July 3rd, 2008

Yog-Sothothery

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:

ANTIQUARIAN
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

POLICE DETECTIVE
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.
Kero asleep

*faceplant*

Oy vey, what a week. Even today, in an effort to extend the suck just a little more, the CFH [1] decided at 2:30 to make programmatic changes to their site — "Oh, and we'd really like it to go up today."

Between the database gal and myself, we managed to get it done in a fraction of the reasonable time and get out of there, but my boss (who had wanted to go home and relax a bit before his upcoming birthday) ended up stuck there having yet another meeting about it all, and he may still be there for all I know.

No way to run a railroad.

But! That's all over now, and it's officially a long weekend! A long weekend, I might add, with no plans to go anywhere I don't want to go, do anything I don't want to do, work on anything I don't want to work on, or anything else of the sort! Three blissful days of FREEDOM, that rarest of opportunities!

Which is not to say that I'm not going to go places, do things, or work on anything. As a matter of fact, I intend to do some art tonight and spend the weekend trying to get out from under various things that have piled up. But I'm going to take it all at my own pace, work when I feel like it, quit when I feel like it, and goof off totally guilt-free if the mood strikes me.

I need it!

And hopefully, by the end of it, I'll be rested, recharged, and back in good form again. :)

-The Gneech

[1] Client From Hell