For Want of a Stat System



  • I'm planning out a tabletop campaign in an original setting, though the feel is closest to The Matrix. I'm having trouble finding a system that meets my needs, however. It should support:

    • Firearms
    • Martial Arts
    • Melee Combat
    • Vehicular Combat

    I'm explicitly not looking for a traits system. It should have enough crunch that things aren't arbitrary, but not bog things down to wargaming speed. I'll be adding a custom magic system to whatever I use, so I'm not too concerned with magic, though it'll be there. The system shouldn't be mega-lethal, but death should be a possibility.

    It seems to me that most systems fall down when it coms to vehicular combat. I'd like to be able to run combat on a freeway without the entire thing feeling handwaved or abstracted into arbitrariness. Martial arts tend to be a problem, too.

    Current contenders:

    • Savage Worlds: Seems to do most of what I want, but perhaps I can do better.
    • Unisystem: Can technically do anything I want, but it's kind of crazy having to pull in several games just to mug them for systems.

    Feng Shui seems like an obvious choice, but the system is too light. I seriously dislike trait systems, and FS is pretty damned light. I haven't looked at 2e, but reviews suggest it's not much different.

    Hopefully fielding suggestions from better clued individuals than I. So far, Savage Worlds is my first choice.



  • I ask this often: what do you want the players to focus on? Cover and round counts? Outguessing their foes? Describing the awesome? The detailed way that a given weapon or martial arts style affects the flow of combat?

    None of those are the same, nor mutually exclusive. You have to think about how you want your players spending their time, and what sort of decisions are they making.

    Are there published games that are close to what you want? The two you named tell me nothing. Systems can be light and yet focus on shot by shot to what location, or wild action, or whatever.

    Do you want the players to be daring, or biting their nails wondering if they will survive?
    Do you want beliefs and relationships to have mechanical advantages?


  • Politics

    @n0q

    Maybe try Dream Pod 9's Heavy Gear?

    https://www.dp9.com/heavygear



  • Cortex Classic? IT has some vehicle scaling things and does al ot of what you want by 'dice ratings'.



  • I'll second the Dream Pod 9 Silhouette system and will also point to CORPS and EABA (from BTRC) as possibilities.



  • I believe someone a third party also added more involved vehicle and chase rules for CORPS.



  • @Misadventure said in For Want of a Stat System:

    I ask this often: what do you want the players to focus on? Cover and round counts? Outguessing their foes? Describing the awesome? The detailed way that a given weapon or martial arts style affects the flow of combat?

    Awesome questions. I'd answered a lot of these for myself, but you still gave me a few things to think about.

    This will go a lot easier if I explain what I'm doing:

    This game takes place in a dreamstate. Someone (known as the Dreamer, the Creator, or God) is likely in a coma and having a warped lucid dream where he is oblivious, but some characters in the dream have become lucid, instead. These PCs and all NPCs of note are called Hypnagogues, and have formed factions within the dreamscape. They fight for philosophical reasons which have serious ramifications for the dream world and possibly the dreamer.

    Because Hypnagogues are far faster, stronger, and more durable than regular dream people (called Figments), they lend themselves to larger than life conflict. That expresses itself by combat playing out like some sort of 80s action flick half the time with Figments acting as general cannon fodder, while Hypnagogues from opposing factions are a much more serious and meaningful threat. Car chases in fast sports cars (don't worry about where they came from). Crazy gun battles, martial arts duels, and even magic (in the form of 'dream logic' or 'lucid dream control').

    It's a setting I've been developing on and off for several years, but it's finally fleshed out enough to take a legitimate, serious stab at a 'real' play session. It's taken a lot of thought and research (reading, plus 'field research' via lucid dreaming). To put it another way, "This is a game about lucid dreaming, quantum physics, existentialism, kung fu, consciousness, magic, fast cars, philosophy, assault rifles, Buddhism, and explosions."

