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Guest the Bromgrev

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Guest the Bromgrev

I thought it about time to resurrect this topic again. From Jason's comments elsewhere, the rulebook should be about to go into production. The need for a generic set of SF rules will imminently become VERY REAL. :shocked:

Contrary to my earliest reaction to the idea, GURPS Space makes a fine model for the kind of content which is needed. I feel that, whether or not actual systems for designing gear are published, there should *be* a system so that the goodies which would be in the supplement (weapons, spacesuits, starship components, sonic toothbrushes) are consistent and can be easily expanded upon.

I know just the person to ask about world generation. That still leaves ship/vehicle building and general gearheading.

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I've been working on some vehicle rules and a Sci-Fi setting for a few weeks. Some of it could be useful for generic use.

I did up some maneuvers for a sort of abstract space combat system. Rather than moving on a map, it uses "range bands". I am considering using some sort of scaling system so we don't have to roll a handful of dice. Something like dividing ship's APs and HP by 5 or 10 and doing the same with damages. So that way a "space battleship's" main laser batteries might be rolling 2d8s or so instead of 20d8s, or even 200d8.

As a sample, if we just divided by 6, the Starfighter could had 3APs, and 25 HP and Energy Cannons could do 1d10+1. Approximately the same effect, but a bit simpler to handle.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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If doing up my own campaign, for world Generation, I'd be tempted to look at the old World Builders handbook from DGP. Of course anyone not having a copy, will have "fun" finding one should they want to. The CORPS VDS (Vehicle Design System) claims to be capable of designing vehicles for just about any system. I just picked up a used copy cheap, even though it looks more complicated than I want to deal with.

Personally for starship design, I would like to take a page from the old FASA wargames, specifically Battletech and the Star Trek Starship Tactical Combat Simulator design systems. Have lists, buy a hull from a list, buy a powerplant to put in it from a list, add engines from a list, etc., etc. One guess as to what I played a lot of in the 80's! :) Of course as much as I like this system, I'm thinking of going more towards a modular approach (think lego's) for a Sci-Fi game I might do. No real hulls, just clip the various components together. For example, take an engine module, add fuel tanks around it, then a cargo module in front of the engine, followed by a crew module, and finally control module. Each module has its own environmental control systems, each is self contained.

I think someone mentioned writing up starships like you would characters. I believe this is how it is done in the D20 modern system. I also think it makes a lot of sense, just use the same basic combat rules. However, I think that you need a way for crew members to effect how the ship performs. For example, a skilled gunner will increase the likely hood of hitting enemy ships, a skilled pilot will decrease the likely hood you'll get hit. Using such a system needs a way to differentiate between scales. A laser carried by a person might kill another person, but not scratch a starship. A starship laser on the other hand is likely to vaporize a person, and damage another starship.

Zane

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Guest the Bromgrev

Personally for starship design, I would like to take a page from the old FASA wargames, specifically Battletech and the Star Trek Starship Tactical Combat Simulator design systems. Have lists, buy a hull from a list, buy a powerplant to put in it from a list, add engines from a list, etc., etc.

I agree entirely. Not many people actually enjoy designing stuff from scratch. However, I would want to have such a system in place "behind the scenes" to make sure all those modules fit together and can be retro-engineered. It wouldn't make it into the actual SF BRP book.

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The CORPS VDS (Vehicle Design System) claims to be capable of designing vehicles for just about any system. I just picked up a used copy cheap, even though it looks more complicated than I want to deal with.

Zane, I got VDS. Yeah you can write up just about any sort of vehicle with it. Good news is that the results will be pretty close to real world results, at least as close as you can get in an RPG. I once brought the thing into work along with a copy of a sports car magazine and using the real world data and the real world Coefficient of drag, was able to estimate the top speed on every car I tired to within 2 kph of the actual value.

What I would recommend in VDS's sister system Stuff! It is a lot simpler. You can work up stats for a vehicle in a lot less time, and Stuff! has rules for designing weapons, gadgets (anything other than a weapon or a vehicle), creatures, and even civilizations. All for around $13 in pdf format.

All in a make it in 5 minutes approach. And there are optional rules that add more detail if you want it. Stuff! also has some rules for designing FTL drives and antigravity devices.

Personally for starship design, I would like to take a page from the old FASA wargames, specifically Battletech and the Star Trek Starship Tactical Combat Simulator design systems. Have lists, buy a hull from a list, buy a powerplant to put in it from a list, add engines from a list, etc., etc. One guess as to what I played a lot of in the 80's! :) Of course as much as I like this system, I'm thinking of going more towards a modular approach (think lego's) for a Sci-Fi game I might do. No real hulls, just clip the various components together. For example, take an engine module, add fuel tanks around it, then a cargo module in front of the engine, followed by a crew module, and finally control module. Each module has its own environmental control systems, each is self contained.

