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

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  • By the way, if you want I'd be happy to write up those randomization tables for you. My thought was a table for generation alien species (two tables, one for apppearance, one for behavior), human cultures and planets.
  • Hey. I might have some feedback for you, if you're interested.

    Firstly though, I should note, that I have a knack for being negative or perhaps just appearing that way, so please don't let me discourage you!

    First of all, I should talk about what I love about the game. I think you totally nailed Principles, both player and GM. It's probably the best advice how to play characters I have seen in game so far. I think the whole idea of "in here/out there", debt and ship and stuff is great. And, most of all, the origin / career / career is one of the best innovative things someone did with Apocalypse Engine. I love the Factions. I love the name "Interface". I love all the references (Influence is about "making friends and influencing people"). I love how the equipment works. And more.

    Now, I have some other stuff. I'll try to make simple bullet (or laser) points instead of long paragraph.

    I wonder about the stats. I'm sure you thought about this already, but Physique is kind of the odd man out. Mettle is kind of like Hard and Cool from AW, it represents how good you're with violence, and when things go sideways. Influence represents how good you're with people. Interface represents how good you're with computers and cyberspace. Expertise represents how good you're with non-computer tech, stuff like medicine, labwork, mad science, hyperspace engines, etc. But the physique does not represent how good you're with something, it represents how fit, string and pretty you are.

    That's kind of strange. And especially with character strapped for points, like military technocrat (archetype that should be called "Motoko"), you end with those weird combinations of stats with -1 Physique and +1 Mettle, where the character is pretty good when firing rifle, but bad when firing shotgun, or the other way around. And while Physique works with Face Adversity, it is kind of difficult to use with Assessment.

    So, I would like to suggest dropping Physique. It really doesn't do anything that wouldn't make sense for Influence or Mettle to do, it works on different level of abstraction than other stats, and makes some things kind of weird. If five stats are required, I would propose splitting Mettle, not by the physical / emotional side, but by the pressure / violence axis, the way AW does it. That would put shooting gun, and commanding ship when torpedoes are flying on different stats, for example.

    Now, mostly small things that concern the 0.7.5 -> 0.82:

    1) I love that NPC crews are equipment instead of moves. It works much better.

    2) I'm sad to to see the Artificial Origin go. Especially when it was Harder Better Faster Stronger! (to be frank, Advanced, Regimented or Violent works for Artificial characters depending on how and where they were created - vat-grown human with better computer connection works with Advanced, combat replicant works with Violent - but having it's own flavor was nice)

    3) I'm sad to see the geeky computer move (/HAYWIRE /BREAK /DELTREE) go. It really screamed science fiction to me. But I guess it was too geeky for normal people? And I'm not sure Coding needs separate move.

    4) I like the equipment cleanup. I'm not sure how to work with Gadgets really, but I like how I can get fighter package and +hidden +melt +cut pistol for integrated laser for my runaway replicant.

    5) I'm not sure about the "there are four things that may be on your ship" instead of "you origin gives you interesting detail about you living space". More stuff is good, obviously, but I liked how before it was kind of about the character, while now it is about the ship. If I could, I would probably return the little detail about living space back to Origin, and make huge list of the things that can be on ship and have every player chose two as part of ship creation, that way you can have both.

    That's all I can think of for now. I'll be looking forward to answers.
  • edited August 2014
    Heya RS. First off, thanks for your kind words: believe me, this is far from a negative post. I've had a LOT worse. My ego is purring nicely at your compliments, hehe.

    Lemme see if I can’t address some of your concerns.

    Physique: I find it very interesting that you question this stat; most of the time, it’s the split between Expertise and Interface (called Ingenuity and Tech, back in the day) which drew comments. I guess the rename there worked well enough, haven’t heard any comments about them since then. Anywho, Physique is indeed the most “natural” of the stats; while the others are all somewhat cerebral, Physique is the only ‘Body’ stat. I felt it important to have, specifically because it covers so many of the more action-oriented situations.

    Basically, I felt the distinction between long ranged combat and close quarters fighting was important enough to fall into two separate stats. Perhaps it's my Warhammer 40k side showing up. :P I can totally see ‘violence’ and ‘pressure’ being the split instead, but I prefer to have something that covers purely athletic situations. It’s probably my most used Face Adversity stat. Sure it’s more reactive than the other stats, but I’m ok with that. I don’t disagree with your statement at all, by the way, but Physique has proven useful enough as a stat to warrant keeping.

    Physique Assessments: Climbing/hiking through hostile terrain to make an Assessment about the terrain, wildlife, etc. Spelunking into an asteroid to make an Assessment about the minerals, resources or alien ruins within. Seducing/sleeping with someone to make an Assessment about them (as an alternative to charming them with Influence). Beating the snot out of someone/threatening violence until the subject disgorges all the information about the subject you want.

    Artificial Origin: As I mentioned earlier, in this thread, I love the Artificial Origin, but I feel that it would have to bend the rules to do the archetype justice. So I wanted to complete the basic game rules first, and I’ve pushed them into a secondary material. I’ll probably eventually write up expanded rules for Cyborgs, Mutants, Psionics and Aliens.

    Run Program: The old ‘use computer’ Move was fun, but not especially useful. It was a bit too restrictive for a *World style game, and tried to cover too many possibilities. The new Program works basically like a “Command Computer”, which is a lot more freeform and robust. Still, I agree that I miss the /Deltree and such. Hmmm… maybe I can rename the Technocrat’s moves? I’ll look into it.

