too low, there's a good chance the Faction won't touch the case.) It further removes Debt and Favor as a currency.

  • edited January 2015
    If it's "more like hero points," I imagine it would go like this:

    You flub a roll, wind up with some kind of scandal. The local authorities have your ship on lockdown pending a public inquiry. You call up a local politico who owes you a favour on this planet, you're like "remember that solid I did you last year? Make this shit go away and we're even." And then you fly away and try not to go back to that planet.


    Sounds pretty simple and easy to use, to me. Also adds more choices, right? Because "cash in a favour" and "go into debt" are now possible options for all social/economic consequences, if the PCs can find the right faction to deal with.
  • Yep, exactly. And Debt and Favor are earned with major Factions, and you have your character's personal Standing to consider, as well as previous Debts (if any) "Shit, we're impounded, but the only Faction with any clout here are the 7th Circle jackoffs, and they haaaaate me. I'm going to have to suck up to them royally to get them to do anything about it, and you just know they'll call in that Debt in the most assholish time possible"
  • I'm going to try and do a solo game tonight.
  • edited January 2015
    Ooooh, post back with how it goes! To be honest, I've never run a solo-game. Hope it goes smoothly. (You may possibly want to give them a free Crew!)


    In other news, in finalizing the wording of Acquisition (sans Debt/Favor, which is now more a general resource), I've hit upon a weird case where my usual Move templating doesn't quite work.
    ACQUISITION (+Cargo)
    When you demand important services or assets from a market that is willing and able to supply those demands, Roll+0. If you offer a cargo unit as part of the deal, Roll+ that cargo’s Class instead.

    On a 13+, the deal goes through; you get what you asked for.
    On a 10-12, the deal goes through if the seller/market is amiably disposed toward the deal. Otherwise, they may have a request for you to fulfil.
    On a 7-9, the deal will only go through after significant jumping through hoops (requests, delays, travel, concessions, etc)
    Does that seem too odd? It has two modes in the same trigger, and it has a "Roll+0" rather than a Roll+Stat.
  • Well, one suggestion I'd make is that perhaps the Origin backgrounds should have another unique ability to choose. Earlier I had advocated making the "+1 to X" ability selectable after character creation. I think a better option would be to have a second unique ability. Right now I'm making a "party" of five characters, where nobody has an overlapping career or background. There's still going to be some overlap unless I pick the "+1 to X" ability. Putting another unique ability into each background would take some work, but the yield in in extra options would be tremendous.
  • Ooooh solo, sorry, confused it with one-on-one (running for one person). My bad. That one I have done. Still feedback is welcome :P

    Remember that just because a character has 2 careers, doesn't mean they get all 10 skills within those careers. In fact two characters can have the same origin and career and have very different thematic builds without overlap at all. With 1 skill from their Origin and 3 skills divided between their two Careers, it's very likely that there won't be any significant skill overlap. Also, most skills are designed to be able to function in multiples (or at least not interfere with each other), should two characters have the same skill.

    I actually agree that having the [+1 Stat] as an Origin-only skill causes some issues (players encouraged to always take it), but I'm willing to live with that offset. However I'm very reticent to add unique skills as well. Not just for the amount of work involved, but also because by their very nature they would be skills that the characters could not ever work towards earning, and thus must be limited in usefulness to the point of being esoteric.

    I'll have to ask my math-brain playtester for his numbers again, but he calculated that currently there are something like 2592000 character combinations possible using Origin + Career + Career + 1 out of 4 origin skills + 3 out of 10 career skills. (Obviously, there is overlap in that particular number, but thematically two similar skill choices from two different origin/career combinations can yield two very different archetypes)
  • I'm going to use the excellent Star Trader supplement from Zozer Games. It's designed for Traveller, but I'll just use it as a loose framework for encounters.
  • That move looks fine to me.
  • Is there a link to the current playtest ruleset?
  • edited January 2015
    Indeed! However, "current" may be the wrong word. "Most recent" probably fits the bill a bit more. I'm current;y doing a pretty big house cleaning for v0.85 (taking various playtests and user feedback into account) which should coincide with the Kickstarter.

    Until then: Uncharted Worlds v 0.83
  • Thanks! Once my group finishes up with Epyllion, I'll pitch this to them.
  • Cool cool. If it isn't going to be for a couple of weeks, check back here, the next version may be up by then.


    One of my testers suggested a different wording for Acquisition.

    Instead of:
    ACQUISITION (+Cargo)
    When you demand important services or assets from a market that is willing and able to supply those demands, Roll+0. If you offer a cargo unit as part of the deal, Roll+ that cargo’s Class instead.
    he suggests:
    ACQUISITION (+Cargo)
    When you demand important services or assets from a market that is willing and able to supply those demands, Roll. If you offer a cargo unit as part of the deal, add that cargo’s Class to the roll.
    Personally, I think his way is cleaner, but I worry about not having a Roll+something. Maybe I'm over-thinking this. People are smart, I'm sure they won't immediately freak out if there's a small templating change.
  • edited January 2015
    No major updates this week, sadly: heads down writing for the most part, but nothing "finished" or new to show for it.

