Friday, May 31, 2013

The Pheonix Rises: The Mekton Zero Kickstarter Project


I know that I made a promise about taking a look at how the role play engines of the previous blog entry would be looked over in the realm of combat both mechanical and personal, but this little bit of news came up and I just had to spread such knowledge to my readers.

Whatever few of a number that may be.

Anyway, allow me to introduce to you all one Mike Pondsmith of R.Talsorian Games Inc. and his Kickstarter Project: Mekton Zero.

Well, Mekton Zeta holds a bit of sentimental value to me in that it introduced to me a solid system of mecha construction for rolelaying campaigns first and I’ve purchased three books of the Mekton Zeta chapter and I would like to support this upcoming chapter of the R.Talsorian franchise and thus I have offered my pledged and have become a militia member.

Why? Because I don’t want no dingy PDF file. I want a real book!

So then, feel free to discuss and don’t mind the donation jar in the middle of the room. Oh and please be civil in your responses, we do have standards.

Friday, October 19, 2012

To Forge New Destinies: Process of Character Creation

Warning: Hyperlinks to any webpage of have been scientifically and clinically known to cause massive time loss in the browsing of its contents. you have been warned.

Let us begin our little chat on tabletop RPGs by first examining the process by which one creates their Playable Character or PC. The engines that are featured in these and following blog entries are limited to the books that I personally own and collected over the years: Palladium/MegaversalInterlock for both Mekton Zeta and Teenagers from Outer Space, GURPS, Hero System, Silhouette Core, and Tri-Stat dX for Big Eyes Small Mouths.
Now then, before we continue, let me put in a little disclaimer reminding all that I have yet to properly play a single session of these game systems and so without proper mentorship or experience from others, I am basing my opinions from my own interpretation of what the text show before me.

Megaversal System

To be honest, when I first purchased the books when I was a youngling, it was mostly for what pictures remained in my quest to find material related to Robotech. It was only years later did I read the publish materiel of both the Robotech books and Rifts books, yet I couldn’t emulate the core system, especially its combat and damage sections. Thus I sought for the then latest edition of the corebook Rift’s Ultimate Edition and subsequently purchased it.

It was then did I take another good look into the Robotech books, especially the core books for each subsequent “generation” of the Harmony Gold saga, and it was there that they described how the Megaversal System worked for at least Robotech…..

Shut up! I was an ignorant kid back then! Don’t tell me that you haven’t done anything just as stupid when you were younger! You know you did, admit it!

Ahem…. Let’s take a brief history lesson on the roleplaying engine shall we? In the year 1981, Palladium Books and its Megaversal system was created by co-founder Kevin Siembieda, an era where Dungeons and Dragons along with its d20-predecessor system and style was still strong. An era I would personally like to call the Classical Age.

As such, from what I understand, much of the Megaversal System had parallel mechanics and design philosophies. This greatly extends into the process of character creation and the first step in any character creation process (other than the concept state of course) is in the core statistics which are labeled as Attributes. In case many of you readers have not looked at the wikipedia article, the attribtes are Intelligence Quotient (IQ), Mental Affinity (MA), Mental Endurance (ME), Physical Endurance (PE), Physical Prowess (PP), Physical Strength (PS), Physical Beauty (PB), and Speed (Spd).

IQ is effectively one’s intelligence, MA is the charm and charisma one has over other people, ME is how well a character can withstand mental and emotional stress which is useful when up against psionic abilities and madness, PE is effectively how long a character can last in endurance and durability, PP (please, no immature elementary jokes) is how flexible and agile one is, PS is, well, how strong a character is mostly by how much they can carry if only for a few steps, though it also serves in how hard a character can throw a punch. PS also has additional subcategories depending upon the setting with Augmented, Robot and Supernatural for cybernetically/biochemically enhanced, mechanical, and demonic/godly characters respectfully. PB is basically how pretty/handsome a character is and Spd is…well…how fast one can run. What else is there to say?

As explained in the text- *bleep*! I completely forgot to add this at the beginning of the overview! Basically I am basing much of my responses to the megaversal system upon my own copy of the First Edition of the Rifts Ultimate Edition core book. Granted, I could have used either the First Edition of the Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles Deluxe Edition or the other Robotech sourcebooks I have, the Macross II sourcebooks (yeah, they did do them. I got proof!) or the Second Edition of Rifts: Chaos Earth, however I wanted to use Palladium Book’s more well known franchise, rather than the lesser or licensed ones.

Getting back to the task at hand. As explained in the text, the range of the average human being within the realm of the Megaversal system is between 10-13, but to get the really sweet numerical bonuses the player needs to have their attribute be above 16. And how these numbers are gained in each attribute is by the…role of…three…traditional….d6 die….

Not much choice in the matter is there? Granted, under certain Racial Character Classes (RCC) there are certain modifiers to that particular 3d6 dice roll, but other then those its pretty much the luck of the die.

At this point is where many other roleplaying engines would put in the derived statistics. Thus, outside bonuses for characters that are above average and beyond numerically, this leads to how much damage a character can take. The traditional statistic, Hit Points (HT) is based off of the PE plus another dice roll. Again, not much choice in the matter. The other, which is probably what differentiates the Megaversal System from other engines of the Classical Age, is the Structural Damage Capacity (SDC). From what the text describes, HT is basically the lethality limit to the character or rather how much more before the character dies from his/her wounds, whereas SDC is how resistant they are to physical damage in how it describes the difference between the average guy/gal taking a punch to the gut compared to the professional boxer. Again, it derives from the randomness of a dice roll and varies from OCC, RCC, and Psychic Character Classes (PCC). There is also the Mega Damage Capacity (MDC) and related Mega Damage (MD) from particular franchises. How it is explained is basically how well tank armor could withstand pistol rounds, rifle rounds, and finally anti-armor munitions such as missiles and rockets. That was a basic summary of the traditional explanation of MDC as seen in the Robotech books.

Depending upon the setting, from what I understand it’s mostly in the Rifts and Palladium Fantasy settings where it is prominent, it’s by this time that you determine if the PC is psychic or not. How this is decided in the megaversal system (of at least Rifts, not sure of anything else) is either through the PCC or OCC that features psionic abilities (which must meet with the Attribute requirements, to be explained later), or through once again the dice roll. This time it’s through the d100 die. You can imagine that the roll’s statistics heavily favors non-psionics.