    That's the hyper abridged version. Just go with it. ;) If things work out well enough in tabletop, I might even turn it into a small MU one day.

    what do you want the players to focus on? Cover and round counts? Outguessing their foes? Describing the awesome? The detailed way that a given weapon or martial arts style affects the flow of combat? None of those are the same, nor mutually exclusive. You have to think about how you want your players spending their time, and what sort of decisions are they making.

    It's really the first three. Details about individual types of weapons or actions are needed to differentiate one action from another. In a dream world, a lot of details can be added, removed, or modified on the fly. If the combat system is 'floaty', then we start running out of anchors and things rapidly deteriorate into chaos (or at least arbitrariness). I need a system that allows a 'let the dice fall where they may' approach. I've done some statless testing with friends, and things worked out really well when I told players to pretend we had an actual combat system. Without stipulating some restraint, it got silly.

    Here's the level of detail I'm looking for: Firearm types (handgun, smg, rifle, etc) handle distinctly, enabling some additional types of actions based on their type, but we go no further. Every smg is the same. Every handgun is the same. Maybe you need to reload your weapon, but we're not going to worry about how much ammo you're carrying. I want enough detail that a player is making a meaningful choice in combat beyond simply providing window dressing for a 'standard attack roll with circumstantial modifiers'.

    Basically, I do want your chosen weapons to matter. I do want it to matter if you used a flying kick, a series of punches, or a leg sweep. I want it to matter if you side-swiped the other car while your mate fires a SMG out from the passenger side window, or if you straight-up rammed a car from behind. Reality's a little difficult to pin down in a dream, so your actions need mechanical consequences which aren't super-arbitrary, or else everything becomes arbitrary.

    Are there published games that are close to what you want? The two you named tell me nothing. Systems can be light and yet focus on shot by shot to what location, or wild action, or whatever.

    I've never found anything that matches what I'm looking for. Flow would feel closer to The Matrix (which has no RPG system worth a fuck). Any system I use will need me to alter or add systems. There's even a lovecraftian horror aspect to this setting I've left out.

    Do you want the players to be daring, or biting their nails wondering if they will survive?

    80/20. Hypnagogues can take a lot of punishment before they die. In many cases, dying doesn't even kill them, but there's often the possibility they really will be gone forever. I'm aiming for "Players are encouraged to be daring, but know they are putting themselves at risk. Sooner or later, failure will mean death."

    Do you want beliefs and relationships to have mechanical advantages?

    Based on what I've described, you'll be completely unsurprised to know I was counting on it.



  • @Ganymede @Bobotron @WTFE

    I'll investigate those systems. Thanks!



  • @n0q said in For Want of a Stat System:

    This game takes place in a dreamstate. Someone (known as the Dreamer, the Creator, or God) is likely in a coma and having a warped lucid dream where he is oblivious, but some characters in the dream have become lucid, instead. These PCs and all NPCs of note are called Hypnagogues, and have formed factions within the dreamscape. They fight for philosophical reasons which have serious ramifications for the dream world and possibly the dreamer.

    Because Hypnagogues are far faster, stronger, and more durable than regular dream people (called Figments), they lend themselves to larger than life conflict. That expresses itself by combat playing out like some sort of 80s action flick half the time with Figments acting as general cannon fodder, while Hypnagogues from opposing factions are a much more serious and meaningful threat. Car chases in fast sports cars (don't worry about where they came from). Crazy gun battles, martial arts duels, and even magic (in the form of 'dream logic' or 'lucid dream control').

    This here is all kinds of fucked-up.

    This is not criticism.

    This is applause.


  • Pitcrew

    @n0q
    If you are looking for crunch have you thought about ShadowRun?
    It has plenty of crunch in all four of those areas, and runs a bit faster than most heavy crunch systems.



  • Once upon a time, I happened upon a website. Where somebody had taken the old WED D6 Star Wars rules, and kitbashed the fuck out of them to be all Matrix-y. It seemed neat.


  • Coder

    @ThatGuyThere said in For Want of a Stat System:

    @n0q
    If you are looking for crunch have you thought about ShadowRun?
    It has plenty of crunch in all four of those areas, and runs a bit faster than most heavy crunch systems.