    Gadgets: I’m currently re-evaluating the implementation of Gadgets. Right now they’re too nebulous and are stuck in a weird zone between fluff, mechanics and potentially abused system. There will probably be changes coming down the pipe on those.

    Ship rooms: I tried the big list approach in playtests, when I was doing rapid iteration on the revamp of character creation. Turns out that just having the big list leads to the dreaded Peanut Butter dilemma, a pitfall of design. The living space theme/feel, however, is something that could be included somewhere in character creation.

    Again, thanks for your great feedback, and I hope you have fun with the system. I’ll be posting something I’ve been working on later today to get people’s general impressions; I’ve revamped and seriously tightened up the whole economic system of the game; Debt, Favor, Standing, Acquisition, etc.
  • edited August 2014
    Physique: I find it very interesting that you question this stat; most of the time, it’s the split between Expertise and Interface (called Ingenuity and Tech, back in the day) which drew comments. I guess the rename there worked well enough, haven’t heard any comments about them since then. Anywho, Physique is indeed the most “natural” of the stats; while the others are all somewhat cerebral, Physique is the only ‘Body’ stat. I felt it important to have, specifically because it covers so many of the more action-oriented situations.

    Basically, I felt the distinction between long ranged combat and close quarters fighting was important enough to fall into two separate stats. Perhaps it's my Warhammer 40k side showing up. :P I can totally see ‘violence’ and ‘pressure’ being the split instead, but I prefer to have something that covers purely athletic situations. It’s probably my most used Face Adversity stat. Sure it’s more reactive than the other stats, but I’m ok with that. I don’t disagree with your statement at all, by the way, but Physique has proven useful enough as a stat to warrant keeping.

    Physique Assessments: Climbing/hiking through hostile terrain to make an Assessment about the terrain, wildlife, etc. Spelunking into an asteroid to make an Assessment about the minerals, resources or alien ruins within. Seducing/sleeping with someone to make an Assessment about them (as an alternative to charming them with Influence). Beating the snot out of someone/threatening violence until the subject disgorges all the information about the subject you want.
    I see now. Physique is way broader than I assumed, I guess because of the AW model there hot is both how pretty you are, and hos influential you are, so I would never expect to roll Physique to seduce someone, for example. But this way it makes sense, thanks.

    I would have never guessed from the description of Assessment that you can do Physical assessment (and gain a Codex entry) using Physique by sleeping with someone to gain information.

    I'm not sure how to use Mettle, then. I guess it is both cool and hard from AW, no? And I know this isn't usually the highest priority in Apocalypse Engine games, but my inner realism nerd is unsure about how shooting someone with pistol and shotgun is completely different from shooting someone with rifle at the same range :)

    I noticed that thing about Expertise and Interface, but I also read you explanation upthread, and it makes sense. Also, Interface is such a cool name that I would forgive it even being completely useless (which it isn't).

    Now I kind of wonder about the stat descriptions. You have to put -1 to one stat, that's how it works (unless you gain Origin move to counteract the -1, which is interesting from roleplaying standpoint, but not very good idea from character optimization standpoint). From the description of stats that means every character is either
    1) someone who falls apart under pressure,
    2) ugly or unfit or unhealthy,
    3) uncreative, slow and stupid,
    4) someone who can't deal with people,
    5) someone who isn't good with computers.

    That's fine I guess, I have the experience of everyone who isn't playing hacker taking -1 Interface (though it was Tech when we played) and I guess hackers have to deal with it. But from the actual moves, Expertise makes you medic, doctor and mechanic. Influence makes you mostly trader and business man. Mettle and Physique seem to by mostly about fighting. I'm not sure the descriptions fit.

    But maybe I'm discounting Assessment and Face Adversity or something?

    ...

    Also, Apocalypse Engine is weird in one way -- the failure may be rather decoupled from the person failing. Since the system kind of removes the "nothing happened" and since GM is supposed to be fun of the PCs, fail may often mean that something out of control of the PCs went wrong. Failed stealth may mean there's one more patrol, not that you stupidly made yourself visible. Fail means something went wrong, but it's not necessarily your fault.

    That's interesting because it means that low stat doesn't mean you have to be bad at something, just that things go wrong more often. Someone with low Influence may be someone who can be influential, but has bad luck and something always go wrong when he negotiates. And you can't say in character "If it was me negotiating with the pirates instead of the Capitan, the Galactic Navy patrol cruiser wouldn't be here" because that's just something in the mechanics, but makes no sense whatsoever in fiction.

    Same things happen with Assessments (or reads or discern realities or something), where fail probably means you now know something you didn't want to hear.

    But that's something I'll have to think about more. I still feel like I'm missing something.

    ...

    Now I also wonder how UW would work with cool, hard, hot, sharp and interface, but that's just me wondering, not suggestion for you to change anything :) I seem to have a crush on AW mechanics.
    Artificial Origin: As I mentioned earlier, in this thread, I love the Artificial Origin, but I feel that it would have to bend the rules to do the archetype justice. So I wanted to complete the basic game rules first, and I’ve pushed them into a secondary material. I’ll probably eventually write up expanded rules for Cyborgs, Mutants, Psionics and Aliens.
    You forgot Heretics :)

    If I may have a suggestion, there's great Psionics in Eclipse Phase, which is also CC licensed and great SF game, though with different leaning than Uncharted Worlds. iI's supposed to be more like Alien and Event Horizon and stuff, instead of the primary color UW. There are three levels of Psionics, first level that affects just your own brain (like rain man computation, knowing someone is watching you or perfect memory), second level that affects other minds (like knowing there's a thinking being nearby, psyching assault or sharing of memories and skills) and third level (RAW NPC only) that can do physical effects or things that telepaths get to do only in the movies, like memory traps or something. That would work nicely with "how powerful you want psionics to be in your game".