Next is to pick your PC’s Character Class. As per the wiki article, it depends upon what the character’s professional or species background (what everyone calls “races”), though as previously mentioned earlier, each Character Class has a particular alignment requirement (of which the generation is entirely random, mind you), with the exemption of the RCC which only has modifiers. Each Character class as a set of skills that differs from Character Class to Character Class and is grouped upon the character sheet into three categories: Character Class Skills (Typically labeled OCC Skills), Related Skills (mostly known as OCC Related Skills), and Secondary Skills. To sum it up, Character Class Skills are skills that are expected of one within the profession to have the minimum knowledge of, Related Skills are skills that are picked up to help with or compliment the character while on the job, and Secondary Skills are basically self-taught hobbies and are low in the totem pole of skills.

Depending upon the individual Character Class, each skill has a particular baseline plus a skill advancement bonus per experience level gained (to be explained later) of the Character Class Skill and Related Skill lists. The only real difference between the Character Class Skills and Related Skills is that there is really no choice in the matter, Related Skills do offer a choice but it’s limited to the list provided in the Character Class profile which can be added over time with each experience level gained. Secondary skills are quite similar to Related Skills, but are actually even more limited due to the fact that they’re self-taught hobby skills and only start out at the base minimum with each new Secondary Skill gained. Additionally, the skill rolls are determined by a d100 or rather rated in percentile (there are exemptions, but few and far in between, mostly physical and Weapons Proficiency) with a maximum level being 98% and rationalized that no one is truly perfect. It kind of makes sense if you think about it a bit.

Then there’s the PC’s moral alignment that few would be familiar with from DnD. However there is no moral axis but rather groups of alignments of Good, Selfish, and Evil. Each group has its own category, with Good having Principled and Scrupulous, Selfish with its Unprincipled and Anarchist, and finally Evil with its Miscreant, Aberrant, and Diabolic. How each is described is basically a bulletpoint of what would a character of a particular alignment would do under certain scenarios and is mostly a roleplay aid from what I understand, though in certain circumstances it does have an effect on gameplay (especially when magical artifacts are involved).

Many of you familiar with DnD’s own alignment system would have no doubt noticed the lack of the neutral option. This is due to Kevin Siembieda’s objections to it and rationalized that a truly neutral character wouldn’t really do anything such as fight or go onto adventures. It kind of makes sense as well if you think about it and I am in full agreement as well.

Though I do have my own semi-innovation of the moral alignment idea that, though has the axis of DnD with the axis of Order (or Chaos) and Self (or Others) with no particular statement of what is good and what is evil, is heavily influenced by the megaversal system in that by default there is no neutral alignments. I could ramble on, but I’ll save it for another time.

Next is the familiarity of the experience system used and gives a list of certain actions a player can role play and amount of experience points awarded (or deducted) at the end of the game session. Progression, or rather how many experience points it takes to reach a level, varies with each Character Class since there is no universal progression. It also one more justification for the selling of sourcebooks and world books that Palladium Books is (in)famously known to practice.
Finally, there’s the rounding out the PC background wise which is, unsurprisingly, based upon the randomness of the d100 die roll. I’m sure an intelligent Game Master (GM) would allow at least some level of choice in the matter.

Before we move on, I need to at least put in my two cents on the subject of combat and task resolution as described in the megaversal system. I won’t go into much detail, as it will be saved for future blog entries, but it at least requires two different die types: the d20 and d100. The former is used to determine if an attack succeeds or not while the latter determines if a skill is performed successfully as previously mentioned. I just have a particular annoyance about the idea of using two different die for two core resolution mechanics, which is combat and skill, but that’s just the start of my annoyance with the megaversal system. The damage inflicted, unsurprisingly, is determined randomly but it isn’t anywhere derived from the success of a combat roll but rather a completely separate d6 dice roll. Then there are modifiers to both ranged combat (in the form of Weapon Proficiency) and melee combat (in the form of Hand-to-Hand Combat skills) which only allows a PC to perform a certain type of attack depending upon the experience level of the PC. It’s just maddening!

But then again, I hear that DnD is worse….

Run! Run away! Head for the hills!


This would be an interesting overview of this particular system, mainly because I would be using two completely different core books: Mekton Zeta (MZ) and Teenagers from Outer Space (TFOS). Both use a variant of the Interlock system for gameplay (or laughs, as with TFOS) skills, traits, and abilities that are complimentary that not only help determine a PC’s abilities (or inabilities, as with TFOS) in play, but also further identifies them in comparison to their other fellow PCs of the other players. And, on a minor note, both are based upon the then niche interest of Japanese Animation: Real Robots for MZ, High school comedy for TFOS. Additionally, like many table-top engines that had come afterwards, the Interlock System of both MZ and TFOS utilizes only a single die type. The number of dice on the other hand….

Anyway, let’s continue before I ramble on again.

Mekton Zeta (MZ)
First off, a minor history lesson (especially for those who were too scared to click on the wikipedia links. Can’t say I blame you, but the real terror should be the TV Tropes links, you’ll loose more time before you can say “what just happened?”).  As many of you probably haven’t known by now, MZ was the very first anime-based roleplaying games when it came out in the year 1984 and has thought to emulate the more well known of the niche market: Giant (Real) Robots, while at the same time tried to be competitive compared to other mech-based roleplaying games such as Battletech since it first started as a tactical war-game. MZ is also well known for its complex mecha (or vehicle, if you prefer) construction rules mostly to best cover what is seen in the animes the players have seen up to the the year of a particular book’s printing, and some years afterwards though with some notable difficulties.

I came across MZ in my quest to create a customized mecha creation process (and failing horribly, mind you) when I stumbled upon it. After doing some research on the matter, and having some issues with its core design philosophy after a few design experiments, I was completely enamored with it and followed the purchase of Mekton Zeta with Mekton Plus and Mekton Tactical Display (which I learned was more like a coverless book with the GM screen wrapped around it.)

Now then, with this particular character creation overview, I will be using the 1994 “Third Edition” Mekton Zeta which is oddly enough Fuzion compatible…..

It should also be noted that there hasn’t been much official support for MZ since 1996, much else is fan-based.

Now then, the first step in the character creation process is quite noticeably different than most other engines in that it starts out with the famed lifepath that gives some detail to one’s background up until the default age of the PCs in a particular campaign. This can range from the age of 16 (as in most Anime. Don’t ask me why, I don’t get it either) to 18 or higher if the GM really wishes. Though since the foundation of the Interlock system emerged from the wake of the Classical Age, naturally choice is given way to dice rolls of the d10. A bit unfair, but since theoretically there is no real bonus to the character (unless one uses the Atomic Fuzion Lifepath, that is), it’s only a minor quibble. If a GM is forgiving enough, a player might even have some leeway into the option of choice in the Lifepath.