That sort of the approach I was thinking too. Did you ever see the old Universe RPG or the CODA version of Star Trek? You get a hull and it has a certain number of spaces that you fill up with components.

I think someone mentioned writing up starships like you would characters. I believe this is how it is done in the D20 modern system. I also think it makes a lot of sense, just use the same basic combat rules. However, I think that you need a way for crew members to effect how the ship performs. For example, a skilled gunner will increase the likely hood of hitting enemy ships, a skilled pilot will decrease the likely hood you'll get hit. Using such a system needs a way to differentiate between scales. A laser carried by a person might kill another person, but not scratch a starship. A starship laser on the other hand is likely to vaporize a person, and damage another starship.

Zane

D20 actually does it a bit differernt. Not STR, CON, DEX for ships, More like a monster writeup without the stats. And then you plug in the pilot and crew.

For BRP I would assume that gunners and such would use their own skill to hit, with perhaps a modifer for the ship's tactical/targeting system. A gunner could take careful aim like a character, too.

Differentiating scales is easy. For instance, in my example above if we divided the starfighter's stats by 6, it would be at x6 scale. That means that it would do (1d10+1)x6 damage to a PC, or the original 6d10+6 for the energy cannon.

For really big guns (ships main phasers, turbolasers, etc) we could just keep the multiplier, rather than rolling a ton of dice. While 2d6x10 doesn't have the bell curve of 20D6, there are few PCs who would be alive to notice the difference.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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<snip?

Differentiating scales is easy. For instance, in my example above if we divided the starfighter's stats by 6, it would be at x6 scale. That means that it would do (1d10+1)x6 damage to a PC, or the original 6d10+6 for the energy cannon.

For really big guns (ships main phasers, turbolasers, etc) we could just keep the multiplier, rather than rolling a ton of dice. While 2d6x10 doesn't have the bell curve of 20D6, there are few PCs who would be alive to notice the difference.

I've used scaling multipliers for years (having played Traveller for over a couple decades now) and they work extremely well. And the two foolish PCs who tried to walk through ship-mounted laser fire did indeed not notice the difference. The biggest problem I've seen with scifi RPG equipment design systems is the ones that fail to be used are those that try to simulate, rather than emulate, reality. Most gamers want to play the game, not go through a self-study program for mechanical/electrical engineers and far too many games have been ruined by game designers who insist their game be "hard science" without understanding that science will make such games obsolete within a few years (or sooner).

IMO, a successful gear/vehicle/ship design system should be modular in nature, easily scalable (i.e. the same rules framework used to design a handgun or motorcycle is used to build a starship planetary defense emplacements) and allow tweaks and improvements to come from successful PC skill rolls. In other words, it has the simplified intuitiveness that's the winning characteristic of BRP. That's when a game gets "buy-in" from players.

Make it overcomplicated and players, and their money, walk away and never look at it again.

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I've used scaling multipliers for years (having played Traveller for over a couple decades now) and they work extremely well. And the two foolish PCs who tried to walk through ship-mounted laser fire did indeed not notice the difference. The biggest problem I've seen with scifi RPG equipment design systems is the ones that fail to be used are those that try to simulate, rather than emulate, reality. Most gamers want to play the game, not go through a self-study program for mechanical/electrical engineers and far too many games have been ruined by game designers who insist their game be "hard science" without understanding that science will make such games obsolete within a few years (or sooner).

IMO, a successful gear/vehicle/ship design system should be modular in nature, easily scalable (i.e. the same rules framework used to design a handgun or motorcycle is used to build a starship planetary defense emplacements) and allow tweaks and improvements to come from successful PC skill rolls. In other words, it has the simplified intuitiveness that's the winning characteristic of BRP. That's when a game gets "buy-in" from players.

Make it overcomplicated and players, and their money, walk away and never look at it again.

Some truth there. On the other hand, make it too simple and everyone walks away with their money too. I've seen a lot of Sci-Fi games end up on the dust pile with very simple, but poorly designed, senseless, and inconsistent data.

The tricky bit is finding the happy medium.

I like VDS. Its good to have something that gives detailed results. But most of those details aren't really important, or even applicable in a Sci-Fi game.

I really like Stuff!. In part because it does have a modular design system and uses the same basic framework to build things. It also does allow for player tweaks, and scales the technology by era. A modern, c. 2008, late atomic era, radio will end up being more powerful and smaller that one from a century ago (Industrial Era). Likewise, future radios can be even smaller, more powerful, and have more capabilities.

Since Stuff! uses STR (power of motors and such) and SIZE (you can only fit so much into a space) as forms of currency when creating things, it translates well to BRP.

I tend to believe that some "crunch" is important in RPGs, just to keep thing internally consistent, but that most of the "crunch" can and should be transparent in play. For example, a game could have a formula that is used to calculate weapon damage dice, APs, Hit Points, ship's performance stats and whatever, but the players don't need to know them. They just need to know the final numbers and what dice they need to roll.

