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

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  • That way, when Jim's character starts a fight that ends with the explosive decompression of my space boudoir, it feeds right back into the fiction instead of just being a negative modifier on a scanning roll or something. If you want to be nasty, let the crews serve as ablative armor for the sections, so you can burn through redshirts in a thematically appropriate manner.
    Ha! Lovely.


    I'm making a little module for one of my games that focuses on relationships. I'm not sure how useful this is as Undying has a rather lovely and intact system to inspect, but anywho: I'm playing with something kind of like Keys in Lady Blackbird by way of the Bonds Hx variant. I have a number of Bonds each of which is essentially of the form: I Owe ____ and am owed ___ so long as ____. I'm still fine-tuning and streamlining, but the ones I'm pretty sure will be part of the final list of "official" bonds (names aside as evidenced by my use of /'s) are Command/Service, Duty/Respect, Favor/Debt. The connection to Keys is not explicit, but essentially each Bond comes with something the target owes (command is obedience), something owed the target (command is leadership which involves taking responsibility, offering resources, giving directions), and those obligations play into moves and can be invoked both to hurt and help you in various circumstances so long as the relationship holds; the relationship can be "bought off" in a sense when the "so long as" condition is broken, absolving you of the obligations of the Bond by removing it or altering it (being discharged ends Command). At first, one think I liked about this is that you can plug beliefs and motives into the system just like people and factions and places and ships--I have a Duty to protect my homeland. But such things probably work better as a character tag/aspect type thing to avoid additional fiddliness. Save the complexity for big, important relationships!

    When you make a Bond, there are some basic trappings that can be assumed but you can also write out a short contract that ends up reading kind of like a Key statement in Lady Blackbird which is why I mentioned that connection. Contracts make explicit what happens when a bond is broken if it is different form the default, or alters certain terms of the default bond slightly or simply makes them more explicit. I'm currently working on how to deal with conflicting bonds, how to handle bonds that break-out into other bonds (going rogue instead of being discharged can give the leader a Duty to Apprehend and can damage the reputation of the follower) without making the whole thing too messy to be worth it. I'm also toying with mechanizing it further by giving bonds "health" and changing how they work under strain ... but that seems like a fast track to "more fiddly than it's worth" except for really, really big relationships like your relationship with your political faction or with your core beliefs. Sort of like making custom moves for really important characters and places.

    I want authority, reputation, and obligation to be mechanical and while I don't really have a solid system yet I figured I'd mention it in case it jogged anything since that's what's being talked about here.
  • fun house-rule idea: within each crew team (mercs, engineering, etc), have each player claim one character and flesh in out (back story etc). Then if you need to zero in on that team's exploits you can zoom in on that team and have the players take on those roles.

    "Explosion in Engineering!"

    "Jim, have your team take car of that!"

    (zoom in on Engineering and play out the repairs)
    ... with your permission, I am totally going to put this in the Crew section of the game. Amazing. I really, really like the 'feel' of that change of pace. Heck, when one character goes off with his crew to do something, it's a great way to get the other players involved and to alleviate some the GM's juggling.

    Thank you!
  • ... with your permission, I am totally going to put this in the Crew section of the game. Amazing. I really, really like the 'feel' of that change of pace. Heck, when one character goes off with his crew to do something, it's a great way to get the other players involved and to alleviate some the GM's juggling.

    Thank you!
    It's a really neat way to play with scale!
  • TOTALLY have my permission. I am super excited to play this game. Been playing in a Classic Traveller game and loving it, and this thread sets my mind abuzz.
  • edited October 2013
    I wrote this for my wife, my sister, and my best friend's girlfriend, who all have very different gaming backgrounds of the board-game and video-game varieties, but not much experience with roleplaying games. They're all interested in playing/playtesting it, so I figured an introductory guide might be useful. It was actually quite interesting to do, because it forced me to re-analyze how the game works at a fundamental level, and reminded me of a lot of the system's strengths that I had started to take for granted.

    Now, I acknowledge that what's written here applies generally to most every *World game, but it did me good to write it in my own words.
  • Random update: I think I may have a solution to the corner I wrote myself into, ship combat-wise. It’s tentative; I’m writing it out cautiously in the hopes that I don’t scare the idea away.

    The problem is that I’ve done away with a hitpoints system in the “person v person” combat, opting instead for narratively appropriate injury descriptions. Players accrue injuries of Minor, Major, Critical or Fatal severity, depending on what they are hit with and how poorly they fail their Armor roll; death happens at narratively appropriate times, rather than when a number reaches 0.
    SUFFER HARM (+Armor)
    When you would suffer harm, the GM will tell you the severity (Minor, Major, Critical or Fatal). Roll+Armor.
    On a 6-, you suffer an injury of that severity and one or more additional effects (knockdown, drop weapon, damage armor, broken gear, etc), or you suffer an injury of a greater severity
    On a 7-9, you suffer an injury of that severity.
    On a 10-12, you manage to avoid or resist the majority of the damage, and only suffer an injury of a lesser severity (Minor deals no damage)
    On a 13+, you ignore all but the worst of the damage relatively unscathed. You suffer a greatly reduced injury. (Minor and major deals no damage, Critical deals Minor, Fatal deals Major)
    On the other side of the coin, this is the rule for PCs hurting NPCs:
    OPEN FIRE (+Mettle)
    When you fire at a target within your weapon's range, explain how you want to harm or affect them within your weapon’s capabilities, and Roll+Mettle.
    On a 10+ they are driven back, pinned, hurt, maimed, killed, etc, as you described. If they have protection or mitigating circumstances (cover, armor, etc) the GM will explain how the damage is reduced or lessened.
    On a 7-9, you get a reduced result, an unintended side-effect, and/or an additional cost for the attack (the targets get to shoot you too, having to unload your whole clip to hit, other enemies get to act, you cause property damage, etc)

    Again, narrative, not hitpoints.

