Game Procedures/General Information.   Posted by Shan Yu.Group: 0
Shan Yu
 GM, 7 posts
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Wed 12 May 2010
at 05:56
Game Procedures/General Information


This thread is used to outline game procedures and how we do things in this game.  It differs from the “Rules” thread by focusing more on the day to day stuff…what color text to use…how to use skills, etc.  It also provides information about and clarifies some of the in-game concepts that are rather vague in the Serenity RPG manual, such as travel time calculations, etc.  It might look like a lot, but don't get intimidated...most of it is gathered from the Serenity: Hard Burn game.

Use of character skills:

Anyone wishing to use a skill may do so by notifying the GM by placing the desired action in parentheses in the text of their post, or via PM.  Players may use the dice roller, or request that the GM conduct a dice roll.  Results may be revealed either publicly or privately, as appropriate, or as specified by the player.  Players should also indicate any desire to use plot points at the time they declare the action.  If a roll indicates an unsuccessful result by only one point, the player involved will be PM'd to be offered the chance to add one plot point to make up for the one point shortage.  Example:

A player posts:  "John is knitting a pair of socks for a Valentine's Day gift for Mary, and he wants them to be perfect (knitting skill check for knitting perfect socks, use 2 plot points)."  (GM note...please be specific if the desired result is different than just ordinary success, such as perfect socks instead of serviceable socks)

As the GM, I would roll the skill check, or the player may do so using the dice roller (John has a d12 in knitting...don't ask), including a d6 (table 1.3, p. 36, repeated in table 6.4, p. 147...says that 3 plot points = d6) for the plot points.  It's a terrible roll...he is initially unsuccessful by 1 point, and if it stopped there, the lump of wool that results from his efforts would be more suitable as a cat toy.  However, the GM PM's the player to offer the opportunity to add 1 additional plot point, and the player agrees.  The player has spent a total of 4 plot points, and the GM posts:

"John labors over his needles for hours, and finally, proudly holds up the finest pair of socks ever knitted since the days of Earth-That-Was."

Use of traits:

Use of traits (assets and complications) will be handled pretty much as mentioned in the manual.  Once again, either the player or the GM will conduct all rolls.  Any asset usage initiated by a player should be indicated in a manner similar to that used for skills.


Standardization of posts:

In order to eliminate confusion, players are requested to post messages in the regular game threads in a standardized manner.  Note that this does not apply to PM's or OOC threads.  However, any messages transferred from a PM or OOC thread onto a game thread should be modified to conform with the standardization guidelines.  The following procedures should be used:

blue text - Used for quotes or spoken material.
green text -  Used for translations of Chinese words/phrases (either following the Chinese word/phrase or at the end of the post).  If the general meaning of the Chinese word/phrase you use is pretty obvious, don't even worry about translating, unless you particularly want to.
red text - Used to indicate skills/traits to be rolled (either following the specific action or at the end of the post).
italics - Used to display thoughts, either within parentheses or not.

Players should just say that a character is whispering for whispered quotes.

It is acceptable to use bold text at any time.

Use of other colors is permitted for isolated instances that do not fall within the above guidelines.

The above are guidelines only.  I request that all players use them in the interest of standardization to reduce any confusion.  I won't afflict a character with space leprosy (maybe a mild form) or anything if he/she chooses to deviate from the guidelines, all I will do is request everyone's compliance.



Combat will be conducted basically using the Serenity RPG rules, since everyone hopefully has the manual.  There will, however, be a few modifications.

There are two principles that govern most combat:  things happen fast, and things are chaotic.  Each round of combat takes about three seconds, and there is little time to look around to see what's going on before you have to take action.  Also, it is physically impossible to do very much during those 3 seconds, and everyone's actions occur virtually simultaneously.  Keeping these principles in mind, the following procedures will be used for most combat (exceptions will be noted later).

===Ranged Combat===

1)  A separate thread will be established for combat.  I will determine initiative for each player/combatant, but the results will not be made public.  Players will post their desired action(s) for that round in the combat thread (not knowing the order of initiative).  I will resolve the combat (in order of initiative) and post a single message in the regular game thread, depicting in narrative form the results of everyone's actions.

