Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Systems Check

This is the first RPG system that my gaming group has used that doesn't rely on the d20. As far as I can tell,  everyone has transitioned well. Combat is fast, explosive, and doesn't require a grid. This system is easy to play.

Something to note: when I say that the system is easy to play, I mean that the basic mechanics are not hard to grasp. My group got going with the system after only a few hours. Is the system easy to play CORRECTLY? Hell no.

It took me three characters before I actually rolled up a guy correctly. My first two attempts I thought were successes until I found a hidden rule that states when you roll X, you then roll on table Y and then proceed to Z. I am still clarifying rules, and I've run two six-hour sessions and flipped through the rule book for ten days. Would you believe that the book is about a centimeter thick?

Rules that we missed/misinterpreted/madeupstuffupfor in our first two sessions-

1. The d66. This is for tables used by the DM. Roll one for a number in the 10s place, the other for the number in the 1s place. Found in one sentence on the third page of the introduction.

2. Jumps. Already discussed this in the blog's introduction. Not changing now.

3. Gun ranges. Apparently you have a penalty for shooting a hunting rifle at an alien standing a foot away from you.

4. "Effect of the roll". If you roll higher than what was required, you get benefits. Probably would have helped the aliens trying to claw their way into Dax's armor.

5. Ship damage. Actually handled in a way similar to Warhammer 40k. Previously I was just rolling a bunch of damage and saying that something broke off.

6. Benefit rolls. It's not totally clear what your choices are when you roll "armor" or "weapon". We set a tech level cap of 12.

7. Manufacturing and selling drugs in space. There weren't actually rules for this, but their should have been. If there are illicit drugs on the random cargo table, there needs to be rules for getting more drugs.  

8. Maintenance and fuel. My group thought that owning a spaceship wouldn't cost anything. They were wrong.

9. Grenades. What happens when you miss? I'm using the scatter die from Warhammer 40k.

10. Camo cloaks. Doesn't automatically turn you invisible. You actually have to roll the dice.

11. Auto fire. Auto 4 doesn't actually give you four shots.

12. Burst fire. I don't think the players even know that this exists.

13. Jump distances. Back to how bad I messed up jumping. The ship actually needs to move away from the sun of a system for over a day before it can safely jump.

14. Death. It's the future. They have defibrillators. If only we could figure out how to use them.

15. Currency. I know how much a pistol costs, but how much for a stick of gum? And by the way, why is power armor like 20 times more expensive than a nuclear briefcase?

Now, is this system fun? Yes! With a good group it can be a blast. Can it run smoothly? Yes! We were going smooth in our first session. Can it be run as intended? Yes!... With lots of effort. Is that required? No! The beauty of this system is that once you get going, you can do pretty much anything. Its not hard to improvise a game. With a halfway-decent DM, you can have all sorts of cool space adventures.

One of my favorite features of the system is that it has something for everybody. There are rules for doctors, explosives experts, engineers, thieves, computer-geeks, and much more. We have a photographer in our group. That was a career path. Unlike DnD (which I love by the way) where you are stuck in certain niches, this system lets you create a truly unique character.

If your gaming group is looking for a sci-fi RPG system, buy Traveller from Mongoose Publishing. It is balanced, it works will all levels of RPG experience, and it is super fun. I am looking forward to more games this summer!

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