    Aaaaand because of that I feel like I’ve written myself into a corner when it comes to ship combat. I want to maintain consistency, so that it’s not jarring. On the player-suffering-damage side, it’s not so bad; Shields replace Armor, and it’s the ship and crew that suffer damage and injury. Pretty straightforward, and scales up well enough. There are some neat tricks to be had with using Transfer Power to the Shields and such, very space opera.

    But when it comes to enemy ships, I fear that the Open Fire philosophy (“say what you want to accomplish, on a 10+ it happens”) won’t cut it. Ships are multi-system affairs protected by layers of shields. A single missile or plasma cannon shot shouldn’t be able to just wipe one out, even if the player describes it that way. I’d like to inject a bit of Star Trek/Star Wars into a ship-to-ship encounter, narrative-“tactical” choices, rather than “I blow them the eff up” as the default decision.

    Funnily enough, its FTL that gave me a bit of inspiration. I’m toying with the idea that the Shields of an enemy ship are a separate ‘entity’ that has to be defeated before the ship itself can be hit by weaponry, and that an average enemy ship is composed of 2-4 parts that can be targeted individually to disable various capabilities (once the shields are down). A 7-9 on an attack against a ship could mean their shields are back up. So a fight against an enemy ship is really a cluster of 3-5 enemy 'entities', one of which protects the others.

    What do you guys think? Any ideas for alternate solutions?
  • edited October 2013
    Personally, I would do it as custom moves. Some ships are just metal NPCs. Some ships are just NPCs in a very large, dangerous suit of armor. Some ships are places or terrain. Some are really, really interesting and have special rules and features. My instinct would be to just treat some general ship classes as functioning in about the same way and have a few custom move templates I'd alter to taste based on the features of the ship--but most of the time I'd play it a little more by ear and just think about how the ship works. Does it have shields their weapons can't get through? Well ... that sounds like a custom move or something that requires inventive tactics on the part of the PCs. Does it have shields they just have to whittle down first? I'll just take that into account as they fire. Especially if I'm not using health or clocks!

    They fire a missile at the ship ... what happens? Well now it's shields seem to be weakening. The pull of some science wizardry to precisely examine the shields? You tell them how to counteract the shields right now or exactly how many missiles will take shields down or what-have-you. They miss a relevant roll ... well, I might say "It's still heavily damaged, you've got it on the ropes, but it seems they've managed to get their shields back up at full strength while you were messing around in engineering." Consider when you should zoom in and when you should zoom out. Sometimes, they say they want the ship to go over there and it goes over there. Sometimes you make them struggle with the steering or the flight computers. Sometimes they attack like the ship is their weapon. Sometimes they have to struggle to get the ship to do what they want.

    If you really want enemy ships to be codified in a particular way consistently ... well, I need to know more about your setting. What allows you to target specific subsystems of a ship? Your available weapons? Your ingenuity? Your aim? Is it different for every sub-system? Maybe ships have Modules. Each module has some move-modifiers associated with it or something.

    I don't know ... if you really want to inject some real ship-to-ship tactics into the mix, I think narrative options are going to work better unless you create an elaborate rule-set. Ask what you want ship-to-ship combat to be like. Do you want players controlling themselves on-board their ship, or controlling the ship as their avatar? Is the ship effectively a character or is it effectively a series of tools, weapons, fictional bonueses, mechanical bonuses and custom moves disguised as a single object for conceptual and narrative convenience. I guess if you really want to codify it in detail and stay true to *world ... well at that point I'd suggest having separate basic moves for space ships. The ships are NPCs that in turn contain NPCs. When you're in your space ship, the ship has it's own set of moves and it's own stats. You can do things on board that affect how the ship functions, but the ship is almost like it's own character. Pull a FATE-Fractal, *World style.

    And if none of those sound attractive, I'd suggest your basic moves don't work. If you don't want a whole new set of moves just for ships (maybe even a smaller set?), and you don't want to just treat ships with the same casualness AW uses for vehicles--just an extension of the PCs that maybe gives them a stat burst, a custom move, minor move modifiers, extra armor, or what-have-you--then you need to change your moves to make sure they do work whether you're at the ship level or not.

    Ask yourself what the play experience should be like. Because there are quite a few ways to achieve the narrative experience of Star Wars or Star Trek. Again, are players focused on the exact status of all of the enemy subsystems? Are players focused on the status of their own subsystems? Are players focused more broadly on whats happening? Are players focused on the ship's positioning and momentum?
  • edited October 2013
    I guess if you really want to codify it well and stay true to *world ... well at that point I'd almost suggest having separate basic moves for space ships, instead. When you're in your space ship, the ship has it's own set of moves and it's own stats. You can do things on board that affect how the ship functions, but the ship is almost like it's own character. Pull a FATE-Fractal, *World style.
    Funnily enough, if you look a few posts back, that's kinda where I've been going for 90% of ship operations. The Ship (as a character built collectively by the players) has 5 Stats; Power, Shields, Sensors, Maneuver and Systems (Systems is a bit of a catch-all for airlocks and tractor beams and such). Combat was my last big thing, and I wanted that to be based off the character's Mettle, rather than a ship stat (though I'm sure there will be an upgrade that allows a weapon to be fired by the ship's Sensors roll, auto-target or something)

    That said, perhaps a custom Move is in order. Might even tie it to the type of weapon you're firing (point defense has different options than a torpedo launcher)

    Your point about needless codification, and about the variety of ships. I feel I may need to sleep on it, but ultimately I think you may be right; I may need to simplify, and accept the Zen of *World.
  • Sorry, I appear to have ninja-edited. Bad habit. Not much has changed, core post is still the same.
  • It's here! Version 0.6 is out, with Ship rules, Crew rules and a whole bunch of changes!

