4th Edition Range Classes

I’m thinking of going in one of two directions for ranges in 4th edition. One is just fixing some abnormalities in the Range Classes but the other completely re-works things.

The first option has to do with adjusting Range Classes A and D. Normally the Range Classes are three times the extreme distance of the class before them. A and D don’t follow this convention. To fix that, A would be adjusted so that it’s extreme range bracket would be 100m instead of 30m. D would be cut in a third and go from 10 Km to 3 Km. E would then take the place of D and so on up the letter chain.

The other option throws out Range Classes entirely. Currently there are 8 discrete bits of information for a player to remember for a ranged weapon (PB, Short, Med, Long, Ex, Range Class, Range bracket distance and bracket Impairment). I’d like to cut that down to 2 and keep most of the flavor.

The way to do that is to give the ranged weapon or device a range that roughly corresponds to it’s Medium range bracket. For each success used, the base range is added onto the effective range. In other words a weapon with a range of 600 meters hits out to that range with a single success, but can hit out to 1200 m with two. With a very good roll and some Advantages (5 success), it could hit out to 3km. Which is around the current world record shots.

This handles range and difficulty, but a big part of the range classes are the damage gradients that gives a lot of tactical flavor to the game currently. This is where the second bit of information comes into play. Each weapon would have it’s own Damage Drop value.

For something like the Projectile Rifle the Damage Drop would likely be a -2 with a Range around 250 meters. This means between 251-500 meters the damage would drop by 2 points, from 501-750 it’s damage drops by another 2 points.

For a Scimrahn Plasma Gun, the Damage drop would be a -5 with a range of 30 meters. At 31-60 meters the damage drops by 5 and so on.

The Laser Gun would have a Damage Drop of -3 and a range of 2500 meters. This is a lot flatter of a curve than it had before but we can’t have everything.

I’m not sure how to handle explosives like grenades and missiles yet.

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4th Edition Rule Changes

I’m working on further changes for a fourth edition. The biggest structural changes is in the numbers used.

Numbers

I love the granularity of the percentile system. What I don’t love is the two digit math that it requires. It’s not a huge deal for any individual roll but it becomes tiresome over the length of a game. This is to make the math in the game simpler. Unfortunately there is a reason I used a percentile system in the first place and this change is going to remove some structures I love.

Did I mention no more d10s bouncing off each other and flying across the room? Yeah, I won’t miss that.

Instead of a percentile system, The Artifact is moving to a d10 range. This will mean a lot of changes. For the most part, this means that Fraction columns will no longer be universal. You’ll always have the full value of the column but an attribute of 1 (the current value of 10) will not have a 1/2 column. Attributes lower than 4 will not have a 1/4 column result and lower than 8 will not have a 1/8th column.

 Full   1/2   1/4   1/8 
Con 3 1
Str 2 1
Ref 5 2 1
Agi 6 3 1
Dex 4 2 1
Cha 8 4 2 1
Int 1
IQ 3 1
Psy 4 2 1

Skills

The skill list is being cut down by half, so that will simplify things a lot. However because of the changes to the attributes, skills are going to have to do some more heavy lifting. I’ve wanted skills to more fully integrate with the fraction columns since I started. Reducing the skill list is going to make that possible.

To fill in the lack of fraction columns, skills will have four values. 

Pilot Automobile +3 +2 +1 +1

Most NPCs will have a main skill that corresponds with what they need to do a job.

Successes

Fractional Successes have been a part of The Artifact for a long time. They’re going away though. 

The thing is, the “fractional” part is a bit superfluous. It is descriptive but the point is that they give you a number of successes. 

The stat block will look more like this now. These are Success Columns.

  1     2     3     4  
Con  3  1
Str  2  1
Ref  5  2  1
Agi  6  3  1
Dex  4  2  1
Cha  8  4  2  1
Int  1
IQ  3  1
Psy  4  2  1

I didn’t like how the names of the fraction columns had to be translated into a number of successes. Although most players had no problem with it, some struggled.

Social Exchanges

Social rules are changing, a set of conditions will be used to structure interactions. This is something I’ve been trying to figure out for a long time. I always wanted some kind of moves or tactics for social interaction. Hopefully these will provide them.

To initiate a Social Exchange the character rolls for a Charisma or IQ, adding in applicable skills. The attribute used changes the possible effects of the exchange. If the check is passed, they select a condition that they will present. The condition lasts for one turn per success.