    I looked at coding ShadowRun for its chargen. I politely but hastily declined. I find Eclipse Phase's chargen a far easier ordeal for a tabletop situation; I can't begin to imagine how a Mu* would introduce people unfamiliar with the SR system.

    Then again, I've been recently accused that I've gotten pretty damn lazy about learning new systems. Just let me tell someone an interesting character concept and they can give me the character sheet and I'd be happy.


  • Pitcrew

    Chargen is by far the most wonky part of cgen. After that is is basically NWoD with d6 where five and six are successes.
    For C-gen I would honestly just tell folks to use Chummer and than post a copy of that file to the wiki for staff to ok.



  • Re: Shadowrun Chargen - I'd do it as either City of Hope's chargen (make the player do everything), or the chummer version. But I'd want it to be a karma build, like CP for Eclipse Phase, because I am zany like that.

    ... but for reals, with the voucher/item code from Shadowrun: Denver, because that is amazing.


  • Pitcrew

    @Jennkryst
    Chummer for both 4th and 5th can do Karma build for c-gen, tools tab, options, then "characters and printing" has the manner of cgen able to be set to either buildpoints, Karma, or for 5th priority as well.



  • @n0q
    Cortex has a few versions. All of them are based around combinations of die sizes into dice pools, but some of them are way different.

    Cortex Classic runs the Battlestar Galactica RPG. It's a more straightforward RPG; you assign die ratings to attributes, skills, the equivalent of merits/flaws, and such. You make a die pool from the various dice and roll it vs. a target # or the opponent's roll. It's also got a 'generic' Cortex Classic book.

    A slightly updated version of this runs the Leverage RPG. It uses the same baseline but allows for players to input Flashbacks to explain bonuses needed (this could be used for your Matrix-esque 'mess with the dream' angle).

    Cortex Plus runs the Marvel Heroic, Smallville and a couple of the other RPGs. It uses the same resolution mechanic but has additional stuff. MHR has a lot of 'spend Plot Points to activate powers/add things to scenes,' Smallville runs on a highly-detailed relationship map, among others.

    It'd be worth looking up reviews of Cortex Classic and Cortex Plus to get more detail. Cortex Plus is what I'm adapting heavily for Houses of the Blood (and it's fun in that I can automate the fuck out of it, so no generic dice rolling).

    @Jennkryst
    You mean this?
    http://dansego.com/matrix/



  • @Bobotron Tossing out there that Cortex was also used for the Serenity TTRPG, released right around the time of the film.

    And yes, that is the d6 matrix thingy.



  • I'd recommend GURPS but I really don't like their vehicle combat. It's easy enough to kind of wing, though. Just make sure your PCs fasten their seatbelts. I've never had a TPK so fast as when the gang tried to run someone over with an aircar in Traveller and we discovered that slamming into a boulder at 70kph will kill you superfuckingfast.

    Cyberpunk 2020 might meet your needs.

    Savage worlds has great vehicle combat, but I haven't really touched on their matrix stuff.

    I think D6 Space might meet most of your needs the best, though. It's easy, it's free and it's super simple to wing stuff on the fly.



  • I'll second the recommendation for GURPS provided you really enjoy the single most incoherently and incompetently designed system of the '80s.

    GURPS splat books can be a good read. GURPS itself is ... well, shit.



  • @ThatGuyThere said in For Want of a Stat System:

    @n0q
    If you are looking for crunch have you thought about ShadowRun?
    It has plenty of crunch in all four of those areas, and runs a bit faster than most heavy crunch systems.

    I remember Shadowrun being one of the first systems which came to mind, but I'd concluded it would be an absolute fuck to tear the Shadowrun out of that system, with the way money, race, cyberware, and magical aptitude was worked into chargen (balance purposes). Similarly, 'good' martial arts was locked behind magic, as well. In retrospect, maybe this was just super lazy of me. I'll take another look at it with an eye towards revising chargen to fit my needs.


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