It feels like we just finished the second edition and we’re already moving on to the third? Well really it’s this blog’s fault, oh and Tarnoc’s fault too. There were a bunch of things that just suddenly fell into place to make the game do what we always wanted it to do. Some of those things were the survival games posts, the Technobable monster, ideas about using stress points more holistically and then there was Tarnoc making me actually make the infantry combat simple enough to actually use.
Then there were little things that suddenly exploded. I’ve always wanted some way of hitting soft spots in armor or to get around shields with a well placed shot. I’ve always wanted vehicle combat to be more focused on sensors in a kind of submarine warfare where detection was key. When we started to look at using the fraction columns as modular successes all these things suddenly fell into place. At break neck speed no less. Initiative got a revamp in that it also determines how many actions the character gets that round, making it more central to play.
Then there was the defense rolls. I don’t know of many games that do what we’re doing here. I’m a little nervous about it but also excited. When we were looking at reducing the number of concepts that a player has to work through in a turn, we decided that having two sets of rules for attack actions and defense rolls seemed functional but not elegant. Until now, a character could roll for all the defense rolls they wanted, at no cost. This was so that characters didn’t get killed left and right. Attack rolls cost the character an action. This works but it’s meh, unsatisfying. But how could we make defense rolls cost an action and not get the character’s crushed when they were outnumbered? Some defense rolls seemed to apply to all attackers. Like if a character is hiding behind a wall. That should protect them from everybody. But dodging had only ever applied to one attack. When I thought about it, shouldn’t leaping around, possibly doing flips and somersaults make it harder for everyone to hit? So that’s what we went with. Defense actions affect everyone’s attempts to hurt the character and they cost actions. Failed your first defense roll? Spend another action to do another defense roll until you feel comfortable or run out of actions but it’ll also limit what the character can do that turn.
A lot of the writing in the book is very old. I mean decades, so I went through and rewrote a lot of it. Nearly all the rules are rewritten, the skills are almost completely rewritten with descriptions of why you’d want to use each one, a lot of the GM’s section is rewritten and that’s a lot. Character generation got a bit of a face lift, a few fixes and tweaks to equipment and I’m still looking to add more background for characters without creating pages and pages of new tables. I’m still thinking about how to do that.
Character sheets deserve a mention. They’re being rebuilt because there have been so many changes. We’ve talked about making a character sheet for every CO in the game to speed up character generation because most of generation time is writing all the stuff a character gets. I’m still mulling that over as to if it’s a good idea or not. It might work to have a CO card that lists everything that CO gets and have it printable on a 3×5 card like SPF does with skills.
Maps are not going to change, seriously, although the whole planet could use its own 500 page book of maps, I’ll leave any more details up to the players. Maps were one of my big things in second edition and took up a ton of work so I think I want to leave them alone this time. They’re not even in this rough draft yet because this is a text only draft.
I’m going to print this out as a playtest book and we’re going to playtest all these changes. We’re also recording audio to explain the mechanics of play so that new players don’t have to read all the text, they can just have it explained to them the way we would explain things if we were sitting at the table with you (hopefully more polished though). I can also move ahead on Tortuga (I think).
In the meantime, I’m making a plan to run a kickstarter for art. It would be amazing to pull in a few really accomplished artist to put in the finishing touches. I can work on improving some of the work that I’ve already done, maybe create an original piece or two but I’d like to get some real skill involved. I don’t have any artists yet lined up. I’ve kept my eyes peeled but haven’t yet seen anyone that I think I could afford and has a style that would work for The Artifact. If you’re reading this and would like to get paid via a Kickstarter for some art, let me know and we’ll talk. I could really use some great cover art.
What would that mean for The Artifact being a free game? For one, I’m putting the draft up for free. The system is not a secret, even if it’s not quite polished yet. In the end, the PDF will be free as it has always been. What I can add to that is releasing the game under Creative Commons. Therefore any rewards for a kickstarter would have to be printed copies of the book and maybe some swag thrown in for higher donation levels.
Can I run a successful kickstarter? I don’t really know. I’m not the best person to be trying to draw in support for a project. I’m kinda all thumbs when it comes to building any kind of following which is what a kickstarter is all about but when have I ever backed down from a challenge well beyond my ability? It’s the only way I’d ever be able to afford to really kick this thing up a notch professionally.
One last thing
One thing we’ve done here is break some legacy material. Not story wise but mechanically. I tried to limit this as much as I could because we’ve got a lot of legacy stuff. All the vehicles had to be altered to fit the new rules for Impairments and Advantages. This makes the old system of modifiers for piloting vehicles and using sensors is no longer supported. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use them! For instances like these, old equipment that used modifiers to the skill number could still be used as is or they can be migrated to the new system of Impairments and Advantages by doubling the old modifier number and using it as the percent of the Impairment or Advantage.