    Get Uncharted Worlds 0.6 here.

    I'm quite excited because the actual design are almost complete! There's still the vehicle rules which need to be done, but other than that, it's down to "filling out" the descriptions and such. A pretty big milestone!

    I want to thank everyone for their feedback and input so far. I'll be organizing playtests in the coming month, so keep an eye out. Also, even though the GM rules are still fuzzy-to-non-existent, if anyone would be brave enough to give GMing Uncharted Worlds a whirl with their gang, I'd be super interested to know how it turns out!

    Change Log v0.6:
    • Altered Summary (p4)
    • Added Spaceship rules (p23-24)
    • Added Crew rules (p25)
    • Reworked weapons and armor (p21-22)
    • Basic Moves (p7-8)
    o o Altered Open Fire
    o o Altered Launch Assault
    o o Altered Patch Up
    o o Removed Manipulate
    o o Added Take Cover
    o o Added Command
    o o Fixed crash when using Avert Disaster during a cutscene
    • Origins/Careers (p10-17)
    o o Changed the “ship component” aspect of all skills
    o o Altered Crew: Soldiers
    o o Altered Crew: Followers
    o o Altered Crew: Scientists
    o o Altered Crew: Engineers
    o o Altered Crew: Gang
    o o Altered Schemer
    o o Removed Zero-G Training with Traveller

    To Do:
    • Vehicle rules
    • Revise Faction Creation
    • In-depth Career section
    • Getting started guide
    • How to GM + GM Moves
    • Overall layout
  • Do you have a chance to look at Suns of Gold for SWN? It seems to me that it could be a good complement bringing a whole universe to Uncharted Worlds. I was wondering if there are any incompatibilities between them?
  • I had intended to, but haven't had the chance yet. While I will certainly look into it for inspiration, I think it would be doing UW and SWN a disservice to co-opt their setting. I'm still considering how much 'default' setting I'm going to present, or whether I'll just have the rules and let the setting flow from the GM, or possibly have a supplement that just has setting ideas. That kind of decision will come about for v0.7.
  • SWN's "setting" is about one page, really. The only real canon is what happened before the Scream (big disaster that killed all the psychics and caused the collapse of interstellar travel). Everything else is mostly sandbox guidelines about how to build your own setting based on that now-distant past. (This is one of the things that makes SWN so awesome.)
  • edited October 2013
    Interesting! I do feel that UW will probably have a base setting; I'm currently playing with a setting of wormholes + self contained, culturally unique sectors, with "wild-space" outside that is reached by blind jumps (semi- random exit point) rather than wormholes (fixed entry and exit).

    That said, playing the game as a trade-game a la Suns of Gold would be imminently do-able. The big issue would be refactoring it to account for the Debt/Favor mechanic rather than whatever wealth system is present in SWN (again, I had fully intended to look into it and then didn't because I suck and am forgetful).

    Speaking of; I've run a couple of playtests but I would like to run an intense study of how well Debt/Favor works in practice. It's one of the most ambitious changes from traditional rpgs in Uncharted Worlds, and I want to make sure it holds up.

    On that note, if anyone is interested in trying out a playtest of UW over G+ Hangout, send me a PM with what days and times you'd be available and I'll try to organize something.
  • edited October 2013
    As always with SWN supplements, Suns of Gold comes with a ton of tools / tables / examples to help the GM to create adventures
    (see for instance, the review here http://andyslack.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/review-suns-of-gold/).
    There are already rules for factions in the core rules of SWN which are expanded for traders in this supplement as this is an important aspect of commercial transactions.
    (SWN has a quite complete free edition http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/86467/Stars-Without-Number-Free-Edition)
  • Huzzah, version 0.6.2 is uploaded!

    Pretty major additions in this version, including Vehicle creation, Heavy Weapons and a completely overhauled and streamlined Debt system!

    That basically covers all the mechanics for the game! I'll be looking to do a few playtests, and if they go well, I'll be ready to move into the next phase of the writing: Filler! Basically I need to write the explanations of the rules so that people who are Not Me (tm) can know what the heck I'm on about.
  • Had a wonderful little playtest last week, I felt it went very well. Thought I'd share it here.

    Characters:
    - A cyborg ex-cop
    - A starfaring mercenary
    - An untrustworthy broker
    - A vat-grown mech-suit pilot

    Recap: The party rescued a pair of physicists from a criminal cartel by hiding them in the ships’ crawlspaces, escaping the emergency lockdown of a stricken commercial space station, and threading a debris field. (Actual quotes between the Broker and Mercenary: “You can’t tell the presence of physicists unless you observe them” “But we can tell you how fast they’re going”). They deliver the physicists to their peers in Project Jotun. One of them is a Thyraphysicist (litt. ‘student of the nature of doorways’), a Wormhole Physicist, but her experiments collapsing/redirecting wormholes had to be cancelled; the expansionist empire on the other side of the wormhole had sent a fleet through into the sector. The session ended with the party and the various science vessels of the Jotun Project scattering away from the in-bound fleet, heading for other wormholes out of this system.

