Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mass Effect 2: The (Tabletop) RPG

Oh dear, another case of downtime for this blog. I've spent these last couple of weeks focusing more on matters like the Warlock High playtest, finals, hunting for odd jobs so as to make rent. . .oh, and Mass Effect 2.

As usual, this doesn't mean I've stopped working on games. Take this rough draft for a Mass Effect tabletop rpg's character creation system, which I worked out in the middle of a psych class last week.

Five ability scores. Same basic function as in d20 system, though importance is reduced regarding character's combat performance.
-Brawn: Muscle and toughness.
-Agility: Dexterity, as personified by Thane Krios
-Intellect: Self-explanatory.
-Awareness: Insight and alertness.
-Charisma: Persuasive ability and inner drive.

Several skills for each ability- arrangement again roughly matches d20 system, undecided as to use of ranks. Also covers much of d20 system's "saving throws".
-Coercion (Charisma): Akin to Renegade conversation options.
-Diplomacy (Charisma): Akin to Paragon conversation options.
-Engineering (Intellect): Design, construction, also repairs. Numerous areas of expertise; initially select one, receive additional subjects for free as skill improves.
-Fitness (Brawn): Feats of strength, wrestling.
-Hacking (Intellect): Subversion of computer systems and electronics. Used to bypass security measures, sabotage machines.
-Investigation (Awareness): Research, acquiring and trading information.
-Notice (Awareness): Alertness, capacity to detect minor details.
-Perception (Awareness): Insight, especially regarding other people.
-Reflex (Agility): Reaction time, capacity to quickly take action.
-Resilience (Charisma): Resistance to stress, fear, other forms of mental trauma.
-Rush (Agility): Movement speed when sprinting, navigation through obstacles. If movements are done under fire, helps defense.
-Science (Intellect): General knowledge. Numerous areas of study; like engineering, initially select one.
-Stamina (Brawn): Toughness, capacity to withstand debilitating physical conditions.
-Stealth (Agility): Performance on sneaking missions.

Four expertise scores, categories derived from video game:
-Biotics: Should be obvious.
-Tech: Use of tech-based powers. Examples include Overload, First Aid via medi-gel.
-Proficiency: Benefits of military training, similar experience. Allows use of weapons and vehicles, various advanced combat tactics.
-General: Benefits involving other aspects of character- aforementioned skills and abilities. Broader applications, though most still of some use during combat encounters.

Score values determined in similar fashion as point buy ability scores, without escalating costs- each expertise score could have a base value equal to current level, maximum limit equal to twice that. Point distribution equivalent to choice of character class in Mass Effect, other tabletop RPGs. Exact mechanical benefits twofold.

First, determines limits on powers. All characters select new power each time level is gained- can provide new ability, upgrade existing ability, or provide package of other benefits. Similar to feats in d20 system. All powers have expertise value, reflecting general potency- unique class powers in Mass Effect games provide examples of higher expertise values. Some require other specific powers, standard "feat chain" arrangement. No other prerequisites. Limiting formula fairly straightforward: (total sum of expertise values in given category) cannot exceed ([expertise score]*[number of powers in category]). Amount by which latter value exceeds former value provides limited general-purpose secondary benefit, perhaps reserve of emergency 'action points'.

Second, expertise scores determine base defenses. Concept based around Mass Effect 2: Biotic score provides Barrier, Tech provides Shields, Proficiency grants Armor and General boosts Health.

As for alien species, arrangement simple. Some races have Handicaps of rank I or higher, applying to skills or entire ability scores. Handicaps cause characters to automatically fail most relevant checks unless opponent has equal or greater limitation. Volus might have Handicap (Brawn I), Hanar characters Handicap (Brawn II, Agility I), Elcor characters (Reflex I or II). GM can always declare handicap inapplicable to given situation- Hanar character might only receive small penalty on roll to strangle unsuspecting human. Also, certain General Powers provide limited capacity to reduce given handicap by one step.

Note to self: Mordin Solus's verbal quirk very helpful, cuts down nicely on time required for explanations. Keep in mind for future posts.


romulus8541 said...

your being way to general here... focus on a RPG system that would be able to be converted easily into this campaign setting.

Dissent said...

I thought you were being fairly detailed for a blog description of an entire rpg system you're creating. A lot of good ideas here. I think I'll use many of these as I am trying to create the same thing. Thanks!