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Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Transmission Character Spotlight - Callie

This is the first character spotlight for Transmission, the firm sci-fi game that I'm running.  In this post the spotlight falls on Callie, the MCS Kraken's First Engineer.

Born into a migrant family on the outer periphery of the first expansion. Callie is the first daughter of a seventh son and the first engineer in the family. Determined to follow in the follow in the father's footsteps, despite his disapproval she signed up for the Branson Corporation Astro-engineering corp at sixteen.  Determined to prove herself she stowed away on the MCS Kraken's maiden voyage. Discovered by Branson security crew she was subject to summary execution by hard vacuum. She was granted clemency when Sebastian, one of corporate dignitaries on board spoke in her favour and instead she was thrown in the brig and expecting a lengthy prison term on her return to dock. However, mid way through the final flight tests a critical systems failure killed the Kraken's engineer and set the vessel on collision course with a nearby colony moon. The impact of a borealis class freighter impacting at near half light speed would have destroyed the ship and the colony moon had Callie not broken free of the brig and jury-rigged repairs to the ship's control systems narrowly averting disaster.

Given her extraordinary conduct in the Kraken debacle Callie was immediately offered an engineering post with Branson. As part of her corporate service she was one of the team that evacuated Branson forces under heavy fire during the Carrillion Injunction. This is where she met Walker during his first tour with Branson Asset Realisation (BAR).

callie's character sheet

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Razor Edged Soul

The leaves in dappled hues of oranges and browns powder beneath my sandals as I approach the time and place. Everything has guided me towards this moment as if I were a green twig, tossed about in some great maelstrom only to wash ashore in a tranquil lagoon. The air is sharp. Sticky pine sap from the evergreens, with overtones of sandalwood and clove, someone burning prayers.


There is a thunderous crack and raindrops begin to fall like the tears of a broken god. My second waits in the clearing up ahead. Servants have raked aside the leaves revealing a circle of perfect green. Thin plumes of scented smoke spiral into the still air. Now the rain is here ladies hurry to shelter under oiled parasols in verdant greens and flaming reds.

My opponent is a highlander, Murrain is his name. A dark brooding presence, squatting like a black toad at the end of the circle. Surrounded by toadies and hangers on, he has no legitimate complaint with me. I am simply a stepping stone on his perceived path to greatness. I should give him the opportunity to take quarter now. I should. However, his lackeys have vexed me greatly these past weeks and I am in a less forgiving mood.

A hush ripples around the circle as I make my entrance. Wicke, faithful Wicke, takes my hat and coat. I, of course, bow to the ladies and engage in some idle banter with the gents. I ask the servants to rake the circle a little wider, fearing some arterial spray might sully a pretty dress or two. This Murrain fellow appears larger close up than I had been led to believe. Still I am unperturbed. All that I am rests by my side and while that remains true I am unafraid. Syryn, my cold steel bride, my razor edged soul.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Sorry Monte

Bad me.

Just found out that Monte Cooke's Numenara has a publication called The Signal so henceforth I've renamed mine to Transmission.

All historic posts have been updated to reflect this. If I've missed something it's not deliberate.

Check out Monte's stuff he's a good guy.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Transmission ~ Enter the Matrix

This week was exit matrix design for The Signal. An exit matrix is the translation matrix for the reachable destinations that have been mapped from your current location. Of course, there may be other destinations available but they have either been probed and determined unsuitable or remain unmapped for some reason.

We used a mash-up of the cluster generation rules from Diaspora by VSCA which a lot of Fate players will be familiar with, and the planetary survey rules from Durance which is probably less well known and comes from the same stable as Fiasco, Bully Pulpit Games.

This session was immensely good fun and between three of us we managed to come up with some really messed up systems to play about in. Due to some bad rolls we did eventually have to loosen up on the 50% is wrong default survey setting and pick a world to be translation capable. As you can see if you check out the translation matrix link at the bottom of the page, although the stats for some of the planets are pretty similar they all have interesting and unique aspects to describe them. The surveys and colony records are simply a good jumping off point to get the creative juices flowing.

In the final mix of the write up I think that I will probably lean more towards the Durance style setup but more options for defining the colony world and it's host system.

Conceptually this looks like bumping up the number of the planetary survey and colony features to 9 or 12 apiece, setting a default value for each and giving the players the option to up or down rate each of these in a round robin, similar to Durance. Then assigning two planetary aspects and two colony aspects led by the features that were determined in step one.

The worlds generated in this session can be found here

The translation diagram for the Asterias cluster can be found here

Monday, 3 February 2014

Alternative Dice Pool for Fate Core

An alternative dice pool mechanic for Fate Core

I've been noodling around with a d12 dice pool system which has languished in an unpublished, untested homebrew for more than a year and realised only this morning that the scaling I came up with matches up exactly against the ladder in Fate Core. Here's the Fate ladder with the dice pools against it.

expanded fate core ladder

In what I hope will be a peanut butter vs. chocolate moment I've revisited it here fusing the original mechanics with Fate Core. This will be playtested it in my upcoming post-human Fate game, The Signal which you can follow here on the blog.
Reading the dice

Using this system all tests are opposed whether actively by another character or passively by the challenge rating of the situation.

Each party rolls a number of d12 and whichever has the highest result on a single die succeeds. If more than one of your dice is higher than your opponent's best roll then you

Here's a couple of examples:
Jake and Sam are arm wrestling to settle a bet. 
Jake's skill is Good (4d12).
Sam's is Average (2d12).

Their results are:
Jake - 3, 8, 9, 10
Sam - 4, 11

Sam has the highest result (11) and slowly forces Jake's arm to
the table.

Jake demands best of three and in the next round:

Jake - 2, 6, 9, 11
Sam - 3, 5

Jake has the highest result (11) and also has two other results
higher than Sam's best score.

It's a clear victory for Jake as he slams Sam's arm down.

In the examples above, there's clearly a narrative difference between the two results. Mechanically in Fate that's a boost. In this system you gain a boost if two or more dice beat your opponent's highest roll.

What happens if it's a draw?

In the case of a draw the acting character gains a boost over the reacting character. A draw means that you've not managed to create an advantage, overcome an obstacle or score a hit in combat.
Boosts, Invokes and Fate Points

There are some deviations from vanilla Fate Core here but much of the mechanic remains the same.

You get a boost when:

  • Two or more dice beat your opponent's highest roll

  • You are the acting character and the dice roll is a draw

  • The text of a skill or stunt allows you to.


Invoking an aspect (or boost):

  • Grants +2 to a single die after it has been rolled

  • Allows you to roll an additional die

  • Allows you to re-roll some or all of your dice


Fate points are used to activate aspects, stunts etc. as per the core rules.
Dice Options

Using a dice pool opens up other ways of modifying likely outcomes and handling the effects of gear, stunts and status effects.

  • Add or subtract a value to one or more dice

  • Add or remove whole dice

  • Cap number of successes






So why d12?

For a number of reasons, some more subjective than others. Firstly the maths for the d12 is more elegant than the d10; it is divisible by 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 12. Additionally it also divides neatly into 60. It's also an underused polyhedral compared to the d20 (which introduces too much variability) or d10. It also rolls well and has a nice aesthetic shape.
And what about the probabilities?

The only way to really test this was a monte-carlo simulation. You can find the link below. The most interesting thing to note is that in evenly matched contests the more skilled the protagonists are the more likely the result is to be a draw. This supports the narrative often seen in film and in books where a contest between two masters takes longer than the same conflict between novices. Not shown are the asymmetric tests, however as expected whoever rolls the most dice has a better chance of coming out on top.

Check out the results here.