Monday, 23 July 2012

Infinity Core Update 9

I got some feedback on the "Abandoned Hope" adventure from the guys at Vagrant Workshop, mostly this relates to structural stuff. When I wrote the adventure I did so in the same way that I approached shard writing for Fading Suns. The adventure was written in a formal act structure. I think that is going to go and move to a less restrictive layout. So I've been taking some time to make a second pass on the adventure and do a little reorganising to improve the flow and most importantly allow more free form exploration.

In addition I've been working with some aspects of character genesis and background work for my "Dark Stars" Project. But what I really wanted to write about in this update was technology, and specifically how I want to handle technological superiority / inferiority that occurs with a wide range of tech levels. Specifically this relates to combat, what happens with I use a bow and arrow against a man in power armour? Or a gauss mass driver against a knight on a horse? In the really real world what happens is that the arrow bounces of the armour, and the knight becomes a blood smear, but that is no fun in a role-playing game, where there needs to be some element of fairness and heroism.

This problem ties into questions of weapon damage that has come up in the past, should a sword do more damage than a knife? Should a sword forged from bronze be any different from one forged of carbon steel? The answer is yes, the problem is how do I make it happen without overpowering the game mechanics, and I think I have a solution.

So I'm looking for feedback on the following idea:

If all weapons and armour are assigned a tech level rather than a damage or protection value, then the relative difference in tech level would account for greater damage or protection. Lets say we have two swords one made of bronze (TL1) and the other of carbon steel (TL4), then we can clearly see that the carbon steel weapon is superior and should inflict greater damage. By the same rational armour made from cured leather (TL1) should afford less protection than full mail coat (TL2).

Imagine then that two combatants meet one another with TL 2 armour and weapons and the other with TL1 armour and a TL 4 weapon. When calculating damage from the normal conflict tests we can add a modifier to the damage inflicted equal to the tech difference. So fighter A hits fighter B, he gets +1 damage because he has a TL2 weapon against TL1 armour. When fighter B hits fighter A, he gets +2 damage. It also scales up nicely so that fighter C with a TL7 laser weapon can burn both the others with  +5 and +6 damage to his goal rolls respectively.

The advantages of this system should be obvious, better tech will be a natural draw for player characters, but while it gives an advantage it does not place a lesser foe in to the position of never being able to harm a superior opponent.

I'm interested to hear peoples thoughts on this.


  1. I like it a lot. If you have not yet read the indy game Sufficiently Advanced, you should do so right now (I think there is a free version available). The relevant part is that in that game, your character's five main attributes ARE their tech levels in five important areas. It works pretty well in that game.

    I think it's possible to support a game-world-fiction where a bow and arrow is effective against power-armor. Higher tech is complicated; the archer may be very skilled and aiming for a weak point (a thermal vent, perhaps). History is full of examples of technologically superior forces suffering badly at the hands of insurgents and rebels with improvised weapons. So I think it can work well in a setting and be fair.

  2. Thanks Will, I picked up a copy of SA. It makes a great read, only 20 pages in but already I think it is full of great ideas.

    I'm thinking about doing cybernetics in the same way that I did psychic powers in FS3. Which is not that much different from SA. Having several major areas of capability and then specific powers within that. So rather than character A buying a cyber arm, you simply get an enhancement capability that can be used to boost physical attributes for example. This mechanic would suit the transhuman / posthuman feel I want in Dark Stars.