The Lifepath emulates the basic background of nearly any character found within any anime series featuring science fiction giant robots (High fantasy mecha not withstanding…) and thus covers many of the clichés that is also featured. This includes not only the general situation of the PC’s family as a whole, but also tragedies, enemies, romances, and even the psychological standing of the PC.

Next up is where many other tabletop engines begin: The primary statistics. For MZ the stats are Attractiveness (ATT), Body Type (BOD), Cool  (CL), Empathy (EMP), Intelligence (INT), Luck (LUCK), Movement Allowance (MA), Reflexes (REF), and Technical Ability (TECH).

ATT is pretty straight forward; it numerically measures how pleasant a PC is to look at and how well that could be used for the PC’s advantage in a social setting.

BOD mostly determines the strength and durability of the PC, though the “damage capacity” of the character is mostly derived from a table rather than calculated or set as the threshold level.
CL is basically mental stability under pressure, though it also adds in charisma and leadership ability if high enough.

EMP is just as straight forward in that it measures how the PC relates to others.
INT, as always, indicates how smart the PC is and how well they can solve novel challenges. It is also interesting to note that it also has a sub-stat known as Education which indicates how much knowledge the character has gained. This is noteworthy because it and INT determines the number of skills a PC may have, a subject that is lightly touched upon in the Megaversal System and almost completely ignored in other engines. Though rather cruel in terms of character creation, I have to say that I understand and accept the reasoning: Smart people generally have a more diverse set of skills compared to dumb people and have a higher chance at success.

LUCK is an interesting stat in that it not only represents the PC’s fortune, but it could be used to improve the chances of success of a dice roll. Though this must be done with caution since LUCK only refreshes itself after each game session, meaning that it’s a finite resource.

MA is a measure of how far a PC can move within a certain time frame (often the combat round). Simple enough, though it also dictates the maximum running capacity, standing and running jumps.
REF is just as self explanatory; it numerically measures a PC’s agility and reflexes.

TECH is another interesting stat, in that its design purpose of knowing one’s way around machinery and technology is typically reserved for stats such as INT. TECH is also very useful in such a setting as MZ when one deals with unfamiliar tech which is usually denounced as penalty modifiers in other RPG engines.

How the numerical values are determined is actually rather varied and the particular process is determined by the GM beforehand. The first is the random roll for each stat as is typical of the Classical Age. The second is through the rolling of 10d10 for the total number of “Character Points” for lack of a better term that are allocated to each stat on a 1-to-1 basis and is the standard procedure unless a GM states otherwise. I would expect it to be no less than the preferred method of character creation myself. The third method is mostly for the GM in question and that it has a set amount of points allocated to character creation of both NPCs and Pre-Generated PCs of the following character classes: Major, Minor, Primary, Secondary, Average Joe, and Basic NPC with the Major Character having the most points while the Basic NPC having only the least.

Next up is the selection of skills. As previously mentioned, the number of skills a PC can gain is dependent upon INT and Education to generate a set amount of points to purchase skills. And like several RPG engines to come, the success of any skill use is determined by its accompanying stat and is grouped as such. However, in the task of skill resolution the skill is more often enough a complimentary modifier to the stat rather than the other way around. The progression of skill improvement is mostly linear, but after a certain level the price increases to reflect the difficulty in mastery of that skill, which can also be impossible to advanced unless under certain circumstances (to be explained later) if a skill is “hard” enough.

Now this part in the character creation process is rather interesting in that it uses a kind of mutation to the Character Class. It’s divided into two categories: Professionals and Rookies. The Professional Class offers an interesting mix in that not only does it allow some bonuses (or even free) to a skill level of a chosen skill depending upon the Professional template and its list of associated skills, but it also adds additional depth to the earlier lifepath system in addition to bonuses in funds for equipment. It is the only way a PC may purchase higher skill levels on skills that are “hard”. The only downside is that, from an experience point (XP) perspective, Professionals don’t get much progress since they already start off as powerful characters. Rookies are quite similar to professionals but with some minor differences: The listed skill set within the Rookie template must be taken, has a set list of equipment the PC is expected to have, and more importantly have double the XP compared to Professionals.

And speaking of equipment, the next step is the purchase of said equipment with the allotted funds in credits, though it’s short-marked as the Yen to honor the Japanese Animation roots to which MZ is set. Though there are various numerical values that determines its effect upon gameplay, the real limit to what a PC can have access to and purchase (other than GM commandments) is really the weight and Tech Level of the item. Weight is straightforward enough: a character can only carry a set amount of items at one time. Tech Level is a bit more involved but still simple enough to understand.

Technological progress in MZ is measured numerically in Tech Levels. If the campaign’s setting is of a high enough Tech Level compared to the item’s own, the equipment is available. If not, tough luck then.

But such mundane equipment takes a back seat in comparison to the real meat and potatoes of MZ: Giant *bleep*-ing Robots!

You know you do, don’t deny it

Why is it part of the Character Creation process overview you may ask? Well in many anime, the mecha are just as much characters as the people. Often they are an extension of the character themselves. It’s kinda poetic if you think about it..

Beyond the concept is choosing the layout of the mecha: Mekton, Mechabeast, Mechatank, and Mechafighters. However, they don’t just have a set size. They can range from Human Scale, Roadstriker, Corvette, Starship, and Excessive (though this is limited to the GM).

Like characters in many other more modern RPG engines, the Mekton (whatever scale) is built upon a set number of points referred to as Construction Points (CP) to keep balance and the number of CP depends upon the type of mecha, from the massed produced grunts and specialized officer units, to the cliché prototype superweapon and the Super Robot. Doesn’t take much of a rocket scientist to figure out which type gets the most CP.

Another important element in the mecha creation process, and the one I have most issue with, is Space. Basically you can only fit so much into a mech. Typically the cost of a servo (to be explained later on) equates to the number of spaces or equipment it can contain. While I get the idea for lifting weapons, it’s another thing to install it internally, especially when it comes to copying systems from established franchises.

And speaking of weight, the mass of the final design also determines its performance (such as how much the “jump jets” will cost in the end) along with its durability. Which is basically two units of Mekton damage equating to a single metric tonne (or about 2200 lbs), though this does vary depending upon the scale used.

