Siran
 member, 84 posts
Sun 13 Aug 2017
at 09:42
Shadowrun-esque game with a genre change
I'm thinking of running a futuristic game with a timeline a little like this.

  • 2020: The Chinese discover that 'Chi' is actually usable and trainable. It allows the equivalent of Physical Adepts from Shadowrun. A Chi adept with a sword is like a Jedi with a light sabre (in terms of leaping and bounding and slicing and dicing and parrying bullets). The other countries follow suit really quickly
  • 2025: The first psionics are developed. Psionics are as per the Mindstar rising series of book, so not very powerful.
  • 2030: Cheap mass production of Carbon 60 and Graphene means that personal armor is suddenly cheap and readily available. The only things that can threaten someone seriously when wearing armoured clothes are military grade weapons and Chi
  • 2040: By now the corporations are more important than governments
  • 2050: By now cyberware is cheap and readily available. Skin lacing (carbon 60 implants) is common, headware is almost mandatory and the equivalent of the modern mobile phone but much better. Medicine is good enough to regrow limbs and make people young again.
  • 2050: An experimental biotech gene therapy designed to create super soldiers escapes into the wild. The effects are both good and bad. Anything 'chordate', that is roughly 'anything with a spinal column' mutates. In humans eight out of ten people died in a plague the like of which the world hasn't seen with the survivors as follows:
    10% Naturally immune. No significant effect
    5% Super soldiers specialising in strength, toughness. Frankly ugly as sin
    10% Super soldiers specialising in agility. Taller, physically different, but quite handsome/pretty
    20% Near miss super soldiers.
    The rest: Mostly goblinized. Failures. Reduced in height, often reduced intellect
  • 2080: The world has kind of stabilised. City states with walls. Civilisation didn't collapse (quite). Life is recognisable. The powerstations still work. People have jobs. There are still fast food kiosks. Transportation between cities is much more dangerous.

The effects on the wildlife are variable. A few are now naturally armoured with carbon 60 excretions. The rats are a foot long, and have teeth that can cut through steel. Many of the creatures develop natural psionic powers. Ocean travel is difficult as a lot of creatures in the ocean have brain size unrestricted by the constraints of gravity

The world is much more dangerous, but there aren't really any wars at the moment(no population pressure) and there is a value placed on people's ability to fight. Humans (the non modified) have somehow managed to 'stay in charge'. The ugly super soldier hybrids mostly get jobs in security (there's much more need for that now. The goblins are mostly serfs and doing very menial work

So this is obviously a kind of Bladerunner / Shadowrun-esque world. There's still a large population and over crowding is a big problem, but in this game that's because life out of the city is so crazy dangerous. Food was a scarce resource but science works and vat grown food products are cheap and readily available

I don't really like complicated rules, so I was thinking of using FUDGE. I experimented with Shadowrun rules, but they are too complicated for most people I think, especially I am not using the magic system (the most broken part of the game) and it's easy for players to have a wild variance in power level for the same points. I could use M&M but I'd have to make templates and let people buy templates with points I think, as this isn't really a superhero game, more a game with people that can have a small number of fairly defined and restricted super powers, and again I don't want minimaxing: If you want to be 'good at X' you spend points that say 'I am good at X'.

I do have a story in mind. I am planning for a wild genre change (on the scale of alien invasion) in the middle of it, but I don't want to invoke that until I have had the players in the game for a while, and getting the feel of the game

So questions:
  • Rule system? I like FUDGE (it's simple, the die work, and there is little or no minimaxing). But that's almost as bad as saying 'homebrew' for turning people off. What do people think?
  • Combat. I like combat in a game, but this is RPOL and combat is painfully slow any advice?
  • Player starting: Do we start them as 'corporate flunkies', 'local street gang', 'shadowrunners', 'members of the army?'
  • In a game with missions, the planning can take forever, and be dull for most people. Do people have experience with systems like 'Mistborn' that turns that problem on it's head?
  • How should I deal with letting players know the genre change is expected without turning them off, and moving into a genre they are unhappy with?

This message was last edited by the user at 10:54, Sun 13 Aug.

LonePaladin
 member, 619 posts
 Creator of HeroForge
Sun 13 Aug 2017
at 13:13
Shadowrun-esque game with a genre change
As for the game system, you could probably kitbash this into Savage Worlds with little difficulty. Or, heck, use the Hero System.
Redfoxmagi
 member, 120 posts
Sun 13 Aug 2017
at 13:27
Shadowrun-esque game with a genre change
Savage Worlds would probably fit well. But if he's looking for a system with less complexity to user interface, as much as I love the Hero System I don't think that's the best fit. In some ways it's got a higher barrier to entry than Shadowrun.
Hendell
 member, 62 posts
Sun 13 Aug 2017
at 13:44
Shadowrun-esque game with a genre change
I tend to like systems with complexity to them, and that is not Shadowrun's primary problem.  The real problem with Shadowrun is that it does not fit with itself, divergent methods and just badly done translations to a game that was never intended to be a highly detailed system focused game in the first place have not helped over the changes between editions.