    I know you put this back until rest is finished, just an idea :)
    Run Program: The old ‘use computer’ Move was fun, but not especially useful. It was a bit too restrictive for a *World style game, and tried to cover too many possibilities. The new Program works basically like a “Command Computer”, which is a lot more freeform and robust. Still, I agree that I miss the /Deltree and such. Hmmm… maybe I can rename the Technocrat’s moves? I’ll look into it.
    You're right.

    Oh, one thing I just realized. Some of the moves depend on other moves in non-trivial way, no?

    For example, you can command computer using the Interface move. But you can't make it do something and then shut down, or make something repeat infinitely, because that requires one move from Technocrat. When you're making acquisition, you can buy anything ... but political favor or VIP access, because that requires the Bribe move.

    I would propose changing this somehow, because those are things that you would guess are part of the basic moves, and only then you learn they aren't (or possibly are, but then the extending moves don't make sense).

    I'm not sure how to change the Technocrat move, the Bribe can just become "Greasing the Wheels" and give discount for buying those things. I'm not sure why buying VIP access or political favor should not possible for normal characters anyway. Discount would mean you can get those things more easily, and that fits into my idea "trader with something more" well I think.

    Also, can I hack computer using Face Adversity with Interface? Sure, the Hacking move is better (it gives me free action in case I get 10+) but do I need it, or is it an upgrade like with the upgrades to Patch Up and Acquisition? That should maybe get written somewhere.
  • edited August 2014
    Also, Apocalypse Engine is weird in one way -- the failure may be rather decoupled from the person failing. Since the system kind of removes the "nothing happened" and since GM is supposed to be fun of the PCs, fail may often mean that something out of control of the PCs went wrong. Failed stealth may mean there's one more patrol, not that you stupidly made yourself visible. Fail means something went wrong, but it's not necessarily your fault.
    I'd say this is partially true. Failing a roll doesn't necessarily mean something went wrong at all. It means that things already established come to fruition. That where otherwise you would establish possibility and ask or escalate a situation and ask or just ask provocatively ... instead you instead create something explicit and make some permanent change that follows from the fiction established.

    Incautiously throwing in one more patrol because you want to represent "failing" the roll on a miss can be just as awkward as causing the player to fail at the task at which they most excel at an inappropriate moment to represent the failure of the roll in a game like DnD; Apocalypse Engine gives us the tools (and indeed requires that we use the tools) to determine what is and is not a fictionally appropriate moment, but it does it like so: make as hard a move as you like. It doesn't mean something goes wrong, then, but that something irrevocable happens. Something that can't be undone. Permanent marker stuff. It can be good or bad, big or small or something in between; afterall if you're a fan of the players sometimes you don't like to make the hardest move you can or even a move that's all that hard.

    Having a high stat means you get to choose more options, exact more narrative control, and get what you want on your terms more of the time within the bounds of the moves you have available to you. But it also means you have a high stat; it's a statement about your character and the moves are statements about how characters like yours get on in the setting. Having a character with a high Sharp means something on it's own; the moves then tell you what the world does to and for people with high (or low) Sharp. The fictional/mechanical disconnect is there, I suppose, but I feel like you're exposing it more by skipping that middle step.

    Why is that Galactic Navy patrol cruiser showing up, again?

    Jon Harper put it really nicely somewhere. Aha!
    I've seen people struggle with hard moves in the moment. Like, when the dice miss, the MC stares at it like, "Crap! Now I have to invent something! Better make it dangerous and cool! Uh... some ninja... drop out of the ceiling... with poison knives! Grah!"

    Don't do that. Instead, when it's time for a hard move, look back at the setup move(s) you made. What was threatened? What was about to happen, before the PC took action? Follow through on that. Bring the effects on screen. Bring the consequences to fruition.

    And speaking of consequences, a hard move doesn't automatically equate to severe consequences. The severity of the threat is a separate issue, depending wholly on the fiction as established. The hard move means the consequences, large or small, take full effect now.