The defender rolls against Psyche or IQ. Any successes reduce the length of the effect.

If the initiator is successful, they present their chosen condition. The defender may accept it or reject it and pick another condition from the list and take a penalty. The penalty is one mental stress per success left over from the roles.

The conditions and their effects are as follows.

Attachment (Cha)

The effected feels some kind of attachment, whether amusement, affection or camaraderie with the initiator. The effected gets a 40% Impairment to any hostile action against the initiator while this condition is in effect.

Aggression (IQ or Cha)

The effected feels hate, anger, loathing, or indignation toward the initiator. They must focus hostile actions on the initiator and have a 20% Impairment to IQ and Intuition based tests while this is in effect.

Passive (IQ or Cha)

The effected is either soothed, perplexed, lost or troubled. They lose two actions each turn the condition is in effect.

Coercion (IQ or Cha)

The effected is intimidated by fear of loss or enticed by some kind of situationally significant bribe. Large bribes may give an Advantage to the initiator’s roll. The effected loses 1 action if they do not use it to carry out a task specified by the initiator as long as the condition is in effect.

Conformity (Cha)

The effected is under peer pressure to act as others in their social group or class is behaving. They must follow a behavior that at least appears to be what the majority is doing as long as the condition is in effect.

The initiator can only present a condition if they rolled under an appropriate stat. The effected may choose any of the conditions they desire, including conformity but they conform to their own group. If they are not allied with the initiator they will do what they feel is expected of them by their allies.

If the initiator can get the same effect on a character three times, they form a relationship based on it and get a bonus to initiate that condition again. Mark down the relationship and the condition it gives a 20% Advantage to initiate an exchange presenting that condition on the initiator’s character sheet. Each subsequent three rolls on the relationship increases the Advantage by 10% to a maximum of 60%. They may track up to five of these relationships at any time.

Attack Conditions (WIP)

The following conditions are replacements for hit location tables for people and vehicles and critical hit effects for individuals. This removes a required roll. These need polish but their intent is mostly there.

Target hit

The target has been hit by the attack. The first success must be spent on this condition. For multi-round bursts one in five attacks hit their target per success spent. Weapons with a rate of fire higher than one can spend an additional success to hit another target with one in five of the rounds fired hitting that target. If the target takes damage from this attack they also take 10 physical stress.

Avoid Armor

Cut Armor Rating of a target in half. Selecting a second time cuts the AR in half again.

Avoid Shields

Avoid half the hit points of a target’s shields.  Selecting again avoids shields entirely.

Damage Gear

Damage something worn, carried or handled by the target. Half damage goes to the gear. If this option is selected again, all damage goes to the selected gear.

Wear Down

Cause stress or ensure a critical hit. Induce 10 Stress of choice or ensure a critical on a vehicle. (can this be selected if the attack did no damage due to armor? For people that makes some sense, for vehicles, not so much.)

Extra Damage

Subtract target’s shield HP, Armor Rating and armor HP then multiply remaining damage by 1.5 for one target. If selected again, the remaining damage is doubled for that target. Attacker picks hit location.

Lower Damage 

This condition can be freely selected as long as the target was hit, this condition does not cost a success to take. Reduce damage done by half but gets another condition. If selected again, damage is reduced to one quarter. Beam weapons can use this condition to do half damage to two targets and if selected again, do quarter damage to three targets. Defender picks hit location.

Vehicles and Shields

In very early versions of The Artifact, shields were supposed to be resource hogs. Early attempts at making that a thing in game were very complicated. Recently I thought of putting the Action economy to use to accomplish this goal.

Vehicles will add actions to the pilot’s actions per turn according to how many shield generators they currently have. 

Vehicles must use actions if they want to raise a fire arc’s shield each turn. This includes the possibility of raising double shields on a fire arc, costing two actions.

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A useful tool gets a reboot

The Artifact random encounter tables have been updated to 3e rules and got a big addition. These tables have been really useful in our games and now they’ll be even more indispensable.

The Artifact Random Generation Tables

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Rojec Alpha

The Rojec Alpha for Imbalance of Power part 1

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Rojec Beta

The Rojec Beta for Imbalance of Power

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3.1 Player’s Handbook Ashcan

Updating the main book to 3.1 was relatively easy. I knew that it would be a lot harder to move over the Player’s Handbook because of all the equipment crafting rules. Most of the big changes are done but the consequences in the crafting systems are probably too intense. We’ll be testing and update the file when we get a feel for where things should be.