It doesn't hurt if you can have the guys at NASA design the ships just as long as the rest of us can run the ships in play.

The only real tricks with scaling are to make it consistent, sensible, and some slight problems with the bell curve. 2D6x10 gives the same range as 20D6, but has a wider spread of damage. Someone taking only 30-40 points or over 150 points is much less likely with 20D6.

Typically you do reach a point where the damage is sheer overkill for most PCs anyway. A SIZ 6450 Heavy Cruiser with, say 13,000 Hit Points and armed with banks of energy weapons designed to fight a similar ship from a rival power can probably dish over hundred or even thousands of points of damage in a round. So a PC who gets lucky and only takes 200 points of damage won't feel lucky (or anything else, ever again).

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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I really like Stuff!. In part because it does have a modular design system and uses the same basic framework to build things. It also does allow for player tweaks, and scales the technology by era. A modern, c. 2008, late atomic era, radio will end up being more powerful and smaller that one from a century ago (Industrial Era). Likewise, future radios can be even smaller, more powerful, and have more capabilities.

Since Stuff! uses STR (power of motors and such) and SIZE (you can only fit so much into a space) as forms of currency when creating things, it translates well to BRP.

Whoops! Sounds like I missed something darned useful. And Google isn't being helpful. Could you provide some details on "Stuff!"? I'm having trouble finding anything on it.

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Ah! Ok, I've seen it then though it's been quite awhile. Thank you.

I also somewhat shamelessly used it as an inspiration for my vehicle designs in BRP. I liked the idea of Speed being handled as a simple STR-SIZ function and looking up the remainder on a table to find the Speed/MOV score. It allowed me to use some crunchy math to calculate a vehicle's MOV rating without players needing to use the crunchy math to design a vehicle.

In a nutshell, it works like this.

1) Figure out the SIZ of the vehicle based on it's mass by looking it up on a table.

2) Give the vehicle an engine with a STR rating, with a correction to horsepower or thrust avialble for those who want it.

3) Subtract SIZ form STR, look up the remainder on the Speed Table, and that tells you the vehicle's MOV rate.

And it all works in "reverse" too. If you wanted to design a vehicle to go a certain speed you could find the MOV score you wanted, look up the excess STR you need on the table, and add the vehicle's SIZ to get the STR of the engine needed.

For real world vehicles it is a lot simpler since all the work has been done already and you just need to covert a few things into game terms like hit points and MOV.

Where it can get cool is that by having a STR score, a PC could tweak the engine, up it's STR and up the vehicles performance.

I actually works out well for Sci-Fi. The Space:1999 Eagle Transporter is looking pretty good so far. Spaceships, tend to have very high MOV and SIZ scores, so the number are larger. The Eagle Transporter worked out at SIZ 109 and STR 280 Engines (actually 4 STR 264 engines) and an acceleration in space of about MOV 4300 each round.

But all that could be scaled too. Spaceship speeds generally are only important in relation to each other or for travel times anyway. The Eagle isn't too bad for characters to interact with, but something like The Enterprise or a Star Destroyer would probably benefit from scaling.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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I tend to believe that some "crunch" is important in RPGs, just to keep thing internally consistent, but that most of the "crunch" can and should be transparent in play. For example, a game could have a formula that is used to calculate weapon damage dice, APs, Hit Points, ship's performance stats and whatever, but the players don't need to know them. They just need to know the final numbers and what dice they need to roll.

Yes,Yes, Yes! You get it! Atgxtg you are my new hero!

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Joseph Paul

"Nothing partys like a rental" explains the enduring popularity of prostitution.:eek:

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That sort of the approach I was thinking too. Did you ever see the old Universe RPG or the CODA version of Star Trek? You get a hull and it has a certain number of spaces that you fill up with components.

CODA version of Star Trek? You've lost me on that one. I have the FASA version, and the Star Fleet Battles RPG. Is the CODA one, the one that Decipher did a few years back?

As for the Universe RPG, I'm afraid that's a definite hole in my library.

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CODA version of Star Trek? You've lost me on that one. I have the FASA version, and the Star Fleet Battles RPG. Is the CODA one, the one that Decipher did a few years back?

As for the Universe RPG, I'm afraid that's a definite hole in my library.

Yeah. CODA is the name for the system designed for Decipher. It was actually written by the staff of Last Unicorn Games, who ended up working for Decipher. LUG had produced a previous version of a Star Trek RPG referred to as the ICON system.

IN CODA, you would decide on the SIZE of a ship, and that would determine how many SPACES that it had for components and systems. Some components had fixed costs, and some would have costs based on the SIZE of the ship. There were also some restrictions, like what engines can go on what SIZED ship.