Savage Worlds is likely to be the best combination of simple rules with wide versatility that still fits together even between multiple source books.  Some of the features will not fit with your setting but there are more than enough things that do fit you should be able to get things to work out, and it is currently one of the most popular play by post systems.
Siran
 member, 85 posts
Sun 13 Aug 2017
at 13:57
Shadowrun-esque game with a genre change
@Savage Worlds
Savage World looks promising. I quite like it. I'd have to invent an awful lot of stuff though. I won't be using the magic system, so I'd have to work out the edges to support Chi and Psionics. I also haven't had a lot of time playing it (a few table top sessions at conventions only) so I probably will mess up the rules a bit, which causes hassle. I did find the game mechanics very satisfying though

I haven't used the Savage World cyberpunk. Does it work? Do people like it

@Hero Systems
M&M is far better for my purposes than Hero System as the main people I play with already know it. Plus I have made a vow never to play Hero System again after a dozen attempts and all of them were awful.  I have horrible memories of two evenings of table top play getting through a single round of combat when there were speedsters with 7 goes, and pets with 8 goes a round, and I had four goes... and I missed one of those because I didn't understand what was happening.  I think I accomplished nothing in the two nights....

@Shadowrun
Shadowrun I like in play. I think it's a ton better than say Whitewolf which it superficially resembles, but as Hendell says there are issues with it. Ignoring the character design issues there are the hacking rules, which as far as I know haven't been made to work in any edition, so every GM I have played with have used their own... and that just works fine.

I've played and GMed in most of the editions for years, so I don't tend to make mistakes in it any more, which is a big plus over Savage World.  My problem is the huge barrier to entry, and the fact that inexperienced people make dramatically worse characters than experiences. I think Shadowrun is out of the running


@Other questions
Thank you for the system advice. Any thoughts on the other questions I asked?
  • Combat. I like combat in a game, but this is RPOL and combat is painfully slow any advice?
  • In a game with missions, the planning can take forever, and be dull for most people. Do people have experience with systems like 'Mistborn' that turns that problem on it's head?
  • Player starting: Do we start them as 'corporate flunkies', 'local street gang', 'shadowrunners', 'members of the army?'
  • How should I deal with letting players know the genre change is expected without turning them off, and moving into a genre they are unhappy with?

 I think the first two  are difficult in any PBP. The only long running combat games I am in are D&D 1st edition because it's so simple the combat doesn't stop the game dead in it's tracks. I don't particularly like D&D 1st edition but I do like long running games! The 'mission planning' becomes just painful in PBP. It's bad enough tabletop where you have high bandwidth communication and people can come to an amicable resolution.
LonePaladin
 member, 620 posts
 Creator of HeroForge
Sun 13 Aug 2017
at 16:21
Shadowrun-esque game with a genre change
Let's see.

COMBAT


From recent experience, I've found a good way to speed up combats is full disclosure. When a fight breaks out, post all the important details about the enemies, so that players know ahead of time what numbers they're aiming at. That way they know whether or not their actions succeed, and can describe their posts accordingly.

Encourage players to take the list of combatants, and update it in their posts to reflect what they did. That way the next player has a current situation to go by, rather than trying to guess.

It also helps to worry less about initiative. The simplest model is to just let all the PCs go first, in whatever order they post, then have the enemies take their actions. If the order of actions is important, you'll need to make sure your players can check in often so that they don't miss their turns. (Just in case, though, you'll want to establish a rule akin to "if we go X days without you posting on your turn, the GM will take your turn for you".)


PLANNING


Any game can fall into the trap of over-planning, but Shadowrun-style games are especially prone to it. It's hard to avoid, partly because the whole round-robin of gathering information, making plans, and acquiring gadgets is part of the game.

Here's a trick I came up with that might help. It takes a cue from heist films like Ocean's Eleven.

When the group is planning a job, let them have some time to work out things ahead of time. Maps, tools, knowledge, that sort. Set a limit to how long they can work at this, then ask them to 'set aside' specific amounts of time and money. The first few times you use this method, be flexible on both. Once they've decided on how much to 'use', start the job.

During the job, things will inevitably come up that they didn't already plan for. A security guard in an unexpected place, or a locked door, or a computer that needs to be used, or a room full of VIPs. Whatever. When this happens, switch to a flashback of the planning phase, and let the players work out how they might have learned about the obstacle in advance, and what they would do about it.