    There were a lot of neat moments and creativity. I had a lot of fun, and I’m really interested to see where the story will go. For a party made up of mostly bruisers and/or rogues, the team’s solutions were surprisingly non-violent and mostly above-board. (I blame the Broker's smooth talking and cleverness).

    The new Debt/Favor worked surprisingly well; it greased decisions without being a straitjacket. I'm going to have to run a few consecutive sessions to get a feel as to the long-term impact of Debt, but so far so good.
  • edited March 2014
    Goodness it's been a long while since I last posted here. I've been heads-down rewriting a lot of the rules and playtesting like mad; got a LOT of great feedback from playtesters both in real space and over Google+. Some of the core philosophies of the game have been greatly improved (in my totally biased opinion), and I'll write about them in detail below. I feel very confident in the solidity of the current design, barring some revisions with the ship systems/rules that have lagged behind the rest of the changes. I think it's about time for me to consider moving into the Verbosity Phase, where I write a whole lot about the whys and whats of the rules, rather than the more spartan 'I know what I meant when I wrote that' current layout.

    There's a big scary thing looming, though; Kickstarting. Getting an artist, and a copy editor, and the publishing and distribution. I cannot express how much that terrifies me, hah.

    Uncharted Worlds v0.75 available here

    Aaaanyway. For those of you who may have tried out an older version, there have been 2 big changes:

    - 'Pulled out' narrative combat. For single attacks, the catch-all Move 'Face Adversity' still applies. However, in situations involving enemy forces to overcome, which would invovle a real battle/firefight, the players are encouraged to use Open Fire and Launch Assault. These are what I call 'pulled out' combat. The granularity of roll - damage - roll - damage is replaced by a single roll. The player describes what they want to accomplish and the tactics they will employ, and then roll. They and the GM are then free to describe the series of events in that combat much more freely, as long as they inevitably end with the result proscribed by the dice. This has allowed a LOT more cool action sequences; the player can be as cool as they want to be without worrying about how many rolls they're triggering. Check out page 7 for more info.

    - Faction reputation descriptors. Debt and Favor are still in the game, but players now have a semi-fixed word that describes what a Faction thinks of them. This descriptor is used by the GM to give them a cue when they play as the Faction. Descriptors come in five varieties; great, good, neutral, bad and terrible; earn enough Favor with a Faction, and you can choose a new, better descriptor (example: you were considered 'Mistrusted (Bad)' or 'Dangerous (Bad)' by the Galactic Police, but after earning enough Favor with them, you can go from Bad to Neutral; maybe you'll choose to be 'Useful (Neutral)' or 'Cautious (Neutral)'. Check out page 18 for more info.

    Plus there are a bunch of smaller changes, like shuffling around the career skills, having a fixed amount of 'Narrative Wounds' (wounds defined by words rather than numbers), adding Codex Entries (a permanent information-based +1 that you gain through the Assessment move, to reward curiosity) and changing the way Get Involved works (it now upgrades a roll from 6- to 7-9, or 7-9 to 10+, rather than just giving a +1).

    If you have the chance, I invite you to give the rules a read-through; I sincerely appreciate any and all feedback, suggestions or questions. I'll be popping in regularly to answer any queries while I prepare myself for the next phase of development (seriously, it surprises me just how much anxiety the whole Kickstarter/publishing causes me. If anyone has any experience or advice about that...)
  • I am one of Archangel3d's Hangouts group players, and it has been an amazing ride to watch this game come together from the early-Alpha state up to now.

    I have developed a set of character sheets for use in running Uncharted Worlds, whether online or in person. They are in a GDrive shared folder, reachable at http://www.tinyurl.com/unchartedworlds. I also keep the latest version of the rules, updated whenever Arch publishes it.

    The Sheets version is explicitly designed for for play-by-post and Hangouts play, and the Docs are printable for ease of use. There's one 2-pager (I recommend double-sided) for characters, and a single page for the "Group" sheet. I may add a second page for NPCs/planets on the Group sheet, as well.
  • edited March 2014
    Working on adding a lot of description/explanation to the Moves and the careers. One thing that comes up; the 'Artificial' Origin is... kinda boring. It doesn't have any flavor inherent, and the +Stat skills are equally 'neutral'. On the other hand, I can't help thinking that it might have its niche; maybe a neutral, non-committal background with no extra bells and whistles is something that a certain kind of player would want.

    Is there anyone that actually thinks the Artificial Origin is worth keeping in its current incarnation? Should I trash it for something else? There seems to be a strong push towards a Robotic Origin; perhaps I could replace it.

    Side note: I'd be super interested to see what kind of characters people can come up with using the character creation. Post them here! Heck, I may use them as example characters (with credit, natch)
  • Artificial Origin seems worth keeping to me, perhaps with some tweaks so it can be geared to robotic or biological beginnings. There are cool robots in sci-fi, and I think there are cool story opportunities with newly awakened AI characters. I think the biological stuff could still be cool though; in particular, I'm reminded of Grunt from the Mass Effect series. What are the common threads between these artificial characters?

    What jumps out to me is they might not have memories, maybe they are physically or mentally more powerful than those around them, and maybe a drive to uncover their origins or reconcile their current morals with the purpose they were originally constructed for.
  • edited March 2014
    This is one of the projects I'm most excited about, BTW.

    I'd like to see Artificial stay in the setting, but maybe instead of stat boosts it has abilities that make it more than/ less than human.