Player’s Handbook 3_1 ash

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The Artifact 3.1 Test File

Here’s the updated file for 3.1. I’ll keep this here as a post for a bit while testing it out. I’ve almost certainly missed something. For some reason this file is twice as big as the old file. I remember getting the file this big before but I can’t remember how I got it smaller.

Download 3.1

Next job is to convert the Player’s Handbook to the new Tech Challenges. That will take a decent amount of work to iron out the crafting rules since that’s a very fiddly beast to get right. I’m going to try and make that process a little more friendly to solo play. My son spends hours doing his best to break the crafting rules. I remember doing the same with Night Hawks and Battletech so I guess I can’t complain.

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Version 3.1 Coming Soon

There are a number of systems in 3rd edition that we’ve adjusted in our play. Most of it requires very little text to change. A good example is how sensors work. I changed two sentences in the book and the difference is profound. A sensor lock guarantee a hit on the target now unless they evade or use ECMs to break the lock.

Some things, like giving more choices during survival challenges took a small addition to the text, but it’s really very trivial in terms of the bulk of the text. I’m still debating changing more but even that will still be minor changes here and there.

Tech challenges are the big change, but by big, I kind of mean small. They are far simpler, they require less instruction and are more powerful and flexible. They’re also more intuitive which they weren’t before, there was too much process in the process. As a result of the changes I’ve actually had to pad out the text with a few minor additions or the page count would all change, requiring me to re-lay out a large fraction of the book.

In all, the changes are significant in play, but in terms of changes to the book they’re really minor. I was thinking of this as 3.5 but after seeing how little I was changing as far as the text, this is definitely more of a 3.1.

We’re currently testing a highly modified version of the rules that would require a big re-write but that will take a lot more time and testing. These changes have really improved our play so I want to get them out to you before all that.

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Imbalance of Power Part 1

Part one of Imbalance of Power is shaping up nicely. It’s up to about 40 pages of mostly text. I have a lot to do redrawing a lot of the art so that will be the next big challenge. So what’s this all about? It’s primarily about the crumbling of the Kelrath nation and the attempts to rebuild it.

I didn’t really expect to be throwing terrorist into this book but that’s what it’s shaping up to. The Kelrath nation effectively splits in two, with the progressive cities adopting a very earth style way of life that was pioneered in the Tortuga book. They are effectively being colonized.

The big reveal here is that the Kelrath are being ruled in secret the Tanroc Fredar that were busy trying to decipher their Oracles. A leading Tanroc Fredar (Takoog) that was studying the Oracle Rall found that the information it had was incomplete and the fear was that all the Oracles might be incomplete. This has mostly already been revealed in the last chapter of the novel here on the site so I’m not worried about talking about it. This fear lead to paralysis but recent changes have lead some of the Tanroc Fredar to rethink what they were doing. Others still want to hold onto the old ways.

A Tanroc Fredar named Rojec opposes the changes and has set out to punish the Kelrath that have accepted outside ideas and is using once carefully guarded weapons to sow destruction.

Now instead of sneaking around and into Kelrath cities the players will be tasked with defending the cities from the inside and they’ll need all the help they can get to stop the Rojec forces.

There’s a ton of new toys for the players and the GM in this book. New ASO E-Suits, new I-CA cyborgs, new Kelrath vehicles and for the GM, Rojec weapons.

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Everybody is Wrong

On The Artifact that is. Something I’ve never fully expressed about the setting of The Artifact is that all the groups have their own way of being wrong and I don’t mean just the bad guys. The Earthers and Scimrahn are deeply problematic and that’s on purpose.

The reason I really find the need to say this is because of some work I’m doing on Imbalance of Power. A large part of the Kelrath are opening up and adopting democratic governments and not everyone’s happy about it.

It would make intuitive sense that the higher castes might not be too happy but some of the Geetin are upset too. I liken this to the fall of the USSR, the powerless were still powerless and even more, they had lost the safety nets that they relied on. This happens pretty regularly throughout history, the people you’d think would be all for a change end up really upset about it. That moment of upheaval is exactly what this sourcebook is about. There was a bit of it in the Tortuga sourcebook but this is on a bigger scale.

I just want to get the idea that everyone in this setting is imperfect, fighting for their own desires and not really ready to take on anyone else’s viewpoint. That makes for a messy conflict ridden world which is what this is all about. One conflict ends and another pops up. Someone wins and someone loses, but no one is really “right”.

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