Figure out how much time and/or money would have been used in getting around the obstacle. Deduct these from their 'pool' of time or money, then switch back to the action -- except this time, retroactively apply their plan. Maybe they stole or duplicated a keycard to get past a locked door. Maybe they learned the guard's patrol route. Maybe they made a disguise. Assume they took along whatever they need, get past the obstacle, and move on.

Keep switching between the planning scene, and the action, as needed. If either resource runs out, it'll draw more on the other. If they run out of planning time, then anything else they need will cost more money ('cause they're in a rush). If they run out of money, anything they want will take extra time ('cause they're having to bargain). And if both run out, they're on their own.


PC BUILDS


Really, this one's up to you and what sort of game you want to run. How well-equipped do you want them? How well-informed? What part of what's really going on will be initially hidden from them?

Street Scum will be poorly-equipped and outnumbered, but have a realistic viewpoint on events. After all, they're living in it. They might be ecoterrorists or anti-establishment, but in any case the odds are against them and they'll have to be very clever and resourceful to succeed.
Shadow Operatives will be better equipped, but only get the bare minimum of information from their employers, and often that info will be selectively edited. But then, they'll expect to be lied to from all sides; rooting out the truth and acting on it is part of the business.
Corporate Operatives will likely be very well-equipped and get curated missions with pre-op briefings, but they'll be going into missions with their knowledge biased toward the company. The actual impact of their goals may not be immediately obvious, and discovery of such may lead to them going rogue.
Military Troops will be the best-equipped, even given experimental tech, but may be about as well-informed as shadow ops. In their case, however, they're full expected to simply follow orders without question, and to not dig for the truth.


GENRE


Simply put, you're not really running a Shadowrun variant any more. It sounds more like Ghost in the Shell with a bit of wuxia and horror thrown in. When you set up the game, just describe the overview the way you did in the first post, and that'll make it clear what you're doing with it.

In any case, I recommend making a handful of pre-generated characters. This will give examples of what sort of characters you're expecting, and you'll have the option of simply handing them over to players so they can get started quickly.
Siran
 member, 86 posts
Mon 14 Aug 2017
at 18:23
Shadowrun-esque game with a genre change
There was a lot of good stuff there, thank you. I like the idea of the plotting. Rather like watching mission impossible where they show the scene and the planning scene in parallel

My problem with combat is as much combat rounds as initiative. The game suddenly drops to the speed of the slowest posters. If one person has a RL bad day it impacts everyone. In social threads that's less bad

I also liked the idea of pregens as examples although I know a lot of people will want their own

Thanks for the thoughts on types of PC. I'm going to think on it a bit more
HEarlPendelfield
 member, 54 posts
Mon 14 Aug 2017
at 18:30
Shadowrun-esque game with a genre change
Sounds interesting and will be watching for your advertisement.
engine
 member, 388 posts
Mon 14 Aug 2017
at 19:00
Shadowrun-esque game with a genre change
You didn't ask, but I'd recommend stepping away from attempting to have realistic trappings, like having carbon fibers in everything. Take a page from Star Trek: they called them "phasers" instead of "lasers" because that way no one could take issue with how they were portrayed.

As for combat, I second LonePaladin's suggestions and I would add the following:

Set clear consequences for victory and defeat in a combat situation; don't default to it meaning that one side or the other was wiped out/captured/forced to flee. If you go with Fate, you're helped by the system, because while one can lose in Fate combat, it's somewhat tricky to actually be killed; defeat means accepting some new aspects that reflect the manner of the defeat.

The intent of this advice is to side-step player concerns that defeat means loss of character, a dead end to the game, or some other unpleasant and uninteresting outcome. When players are concerned about that, their focus becomes making perfectly tactical "correct" choices, rather than quick ones. Questions are asked, discussion ensues, rules are debated, and a week goes by as someone tries to decide what to do. To the degree possible, get the players to a relaxed state of mind over getting everything right.

Along those lines (and also requiring relaxed players), don't go back. Even with Fate's simple math, mistakes can be made and posts can be misinterpreted. When that happens, spend little (ideally zero) time going back to correct things before proceeding. Keep moving, with everyone doing their best and agreeing to try to avoid the mistake in future.

The transparency LonePaladin mentioned, along with anything else you can do to earn and foster player trust helps with this. I recommend working to convey to the players that your interest is in a fun game that doesn't get bogged down. Ideally, they'll come to trust that when you (or anyone else) decides something in the game, it's with everyone's enjoyment in mind, so no one needs to question or block anything.