    Synthetic: The PC looks biological and their body mimics human organ structure, but they technically aren't alive. Synthetics are no stronger or tougher than a normal humans but they don't need to breathe and can survive in a wide range of environments, including vacuum for short periods of time. One Gadget can be installed in their bodies as a 'built in' function. They need to recharge periodically and still need to "eat" to keep functioning, but it isn't food, really. (I'm picturing the Replicants from Bladerunner or Bishop from Aliens)

    Clone: The PC is a copy of another person. (If the PC has both Synthetic and Clone they are a Synthetic Clone). As a Clone you were imprinted with your 'parent's' memories, but they aren't real memories, just a database of events, really. You din't inherit their skills or special talents. (Maybe Clone acts similar to Contacts and/or Rep but on a failed roll you are recognized as a blank market clone?)
  • Artificial Origin seems worth keeping to me, perhaps with some tweaks so it can be geared to robotic or biological beginnings. There are cool robots in sci-fi, and I think there are cool story opportunities with newly awakened AI characters. I think the biological stuff could still be cool though; in particular, I'm reminded of Grunt from the Mass Effect series. What are the common threads between these artificial characters?

    What jumps out to me is they might not have memories, maybe they are physically or mentally more powerful than those around them, and maybe a drive to uncover their origins or reconcile their current morals with the purpose they were originally constructed for.
    The main issue I'm running into is that the theme of Artificial works, but the mechanics / skills doesn't. Stat boosts are such snores that I feel that I should just get rid of them for the class. However, my concern is that there are gamers who would want the non-committal blandness of a simple stat boost.
    This is one of the projects I'm most excited about, BTW.

    I'd like to see Artificial stay in the setting, but maybe instead of stat boosts it has abilities that make it more than/ less than human.

    Synthetic: The PC looks biological and their body mimics human organ structure, but they technically aren't alive. Synthetics are no stronger or tougher than a normal humans but they don't need to breathe and can survive in a wide range of environments, including vacuum for short periods of time. One Gadget can be installed in their bodies as a 'built in' function. They need to recharge periodically and still need to "eat" to keep functioning, but it isn't food, really. (I'm picturing the Replicants from Bladerunner or Bishop from Aliens)

    Clone: The PC is a copy of another person. (If the PC has both Synthetic and Clone they are a Synthetic Clone). As a Clone you were imprinted with your 'parent's' memories, but they aren't real memories, just a database of events, really. You din't inherit their skills or special talents. (Maybe Clone acts similar to Contacts and/or Rep but on a failed roll you are recognized as a blank market clone?)
    I like these distinctions, I may be able to do something with them. However, that would make Artificial the only Origin to give unique skills (all other Origins merely give you access to a variety of 'cross-career' skills). Perhaps only having those two choices (Robotic and Vat-Grown) and you can only pick one of them? I'm not a huge fan of an out-and-out Clone of someone else, just because there are limits to what kind of stories you can tell with that. The 'Synthetic' you posted looks quite good as-is.
  • @Archangel3d I haven't had a chance to look over everything in detail, but I just wanted to say I really love UW's vibe. It's easy to be inspired by, which I think is always a good sign. Hopefully I can make a character and post it up here soon. Thanks for showcasing your work, keep it up!
    This is one of the projects I'm most excited about, BTW.
    As a side note, I'm always flattered to get these comments. I've struggled with poor self esteem most of my life, and I've been working hard at changing my outlook and reaction to compliments (I used to be dismissive and self-effacing, which kinda devalues the fact that someone took the time to say something nice!). So: Thanks, I'm really glad you're enjoying the rules/game. :D

    Also: Would a 'One-Shot Adventure' guide be useful? Something to give a starting point and general direction on how to run/play the game, especially for Cons or groups experimenting with new games?
  • Yep, a one-shot would be awesome. Include some pre-generated characters please! I am trying so hard to convince our GM not to use D20 Future for his upcoming game and I feel like the only way to convince him that there are better options will be to force him to play a *World game.
  • edited March 2014
    In that case I'll definitely write up a one-shot this week, if only to save you from d20 Future (my face scrunched up when I read that, as if smelling sour milk). You got a deadline, Samtung?
  • edited March 2014
    Rough outline of the aforementioned playtest adventure module, mostly just spitballing at the moment.

    Characters:
    • The Drifter: (Frontier Explorer-Scoundrel). Big-ass revolver, armorweave trenchcoat and a speeder with no name.
    • The Wrench: (Poverty Engineering-Military). Fixes, builds and maintains the ship and their own custom weapons.
    • The Spider: (Privileged Clandestine-Personality). Traps foes in a web of lies, flattery and blackmail.
    • The Cyborg: (High-Tech Cybernetic-Academic). Technophile surgeon who keeps adding more cybertech to themselves.
    • The Dealer: (Spacer Commercial-Starfarer). Majority share-holder of the ship, made a fortune selling scrap.

    Factions:
    • The Blue Horizon (Galactic Navy). Militaristic galactic empire, self-appointed keepers of law and order.
    • Shards of Xa (Space Pirates). The remnants of a destroyed planet, now a loose-knit pirate fleet with no home.
    • Xenolith (Scientific Institute). Aggressive seekers of bizarre, dangerous technology. Jealous keepers of ancient xenotech and lost human advancements.
    • New Humanity (Fanatic Cult). Cutting edge, pro-cybernetic, pro-robotic faction. Strong opponents of bioengineering, overpopulation and expansion.
    • Allied Prosperity (Merchant Consortium). A trade conglomeration spanning a dozen planetary governments.

    Each of the [Underlined] words are chosen or described by one of the players; a big part of an early Uncharted Worlds story is letting the players make key decisions about the scenario’s dynamics and politics. They decide who the actors are on this stage.
    Between two Jump points, the player’s ship comes upon a large debris field, caused by a recent space battle. The ships belong to [Faction A] and [Faction B], and most are entirely destroyed. However, one vessel belonging to [Faction A] is still intact enough to be emitting a distress beacon. In addition to having lost its engines, the ship is also suffering from another [Major Issue].

