John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

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Vacillate, Vacillate

I keep wavering on this mystery/horror game idea. I'm not really convinced that a d20 variant is the best way to go, especially not one that places as much emphasis on quirky class abilities as Saga Edition. While I don't care for the "classic" CoC rules, I do think that in a mystery/horror context there's a lot to be said for its more simplistic structure and old-school "roll the dice and deal with it" philosophy, particularly in regards to the emphasis it puts on individual skills. While I'm normally pretty anti-d100 systems in practice [1], I do love the nitty-gritty "feel" of being able to assign 60 skill points across a hundred different skills. I also think the relatively-static character development probably suits the genre better than the "quantum leaps in power" that levelling gets you.

So I've played around with a lot of different frameworks, trying to find one I was satisfied with. My first thought was to try to doctor CoC to fix the stuff I don't like about it, but once I got into it that ended up being almost a whole re-write of the system, which sorta negated the point. I also thought to trying to build a homebrew from scratch, but then I got bogged down in the "d100/d20/something else" quagmire.

So now I'm looking at what Monte Cook did with Cthulhu d20 and thinking about how I could translate that into a Saga-ized version. I'm thinking of dumping talents all together (possibly shifting some of the better ones into feats), changing feats so you get one every odd-numbered level, and letting players sort of "build their own" class by profession. So at first level, you would assign four points to defense score bonuses (i.e., "+3 Ref, +1 Will"), get training in, say, five skills plus your Int modifier, and pick three feats plus Weapon Proficiency (Simple). BAB would start at 1/2 your level, but more fighty-inclined types could spend a feat for +1 BAB. The base hit die for all classes would be d6, but you could take Increased Hit Die as a feat multiple times to get it up to d10. Then, to facilitate character creation, I'd write up a bunch of prefab templates, like:

Defense Bonuses: +1 Ref, +3 Will
Trained Skills: Gather Information, Knowledge (Anthropology), Knowledge (History), Knowledge (Occult), Knowledge (Religion), +Int modifier
Feats: Weapon Familiarity (Simple), Educated (lets you attempt any Knowledge check untrained), Decipher Script (lets you attempt to read an unknown language), Wealth

Defense Bonuses: +2 Ref, +2 Fort
Trained Skills: Gather Information, Knowledge (Bureaucracy), Knowledge (Worldly), Perception, Security, +Int modifier
Feats: Weapon Proficiency (Simple, Common Firearms), Improved Hit Die (d8), +1 BAB (ranged)

This loses some of the benefits of classes as a unifying mechanic, but hopefully will be a better overall structure for the kind of experience this game is intended to deliver.

As always, comments or suggestions are welcome. :)

-The Gneech

[1] In theory, d100 should be extremely granular; in practice, it's actually "d10 with variations." In terms of a wide spread of possibilities, you actually get the most range with a d20 unless you have ready access to a d30 or one of those rare golf-ball-like actual d100s — both of which are more than likely to roll off the table every time you try to make a skill check.
Tags: gaming, uncanny midnight tales, yog-sothothery
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