A re-roll mechanic

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This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I like the idea of them for the simple reason that it gives the players one chance to avoid a pointless death due to a bad roll. It might not work, but at least they had an extra chance. A lot of the games I like have such a mechanic; Savage Worlds has Bennies that have multiple uses – including a re-roll – which limits how often they can be used during a game. This is something important, as being able to re-roll as and when one chooses is obviously a bad idea.

In Unhallowed Metropolis you have a set number of re-rolls, depending on just how corrupted you are, with the option – once per session – for an extra re-roll, but at the cost of falling further into corruption. This idea appeals more than handing out tokens, and the Malfunction mechanic is a great way of showing how close the Automaton is to final destruction. With that thought in mind, everything else came together pretty easily. All the rules so far can be found behind this link, but below is everything you need to know about Over clocking.

Over clocking

Since there is always a chance for something to go wrong, the Automata are programmed to respond quickly, sometimes allowing for an improved result. This is called Over clocking, and in game terms allows a player to re-roll a skill check that has failed, even if it critically failed. It is only skill checks that may be re-rolled in this manner, and each check may only be re-rolled once as a result of Over clocking.

In simple terms, the Automaton’s processor anticipates that a mistake is about to happen, and massively speeds up all of its on board systems to try and reduce or negate the upcoming calamity. This is not without risk as it pushes the Automaton’s systems past safe operating levels. Doing this instantly adds one point to your character’s Malfunction score. There is no limit to how often this may be done during a game session, but as mentioned above it can only be done once per skill check. Raising the Malfunction score of an Automaton should only be done when absolutely necessary though, as the higher the score, the more likely it is that a critical roll will be a failure, and the closer they come to shut down. As mentioned elsewhere, for every Malfunction level above four, the Automaton suffers a cumulative minus one penalty to all skill checks.


Filling in some character sheets.

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After spending a couple of hours going through the process not so long ago – and having an extra sent courtesy of friendly internet chap – I decided to use the character sheet that I made last week. I have already spotted a couple of upgrades that I need to make on the sheet so that things have a proper place, but I’m overall quite happy with how this process is going.

After changing a few bits of character creation after some feedback from the test I did, I have needed to update and modify and a few bits from the characters that my mates made. This has actually turned out pretty good though and I’ve ended up with a set of characters that are a bit closer to what I had in mind than I had after they were first made. If you want to take a shot and let me know how it went, then everything you need to know is through this link.

The rules are still very much a work in progress, and probably will be for quite some time. If you’re having trouble making sense of what I’m putting out, please take the time to let me know what it is specifically that you’re struggling with. Every bit of feedback means I’ve got a better chance of making a game that people will want to play, and that’s the whole point of this exercise. Be warned though, I will engage with you about feedback, and thoroughly look forward to a brisk and lively debate. I won’t automatically change things because someone might not like it, but I am always open to having my mind changed, just don’t be afraid to try and change it by arguing with me.

Character sheet.

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A few people have asked, so here we have it. It is the definition of a basic character sheet, as I have done the entire thing in OpenOffice, so please be gentle with me. I have a few leads with some people who will hopefully be able to do a much better job than this, but for now it does everything that it needs to do.

There will be a reverse side to the sheet, with plenty of space for weapons and other equipment, but since I’m still working on the weapons for a combat play test, I figured it would be best waiting until I had everything sorted.

If anyone is interested in taking a shot at character creation with the shiny(ish) sheet, then the following link will take you where you need to go for all of the rules covering character creation.

EDIT: Tidied the sheet up a bit, added a couple of bits I had forgotten, and managed to sneak some weapon bits on the bottom. I think the final product may still go over to two sheets though, as I have some thoughts on reputation that might need to be put on a character sheet.

Customisable Weapons

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As you may know, I’m only some instruments of targeted destruction away from giving my game it’s first actual test. If you want to help out with this, then everything you need so far is in this Google doc. All you’ll need is a couple of characters and preferably a friend so you can try and kill each other. What I have spent today thinking about is how to write up the weapons for the game.

I already know that it will more than likely include a handful of specialist weapons that require specific training to use, but I wasn’t sure about the rest of it. For the play test I was happy to get down some fairly bog-standard stats for your generic store bought weapons. A shotgun, revolver and rifle, along with a sword, axe, and knife, just to see how it all pans out. This made me think the entire character creation system runs off the idea that a basic chassis is built upon to make it cooler, and offer customisation options to how players want their Automaton to look.

So why not do the same with weapons? You walk into an outfitters and have a choice of weapon type, but they are just as plain as the basic chassis model was before it started getting personalised. These would come with a low cost, and then you can rock some after market modifications. These would either to the price of bought at the same time as the weapon, or have their own price if added on later. Most of this makes sense for ranged weapons which have slightly more obvious upgrades, so I’ll need to spend a bit longer looking at what can be done with edged weapons, but I think I could make it work.

This also adds an extra level of fun, if we think that the weapons the players will be able to get their hands on will either be old ones used during the war, or new ones built to the same pattern. The higher echelons of Automaton society will have access to newer designs with higher capabilities that will be desired by all. The New Builds won’t be happy with everyone having access to these fine works of craft though, so they will be almost impossible to get hold off without doing specific favours for the New Builds. What is possible though is to make older, less advanced weapons look like something new and shiny. This will obviously have a lower “cost” so be easier to have done, but will have next to no actual effect. This can apply to a whole bunch of bells and whistles that be added to a weapon that do very little other than make it look good.

As with all things at present, this is at the moment a an idea I want to try at best, but if you have any opinions, I’d love to hear what you have to say.