    Onboard, boarding troops of [Faction B] have taken control of the ship, imprisoning the [Faction A] crew. In the ship’s hold is a [Unique Thing]. Eventually, the [Major Issue] becomes a lot more pressing/dangerous, and to make matters worse [Faction C] shows up with a boarding ship of their own, demanding the [Unique Thing].
    The GM needs to weave the player prompts into the description; “After the initial pelting of tiny materials that bounce off your shields, larger panels come into view. Drifter, what faction’s symbol do you see on some of those panels?” and then “But some of the other destroyed ships are of a different configuration; the fight wasn’t one-sided. A massive wreck turns slowly, surrounded by a cloud of twisted metal. Wrench, you know only one faction makes ships in that particular torus configuration; which one?” Etc

    Most initial UW scenarios I’ve run were built like this; pitting 2 or 3 Factions against each other, and discovering the politics and tension at the same time as the players. Because players have varying Debt and Favor with each faction, and different friends and enemies, the decision of who’s fighting who, and who to support, tends to be one of politics, profit and ethics. It also allows the same scenario to play out dozens of different ways. For example: If Faction A is New Humanity, then the Cyborg will probably argue to rescue them from their captors. However, if Faction B is New Humanity, then the Cyborg player might rather help them fix up the ship they’ve captured so that they can leave.)
  • I'm new to the site and super-excited about UW; it's really scratching my Classic Traveller/Firefly itch.

    Chargen and the associated Faction-introduction is so straightforward and pleasing that I think offering pre-generated characters and factions are almost a disservice. Likewise, the Faction system seems at odds with having an established setting.

    I'd rather see more building blocks and jumping off points. For example, for each pair of Faction types, what are some ways those Factions might come into conflict, and how might it involve the PCs? Or a selection of MacGuffins and a matrix of Faction/MacGuffin interactions.

  • Oh, almost forgot -- I think the Artificial origin is thematically great, but perhaps combine all the stat increases into "take +1 on stat of your choice" as one skill, and introduce other skill options to round out the set. "Doesn't need to eat/breathe" would be an obvious one for a mechanical. "Enhanced senses", "immunity to [heat, cold, radiation, or some other hazard]", "undetectable by [IR, sound, smell]"?
  • edited March 2014
    "Feels no pain, even when head is removed from body and spitting milk all over the floor."
    Spoiler Alert!
    ASH IS A ROBOT!
  • Ended having a long and very fruitful discussion with some of the gang over Google Hangout yesterday. Talked about the feedback here, and the philosophies of the Origins themselves; the how and why of the stat boosts, the skills granted by Origins, etc.

    Origins were intended to give a selection of thematically linked skills from various careers, to give a few more options when building a character. That's why they have copies of career skills, rather than unique ones. The only unique skill that a career offers is its unique stat boost.

    Excluding Artificial for the moment, the reasoning behind the 5 origins' stat boost is 'people who grew up in this milieu are more likely to at least be competent in that stat'. Thus the limitation of +2; your 'natural' +2 stat choice is who you are, the stat that gets upgraded (usually a +1 that becomes +2) is your cultural upbringing.

    However, Artificial didn't feel quite special for two reasons. One, it did something that the other origins did, and nothing unique. And two, it was incongruous to be a genetically engineered/programmed to be good at a stat, but that stat was your +1 so that you could take skill to make it +2, and that your natural +2 stat was elsewhere.

    So, two of the changes that are coming to the Origin stats;
    The 5 stat-specific skills (Decorum, Hard Knocks, New Horizons, Hard Labor and Wired) will have extra "fluff" mechanics to add to the +1 Stat. For example, Hard Labor will read something like "You can perform strenuous physical work for extended period of time before becoming exhausted. You gain +1 Physique (maximum +2)." This is a small change to give the skill more weight when considering the behavior and outlook of your character; someone who has Decorum should not just have more Influence, they should also be adept at etiquette and protocol.

    The Artificial Origin will no longer have the 5 stat boosts. Instead, it will have 4 skills chosen from different careers, like the other Origins, and it will have the following Stat skill (wording is work in progress): "Paragon - You were engineered with a specific goal in mind. The stat you assign as +2 becomes +3 instead." Or something, I probably need better wording.


    Now, the question I have is; should Origins have one or more unique skills that are unavailable to careers? I feel there may be explorable design space there, especially if I want to add esoteric Origins down the line. Perhaps 1 unique skill, 1 stat skill and 3 cross-career skills?
  • I like the idea of Artificial being the only way to get to +3. I wouldn't personally require that the boost go to the +2 stat but would instead write it as "+1 to stat of your choice to a maximum of +3", but I get the flavor you're trying to sell there.

    I'm in favor of unique skills for Origins.
  • Chargen and the associated Faction-introduction is so straightforward and pleasing that I think offering pre-generated characters and factions are almost a disservice. Likewise, the Faction system seems at odds with having an established setting.

    I'd rather see more building blocks and jumping off points. For example, for each pair of Faction types, what are some ways those Factions might come into conflict, and how might it involve the PCs? Or a selection of MacGuffins and a matrix of Faction/MacGuffin interactions.
    I agree that a big part of the game is the char gen and the Faction gen. That said, they are rather time consuming, I understand the need to have those things out of the way in order to just play the game. This is doubly true for folks who have not played before and haven't yet read through the rules. Dumping all those possibilities at once just leads to decision paralysis, especially if you're not familiar with the rules.