It had a few nice ideas. For example, power allocation, a hold over from the Star Trek computer and war games, was eliminated. Instead ship'

s systems had a reliability rating and every 5 points (that's 5 points Starship Scale) of damage the ship took, caused a random system to drop a level on reliability. Each drop would have an effect, like weapons becoming harder to aim or doing reduced damage, and enough hits could take a system out.

Overall the design system was fairly simply, and not a bad model for BRP.

I've toyed around a little with the idea. My idea is to make it compatible with scaling and the vehicle design stuff I started. Hopefully, that would let people go into more detail if they wanted to, but not force them into it when they don't have to.

So that's the theory. Translating that into BRP and having all the values be internally consist with each other and the rest of the game is something else. Doing it all without the final version of BRP will all the footnotes, corrections and missing data is virtually impossible. I can only bring some things so far, and will have to adjust other things as new info becomes available.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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You can scrap making it consistent with the rest of the game. The game stats for vehicles are not consistent in themselves already. A vehicles or SF supplement would be the way to go with people overwriting the inconsistent material already published.

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Joseph Paul

"Nothing partys like a rental" explains the enduring popularity of prostitution.:eek:

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You can scrap making it consistent with the rest of the game. The game stats for vehicles are not consistent in themselves already. A vehicles or SF supplement would be the way to go with people overwriting the inconsistent material already published.

Well, I sort of already have a vehicle write up system that gives decent results. At least they match up with the results in BRP and are internally consistent. It really only has a few minor problems that I hope can be worked out once BRP the Handling/Maneuver thing is worked out. I even have formulas that work for SIZ, hit points, and APs that fit within the system.

As it stands now, you can write up most real world vehicles in game terms in a couple of minutes. Or design something from scratch in a little longer. If you want I can send you a copt of the current "quick write up" rules for vehicles. A few people have tried it, and it has held up fairly well so far. I even got a decent batmobile out of it.

What I am hping to do is to make the spaceship rules combatable with my design rules. So far, it has worked. Just that I need to get the scaling down. A Space:1999 Eagle works out fine with the vehicles rules, but is a small enough ship (estimated SIZ109) that it can stay at PC scale. Something like the Galaxy-class Starship from Star Trek (estimated SIZ 29,032) might benefit from a 100:1 or even a 1000:1 scale.

Something like 29 kilo-SIZ points (kSIZ) might be a way to scale it without scaling.

For instance, if a Type X phaser did 1D10kilo-Damage points it would be easy to use and on character scale.

The trouble area would be things like starfighters and shuttlecraft. Small enough for normal scale, yet in some settings capable of hurting big ships. Probably just need to tweak the special or critical hit rules to let then to 1kHit Point against bit ships as long as they can do a certain minimum. So X-Wings can "damage" Star Destroyers.

That's the direction I'm heading towards. It certainly isn't the only option, but seems like a good way to keep everything internally consistent, and doesn't require rewriting the BRP core rules.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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What I am hping to do is to make the spaceship rules combatable with my design rules. So far, it has worked. Just that I need to get the scaling down. A Space:1999 Eagle works out fine with the vehicles rules, but is a small enough ship (estimated SIZ109) that it can stay at PC scale. Something like the Galaxy-class Starship from Star Trek (estimated SIZ 29,032) might benefit from a 100:1 or even a 1000:1 scale.

Hi guys,

Atgxtg - are you thinking of addressing space travel in your starship design rules? FTL travel, that sort of thing? I'd be interested in your thoughts about that - whether you'd be able to offer several options, etc, or would try and plumb for a one-size-fits-all solution.

Cheers,

Sarah

"The Worm Within" - the first novel for The Chronicles of Future Earth, coming 2013 from Chaosium, Inc.

Website: http://sarahnewtonwriter.com | Twitter: @SarahJNewton | Facebook: TheChroniclesOfFutureEarth

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Hi guys,

Atgxtg - are you thinking of addressing space travel in your starship design rules? FTL travel, that sort of thing? I'd be interested in your thoughts about that - whether you'd be able to offer several options, etc, or would try and plumb for a one-size-fits-all solution.

Cheers,

Sarah

Yeah, I'm interested in it. I think muitp0le options works best, so people can play multiple styles of SCi-Fi settings. A "hard Sci-Fi" ship like in 2001 isn't going to work the same way a ship from Star Trek or Star Wars would work.

My thought would be to have multiple propulsion systems and FTL systems available and GMs could just plug in whatever engines work for the setting. So that way we could have Warp Drives or Hyperspace Engines or Jump Drives or whatever. It also allows GM to have people run into less advanced culture that might use a more primitive form of propulsion.

That way someone who want to play Star Wars doesn't get stuck with Warp Drive and vice versa.

The trick is for the designer to do most of the crunch and try to work it out in advance so that by the time it gets to GMs and players it is pretty easy to just plug in an engine and go.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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