    Well, except for a shift in the tone/functionality of Cramped Quarters. I guess that counts? The old one was interesting, but I felt it was missing an 'in between' the drama/bad blood of failure and the friendship-building of success. So the new Cramped Quarters looks like this:
    When you've been trapped in cramped quarters with the same people for a significant amount of time (a leg of an interstellar journey, etc), Roll 2d6. Choose a character or NPC trapped here with you, and...

    On a 10+, describe how the two of you bonded over the past few days.
    On a 7-9, reveal (or discover) the answer to their question about yourself or your past.
    On a 6-, describe what caused the newest hurt feelings or bad blood between you.

    In other news, I'd need a bit of creative wordsmithing. I'm looking to combine Travel Moves (Wild Jump and Cramped Quarters) and Commerce Moves (Acquisition, Barter) into one heading... but I can't come up with a name! There is an overlap there, but so far all the words I have are inadequate for the setting (Journey Moves? Adventuring Moves? Those feel more like fantasy than space opera)

    Anywho, suggestions welcome :P Back to the salt mines with me.
  • Caravan Moves? Expedition Moves?
  • Enterprise moves.
  • Yup, throwing in support for Enterprise moves.
  • Hilariously, my placeholder was "Voyager" moves. Guess I didn't take that extra step. Enterprise Moves it is! Man that fits so well. Thank you!
  • It is like a double pun, twice as good as normal ones, how could I not suggest it?
  • Indeed. It's very "I see what you did there"
  • edited January 2015
    In preparation for the Kickstarter (soooooon!), I'm starting to grow the UW community a bit, using G+. I invite you all to join the Uncharted Worlds community, post your comments and discussion, share it with others in your circles who may be interested in the indy PnP rpg scene, etc. I'll still be keeping this thread up to date as much as possible (cause you Story Games people are awesome!), but the G+ community structure will allow for a cleaner interaction between myself and the players.
  • Transcribing and updating the class skills is oddly cathartic. Pruning the wording, rephrasing them, and sometimes overhauling them to fit the new basic Moves is very satisfying.

    For example, the old and slightly clunky Assassination:
    When you want a lightly guarded or unsuspecting NPC out of the picture, describe how you arrange their death and Roll+Mettle.
    On a hit, they’re dead, and no one knows it was you. On a 7-9, they’re dead, but there may be evidence linking it to you.
    It honestly didn't need to be a custom Move when it's basically just a restricted Face Adversity. Instead, I went for something broader that can affect a lot more situations, while being more succinct.
    Any successful (10+) Move that results in someone’s death also leaves no evidence that you committed the act.
  • edited February 2015
    Still working my way through the Careers, pruning heavily. However, I've really hit a major roadblock for the 5th 'Scoundrel' skill. So far I've avoided putting "you get +1 to X" because it's pretty boring. However, I'm toying with this:
    Choose one of your five stats. As long as you regularly dose yourself with your drug of choice, you gain an additional +1 to that stat. Failure to subsequently dose yourself will reduce that stat by -2 until you dose yourself again or recover from the lengthy effects of withdrawal.
    - A hell of a string for the GM to pull
    - Strong characterization/motivator
    - Useful to all career combinations (Stimm-pumped Military Scoundrel, hyper-focus Technocrat Scoundrel, etc)

    - Could be super strong if handwaved/forgotten by the GM
    - Causes the stats to be updated during play, which never happens otherwise
    - Could be useless or crippling away from civilization.

  • I've created a Dropbox folder for preview material. There's the Basic Moves and Character Creation in there so far, and I'll likely be posting more preview chapters in the near future.

  • It's amazing what the simple act of transcription and formatting can do to the way we look at design. I've been tackling the Marketplace section, and was able to consolidate the rather sprawling variety of assets into much more manageable pages. Admittedly, it's taking me longer to do this than just transcribing and formatting, but it's a satisfying and beneficial change to the overall rules.

    (I'll have an example chapter of the Marketplace up soon)
  • For those not on the Kickstarter or Google+ community; I uploaded a short video about character creation. I regularly watch How To Play stuff for new boardgames I'm going to play, so I figured that doing something similar for an RPG might be a good idea.
  • Nice! Now I'm wondering if there is a standard sticker sheet out there with nice big white circles that can be printed on.


    Um, maybe. :-)

    first thing I found on a google search
  • Believe me, I considered a number of ways to have half circle Career and crescent Origin stickers. I wanted them for a backer reward and everything. So badly. I'm in talks with a printer for the book, I might revisit to see if I can get properly stamped stickers from them. Because that would be amazing.

    That said, the video will likely serve as a mock-up of the potential Character Creator app, should we hit that stretch goal :P
  • If you make the images available in the PDF or as a stand alone file, I'm sure enterprising gamers will find a way to pop them into a template that a inkjet printer can digest for stickers. Might as well 'crowd source' it, if full printer version isn't feasible.
  • Fair enough! Easily done, after all. But I'll still ask my printer again, just in case.
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