2)  Because combat will be conducted in rounds, all players must indicate their desired action(s) before any combat can be resolved.  Obviously, this could force combats to last forever.  To reduce this problem, players will have one day (24 hours) to post actions for the current round.  Weekends/holidays are not included in the 24 hours time limit, so a round that begins on a Friday will not end until Monday.  The 24 hour time limit begins when the GM announces the beginning of a round.  Any players not posting within that time will be assumed to have frozen in place (for the first round), then will have dropped to the ground and will seek cover (subsequent rounds), or take some other logical, non-participatory action as determined by the GM, until the player specifically directs otherwise.  Obviously, this could make the character in question a sitting duck.

3)  For the sake of simplicity, characters can only take one action per round without penalty.  Actions consist of any movement or primary effort, such as shooting, running, dodging, throwing, etc.  Any type of verbalization does not count as an action, so characters may yell, talk, whisper, sing (sing?) along with an action.  Characters may take up to two actions per round, but will incur a +1 skill level penalty to the second action.  If the two actions are taken CONCURRENTLY (such as shooting while running), it's a +2 skill level penalty.
    There are some exceptions to the above.  Reloading takes 2 complete rounds, and no other actions can be taken during those rounds.  Aiming is an action, and takes an entire round with no other actions taken during that round.  However, in the following round, the character may fire AND perform a second action with no penalty.
    When attacking an unsuspecting enemy, characters get one free action, with no response possible.
    Players should allow common sense to dictate what constitutes an action and what does not.  Keep in mind the 3 second time limit for a round when considering actions.

4)  Provisional actions are not allowed.  For example, a player cannot say "John will fire his pistol at Thug #1, unless Thug #1 is already down by the time John has his turn, in which case he will fire at Thug #2", or "Bill will only return fire if Thug #3 fires at him first".  Things happen so fast during combat, there’s no time to see if Thug #1 is down, or if Thug #3 has fired.  Plot point usage CAN be provisional for "after the fact" usage (see next paragraph).

5)  Don't forget about plot points.  You can use them to improve your actions, either when you first post them, or after the fact.  In the past, because modifying actions "after the fact" is just plain tough to do in an online game like this, I have said that I would allow use after the fact ONLY if the player was 1 point from success, in which case I would PM the player and ask if he/she wanted to spend one point.  However, I think that in the case of combat, I will allow INSTEAD for the player to provisionally indicate the use of plot points.  So...when a player posts his action, the player may state that he will spend "X" plot points if the initial roll is not successful.  However, the entire number of plot points will be lost, regardless of how many were actually needed.  If the player only needed 2 points to bring success, but stated that he would spend 4 points if the initial roll is not successful, then the full 4 points would be spent.

===Close Combat===

    Close combat, which is any combat requiring physical contact between combatants, is handled in accordance with the rules in the book, and by the same modified rules listed above for ranged combat.

    Players that do not post their actions within the twenty-four hour response time will considered to be trying to avoid combat or will be taking defensive actions only, at the discretion of the GM.  The GM will consider the character's personality, temperament, and past conduct to determine if the character will fight defensively or try to run/escape/avoid contact.


    Wounds will be handled pretty much as outlined in the book.  One exception is that a specific body part will be mentioned as receiving the wound.  Without getting into too much detail, the GM will be using a complicated methodology to determine wound location.  In addition, there may be additional penalties from wounds, based on location.  A bullet wound to the brainpan is not the same as a bullet wound to the left arm.  Players will be informed regarding penalties based on wound location when the wound is received.


Private conversations between characters:

For the purposes of this post, private conversation is defined as an in-character conversation between two or more characters that is closed from viewing by any other players and the public.

For private character-to-character conversations, the method of posting depends a lot on how long of a conversation you plan to have.  If you only expect a short conversation, use the regular thread, with a short, fairly bland public message, but with a more detailed PM included, such as:

Sianan beckons Ambrose to follow her to a separate table, where she sits and enters into a quiet conversation with the First Mate.

(Private message to William Ambrose: After Ambrose sits down, Sianan says, "I just want to tell you that you have a huge booger hanging out of your nose.")

He could then reply in a separate post in the regular thread...such as:

To anyone watching, Ambrose listens to Sianan a moment, then breaks out in laughter.

(Private message to Sianan Kita: Ambrose laughs at her remark, then replies, "Yes, I's my lucky booger.")

...etc.  I prefer this method, because it keeps the conversations part of the general storyline, other characters can be aware of the conversations (if they are present), and other characters can show their jealousy, or paranoia.