    It's not about being mean, or punishing a missed roll, or inventing new trouble. It's about giving the fiction its full expression. Setup, follow-through. Action, consequences.
    I'm sure you're plenty familiar with this sort of idea in the game, but I bring it up here (in my meandering way, sorry :\ ) because it pertains to stats high and low and what missing means. Missing doesn't require punishment, doesn't require things to go wrong. Nor does a low stat. A low stat means that the player doesn't get to have their way with the fiction as often and the other side of that is that the MC gets to express the fiction fully as per their own judgement more often. If the fiction is stacked against the characters ... that's typically bad news for them. But it isn't always and even when it is, the MC is a fan of your characters.
  • Of course a humorous aspect of that AW mechanic is when the Player with the lowest stat in the required move says "I'll do it" and everybody at the table shouts "No! Don't!"
  • Of course a humorous aspect of that AW mechanic is when the Player with the lowest stat in the required move says "I'll do it" and everybody at the table shouts "No! Don't!"
    :D
  • That's interesting because it means that low stat doesn't mean you have to be bad at something, just that things go wrong more often.
    That's one reframe, here's another: low stat means "this is what my character doesn't do". When faced with a clear opportunity to use your -1 stat, you look for an alternate approach, or you grab your buddy and ask him to do it (maybe going for the Aid move instead).
  • That's interesting because it means that low stat doesn't mean you have to be bad at something, just that things go wrong more often.
    That's one reframe, here's another: low stat means "this is what my character doesn't do". When faced with a clear opportunity to use your -1 stat, you look for an alternate approach, or you grab your buddy and ask him to do it (maybe going for the Aid move instead).
    Well, yes and no. Only if you're more interested in exacting control over the fiction than following through on the clear opportunity. Maybe you don't mind missing the roll, and want to take the chance. Maybe the fiction is stacked in your favor sufficiently and the MC would have to really stretch to make that -1 seem threatening in this scene, right here, right now (of course, maybe Danvers makes a move against your territory near the lake while you're busy here in town but that's neither here nor there).
  • I'm sure you're plenty familiar with this sort of idea in the game, but I bring it up here (in my meandering way, sorry :\ ) because it pertains to stats high and low and what missing means. Missing doesn't require punishment, doesn't require things to go wrong. Nor does a low stat. A low stat means that the player doesn't get to have their way with the fiction as often and the other side of that is that the MC gets to express the fiction fully as per their own judgement more often. If the fiction is stacked against the characters ... that's typically bad news for them. But it isn't always and even when it is, the MC is a fan of your characters.
    You're right. It is an excellent advice, and thinking about it, maybe I knew at one time, but looking at my games in the past, I'm not sure I always did things that way. Maybe it is a flaw in Dungeon World that it requires rolls (because everyone calls moves, I don't think you can "say yes or roll") and gives XP for fails, so it kind of pressures me to be as mean as possible. Maybe it's flaw in Dungeon World because it gives moves that are hard to make fails for (Discern Realities: "look around" x Read a Sitch: "look around in charged situation", Spout Lore: "think about something" x Open you Brain to the Psychic Maelstrom).

    Most likely it is just flaw in me and the way I do games, though.

    There's one more principle that kind of goes against this. I like mapping randomness/luck in real world to randomness/luck in fiction. It kind of seems more fair. The player didn't do anything wrong to roll 6. He didn't make a mistake. So I don't like describing that the character did something wrong or made a mistake.

    But this way of thinking leads to galactic navy that appears when you fail talking to pirates, so you're right that it needs restraint and more thinking about the fiction.
  • edited August 2014
    Hmm. If Dungeon World doesn't say you have to fail on a 6-.

    "The basic Outcomes

    •10+: You do it with little trouble
    •7–9: You do it, but with complications or trouble
    •6-: The GM says what happens and you mark XP"

    "Each move will tell you what happens on a 10+ and a 7–9. Most moves won’t say what happens on a 6-, that’s up to the GM but you also always mark XP."
    That said, failing an observational type action can mean you choose which question you answer; throw them useful information, but they don't get to pick the question; you tell them what honesty demands--you're not trying to trick or trap them. You're giving them something genuinely useful ... but not on their terms and they probably won't like what they find out.

    The galactic navy can also totally show up if that's something that flows with the established fiction. I feel like Read a Situtation should probably always let the player ask at least one question even on a miss, and you should tie the revelation of your hard move into that action even though you're not doing it through failure. Make your move, and misdirect.

    The player fails their Read a Situation roll. So you let them ask a question and while they pick one you're thinking "What are my fronts doing? What are my NPCs doing? What tension exists in my PC-NPC triangles? What have the players not been dealing with? What setup moves have I made recently that the players haven't responded to?"

    If you still come up with nothing ... well, you probably need to do more setup moves in the future and apply more pressure from your fronts!

    But if the Galactic Navy has a reason to be here that follows from the fiction? Is there a warrant out for their arrest? Did they screw a bully in the GN with pull enough to use it for his dirty work? Both? Now is as good a time as any, right? But you want to misdirect--weigh your options. How hard a move do you want to make? Maybe you get lucky and they ask "What's my greatest threat?" Opportunity on a friggin' platter. Maybe you answer differently or you answer their question about something else ... but you still proceed after combining their expertise, local knowledge and sensor systems to misdirect in answering their question: "While you're examining the sensor readouts, you hear a message coming in over coms. It's a bit garbled (their ship has [Poor Wiring]), though you catch something about a GN Cruiser and the word warrant. Chessa, you're pretty sure the voice is Boris--maybe he's coming through for you after all; you might want more information if you can get the coms to cooperate."

    You're thinking offscreen--the Navy knows they're here and is approaching but they have some time to avoid direct confrontation. You're making as hard a move as you like--it's not right on top of them because that doesn't flow nicely, but it's still making their day worse and you misdirected. They asked for information about their surroundings ... they got more than they bargained for, but in a way they're actually getting the drop on their enemy. Depending on the context that might be a bit of a soft move ... how is that irrevocable? Well, you're thinking offscreen--it's not just a GN cruiser, is it? Its worse than that, in the bigger picture. They're cornered and hemmed in. The GN knows where they are and has good, reliable leads on where they're going next. They can't run for long and they can hide for only barely longer and that's IF they don't do something really stupid AND they hit the dirt FAST. You're also making this otherwise soft-ish move potentially rougher than it looks--Chessa doesn't trust Boris any further than she can throw him and he's pretty hard to throw; he does owe him and he's on the level here and you're not *trying* to mislead them and trap them (you'll tell them what honesty demands), but if Chessa's player runs with it and seems to enjoy distrusting Boris, you've made the day that much more interesting!


    It's not the best example at all, but it's an example of how even the "I must make something bad happen, but there isn't anything bad that can happen here and now" sort of thing can work out.