Once that’s understood, it’s time to purchase servos for the machine depending upon the chosen layout. The servos are pretty straight forward, with a Torso, Head, Arms, Legs, Tails, and (aircraft) Wings.  However there’s another type of servo that serves little purpose other than storing additional equipment: the Pod. Basically the pod is just fundamentally empty space with armor wrapped around it. Each servo category also has a size class. These are Superlight, Light Weight, Striker, Medium Striker, Heavy Striker, Medium Weight, Light Heavy, Medium Heavy, Armored Heavy, Super Heavy and Mega Heavy. Naturally each size has different measurement of weight, space, durability in addition to cost and it doesn’t take much of a genius to figure out which has the lowest numerical value and which has the highest.

Armor is next and is entirely optional, with the exemption of the pod in which case it’s absolutely, positively necessary. Like the servos, the armor has its own size classes which indicate not only weight and space occupancy, but also how well it protects in addition to cost. Followed next is the sensors which helps with the whole “target acquisition” deal when finding targets and hitting them. These sensors are subcategorized into Main and Backup sensors, pretty obvious as to what the differences are and it’s not just cost.

Then there’s the cockpit, where all the major decisions take place. Barring the type of control interface the cockpit is categorized into Canopy and Armored. Canopy is the all too familiar bubble window for combat aircraft and Armored is more internal. In fact, the Armored cockpit is heavily reliant on sensors and if they’re out, the pilot’s blind. On the other hand, the glass of Canopy cockpit isn’t exactly resistant to the kinds of damage levels mecha are known to dish out….

Next is what almost every mecha fanatic drools about: weapons. Weapons, both internal and carried, are treated the same way as equipment is treated for PCs. The only difference is that while equipment can be put away so that the PC can move faster, the Mecha cannot. Following weapons are the minor add-ons that may or may not have an effect on gameplay, with the notable exemption being Wheels and Treads. It’s also by this time, based upon the mass of the design, that one contemplates the propulsion system and weather or not it can fly (poorly) or just jump really high and is typically measured in Propulsion Movement Allowance (PMA). Not to mention the option to transform from one form into another depending upon tactical need.

The power plant, no matter the type, is also considered though it’s mostly to determine if it goes boom when hit or not. The hotter the energy production, the more likely the boom.

Finally there’s calculating the mech design’s statistics, which are heavily based upon the final mass, in which case the values are derived from the table. The Ground MA (GMA) measures how fast it can move by either just its legs, with wheels or treads. The Maneuver Value (MV) basically measures how responsive the machine is to the commands of the pilot and how it affects skill roles in play. Mecha Reflex (MR) is the mechanical equivalent to a PC’s REF in addition to determining initiative and is derived from both the PC’s REF and the calculated MV. The Maneuver Pool (MP) isn’t so much derived from the mecha’s design moreso than the skill level of the pilot itself.

Teenagers from Outer Space (TFOS)
Like MZ, when TFOS came out in 1987 it was made to emulate the comedic styles of anime, in particular ones centered around high school. And aliens, let’s not forget about the aliens. In fact, much of the inspiration (and the artwork in the later books) is derived from the anime franchises Urusei Yatsura and Ranma 1/2 (mostly Urusei Yatsura due to the alien element) created by one mangaka Rumiko Takahashi. One can imagine how wealthy she is by now just by those two alone.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with her work, here are a few videos to highlight them.

This would be Urusei Yatsura, and from what I gather, THIS is considered a normal day in this show.
And this would be Ranma 1/2. It has a male protagonist who changes into a girl via cold water. Hilarity ensues.

You can almost visualize how TFOS operates. Heck, it almost practically writes itself.
Anyway, the basic concept of TFOS’ setting is that extrasolar sapients discover Earth and found the “teenager” culture fascinating to the point that they send their offspring to experience this strange social order. As a comedy RPG, one can imagine the kind of hijinks this might ensue. This is actually encouraged to both the GM and the Players and thus the rules are rather light.

Speaking of rules, the overview of the character creation process I will be utilizing the 1997 3rd Edition Teenagers from Outer Space. Again, this edition is also Fuzion compatible, oddly enough….. Though then again, at least TFOS at least showed the conversion, unlike MZ.

Anyway, time for the character creation process. Yet, unlike MZ, TFOS doesn’t really start its own character process with the famed Lifepath system. Rather it goes straight to what kind of being the PC will become: Human, Near-Human, Not-Very-Near-Human, and Real Wierdies. I guess that’s suppose to supplant the Lifepath.

Next are the statistics for each PC. For TFOS, the primary statistics are the following: Smarts, Bod, Relationship with Parents/Authorities, Luck, Driving, Looks, Cool, Bonk.

Smarts in TFOS is parallel to INT in MZ in terms of in-game use.

Bod in TFOS is notably different than BOD in MZ mostly due to the fact that the measure of damage units (to be explained later) is a completely separate stat rather than something that is cross referenced to a table.

Relationship with Parents (or Authorities), typically shortened as RWP or RWA, numerically measures how well the teenaged (assumed) PC gets along with not only parents, but persons of authority and other such figures. However, unlike other statistics in TFOS, RWP/A can never be higher than the original roll.

The only difference Luck in TFOS differs from LUCK in MZ is that the character can’t allocate points from the statistic into the dice roll.

Driving is very parallel to the Mecha Piloting skill in MZ or any general Pilot/Driving skill in many other roleplay engines.

Looks and ATT are very parallel so there isn’t much need to go into depth other than the factoid that attractiveness varies from species to species, though knowing the source materials it’ll be heavily bias towards the Near-Human and Human form.

Cool in TFOS is quite parallel to CL in MZ though it additionally measures how well a PC wears clothing. Strangely makes sense if one recalls their teenage years clearly…. That usage in the Cool Statistic is traditionally covered by either a different Statistic, such as ATT in MZ, or a completely separate skill like Wardrobe and Grooming in MZ.

Bonk is the basic unit of damage in TFOS. However, unlike traditional HT (or Hits/Kills in MZ; human scale and Roadstriker for the former, Mekton scale and up for the latter), running out of Bonk doesn’t necessarily mean that the PC is killed. It kind of defeats the purpose of TFOS being a comedy game. Instead it measures how long the PC is “knocked out” or otherwise unable to participate in-game based upon how many Bonk the character received in a single attack that it goes straight into zero or lower. And in case you’re wondering, one negative Bonk equals to a single turn skipped starting with zero Bonks. Since it is comedy, one can gain damage just from voice alone. And no, I don’t mean screeching volume (though it would kinda make logical sense if you think about it), but rather painful insults and put-downs. I did mention that it’s a comedy game right?

