Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Excursion - framework for light, multi-genre gaming

Excursion: a short journey or trip, especially one engaged in as a leisure activity.

This contains nothing really new in terms of options that other rules posts have tinkered with, but it's based on the idea of a set of rules that abstract most aspects of a specific RPG into generic qualities (position for task resolution, impact for measuring effect, character strengths and weaknesses). In theory, this means you could pick up any interesting scenario for another system, abstract the relevant aspects, and play through: an excursion.

The Characters

For each player character, list:
  • Type: the highest level of class, profession, or calling.
  • Brief: a short description, the kind of character you're playing ("A better swordsman than poet"), with a few lines of history.
  • Strengths: mechanically, the character's significant skills and attributes/characteristics (about five).
  • Weakness: if your idea of a character encompasses weaknesses or flaws, add one.
Seasoned, or simply lucky, player characters have 10 "STAT" (current status) points.

Resolution

When characters take action, the referee will assess the relative position, in terms of strengths and weaknesses, the chosen approach, tactics, and other advantages and disadvantages:
  • Firm (3) - slight risk.
  • Strong (5) - an element of risk, but with sound skills, preparation, and tactics. A well-armed warrior attacking a goblin skirmisher; a competent engineer completing an emergency repair.
  • Balanced (7) - a substantial risk or danger that tests the character's abilities. A challenging combat; piloting an aircraft in a storm.
  • Weak (9) - a considerable disadvantage or danger. Attacking a strong monster head-on; tampering with a complex mechanism with makeshift tools.
  • Desperate (11) - relying on sheer luck or chance for success. Leaping across the chasm as the bridge falls; charging the dragon.
Roll the given number or greater on 2d6 to avert failure (a miss, loss or damage).

In combat, allow a minor move or adjustment, and a major action or attack (a charge is both, but it takes the initiative). The character that seizes initiative through action or planning goes first.

Other kinds of action, like magic or supernatural gifts, are also handled by position and the scope and type of powers the setting and scenario permits.

[Note: position here refers to a combination of readiness, situation, and approaches. As such, position matters more for resolution than character type or ability scores. A warrior wielding a great-sword is at a disadvantage in a narrow passageway, but strongly positioned on open ground, regardless of sword skill and STAT. And if you happen to have a d20 around, there's no reason you can't use that to set target numbers using the rough chances.]

Handling Impact

In many situations, such as combat, actions also have impact, which may affect a character's STAT.

Opposing NPCs have variable STAT points: rabble have 6; toughs 8; worthy antagonists 10; and monsters have 14, or more.

A character with exhausted (0) STAT is incapacitated at least, and minor opponents will be removed from play.

Damage, from weapons or other impact, reduces STAT based on relative impact, which takes both the weapon type and armor or other protection into account:
  • Superficial: 1 - feet and hands; a handgun against power armor
  • Light: 1d3 - knives; shots against ballistic armor
  • Heavy:1d6 - sword blows and bullets against unarmored
  • Severe: 1d6+1d3, etc. - heavy weapons

Healing STAT follows as a short rest (1), first aid (1d3), and skilled medical attention (1d6).