Good luck.
Siran
 member, 87 posts
Mon 14 Aug 2017
at 19:23
Shadowrun-esque game with a genre change
Ah I like real science. Non linear materials, that kind of thing. If I have blasters they will be real tech blasters. Lasers are pretty rubbish in combat except for blinding people. Mostly man kind has discovered the best way to kill people is with fast moving objects not ray guns. It's only 2050 not 2500 or anything

Your point about losing is very good. In movies the good guys often loose and the story is better for it. Doing it without causing player grumpiness and people leaving is difficult. Many systems have that mechanism not just FATE, and it's a good one, but even so people always want to win! I think I need to consider this some more. Making the 'cost of failure' OOC clear is a good idea.

I do like the combat transparency idea except perhaps with the big bad. What I've done in the past is reveal stats after the first round of combat. Basically after a few seconds of fighting someone you know a lot about them. I'd not considered revealing the stats at the start: that's an interesting idea.

As for mistakes I can only agree with you. Unless the mistake would cause the death of a player, just let it go. If it's to the detriment of the player I will sometimes give them a FATE point or hero point or whatever they currency is called in that game
engine
 member, 389 posts
Mon 14 Aug 2017
at 20:10
Re: Shadowrun-esque game with a genre change
Siran:
Ah I like real science. Non linear materials, that kind of thing. If I have blasters they will be real tech blasters. Lasers are pretty rubbish in combat except for blinding people. Mostly man kind has discovered the best way to kill people is with fast moving objects not ray guns.
Point simply being that what you might get up to with the real trappings is not necessarily "real" itself. Some people will be content with that, others won't, and will question how you have things working. Be ready for that.

Edit: You also sort of make my point. We can say all sorts of things about lasers, many of which would make them pants as practical weapons. But, at least when they were first contrived, neither of us could conclude much of anything about the capabilities of phasers. Not that you and I or your players would feel inclined to try, but some people like approaching their fiction that way.

Siran:
Your point about losing is very good. In movies the good guys often loose and the story is better for it.
Exactly.

Siran:
Doing it without causing player grumpiness and people leaving is difficult. Many systems have that mechanism not just FATE, and it's a good one, but even so people always want to win! I think I need to consider this some more. Making the 'cost of failure' OOC clear is a good idea.
Yes, it's tricky. I recommend having a conversation with the players about it. Some people actually are fine with their characters dying and being replaced, and it's only their GM who can't cope with it. People have a lot of different views on it, especially when it gets mixed in with "well, it's what my character would want."

The bottom line is that wanting to win is a key factor in making combat longer. If you raise this with your players and they don't want to change that aspect of it, ask for their help and their leeway on other aspects of combat, such as difficulty and complexity.

Siran:
I do like the combat transparency idea except perhaps with the big bad. What I've done in the past is reveal stats after the first round of combat. Basically after a few seconds of fighting someone you know a lot about them. I'd not considered revealing the stats at the start: that's an interesting idea.
Depending on the game, one arguably knows a lot about someone just by looking at them. Characters in stories are often able to size up opponents and things like shot difficulties and weapon damage outputs fairly easily. One can describe the enemy to their hearts content and then follow that with "AC 20, Fortitude 17, Reflex 16, Will 12" or whatever. At the table, while I was happy to give out any numbers the players wanted, I'd usually say something like "anything above 20 hits and anything below 12 missed," though in play-by-post, information overload is a bit less of an issue.

Siran:
As for mistakes I can only agree with you. Unless the mistake would cause the death of a player, just let it go.
Jeez, yeah. Man that would be scary and awful.

Oh, wait, you meant "character." See, that's where the "define what failure means" part comes in. If it's possible for characters to be lost (which, acknowledging how much this bugs some people, many games strive to make incredibly difficult), then everyone needs to go in with a clear idea of what that means and how it's handled, and (one hopes) some agreement that no one is going to take it too personally.

It's possible, though I have trouble explaining this to some people, that's it's possible to take death off the table entirely, and hang everything on success or failure. It takes trust that players won't simply treat that as an immunity and an "I win" button, but it can work.

Siran:
If it's to the detriment of the player I will sometimes give them a FATE point or hero point or whatever they currency is called in that game
Sure, that's a way to handle it, but do they give you the same thing if it's to the detriment of your enemies, or your ideas, or your exciting scene? Mistakes can happen in both directions. Encourage people to roll with mistakes. You can spend time untangling them and getting them right or you can keep moving and have more opportunities for that mistake to be avoided.

This message was last edited by the user at 21:25, Mon 14 Aug.

Siran
 member, 88 posts
Tue 15 Aug 2017
at 00:22
Re: Shadowrun-esque game with a genre change

This message was deleted by a moderator, as it was against the forum rules, at 05:14, Tue 15 Aug.

engine
 member, 390 posts
Tue 15 Aug 2017
at 02:13
Re: Shadowrun-esque game with a genre change

This message was deleted by a moderator, as it was moot, at 05:15, Tue 15 Aug.