How one determines the numerical value of the stat is through, again, a dice roll as common of those from the Classical Age for each statistic. The only difference, thankfully, is that once all the dice rolls are completed a player can increase or decrease one stat from another on a 1-to-1 basis. Not much in choice, but at least its available.

Next are the Knacks, which are the equivalent to skills in many other tabletop engines. As such, they operate like skills though the Knacks in TFOS are notable in that a player can make up any kind of Knack that fits their PC’s concept so long as it has a relevant connection to the statistics and can be described in a single sentence (typically the name of the Knack). However, unlike most tabletop engines, the number of Knacks a character can gain and how useful the Knack is to gameplay is dependent upon a single dice roll and a player can either sink the entire outcome of the dice roll into a singular Knack or spread them out across numerous Knacks.

It’s also notable that, as per the dictates of the GM, who is known as the Referee in TFOS, to the campaign (and a single d6 dice roll at the start of the game) the Knack can actually be a burden to the player and PC in question.

Of course, the Knacks are (somewhat) balanced out by the next process in character creation: Strange Powers. Basically these are abilities that make that particular PC or their species unique to everyone else. For aliens of various, it’s three separate d6 dice rolls upon three chosen tables. For humans, its just one d6 dice roll, though it’s mostly used to balance out the alien Strange Powers socially or financially, though there are some physical abilities that are unique to the comedy anime genre.
Following close after are the Traits of each PC, with each Trait defining either the psychology and/or habits of the teenaged PC in question, but also how they view the world at large which also makes them unique to even members of the same sapient species. Each PC can have up to three Traits from either a pre-generated list or one that the presiding GM allows.

Then there’s the calculation of the PC’s allowance. This is calculated by a dice roll with the results multiplied by five to find how much the PC is given each week. The only exemption is if the PC in question has been saving up their allowance for an extended period of time before the start of the campaign, to which an additional die is added to the roll for a one time bonus.

Finally, there’s the TFOS version of Equipment: Wheels, Goodies, and Gadgets. Wheels are the vehicles category in TFOS, the reason for the Driving statistic’s existence, and is effectively no-cost at the start of a campaign. The extra options for said vehicle, weather they are mundane automobiles (for most humans), UFO-style saucers (for most aliens), Spaceters (the hybridization of an automobile and a saucer), or Giant Robot (A Spaceter with limbs), are where Allowances are lost in their acquisition to make the vehicle distinct.

Goodies are mundane items (or in the case of aliens, Earth souvenirs and gadgets) that the PC would have in their possession.

Gadgets are basically items that have an unusual special effect in-game, mostly for comedic purposes. As per the setting, the vast majority of these Gadgets are imported alien technology. Optionally, a PC could invent a particularly unique and novel Gadget, though as always the Referee has the final word upon the matter.

Naturally, each item has a monetary amount that is taken out of that PCs Allowance savings, with the only exemption being items from the Wheel’s category and even then it’s normally a one-time deal.
And voila, the teenaged PC is ready to play in TFOS! Which is surprisingly short now that I think about it……

Generic Universal RolePlaying System (GURPS)

Prior to the arrival of GURPS in 1986 by Steve Jackson, tabletop engines were custom-designed for a particular genre and gaming environment in mind. Even with the same gaming company there was no cross-compatibility with the various franchises. Even if there were attempts at cross-compatibility between genres, the primary statistics would have to be altered for that particular setting.

With GURPS, there was no need to convert the PC’s profile from genre to genre (from edition to edition is another matter, like with all other tabletop engines). In fact, it was the first commercially successful tabletop engine that was truly “universal” or to be exact genre-independent. Not only was it universal, it utilized the concepts of points for character statistics rather than the randomness of the dice rolls. These same points were also used to buy characteristics and abilities that both identified the PC’s uniqueness and had an effect within the game itself. Though there was a set number of character points, these can be gained through additional characteristics which hamper the PC in-game. GURPS success alone had changed the industry and later tabletop engines utilize the same fundamental use of character points, which marked the transition from genre-specific gaming of the Classical Age to the modern “universal” point-based character creation of contemporary times.
Beyond the core rulebooks are world books that give additional perks and abilities for the PC to better fit that particular world. It is one of these books, GURPS Space, that was mentioned upon the Atomic Rockets website that drew me into the GURPS system and it’s expansive list of customizable abilities in addition to its unique world building rulesets. Though in hindsight, the world building rulesets could use a bit of flexibility…..

For this character creation overview, I will be utilizing the February 2008 Third Printing, Fourth Edition GURPS Basic Set: Characters.

Beyond the character concept that fits with the premise and setting of the campaign as envisioned by the GM, the first step is the purchase of the Basic Attributes. These attributes are Strength (ST), Dexterity (DX), Intelligence (IQ), and Health (HT).

ST is pretty straight forward, basic, and parallel to similar statistics in other roleplay engines. It’s numerical value determines the strength of an unarmed melee attack, carrying capacity and physical durability.

DX is also pretty straight forward and similar to other like-sounding statistics in other roleplay engines which, among other calculations, determines how far a PC can move in a particular amount of time.

IQ is again quite similar to other like-sounding characteristics in other tabletop franchises. There is little need to go into detail.

HT is once more very parallel to other like-sounding numerical values in other roleplay engines.
How the Basic Attributes are given value is by the aforementioned character points. The number of which varies upon the Power Level of the campaign that the GM expects the PCs to be at the most powerful at the start. These ranges from Feeble, Average, Competent, Exemptional, Heroic, Larger-than-Life, Legendary, Superhuman, and Godlike. It should be obvious by now which type has the most points and which has the least. There is an average numerical value that is given for free as under the GURPS engine, rather than to purchase each level, of which its deviation costs or refunds character points. And speaking of point redemption, the GM has the right to set a limit to such redeeming limitations in order to reinforce Power Level balance and that the more positive attributes are the focus of the PC’s story rather than their handicaps.

It is also noteworthy that if a player writes a detailed enough character history during the character conception step, the GM may award additional character points. A very useful feature that encourages more refined character conception and giving the PC more depth than a character sheet with numbers upon it that I fully agree with in the GURPS engine.