    If you're doing your job, the fiction is just WAITING for an opportunity to get all up in the player's faces. mess with their stuff, call in their debts, and so forth. When they miss that roll talking to the Pirates ... what do the Pirates want from them that this negotiation is holding at bay? What would the pilots be doing if the players weren't trying to assert themselves? And even failing that, you're thinking offscreen, you're thinking in time and space. What is going on while they're talking to the pirates? What was going on since the last time we checked in on these NPCs and these fronts?
  • Honestly, I occasionally use 6- just as "the GM gets to make a Move with their characters/pieces". Because it's the only time the GM is allowed to act without the players. Obviously, the GM has to stay within the confines of the established fiction thus far (just like the players) but it at least gives the option to interrupt a player action to add a new element to the scene. From a writing/pacing point of view, this is important. It allows the GM to throw curve-balls without seeming entirely arbitrary.

    Speaking of Read a Situation, I'd like to ask those that have playtested: have the Codex Entries come up? Have the players used Assessment much, or at all? I feel I overshot with the Assessment design; the old version was a "ask the Gm a question" which was used too frequently (I had a similar problem with DW's Discern Reality and Spout Lore). But now I fear it may be too much narrative investment to make an Assessment, and that the rewards of doing so are nebulous. I'd appreciate any feedback/suggestions while I mull over how to rewrite it.
  • edited August 2014
    The GM should be getting to do that during normal play, too when golden opportunities arise and also even with soft-moves. Sure the players get a better chance to respond (The Pirates don't like your terms and start drawing and readying their weapons; they're pretty quick! What do you do?), but moving your pieces and stuff is something you should be able to do during the entire game, whenever you like.
  • edited August 2014
    Oh yes, sure, but to flip your example, when the players who say "We don't like the Pirate's terms, and we draw weapons. *roll... 6-* GM, what do they do?" :)
  • edited August 2014
    So this is the latest toying with Assessment. It's swinging back closer to the Dungeon World-style implementation.

    I'm also trying a different templating, phasing out the Roll+[Stat] in favor of examples for each stat.

    *New update in next post*
  • edited August 2014
    ASSESSMENT
    When you collect critical information about an important, dangerous or mysterious subject…
    … using stealth, focus or cunning, Roll+Mettle
    … using research, knowledge and logic, Roll+Expertise
    … using hard work or strenuous activity, Roll+Physique
    … using charm, informants or gossip, Roll+Influence
    … using the SectorNet or electronics/devices, Roll+Interface

    On a 10+, you gain significant information about the subject, and gain a Data Point about it as well.
    On a 7-9, the GM will divulge interesting, potentially useful information about the subject. Or they might ask you to do so.
    On a 6-, the GM will reveal facts about the subject you probably wish were not true.

    DATA POINTS
    Data Points are small but critically useful bits of information about a subject, which can be leveraged to tip the scales during a particularly tense moment.

    Data Points are earned by making particularly successful Assessments, from certain skills, from Acquisitions or as rewards. There are no limits to how many Data Points a character can have, but they quickly expire if they are no longer pertinent or are rendered obsolete/out-of-date.

    Each Data Point concerns a specific topic or subject, and can be spent to grant a +1 to a roll that directly involves or leverages the information in that Data Point. Only one Data Point can be spent per roll, no matter how many would apply.



    I got a feeling that the term 'Codex Entry' has too much... permanence, I guess. I wanted to come up with a term that sounded like an information resource, something to be earned, then spent when useful or discarded when out-of-date. A few skills would need minor tweaks, (Interrogation, Cosmopolitan, Survival, etc: Skills that used to give a Codex Entry now give 3 Data Points about the subject), and Learning (Academic skill) would need to change to take advantage of the new system


    Learning (Academic Skill)
    When you make an Assessment, on a 10+ you gain 3 Data Points about the subject, and on a 7-9 you gain 1 Data Point. As long as you spend part of your downtime educating yourself about the subject of one of your Data Points, the Data Points of that subject do not expire.
  • Data Point is much, much better.
  • Quick update on the 0.83, which I should hopefully publish this week. Here's what's coming down the pipe:

    - Changed Debt/Favor system
    - Changed Standing (reputation) system
    - Changed Acquisition standard move
    - Added Barter standard move
    - Changed Assessment standard move
    - Removed Codex Entries
    - Added Data Points
    - Updated templating of Face Adversity standard move
    - Updated templating of Get Involved standard move
    - Various changes to career moves to account for changes to Assessment, Acquisition, Debt/Favor and Data Points
    - Quick start rules
    - Pre-generated characters
    - Updated Faction generation

    We're getting there. If there's anything on your wish list, go ahead and post, and I'll add it to my priority list.
  • edited August 2014

    Yay! Version 0.83 is up!

    Record number of mechanical changes in this one, stuff I'm really happy about. I feel very confident with this version, and I hope you guys like the changes.
    0.83 Changelist:
    - Changed Debt/Favor system
    - Changed Standing (reputation) system
    - Changed Acquisition standard move
    - Added Barter standard move
    - Added Wild Jump standard move
    - Changed Assessment standard move
    - Removed Codex Entries
    - Added Data Points
    - Updated templating of Face Adversity standard move
    - Updated templating of Get Involved standard move
    - Rewrote Launch Assault and Open Fire to be clearer
    - Quick start rules
    - Removed separate 'Gadgets'
    - Changed Gear system
    - Folded Gadgets into 'Career Kits' for Gear
    - Changed Crew system
    - Skill changes:
    - - Academic: Learning
    - - Clandestine: Interrogation
    - - Commercial: Trade, Procurement, Broker, Bribe
    - - Explorer: Survivalist
    - - Industrial: Dismantle
    - - Personality: Fame, Contacts, Performance, Subversion
    - - Scoundrel: Criminal, Schemer, False Identity
    - - Starfarer: Traveller, Cosmopolitan, Calibrations
    - - Technocrat: Upload (removed), Technophile (added), Data Manipulation, Coding, Hacking
    - - Cast time of Wild Jump reduced to 5 seconds, but cooldown increased to 60 seconds. Mana cost remains the same.