If you plan on a long conversation, with a lot of back and forth discussion, especially if you are physically separated from the rest of the group, I could open a separate private thread.  This is the last resort, because I prefer to have everyone able to share in the activities of everyone else, if only as lurkers.

Handling it strictly via PM is the third option, especially if you just want to clear something up between two characters, and it shouldn't take too long. This is obviously the easiest.  Just be sure that there is no confusion as to what is in-character and what is OOC.


Time in the 'Verse:

Something never addressed in the series, movie, or RPG manual is the concept of time in the 'Verse, mainly because it can get way too complicated if you start trying to be too scientific.  Every planet/moon would have a different speed of rotation, and thus differing lengths for their days.  The same applies for every other time measurement.  Then there is the question of measuring time in the Black.  For our game, there is one main time measurement, known as Galactic Common Time (GCT).  It is based on the time measurements used on Londinium, which coincidentally correspond EXACTLY to the time measurements used on Earth-That-Was.  Unless otherwise indicated, references to time will be understood as using GCT.

However, each planet/moon may have its own "local" time measurements, which may differ from GCT.  These "local" measurements are based on the differing planetary/moon rotations, etc.  Such measurements will be referred to using the name of the planet/moon, such as Beaumonde Mean Time.


Travel in the 'Verse:

Travel in the 'Verse is conducted using two types of propulsion; reaction drives and pulse drives.

     1)  Reaction drives are the means of propulsion within atmospheric boundaries and for short distances in the Black (such as between moons of a single planet).  Thruster pods normally provide the thrust, and a ship using reaction drive can travel at speeds from speed class 1 up to the speed class representing cruising speed for the ship.  Cruising speed is the fastest that a ship can travel using reaction drive only.

     2)  Pulse drives are the primary means of propulsion in the Black, and for other than very short distances.  When a ship reaches reaction drive cruising speed, it can engage the pulse drive.  There are two pulse drive speeds; cruising speed and full burn speed.  The first pulse drive speed is referred to as pulse drive cruising speed, since it is the normal speed a ship travels in the Black.  There is an immediate consumption of 50 hours of fuel, and the ship almost instantaneously accelerates to 60 times the reaction cruising speed.  It's kind of like squirting starter fluid on a charcoal grill to get it burning.  Once engaged, the pulse drive reactor is self sustaining with no additional fuel usage, however, the reaction drives continue to run, providing continuous thrust to maintain course and keep the ship from drifting, and continues to use fuel at the normal reaction drive cruising speed rate.

     3)  The second pulse drive speed is called full burn or hard burn.  This is the fastest speed possible for the ship, and is at least 2 speed classes faster than cruising speed.  However, it uses an additional 50 hours of fuel to engage.

     4)  Fuel consumption:  In this game, basic normal fuel consumption at cruising speed (both reaction cruising speed and pulse cruising speed) is 1 ton of fuel per 60 hours of flying time.  This may change, based on performance characteristics for each ship.  Using reaction drive only, each speed class under cruising speed reduces consumption by 20%.

     5)  Example:  The Pegasus has a speed classification of 4/6.  It may use its reaction drive engines to travel at speed levels 1, 2, 3, or 4.  Speed level 4 is also called reaction cruising speed, and is the fastest speed possible using reaction drives only.  However, once the ship reaches reaction cruising speed, it may engage its pulse drives for much greater speed.  Doing so will cause the ship to accelerate to 60 times the reaction cruising speed.  This speed is now at pulse speed class 4, which is also called pulse cruising speed.  This is one of only 2 speeds possible using pulse drives, the other speed being called full or hard burn speed.  In this case full burn speed is pulse speed level 6, and is the fastest speed possible for the ship.
      6)  This information is provided only to illustrate how travel data is determined.  The GM is the only person who really needs to understand it, but it is provided for lesser mortals so that they can pretend they know what's going on.

This message was last edited by the GM at 21:56, Mon 23 Aug 2010.

Shan Yu
 GM, 45 posts
 Are you familiar with...
 the works of Shan Yu?
Tue 8 Jun 2010
at 02:47
Re: Game Procedures/General Information
Where the Hell am I?

We all know that things can get a little confusing at times.  To try and reduce it, I would like for players to start off their posts with their location, and since I am a big fan of standardization, preferably in yellow.

Example:  (Brass Pelican)

The location listed should be the character's starting location.  It is also acceptable to put an arrow, then the destination, if your character is going somewhere.

Example:  (Brass Pelican -> Celestial Dragon dining room)