    I think I'm going to further define the above scenario; having players chime in with important definitions is great, but some GMs feel more comfortable running off of a very predictable script. So I'll lock that all down, so that the GM can mentally prep ahead of time (not knowing who the Factions will be or what the Important Object is makes it very much more of an ad-lib game).

    That said, having a 'Jump Point' of basic conflict combinations is a good idea for the final product. I'm thinking a pick-and-mix chart of elements, or even a randomizer, to inspire stories/scenarios. Traveller had an interesting random mission generator that I should revisit for inspiration.
  • Between two Jump points, the player’s ship comes upon a large debris field, caused by a recent space battle. The ships belong to [Faction A] and [Faction B], and most are entirely destroyed. However, one vessel belonging to [Faction A] is still intact enough to be emitting a distress beacon. In addition to having lost its engines, the ship is also suffering from another [Major Issue].

    Onboard, boarding troops of [Faction B] have taken control of the ship, imprisoning the [Faction A] crew. In the ship’s hold is a [Unique Thing]. Eventually, the [Major Issue] becomes a lot more pressing/dangerous, and to make matters worse [Faction C] shows up with a boarding ship of their own, demanding the [Unique Thing].
    I haven't been following this thread super-closely, but I liked this setup so I used it in in the Traveller-with-AW-rules game that I have been running. I had originally planned to use it the week before, in a modified form, with one faction kidnapping someone from another faction planet-side (so not in space) and then the PCs fled that planet right away, so they had no chance to get involved. But since they ended that session stuck in the wrong part of deep space, I figured I'd just steal this scenario wholesale.

    The PCs, aboard the Permanent Crimson, comes upon about a dozen ruined ships, half belonging to Striker Enterprises, the other half belonging to Xenolith. Striker is a private military op that Pevin Alsarth knows about from her days in the army stationed on an occupied world. She says they are pretty elite. Xenolith is a private company that does the same job as the scouts (the Permanent Crimson is an off-duty scout ship, Captain Severin is an off-duty scout). Ismail Tabari has heard of Xenolith working for his family before (he is a noble), and suspects they might go so far as to do kidnappings and stuff.

    One ship still has people on it. The Crimson makes contact with a Striker team that has taken control of the large Xenolith ship and finds out that the Xenolith operators on board have sabotaged the engine and are barricaded inside the cargo bay. The Striker team tells them Xenolith is carrying illegal cargo.

    The PCs don't trust the PMCs, so they dock with the cargo end of the Xenolith ship and talk to the Xenolith operatives. They say they are carrying survey drones, not robots (robots are illegal) to a client, for use on an abandoned planet that has been the ruin of many treasure-hunters.

    Then the navy jumps into the hex. The Crimson fail a bunch of sensors rolls and don't get much info on them except a standard command to surrender. The Striker crew notifies the Xenolith operatives and demands they surrender. A majority of the Xenolith operatives ask to be rescued by the Permanent Crimson, a few refuse to abandon their cargo. The Permanent Crimson decide to book it out of there.

    On the jump back to planets connected by actual trade routes, they find out that Xenolith was working for Omnitech, a company run by the oligarchs of the region. This does not mean they worked for the same faction that controlled the naval ships, but they came from the same world. Either side could be facing a quick death, and who knows where the hi-tech survey "drones" will end up?

    The PCs tried to recruit one of the Xenolith operatives they rescued, but she wasn't too keen on staying with them, and got off at the first world with most of the other operatives they rescued.

    When the ship docked at a scout base, the scout chief on site gave them a mission: take a bunch of data back to the first world that had some plot on it. So perhaps I will will still get to use the non-space modified version of the idea. It seemed to work pretty well this session.
  • edited April 2014
    I threw together a first prototype of a character sheet. Sadly, it feels like it's a bit crowded, so I think I'll make it double-sided and put stuff like vehicles, crew and faction on the back where they'll have more room. (Sadly, Photobucket's compression isn't all that hot, so some of the smaller text is a bit hard to read)

    image
  • edited April 2014
    Looking for a bit of inspiration for the name of a Move.

    This Move triggers for every few days a group spends travelling in space. Each time it triggers, one player rolls (preferably a different player each time). It's a 'random encounter' Move, but the 'encounters' are between the player in question and one of the other characters onboard (PCs or NPCs). On a 10+ they bond over something that happens during those days, on a 7-9 there's a minor argument, disagreement, annoyance or squabble, and on a 6- something is said or done that causes a rift between the two characters. The specifics are up to the player and the one who controls the target (a player for a PC or a Loyal NPC, or the GM for an NPC passenger)

    Now, to be fair, this is just a tentative Move, I'd like to see how it plays out. But I'm having trouble coming up with a good sci-fi themed name for a Move about being stuck in a cramped, claustrophobic environment with other slightly dysfunctional people for days and weeks on end. After, one of the Principles of the game is “The Ship is Home, the Crew is its Dysfunctional Family”.

    I’d kinda like a Move name that expresses that idea of being trapped with the same people for too long, with a sci-fi theme. I tend to prefer subtle reference to popular sci-fi (like ‘Boldly Go’, ‘Acquisition’ and ‘Calibrations’ Moves).

    Any ideas?
  • My first hunch would be something like cramped quarters. Unless you want Ten Forward.
  • Space Madness.
  • Cabin Fever?

    Between You, Me and the Bulkhead?
  • Space Madness.
    At the mere push of a single button. The beautiful shiny button. The jolly, candy-like button.
    Cabin Fever?