All rules in one document

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A quick post here, just reassuring people that work is ongoing, but will stop appearing as dropbox links. They tend to get messed up as I modify things and move them into places that make more sense. Instead I’ve been advised that Google Drive might work for me. Because of this I have also popped everything into one document. It is not yet fully formatted, and still needs some work, but there’s plenty there to be going on with.

At the moment I’m putting some extra touches onto the combat system, and this has been leading me down the damage and repair rules, which I’ll probably be tackling next. Sadly I don’t have much of a plan for which bits of the rules I’ll be tackling in which order, as what ever it is I’m currently writing seems to influence what I end up working on next.

I do have a few things that need some work though, and the biggest of those are a character sheet, and some equipment. You will have seen recently my thoughts on economy, but I still haven’t got stats for the weapons you’ll be acquiring using these rules. I have a couple of ideas for character sheets, but graphic design is not my strong point, so please be gentle when I finally get round to putting something on line. I will probably put one or two up, and let people pick the one they prefer.

Some early thoughts on economy in RotA


I have commented on forum threads, and other blogs on such subjects, and waxed lyrical about how much I enjoy the spending of money in games where it makes sense. My favourite example is from my most recent GMing history, and that was running Cyberpunk 2020. With the emphasis of the game being all style over substance, it makes sense for the shopping side of things to take a prominent role. There are splat books full of nothing but things to buy, and I think they’re great for adding flavour to the setting.

But in almost every other game, I would be happier if less time was devoted to the book keeping involved in keeping track of money and flicking through books to find things. In a game I have played in repeatedly – and hope to play again soon – they have a nice mechanism for dealing with day to day monetary spending while still allowing for shopping to take place for specialist items and the like. Basically, money is put to one side to cover your character’s living expenses. If you have little money then your lifestyle will be poor; living in a flop house and surviving on two cheap meals a day. This means more for buying fancy things like armour and weapons, but means you have a higher chance of picking up something contagious. Put more money aside, and you have a better lifestyle. Staying in a single room in a hotel, with meat in at least two of your three meals, plus a few pints of beer a night too.

This works for the game in question and adds to the flavour of it, which is one of the biggest things I look for. So with that in mind I have been thinking about how to handle it for my RPG. The Automata that the players will be taking on the role of  have just as much diversity of personality as do the Humans who made them. They are just as likely to be covetous of the belongings of others, and unwilling to share. As a society though, the Automata have sought to move away from the weaknesses of their creators. After the war the most valuable resource for them was fuel, but since it was necessary for the survival of the Automata, it is available to all, as long as there was enough supply.

I wanted this attitude to permeate most of their society. A socialist state as it were, especially with regard to trade. The only value of objects is how hard they are to create and how useful they are. What this means for the game is that each item has a score that modifies the dice roll required to convince the owner to part with it. This will make the Bargain skill a lot more useful to people, and hopefully stop the Interface Attribute being used as a dump stat quite so much. As a side effect it might also stop players thinking that treasure is so important. Unless something has a use, it has no value. As an example of play, the characters find themselves at an Automata settlement where they make an additive that prolongs the burn time of fossil fuels. One of the Automatons they meet has a lovely pneumatic sniper rifle, that one of the players could really use. This is a rare item, so the base chance to convince any Automaton to give it up would be pretty high, and the two characters would make opposed Bargain checks to see who can be the most convincing about who should own the weapon. If the NPC is a guard of the town, then he would get a bonus, as he has more use for it, but if it was a scientist or production worker who lacked the skills to use it, the player character would have the advantage as they were often in dangerous situations dealing with Human aggressors.

When it comes to character creation, each player character will have a set number of points which they can use to get access to items. Each item is worth a number of points equal to its Bargain modifier, and I’m playing around with the idea of allowing players to spend some of their character points to increase the number of points they’ll get for equipment. Based on a character creation session I ran, one player did ask of there was anything else they could spend their points on as they had picked up all the skills they wanted, and had a point left.

I’m not one hundred percent sure on any of this yet, but I would like to try it out. I know that a lot of gamers are happier without micromanaging equipment and money, and although this will not get rid of such concerns in their entirety, it should minimize them some what. As always sound off below with your own thoughts on the subject.

First draft combat.

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Before we carry on into how combat works in my game, I have to give props to another system who I have inadvertently taken inspiration from. My basis for three different attributes determining the base for the three different combat skills was taken from a game that a couple of my friends are working on. They’re much further through than I am, and will hopefully have their game ready to go before too long. Keep an eye on their website, and if you’re on Facebook check out the page for the game as they will be posting advance updates on there. It really is a great system, and for my mind the combat system is one of the best out there. The fact that I have borrowed from it somewhat is just my way of paying the two chaps a compliment, and I hope you take the time to check them out once the game is fully ready to go.

Onto my system. There isn’t really that much different to most combat systems out there, as I don’t particularly feel like re-inventing the wheel. In it’s simplest form, you roll 2d10, and add them together along with your combat score. The bit I want to try out to see if it works is how hit location and damage are decided. I may end up ditching it and going for something a bit more simple, but please take the time to check it out and let me know what you think. If you’ve created a character or two, you could even try out a combat and let me know how it goes.

I also start talking about how Automata take damage in this section. Again, I am trying something out a bit different here, to highlight that the characters taking damage are more than flesh, but steel and brass instead. I was going to post it all on here, but it involves a hit location table, so to make life easier for myself I have decided to just throw up a link to the document in my DropBox account. As always, I’d to love here any feedback people have to offer.

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