I’m releasing the beta material for 3rd edition for general consumption. Over the last few weeks and a few playtests I’ve made small tweaks but the language and the mechanics have proved themselves stable enough to release for Beta.
Character Sheet 3e (a better looking character sheet is under development)
There’s still no art and no maps. I’m working on that now but it will take time. There’s not much reason to start laying out the maps until I have the artwork that comes before it. In the meantime the second edition maps can be used. For now the second edition book can also be referenced for pictures to give players a better idea of what their characters are looking at.
What’s significant about this edition?
So why should you bother with this edition of The Artifact? Nearly any game is going to give you rules for handling combat. Some games will handle social conflict. This edition obviously does that too but what else adds to the story you can tell? There are three tools included in the game to help you tell stories that might have been difficult without them and they’re there to tell the stories The Artifact is all about.
The Artifact is all about survival in an alien world.
In the past in every game I’ve played, telling a survival story felt like the GM was just beating on the PCs. They would roll to stave off failure, over and over again. It meant that the players hated these rolls. Skipping rolling and just telling the story didn’t really work either. The players would ignore the story as irrelevant if there was no mechanical impact on them and would again feel like penalties placed on them for the story’s sake was another punishment.
That’s why Survival Challenges were created as a GM tool for telling this kind of story. Players roll to defeat the challenge instead of rolling to stave off defeat. That has been a huge benefit to our games as the players are eager to get involved. The challenges also react to the player’s actions and have randomized responses to them which makes prep time shorter for the GM.
The Artifact is all about science.
I’m a big fan of science and sci-fi and I love throwing science mysteries into my games. Technology, sociology, physics, anything that I think would make a cool mystery. Unfortunately most of the time the problem is that most other players don’t know how to figure out the mysteries I present or I have to give it away and it’s no challenge. No fun in both cases.
That’s why Tech Challenges were created. Players only have to propose how their characters might try and solve the puzzle and their character’s knowledge provides the solution. This becomes very enjoyable for the players because they’re not just rolling dice, they’re telling the story of how the puzzle will be solved and then rolling to see how it worked. Then the tool provides input for the GM about how the problem reacts to the PC’s efforts making things more interesting because the puzzle is interactive.
The Artifact is about the teeming masses.
In most games, the PCs work alone. In The Artifact, most of the time the PCs are part of organizations that support them. The influence of these organizations can be just fudged by the GM and that’s how I’ve handled it in the past with reasonable results. The problem is the players still feel like they’re operating on their own. Advanced characters will often get assigned subordinates because of rank, handling these subordinates becomes cumbersome after getting to more than two or three of them.
That’s why Infantry Combat is included in the rules, so the players can be in charge of their subordinates and directly manage them easily. The GM can also more easily handle larger groups as easily as handling a single NPC.
Of course there is! I’m really happy with the social conflict rules, they’re much more developed than other systems I’ve seen. There’s lots of tools and toys for the players to play with. Now many of them have in game mechanic benefits to them that they didn’t have before.
I’ve included a special thanks to all those that supported the Kickstarter on the title page. If you want your name attributed differently or if I spelled it wrong let me know. This will remain in the book, so it’s not just going to be in this file version.
We’re also working on a quickstart for The Artifact. It’s about 40 pages which includes everything you need to play but can probably be paired down a bit. I has a detailed example adventure, pregenerated characters, enough rules to get you going and a simple introduction. It also needs artwork but probably will only have a few new pieces so shouldn’t take too long to get done.