Next are the Secondary Characteristics, whose value is predominantly derived from the Basic Attributes. A vast majority of the secondary characteristics can be increased by character points or decreased to get a refund in character points. These Secondary Statistics are Damage (Dmg), Basic Lift (BL), Hit Points (HP), Will, Perception (Per), Fatigue Points (FP), Basic Speed and Basic Move.
Dmg is straightforward enough; it measures numerically how well a character can cause damage in unarmed or melee combat and is derived mainly from the ST Attribute and compared to a pregenerated table. Dmg can be improved upon (or limited) through the use of character points at a fixed rate.

BL is also straightforward enough; it mathematically and numerically measures how much mass a PC can lift above their heads for one second, which is calculated from the ST attribute. BL also determines the amount of equipment (such as weapons and armor) that particular PC may carry, to which it can be improved upon (or decreased) from a fixed rate of character points.
HP is quite parallel in use and description in like-sounding characteristics in other roleplaying engines and derives its value from the ST Attribute. As always, the base value can be changed through a fixed rate of character points.

Will numerically measures how well a PC can resist psychological and supernatural stress to the mind, of which its value is derived from the IQ Attribute. Additional improvement or limitations comes from the investment or refund of character points at a fixed rate as usual.

Per is a measure of how well a PC can sense the world and is derived from the value of the IQ Attribute. Character points are spent (or gained) at a fixed rate to improve or diminish the characteristic.

FP is a measure of a PC’s endurance, though this is typically an optional rule in many roleplay engines. The basic numerical value is derived from the HT Attribute, though like most other secondary characteristics, points are gained or lost at a fixed rate to change its impact a PC has on gameplay.

Basic Speed, based upon HT and DX along with any possible decimal points from said calculation, numerically measures reflexes and general physical quickness in the form of dodging. As always, the PC’s impact in this criteria is dependent upon the expenditure or refund of points at a fixed rate.
Basic Move measures how fast a character can travel in yards per second. Interestingly enough, the Basic Move’s numerical value is derived not from a Basic Attribute but from Basic Speed. Though, like always, this can be changed from a fixed rate of points that are spent or redeemed.
Additionally, a PC’s Build is also chosen, whose impact is far more than how heavy or how tall that character is, though it is used on occasion when it is outside the average build of a human or related sapient species in such genres and settings that allow them.

Another optional characteristic is the Size Modifier (SM), it measures from the standard human scale how well to target and hit during combat and per rolls. Creatures that are larger than the human average get a discount in the purchase of ST and HP.

Age can also affect the purchased numerical value, which are redeemed or lost at a predetermined age within the campaign itself. Beauty is also another modifier, but these are purchased rather than modifications.

Next is that PC’s social background, which is sub categorized into Technology Level (TL), Cultural Familiarity and Language. A PC’s TL mostly entails what equipment a PC has access to in relation to the campaigns overall TL. Cultural Familiarity deals with the PC’s, well, cultural familiarity other than their own. Language is a measure of how well a PC can speak and write in a language other than their native tongue (literacy, on the other hand, of the native language may vary from genre to genre). These are purchased at a fixed rate.

Wealth and Influence also cost (or redeems) points and have a notable impact in gameplay in terms of equipment purchases and  interaction with NPCs for “favors”. There are other background notes a player can purchase for their PCs to make them more unique and identifiable, but we need to move on. It’s a lengthy process.

Next are the Advantages and Disadvantages which not only further identifies the PC, but dramatically changes their impact upon the game. Each Advantage and/or Disadvantage is purchased (or refunded) either at a fixed rate or a one-time value depending upon its overall impact upon the campaign at large. Each Advantage or Disadvantage (within the scope of the Fourth Edition of the GURPS engine) are sub-categorized into Mental, Physical, Social, Exotic, Supernatural, and Mundane.

Mental Advantages/Disadvantages originates from the PC’s mind, or even the soul, to which magical, psionic, and spiritual traits are more often enough found. Physical Advantages/Disadvantages are derived from the PC’s own physical body to which such augmentations such as bionics and similar implants are found. Social Advantages/Disadvantages are derived from the PC’s identity, whether they be physical or mental based, in which such traits as Rank, Status, and Wealth are found. These categories are effectively universal and can be found upon human and sapient species alike.

Exotic Advantages/Disadvantages are traits that normal humans cannot have without some technological or other such modification. Rather, they can be more often enough species traits that identifies that particular sapient species from another and from humans. Supernatural Advantages/Disadvantages are traits that cannot be explained by science as we know it or even future advancement in science, but rather derive upon what is seen to be the impossible in nature. Such traits derive upon divine intervention, magic, psionics and the like and can be found upon any potential PC regardless of species. Mundane Advantages/Disadvantages are traits that are neither Exotic or Supernatural in nature. These categories are more often enough purchased only with GM approval.

Though there is a standard list of Advantages and Disadvantages within the core book alone, there are other world books that have their own lists to fit that particular genre. It’s quite similar to how Palladium Books sells their own publications, but is quite forgiving within that particular edition. Lesser or latest editions may, though often enough, require some alterations to the values and costs. Additionally, each Advantage and Disadvantage can be modified to further fit with the character concept of the PC and the campaign as a whole through character points.

In addition, new Advantages/Disadvantages may be created to better fit the PC within a campaign.
The skills step in character creation within the GURPS engine is rather parallel in other roleplaying games. Skills in GURPS are purchased not only based upon the level of that skill in relation to the relevant controlling attribute, but also the difficulty in learning and improving that skill which further separates the GURPS engine from other roleplaying engines. Additionally, the skill level of the chosen skill can be increased through the expenditure of XP into the Basic Attribute of the PC in question. Like Advantages/Disadvantages, the many world books under the GURPS license has its own collection of skills to better fit that genre or world.

In addition, a player with GM approval, can custom create Technique to further refine that PC’s skill use within gameplay and purchased in a similar manner to skills, that is the point cost derives from the level and difficulty of the Technique. Naturally, this step is purely optional.

And speaking of optional, the next step is Magic that is subject to GM approval. The purchase of spells depends upon not only the campaign setting, but also the relevant skill in the use of that particular casting as well as other prerequisites. Unlike most other roleplay engines which uses Mana to measure the cost of casting a spell, GURPS spells require the expenditure of either FP or HP. Like Advantages, Disadvantages, and skills, each world books would have its own unique list of magical spells to cast.