    I'll post the reasoning behind some of the bigger changes when I have a free moment. If anyone has any questions about the rules or anything (or spots any parts of the rules I missed during my latest round of updates (like Industrial: Tinker)) please feel free to post!

    Coming up for 0.84:
    - Revamping/rewriting ship gameplay rules (finally!)
    - Premade characters
    - Quick Start scenarios
    - GM Moves
  • edited September 2014
    Character sheet questions (just an informal opinion sounding):
    - The career moves/skills are pretty verbose, especially the ones that add options to Standard Moves. Should the character sheet have space to write out the whole skill, or just the name and a short blurb?
    - Not every character will have Crew or Vehicles. Should they be considered part of a larger 'equipment' section, or should Weapons, Gear, Vehicles and Crew each have their own sections?
    - Should I try to constrain everything to a single page, or spread it out over two?

    Also if a brave, skilled soul wants to try their hand at making a character sheet (Lord knows it's not my forté), I'd be super interested to see what folks can come up with.
  • OMFG this is awesome :)
    Our table has just expressed an interest in some kind of sci-fi world in the vein of B5, Farscape, Star Wars etc - and I see this thread today :) Talk about synchronicity!
  • edited September 2014
    That's fantastic Dionysus, I'm really glad you found what you were looking for, and hope you and your table have a great time playing. As usual, feedback and questions are always welcome.


    In other news, I've put together a tentative new character sheet. Larger version available here. I'd be interested in opinions / first impressions, if you guys have a moment.

    photo 084Sheet_zps3b053c79.jpg
  • Hi there.
    Just wondering - what exactly are the barter points used for? Is it roughly the same as in apocwprld? It's just not entirely clear from the text.
  • edited September 2014
    Ah, I'll be sure to expand upon it in the rules, make it more clear. Basically, you can spend cargo when making an Acquisition Move, you get +the value of the cargo to the Acquisition roll. It's a way to ensure you get what you want, and can even boost you up to 13+ so that you don't earn Debt from the faction.
  • ahh, now i read the entry closely, I can see that sentence :)
  • The new sheet is slick. :)
  • Hey folks. Just a quick note that things are picking up at my job, so I'm putting the development UW on hiatus until November. I'll still be popping in to check for questions or comments, so feel free to keep toying with the current (0.83) build; your feedback is always appreciated.
  • edited November 2014
    And we're back! Ow! That was a painful month, followed by two weeks of sickness due to the aforementioned month of overtime. Aaaanywho, I'm back in the saddle, writing away under the effect of cold and flu medication. Also: My wife and I are expecting our first child in May! I'm gonna be a dad! It is now a race to see which of us will finish out 'Project' first. :D

    Anywho, on with the update:

    Right now I'm revisiting the Commerce section of the rules, specifically Cargo.
    - Firstly, all Cargo will be referred to as being Grade 0 to Grade 4. (I've been doing a pass, unifying the code-words in the rules, and 'Grade' will now be used to describe an object's relative value/power/upgrades; A Grade 1 weapon has 1 upgrade, etc. So Grade 2 cargo is much more valuable than Grade 1, while Grade 4 are the top-notch, best quality goods).
    - Secondly, whenever a unit of foreign cargo is brought to a new market, it can be bartered away for higher Grade local cargo.
    - Thirdly, Cargo can be used to give +Cargo Grade to an Aquisition roll, or once a Cargo hits Grade 4, it has the chance of catching the eye of a Faction, and can be gifted to gain a Favor with said Faction (or repay a Debt).

    However, before I start expanding on that system, I'm looking for a general opinion about Interstellar Commerce in Space Opera games. How important is it, especially in a Powered By The Apocalypse system? How 'in depth' should it be, and how much rules overhead should be spent in fleshing it out? Should instead I simplify what I described up there even further?

    On the one hand, it provides extra rewards for the players to seek, and a robust system of import/export (want/need) can flesh out the web of interplanetary relationships. A proper system of planetary surplus and demand, combined with a Type for each cargo (Industrial, Medical, Scientific, Luxury, etc) might encourage groups of players, giving them a solid short-term objective or a reason to go to X planet or make a stop at Y station or even land on Z hostile, uninhabited planet.

    On the other hand, my experience with Traveller, while fun, was a bit closer to EVE Online than it was Mass Effect, if you get my meaning. It was hilarious to have the ship's Broker player pull up his honest-to-God spreadsheet with planetary surplus and demand when determining their next stop, but it certainly didn't make for action-packed sessions (except on one Rich, High-Tech planet, where the stock market was turned into an endurance-based virtual reality ESport.)

    Thoughts/comments/opinions appreciated!
  • As a side note, I'm looking for a freelance illustrator/concept artist who can put together stuff like this. I'd greatly appreciate it if anyone could pass on the contact info of a solid freelancer.
  • May I make a suggestion? It might be fun to give PCs a financial profile rooted in the story (like "working to put the kids through college," "five year commission," "medical bills," or "gambling debts"—as well of course as the ship owner's mortgage!), and tie those into your commerce system. It might help to give the numbers some story traction.
  • Hmmmmm... iiiiinteresting. Back in the day I had a "Why are you on this ship" question as part of character creation, but ultimately did away with it because it felt a bit artificial. This could be an interesting alternative.