    Between You, Me and the Bulkhead?
    Funnily enough, Cabin Fever was my fall-back name after Doldrums (sadly not many people know what Doldrums are). Doesn't quite fit the theme, though. Between You, Me and the Bulkhead doesn't quite work as a Move name, sadly.
    My first hunch would be something like cramped quarters.
    Nice! So far this is what I'll be going with. I really like it because it's punchy, straightforward and tells you exactly why you're triggering the Move. Sure, it doesn't have a reference to popular sci fi, but that's not a huge consideration.


  • edited April 2014
    I like Doldrums best of the so-far arrayed, followed by Cramped Quarters followed by Cabin Fever. Not sure what you mean by cabin fever not fitting the theme--nautical stuff translates very nicely into space and there is a rich tradition in sci-fi of treating space-faring military engagements as a natural extension of the naval tradition. The core cultural and practical problems of naval expeditions have robust analogues in space-faring sci-fi. Cabin fever is hardly an exception.

    Also "Between You Me and the Bulkhead" works just fine as a move name. ;) If it doesn't work for your aesthetic, that's another thing. But for my part, I don't feel like move names need to be particularly straight-forward or punchy unless that is specifically demanded by the aesthetic of the system; longer and more theatrical move names would be essential, for example, in a Discworld hack. But not exclusively so. Long (of for that matter long and theatrical) need not mean farcical or insincere.

    Directness is a tool that isn't right for every job. With the basic moves, you don't want cluttered names getting in the way. With more peripheral or situational moves ... having a little extra wordiness can give the situation that extra dash of salt.
  • edited April 2014
    Oh, don't get me wrong, the names are all good, they're just not quite what I'm looking for. As a side-note, I believe 'Cabin Fever' refers to a cabin in the land-bound building sense (usually because one is snowed in) rather than a sea-going vessel (i.e.: Doldrums).

    Here's what I have so far:

    Once every few days of interstellar travel, one of the characters makes a Cramped Quarters move (preferably a character that has not made one this trip).
    Cramped Quarters
    Describe what you have been doing when not on duty. Choose someone aboard the ship (PC or NPC) and Roll (Roll+Influence?).
    On a 10+, describe how you and that character bonded in some way in the past few days.
    On a 7-9, describe the minor disagreement or annoyance that passed between the two of you in the past few days.
    On a 6-, describe what happened between the two of you in the past few days that caused anger, bad blood and/or hurt feelings.

    I dunno if it should be a flat Roll, or if it should be Roll+Influence. Technically, I could introduce strings/bonds/whatever, but I'm not sure I want more number tracking. Honestly the Move is mainly to try to fulfill the Principal and throw a little inter-party dynamic, and to break up the interstellar travel a bit without constantly having to resort to accidents/outside encounters.
  • edited April 2014
    I suppose it has "cabin" in the phrase so that makes sense; I always thought it was just more generic than that. Being shut up in small spaces.


    On the move: I wonder if it wouldn't work better as something like "When you make an extended journey through interstellar space" rather than "every few days." As a matter of pacing, I think it sounds cool to roll it when you do a sort of fade-to-black; the journey is going to take a few days and no one has anything they particularly want to do on board the vessel.

    If your goal is just to fulfill the pinciple, though, you don't need to roll--just make an MC move. If you want to make it more player facing, perhaps something like:

    "When you make an extended journey through interstellar space, roll [something, probably flat?] for the most restless character. Pick another character. On a 10+, pick one of the following and take +1 influence with that character. On a 7-9, the MC picks one of the following. On a 6-, pick one; the MC will provide complication, unforseen consequence, or cost.

    --You and another character have bonded in some way over the past few days. Say how.
    --A minor disagreement or annoyance passed between you and another character. Describe it.
    --Something happened between you and another character that caused anger, bad blood or hurt feelings. "

    It's very, very rough, but hopefully useful in some manner. There are a fair number of moving bits in it that can be removed or adjusted to taste, but hopefully you see the core of what I'm getting at.
  • Cabin fever gets applied to ships sometimes, too. There's also stir crazy, the prison version of cabin fever, if you want that implication.
  • Cabin fever is a clearly documented nautical experience.

    Loving watching these moves get built.

    I have a question, but it's a little off topic - maybe someone can whisper me their opinion?
    What is a Space Opera exactly? Is it simply pulpy, melodramatic space adventure or are there more definite tropes? Maybe Space Opera is my usual go-to in Sci-fi so I've lost sight of what sets it apart..
  • No, you got it right.
  • For me, at least, Space Operas tend to paint in primary colors (which is why it's one of the game's Principles). Things are just a bit more exaggerated, a bit larger than life. Everything has a high contrast when it comes to what defines them; scientists are super science-y, high-tech worlds are all chrome and gold and spires and floating cars, slum worlds are stinking, gloomy, neon-lit and always raining, etc.
  • edited April 2014
    Oh, cool! I guess when I think of Space Opera, maybe I take it too literally. Like, I'd want my plots to be Wagnerian. Like, Ring Cycle in Space.

    I guess the specific element to the genre I'm trying to name here would be the central characters are usually generals, princes, lords or of some knightly rank. Ring Cycle in Space and and Warring States Period in Space are two that come to mind.
  • edited April 2014
    That can totally work as a Space Opera setting. Space Opera is by nature theatrical, with big personalities as actors, who declaim the plot in loud voices. Galactic empires are also a very common feature.

    Heck this is probably something you could post as a separate topic here on Story Games and get a ton of great, thoughtful replies.

    Also: my favorite Space Opera


  • Heck this is probably something you could post as a separate topic here on Story Games and get a ton of great, thoughtful replies.
    I think I just might. Watch this space.
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