Another optional step is Psionics, again subject to GM approval. Its use and purchase is quite similar to Advantages, though it can be denied through either a counter-psionic ability or an Advantage. Genre books may also have its own list of psionics.

A third optional step are Templates. These are simply PC sheets at the bare minimum that a player can purchase to ease the character creation process. Customization of these templates, after purchase of course, depends upon the number of points left. A GM may also create templates better suited to the campaign in mind for their players to utilize and purchase in addition as aid in the creation of NPCs. Each world book may also have templates to better fit its setting and/or genre.

Finally is the purchase of equipment from a PC’s funds, either calculated from the Campaign’s TL and Wealth level or the exchange of points. Most of the stats for equipment are quite similar in other roleplay engines such as weight, cost, range and damage if applicable. However, under the GURPS banner there are additional limitations to what a PC may have: TL which is already discussed, and Legality Class (LC).

Though mostly limited to weapons, LC numerically measures exactly who can have what type of equipment. The higher the LC value, the larger number of people can have access to and purchase for their own use. If the PC doesn’t have the appropriate clearance, they can’t have it, simple enough. Like Advantages, Disadvantages, Skills, Magic, Psionics, and Templates, each world book has its own listing of equipment to better attune for that particular setting or genre.

Finally, after agonizing on what to spend and what to forsake, a PC is ready to be used in any campaign using the GURPS engine. Personally, I find the idea of altering the values of secondary characteristics outside the calculations of the primary attributes to be quite attractive in addition to its ability to adjust the associated Advantages and Distadvantages. It just further makes that PC unique in roleplay and in-game impact.

Hero System

When this particular roleplay engine came out in 1989, it was mostly for its superhero based franchise Champions in its forth edition.  However, the Hero System evolved over the decades to be a universal system in that it could be easily adapted to other genres as GURPS own popularity began to grow, especially if it didn’t require the presence of superheroes through its use of character points to earn advancement in attributes, skills, and most notably its wide range of powers and abilities that allows a player to imagine or even recreate the super powers of their favorite comic book hero. It received a kind of renaissance during the ‘Naughties with the release of the Fifth Edition, the Fifth Edition revised, and finally the Sixth Edition.

I was first informed of the Hero System, though indirectly, when Atomic Rockets made mention to the book Star Hero, stating that it was useful for a novice sci-fi author who needed to quickly catch up with the latest science on science fiction. And in case any of you were wondering, I did first purchase the Fifth Edition of Star Hero, but later upgraded to the Sixth Edition thinking that the science was more up to date. Oh how wrong I was. Still, it had prettier pictures I guess….
In this overview of the character creation process, I will be utilizing the 2009 First Printing of the Hero System Sixth Edition Volume 1: Character Creation as basis.

Now then, as we open the- Mother*bleep*ing Son of a *beep*!!! Lo-Look at the size of this *bleep*! You’d think that I got some freakish Gutenberg Bible or something.

Surprised that it's not considered a lethal weapon considering how heavy it is....

Okay, I think I recovered from the shock so let’s move on shall we? For the core characteristics, there is Strength (STR), Dexterity (DEX), Intelligence (INT), Ego (EGO, duh!), Presence (PRE)- Wait, just how many are there? One…two….three…Sev-SEVENTEEN?! Seventeen *car horn*-ing core characteristics to spend Character Points on and-

Lolo Domingo….? Is that you…?
No! Why?! I was just about to learn the Meaning of Life!

..Eh? Wait, what? What just happened? Last thing I remember was seeing G-d I think. Though for some odd reason he was wearing a Flannel Shirt and a Budweiser Hat. ….Odd…. Okay, where was I? Oh yeah, I was looking at the core characteristics that a player has to pay character points to-
SEVENTEEN?! For the love of- What are they thinking?! Seriously, do they have any *Truck Horn*-ing idea just how *Martian Tripod*-ing complicated it just made any task resolution when they have this *Cannon*-ing many *Church Bell*-ed stats to follow and might actually make it a *Baby*-ing contender with Dungeons and Dragons for most convol- *Yautja Roar*-ing –luted set of rules that make dice rolling more *Gong*-ed tedious than *Gigan*-ing suspenseful! Stats are suppose to *Air Horn*-ing help with story telling, not be a  whole *King Ghidorah*-ing math problem just to figure out if that *Cat*-ing donut gave the PC a *Machine Gun*-ed heart attack! Do they really need to complicate the dice *Elephant*-ing roll that much more than it *Clown Horn*-ed needed to be?! Role play is  *Tyranosaurus Rex*-ing suppose to be *Lion*-ed enjoyable make believe *Fog Horn*-s, not computer *Velocioraptor*-ing programming! It’s *Air Raid Siren*-ing suppose to be fun *Child*-s, not *Wolf*-ed tedious and *THX*-ing laborious! It’s *Kraken*!!!!!!! UGH!!!!!!

Okay….I gotta calm down….can’t let it get to me too much…..

That and I’m running out of funny censor sounds. Right then, let’s go with the core statistics rundown.

The Physical measure of any PC under the Hero System is numerically measured in the categories of Strength (STR), Dexterity (DEX), Constitution (CON), Speed (SPD), Recovery (REC), Endurance (END), Body (BODY), and Stun (STUN). Many of these categories are self explanatory and thus require little more attention than need be, with a few exemptions: CON, REC, and BODY. CON is effectively the measure of how well a PC can stand against being stunned or knocked out, REC shows how quickly the PC can get out of being Knocked Out and/or stunned, and BODY is the atypical HP of Role Play combat.

The Mental measure of any PC under the Hero System is numerically measured in the categories of Intelligence (INT), Ego (EGO), and Presence (PRE). INT is rather self explanatory and requires little additional attention, however EGO and PRE would require a little bit of enlightenment. EGO is a measure of mental strength rather than the typical definition, and PRE is effectively a reflection of that PC’s impressiveness to others.

And finally, the PC’s measure in combat is numerically measured in the categories of Offensive Combat Value (OCV), Defensive Combat Value (DCV), Offensive Mental Combat Value (OMCV), Defensive Mental Combat Value (DMCV), Physical Defense (PD), and Energy Defense (ED). PD and ED aren’t as straight forward as the former categories, that is it numerically measures how resistant the PC is against physical attacks such as stabs and blunt impacts like kicks and punches and energy based attacks both scifi exotic and mundane like fire and radiation.

Yeah, you can already tell by now that many of these attributes could be condensed into less than Sev-se-sev-se-se-

Let’s move on, shall we?