    However, after doing a major overhaul of the Debt and Favor system, I've eliminated individual Debt and instead made it a group-wide Debt. As far as the subsequent playtests are concerned, it's worked spectacularly for abstracting the system. Something like a personal financial profile sadly would run counter to that change.

    Not saying it's a bad idea at all. It's actually quite interesting, a very good jumping point for a commercial game. However, general feedback I've been getting from other places has kinda been skewed towards abstraction over detail, so I probably won't be adding to the Cargo system (not to say that I won't be tweaking and refining the rules;I'm still not 100% happy with their implementation, I think I can tighten them up some more).
  • Juan Ochoa maybe? I know he's done some aliens and spaceship stuff for a thing that Diaspora co-author Brad Murray has been working on.
  • edited November 2014
    Hey Johnstone, thanks for the heads up. Contacted Juan, getting some artwork done by him. Hopefully if the eventual Kickstarter goes through, I'll be able to get some more work done, give the project a nice, professional PnP book look.

    -----

    General Update:

    Currently working on the starship rules in detail, including the player's starting ship, ship sizes/capabilities, and ship-to-ship (and ship-vs-hazard) encounters. Of course, there's the elephant in the room that I'm studiously trying to avoid looking at, which is actually putting the basic gameplay into text. I mean, I know how a Powered By The Apocalypse game is supposed to work, but I really have to sit down and frame it in the context of Uncharted Worlds.

    It seems petty, but I'm seriously waffling between the word 'Grade' and the word 'Class' to describe the relative value/power/superiority of an subject. I started with Grade, because it described how many upgrades a weapon had (a Grade 2 weapon has 2 upgrades). However, in normal conversations, my playtest groups and I found the word 'Class' felt better on the tongue. "You can't take on a Class 3 starship with just a Class 2, unless you've got a significant advantage" or "It'll be easy to find a market for this Class 3 cargo". Thoughts?

    Finally, since I'm thinking about art, I've also been considering layout and such. Now, the current document has a layout of sorts; not amazing, but workable enough. 2 pages per Career, 1 page per Origin, etc. However, I realize that if I want to make this a proper print document, I'd have to really up the font size to something legible. Plus the margins are narrow. 9 point font and narrow margins might work for an e-document, but on printed page it looks really cramped. So I did a test, upping the font size to a more manageable 11 and giving regular margins... Iiiiii'm gonna need to redo the whole layout of this damn thing, piece by piece, re-examining how things are arranged, because that breaks everything. *weeps*
  • For what it's worth, I like "Class"!
  • Oh, you thought writing a game that works when you play it was the hard part? Ha ha ha!

    For what it's worth, I think 10pt font for body text is fine, and 9pt can also work nicely in print. Most of my books use 10pt Sorts Mill Goudy, while Truncheon World and The Caves of Moreau County use 9pt Sorts Mill Goudy. Minion, Garamond, and Warnock also look perfectly fine at 10pt.

    People will inevitable refer to ship sizes as classes. You could name them, too. In my Debtrunner game, I called the ships things like starling, strider, titan, and leviathan class.
  • Point size is pretty font-specific; different fonts will look bigger or smaller at the same point size. Sorts Mill Goudy is nice but I find it a bit limiting due to the lack of boldface. Lately my go-to body typeface is Alegreya, which is gorgeous, comes in three weights, and is free. (It has a companion sans-serif, too.)
  • edited November 2014
    For what it's worth, I think 10pt font for body text is fine, and 9pt can also work nicely in print. Most of my books use 10pt Sorts Mill Goudy, while Truncheon World and The Caves of Moreau County use 9pt Sorts Mill Goudy. Minion, Garamond, and Warnock also look perfectly fine at 10pt.
    Point size is pretty font-specific; different fonts will look bigger or smaller at the same point size. Sorts Mill Goudy is nice but I find it a bit limiting due to the lack of boldface. Lately my go-to body typeface is Alegreya, which is gorgeous, comes in three weights, and is free. (It has a companion sans-serif, too.)
    Took a look at these. Good stuff, definitely going to use them. (This is exactly the kind of unexpected but super useful advice that makes me love this forum) :D

    People will inevitable refer to ship sizes as classes. You could name them, too. In my Debtrunner game, I called the ships things like starling, strider, titan, and leviathan class.
    I've separated the ship Classes by relative size, cost, availability and capacity, rather than their function. Naming them feels like it's giving at least a small connotation to their function and/or design. Instead, I'd rather leave it just number based (Class 1 to Class 4) and have the more evocative names be used as shorthand for the ship's purpose/capibilities. Also, the Faction that built that ship type will have a big impact on the naming convention of the design; what one calls a Dreadnought, another faction would call a God-Hand or a Purifier. Since the Factions are player-created and unique to each game, I'd rather leave the flavor-naming of ship Class as hands-off as possible.

    That said, looks like Class is a uniform winner of the Class/Grade question, heh
  • edited December 2014
    Man, it's hard to know exactly who I'm writing for anymore. I'm finally tackling the "How to play", and I invariably keep asking myself "should I explain this as if this person has never played a roleplaying game before? Should I at least assume they know what a player is and what a character is? Should I assume they know what a GM is and what a traditional GM's role is? Should I even assume they know what "roll 2d6+Stat" means?"

    In short, do I risk alienating an audience by assuming a passing knowledge of the hobby? Do I risk boring a more likely audience by explaining things that they are already familiar with? It feels like madness lies down this road; explaining how to roll two six-sided dice and add their numbers together.

