tisdag 9 oktober 2012

Cinematic combat in Star Wars RPG

This might be the most important chapter to many people – and combat is certainly pretty important to me in an RPG – although not as fun as spaceships and such, as we will se in the next chapter of the rule book.

The Conflict and Combat chapter describes combat, and just that. Are you into social conflict - look into the skills chapter, since you wont find any info here. The chapter starts out with a promise that these rules are made to "capture the pure cinematic thrill in the Star Wars universe".

Okay som how cinematic is it? First of all – as usual - initiative which can be determined by either Cool or Vigilance. somewhat unnecessary in my opinion, having two ways of doing it – at least it can't  speed up combat. A whole sidebar is devoted to the question when to use Cool or Vigilance – I rest my case. As in Warhammer the different groups (PC's or enemies) assign who is going to use each "initiative slot".

During your turn in a round (an unspecified amount of time - which I the way I want it) you can  make Maneuvers (1 or 2) and one Action. Maneuvers are stuff like aim, assist, manage gear, move etc. By taking an extra strain you can get an extra maneuver, but no more than two.

Actions are what you would expect them to be, skill checks, activating abilities, combat checks etc.A combat check is essentially a skill check with combat skills and more structured way how you can use advantages, triumphs, threats and despair - which are four of those funky symbols you find on the dice. A whole spread and a few tables describe how you do use the funky symbols - not an easy text to read, I can tell you.

There are defense ratings - three different kinds – again somewhat unnecessary in my opinion. The defense rating let's you ade setback dice to the roll. Then you have soak, dependent on your Brawn and armor.

Just like Warhammer you hav abstract ranges, or range bands. We couldn't get a hang of them in Warhammer and it doesn't seem easier here. Everything is relative and a sidebar instructs the GM to tell each player where he is relative to the opponents – it is then up to the player to track his range relative to everybody. I can see the use of hand drawn maps here – something these rules ar supposed to make unnecessary.

Four pages are devoted to conditional, situational and environmental modifiers by different amounts of setback or boost dice. Okay - this will definitely not speed up  the combat.

Handling wounds, strain and critical injuries seem easier than in Warhammer although i suspect its basically the same mechanic.  The critical injury table is kind of fun to read, at least the higher part with stuff like maimed, horrific injury, the end is nigh and of course death. To die you need to suffer a lot of critical injuries, or if you are unlucky with rolling d100's only five of em.

The final part of the combat chapter relates to recovery and healing with bacta tanks, rest stim packs etc.

Over all – combat seems to be okay, if you read the whole chapter and really remember it. But some stuff might actually not help you in making it very cinematic. The only way to know for sure, is of course to play.

[Previous chapter]

fredag 5 oktober 2012

Weapons and gear in Star Wars

I finally got to reading the gear and equipment chapter (read previous posts about the game, mechanics, char gen, skills and talents), which was interesting. Gear is important – to me – especially in a science fiction setting such as Star Wars. The first thing I wrote on this blog was actually a diatribe (in Swedish, here and here) about the lack of gear or rather tech in my favorite sci-fi RPG, Coriolis. In space opera such as Star wars it might be less important than in a cyberpunk setting, but still.

The gear chapter starts with some introduction to trade, rarity, the black market – which sort of resembles the Warhammer rules.  Then you have the elaborate rules about encumbrance – how bloody boring is that. Why not learn from computer games – give each character ten slots and let them fill them up with gear. No, instead you have encumbrance values based on Brawl + something etc. This part of the game doesn’t need this level of realism, just some internal logic which you could get with a slot based system.

Next you have all the weapons, describing types, qualities, maintenance and armor. I like the fact that every piece of gear seems to have associated hardpoints – telling you how much you can modify it, by adding stuff like optic sights etc. among the qualities you also have stuff like limited ammo, cumbersome etc., which gives me an aspect touch to the whole thing, with somewhat elaborate explanations for some qualities like how guided ammo/missiles work.

The weapons are generic, i.e. there are blasters and slugthrowers but no brand names or more specific types – something that works in SW, but would be boring in a cyberpunk setting.
The gear part includes everything from comlinks and fusion lanterns to bacta tanks and jet packs and most are just descriptions without any rules (there is a general rule regarding gear, that instructs you to add a boost dice if appropriate). The black market items include different drugs such as spice and lesai, as well as illegal gear, but not that many different items.

The most interesting part of the chapter is the customization and modification part – where you can modify your weapon (depending on number of hardpoints) with stuff such as, re-cocker (for bowcasters), Merr-Sonn’s Marksman Barrel,  spread barrels, bipods, tripods, under-barrel flamethrowers, sights – you name it.
So, all in all, this is a good chapter where you get what you expect and some more. I like the fact that guns have qualities, which resemble aspects in some FATE games such as Strands of Fate and that you have plenty of stuff to choose from.

Next up – Conflict and combat.