From the survival games concept of turning the environment into a monster to be defeated, I built the technobabble monster. Now for The Artifact it’s being refined into Tech Challenges. I’ve used it as the main challenge in two games now and the results have been quite positive.
The idea is to emulate the technobabble obstacles in shows like Star Trek or Stargate. There’s no way to reason through these challenges because there’s no real world analogue for the players to use. The process had become very story driven which is a bit out of place for The Artifact which is traditionally more tactical. In a strange way it’s making a schism that divides play into players that want something crunchy and tactical make fighters, and ones that want something story driven make tech characters.
The system is working so well that I just had a player that in the past has made engineers and not really had much fun with them is now playing one again and enjoying it.
Now I’m thinking of replacing all my repair and modification rules with this system, maybe even hacking, although that it would take a bit to make that work. Barrier Points would become the Story Points for the Tech Challenge but would have to be reduced, possibly by a factor of ten to make it possible to overcome in a game.
I’m thinking about the role of tools in this system and how they might be used. If you have a toolkit, what effect should it have? If you’re a hacker and you use a virus what effect should it have? I have some ideas on how to do that. Tools like a virus may be a way to store Fractional Successes. When the player wants to make more progress hacking, they can call on the virus as an expendable resource. That doesn’t work for a toolbox though because the tools usefulness doesn’t go away with use. In that case a toolkit might give a character an “Advantage” to their roll when using specific skills. In this way, there may be certain barriers that develop that would require two or three Fractional Successes to proceed. In that way tools might be called on to solve a challenge and to make the challenges go faster.
Ugh, this will end up being a lot of work to pin down but it should be worth it, the system is more flexible and interesting than the current systems. It will require a big overhaul of the Comm Officer’s guide, and I shudder to think what it would do to the Engineer’s Sourcebook but it seems like it would be worth it.