When playing The Artifact, there is a overriding need to find a place to live. This is the perpetual question that natives like the Scimrahn face. Although that is really important to the game, maybe for the 4th edition, players should think about home a little differently.
In the past I’ve thought about adding background details to characters, like what conditions they lived in and what kind of family they have back on Earth. For the most part I resisted that because it was largely irrelevant to the play of the game. There were hints in some of the optional tables, but they didn’t consistently or completely fill in a character’s backstory.
The process of making a campaign is becoming more formalized and it’s centering on the concept of finding a place for the characters to live in. But is the place they find home.
I’m thinking of that a little differently now. Instead of wondering what the physical place should be, maybe the better question is what home means to the character.
For one character, home might mean children playing. For another it could be the solitude of a book. Another could think of home as a safe place where there’s warmth. Esoteric things might include the sound of your grandmother’s voice or a place where you’re in charge. I’m aiming for simple concepts that could inform a player as to what their character ultimately wants.
This might change what a character ends up doing and probably why they act.
The Artifact is a game about leaving a home that’s falling apart to find a place that will last. Ultimately where the characters find it could be in very different places.
Very simply, this is going to be a random table just like the personality tables. This might be a good way to introduce principals and priorities in character generation. Those formal rules might not get used often, but they would easily inform role play.
With that addition, I think mentioning a character’s previous life experience would help new players to imagine where the characters are coming from but would also play off their concept of home. Are they leaving what they though of as home to recreate something or did they never have what they wanted and are looking to find it?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
The last post was about how Imbalance of Power needed to be split into two books. I’m happy to say that the first book is off to a good start. It can use a bit more content because I cut an existing sourcebook in half but I’m working on that. The really nice thing is that it’s now exploring some really deep secrets in the setting. For example, the Tanroc Fredar get what amounts to a call out in the main book but without much more to go on for why they’re important. Here we’re revealing them as the puppeteer of the Kelrath nation and what their goals are.
The other thing that’s moving forward is testing an updated system for The Artifact. If the tests go well and this ends up a true improvement, it will call for a 4th edition of the game. There are advantages and disadvantages to the changes being made but the big push is for simplicity. The Artifact’s system has a lot of really fine gears that I love. It does slow play a bit though and can look scary to starting players. The scariness usually lasts about thirty minutes but if I can make that ten, it’s going to improve how many people pick up the game and play it.
So that’s what’s up. I’ve been quiet here mainly because of getting Jump Temp made and out the door. Now we’re testing the new system and using it in an old game that I’m reviving called Lojec Redemption. In fact LR played a big role in inspiring The Artifact and now it may do it again by being the test bed for a streamlined system. Thanks LR!
I’ve been working on a sourcebook for The Artifact for a long time. I’ve written about it before, it was actually the first sourcebook I started on for the game. A few things about it bugged me but I couldn’t really figure out why.
I started to hate the introduction I wrote many years ago. It sounded weird, something was just off about it but I didn’t know exactly what. Slowly I realized that I was telling more than showing. Writing advice always says to show the reader what’s going on with action and not just tell them with exposition.
So I tried rewriting the introduction, again and again. Nothing seemed to work and it puzzled me. I’ve written a bit over the years and I’ve never had to rewrite this much. Sure I’ve written things that weren’t the greatest but this stunk and continued to stink.
Recently I realized why I wasn’t making progress. Because the sourcebook is chronological, it picks up The Artifact’s story five years down the line, it’s a mismatch of events that happen without a particular theme. In my mind, I just assumed that picking up the story and carrying it forward would simply work. That’s not how it happened though. There are a lot of cool things going on in the sourcebook but they head in two different directions and it’s nearly impossible to tie them together. I have two main themes going on, the advancement of Earth’s forces and the advancement and the Chezbah. I’ve developed them, fleshed them out, improved them but they were always fighting for attention and pulling against each other.
What I may have to do is split them into two separate books. I’m not sure I have enough content for each, but thinking about them individually might help build on what’s already there. Honestly some of the content is really huge to the setting and needs more attention but was always fighting for narrative space. I can already see some places where each theme would benefit greatly by being given more attention individually. It would be cool to release them as companion books.
Well, the case of the unwritable sourcebook is one mystery that I think I’m on the track to solving. Remember theme is important, find yours early and avoid a twenty year problem like I’ve got myself stuck in. Lets see what happens.