    Urgh.
  • Don't I know it. For what it's worth, I think explaining the dice is easy and should be done, but otherwise, I'd start with a minimal level of explanation and add more when I see it being needed. I mean shit, people an just watch youtube videos if they want to know how "an rpg" works, yeah?

    I don't think it's necessarily boring the audience, however, because they will just skip sections and not read them, it's more that if nobody is going to read it anyway, it's a waste of time to write it instead of some cool random table or something.
  • Some of my recent-ish purchases tuck that sort of stuff into sidebars or just keep it minimal. Like Johnstone says, people will just do a quick search if they need more info. So, I'd assume a baseline of "they probably already know what to do" but include a brief explanation or wikipedia type explanation link, maybe.
  • This game rocks my socks. I really am looking forward to the finished product. It is too bad that you had to get rid of the artificial/cyborg characters, but I understand the reasoning.
  • edited December 2014
    Glad it's a hit with you DiscoSoup. I hope to have news about the kickstarter very soon. (unfortunate delays, including influenza followed by bronchitis, have made it... difficult to film a Kickstarter video :P ). Have you had a chance to take an early version for a test spin yet?

    ---

    General update:
    Hard at work on making a more presentable version of the rules, with proper font and stuff. I'm quite happy with the way things are coming together. It might be a little kitschy, but I'm naming my chapters as if they were sectors of a space station. So the Injury and healing and Armor rules are in 'Sector 07 - Med-bay', the Faction creation, Debt, Favor and Standing rules are in 'Sector 06 - Embassy', etc.

    I've run into an interesting dilemma concerning Moves. On the one hand, I feel like it would be good to have all the common Moves in one chapter, to make it easy to reference. On the other hand, individual chapters would certainly benefit from having the appropriate Moves right there, to avoid flipping back and forth (for example, the Acquisition Move in the chapter detailing weapons/equipment, the Brace for Impact Move in the section detailing injury rules, etc). I'm thinking that the Big List Of Moves might have go towards the end of the book as an Appendix chapter... but I worry that without them front-and-center, reading the book might be confusing.

    On the other other hand (gasp! purge the mutant!), all the basic Moves will be referenced (in short form) on the reverse of every character sheet. Maybe that will be enough? Argh second-guessing myself. :P
  • List appropriate moves in the appropriate sections. Reference them all, with page numbers, in the common moves section. Or, list them all in full in the common moves section, AND in each appropriate section.
  • My preference would be all the moves together and then in the appropriate chapters add a mini version of them as a side bar reminder perhaps with a usage example.
  • I've read it through about 7 times. I don't mean this as empty flattery, but I think you may have created for Dungeon World what Stars Without Number is to the OSR. Like SWN you have a game that uses familiar rules and which is also reminiscent of Traveller without being derivative. I'm going to tell you the same thing I told Kevin Crawford when he announced the Silent Legions Kickstarter campaign: OMG just get it up and take my money already!!!! 1!! 1!!!!!one!!!
  • Oh, and I would prefer to see the basic moves all in one chapter and also presented in their relevant sections
  • edited January 2015
    I've read it through about 7 times. I don't mean this as empty flattery, but I think you may have created for Dungeon World what Stars Without Number is to the OSR. Like SWN you have a game that uses familiar rules and which is also reminiscent of Traveller without being derivative. I'm going to tell you the same thing I told Kevin Crawford when he announced the Silent Legions Kickstarter campaign: OMG just get it up and take my money already!!!! 1!! 1!!!!!one!!!
    Gosh, thanks so much. You'll make me blush. You've read through things a number of times, is there anything that stands out to you as "this should be fixed" or "this probably won't work and will need to be house-ruled"? Obviously some sections are unfinished or missing (*cough spaceship rules cough*) but overall things are pretty set, so this is the time when I would need important issues to be flagged. I wouldn't want to make a 4e Skill Challenges -style mistake.

    ----

    As for the Moves issue, I've taken the feedback into account (thank you all for your opinions, by the way) and I've restructured the table of contents to have an early chapter about Moves, which will explain each of them in slightly greater detail.

    If anyone is interested, here's a preview of the current Table of Contents. I'm not too keen on the current name for the Exploration chapter (Sector 10 - Quarantine) but I can't come up with a better space-station-themed sector that goes with Exploration, Hazards and Resources at the moment.
  • Well, the munchkin in me wants there to be a way to add infinite upgrades to my shuttle. Of course, the storyteller is slapping him in the face and locking him back in the closet. 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.

    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.

    Maybe make a single stat boost in available as an upgrade in your Career? It would only be available if you hadn't taken it at character creation. Say my character, Alamir, comes from a Hillbilly Background with the Lamplighter and Keypunch Operator Careers. He can choose a +1 Physique bonus, the Moonshiner Career's Bootlegging skill, the Dirt Farmer's Mullet-Growing skill or the Keypunch Operator's Being Obsolete skill from his Background. He chooses the Dirt Farmer's Mullet-Growing. Now say since he didn't take the stat boost, he can later take one (but not both) stat boosts available from the Keypunch Operator or Lamplighter Careers. He decides that he'd rather have a boost to Interface (available to Keypunch Operators).

    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.
  • Oh, and as for the name of the Quarantine Section, maybe you could take a cue from Star Trek and call it Stellar Cartography? Nothing says you have to be moving to chart stars. You could do it with a telescope.

    Also, you've got a Trash Compactor section. If you change it to Garbage Masher, there's a joke you can make about the Detention Level.
  • Yeah, Cartography Department, archive, records, museum, registry, data banks, chancery, catalogue, etc etc. I mean it's obviously either the map room or the library right? Whichever name for either of those you like the best should do the trick.
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