Once the primary characteristics are measured, its time to individualize the character through Skills, Perks and Talents, Character Complications, and Powers.

Skills are chosen, based upon a list that can be modified by the GM to suit the particular campaign and/or genre in question, and purchased as seen in many other Role Play engines. The difference in the Hero System, though, is that the player would have to purchase the appropriate level through five different cost structures: Characteristic-based which serves as the default, Limited Category which is cheaper due to knowledge limitations, Background Skills that are effectively “non-upgraded” Characteristic-based Skills for the minimal roll value, Weapon/Transport Familiarity which is effectively vast knowledge on a singular/few categories of the particular Skill in question, and finally certain Skill categories such as combat related or learning related have a set cost. Additionally, at the discretion of the GM, there is also the Everyman Skill in which almost all PCs have for free to reflect the genre and society of the campaign and are in effect free. Unless said player would like to increase the level of the Everyman Skill to which they pay the full price.

Perks, or Perquisites, are roleplay background bonuses which are special accesses that PC has gained and help contribute to the overall campaign and are purchased with Character Points. Talents are quite similar to Perks with the exemption that Talents are innate abilities that cannot be taken away.
Character Complications are an interesting point in the Hero System in that the number of Complication a Player chooses for their PC can reflect the total number of Character Points available to spend. Or to make clear, if the number of chosen Complications don’t add up to the Matching Complication Points (MCP) that go with the Character Points given at the start of the campaign, the total number of Character Points is reduced by that much. The only downside to Complications is that adding more than the required MCP doesn’t equate to additional Character Points to spend, which is interesting indeed when other point-based character creation systems allow such a thing. Oh well, whatever works in the Hero System I guess….

The Complications are quite similar to Perks in that they can be taken away with experience points, though with GM permission and with much chagrin to Player and PC alike, though it can also be altered with GM permission to show the character’s growth and experience through the campaign, and gained just as easily depending upon the plot of the campaign, the choices the Player does for their PC and (unsurprisingly) the whims of the GM. 

Like skills, Character Complications could also become an Everyday Complication for the PCs to better fit with the genre and setting of the campaign if the GM decrees, but like Everyman Skills the Everyman Complication does not contribute to the Matching Complication Points. Unlike Perks, Talents, and Skills, Complications don’t occur simply because the Player wishes for them to occur. Rather they have a frequency of occurrence that dictates when the complication may pop up and the more the complication arises during game play the higher it contributes to the Matching Complication Points.

However, the real meat and potatoes of the the Hero System lies with the Powers that a character can gain. After all, it was originally a role play system that simulates being a super hero so how could it not include Powers?

Powers also contribute the greatest number of pages to the featured book, which greatly explains the thickness if said article. The people of Hero Games have thought of nearly every kind of superpower seen in comic books and everything else imaginable. To further individualize and personalize such powers, there are Power Modifiers such as Power Advantages, Power Limitations, and even Special Effects which does little more than show what the power looks like in use and have very little impact numerical-wise on gameplay but has bountiful roleplay possibilities. Hence it’s name.

There is even a ruleset engine which allows a player to group different powers using the same pool of Points that could be switched and utilized (with a pre-campaign generation of restrictions and limitations of what those powers, or slots, can do at the moment of creation) in-game called Power Frameworks. The only real limitation on Power Frameworks in general, which makes perfect amount of sense, is that one cannot purchase said Framework as a Slot to another Framework. Especially if it’s used to enhanced or add to the Slot of another Framework. No need to make it needlessly complicated, after all you don’t see that kind of thing in the comics.

It also helps that Power Frameworks allows a character to have multiple Powers while still being economical. The only downside is that it forces the players, and by extension the characters, to think tactically during combat since there’s only so many points to be allocated and the more powers one has in a Framework, the less powerful a chosen power becomes when two or more are activated since each one draws from the same pool. Not that I find it wrong in having a player try to think tactically instead of “button-mashing” for lack of a better word in each combat encounter or obstacle.
I just have one complaint about this section of the book. At the beginning of the boo- Chapter! I meant Chapter! Just after it explains how Powers work in the game engine and how they are purchased for characters, it goes immediately into how these powers can be varied BEFORE we get to them. Typically in such a case the variation of an ability is explained after the generally long list of such abilities available in the engine to give both player and GM familiarity of what they can do before cost altering variations are introduced. I understand why this was done, to keep the already LONG articles of each power down to the most minimum of explanations, but they use examples of powers many are not familiar with and are very confusing and make it equally difficult to comprehend and follow.

One of my main complaints of the Hero System besides the se-sev-se- the previously mentioned articles is how the passage of time is measured in combat. Each Turn is divided into twelve Segments regardless of the number of characters involved, in which said characters may perform an action in their designated Segment of that Turn called a Phase which is dictated by the SPD characteristic of that character. This is rather bothersome, to me at least, since it makes it needlessly complicated just to figure out who goes first. In other roleplay engines, this is decided by rolling the dice for initiative: whomever has the higher role outcome gets to go first.

Here, however, one’s initiative is dictated by a pre-campaign purchased characteristic that is compared to a chart to explain exactly which 1-second Segment of a SINGLE TURN they may act. Unsurprisingly this would lead to numerous characters allowed to act in the SAME SEGMENT, which is resolved by whomever has the higher value of DEX, another pre-campaigned purchased characteristic.There’s no tension, no suspense, no randomness. It’s already decided when one acts and that’s the end of it. It just adds a needless complication of the engine for combat.

Then again, it does help to ensure that no-one cheats at initiative on an online forum. Though then again initiative is typically who posted first so maybe it’s not that useful of a game mechanic beyond the table top it was designed for…… 

Silhouette Core (SiliCore)

The system that would eventually be known as SiliCore came about when the company Dream Pod 9 became its own roleplay game publishing company in 1994. Its system was like many newer engines of the contemporary era in that its core rule was genre-independent and was widely praised by fans during the later 90s for the depth and qualities of its books. However, after the depression of the roleplay industry in the early Naughties, the company focused more upon the wargaming aspects of the engine rather than the roleplay. Pity.

If I remember correctly, I stumbled upon SiliCore during my research into the creation of a customized mecha creation process (I did mention that I failed epically in that regard correct?). Its process was more elegant, simple, and user friendly compared to even the Mekton process, though there are certain aspects of it that I found disagreeable, to which I will explain later on.

As basis, I will be utilizing the 2003 Deluxe Silhouette Core rulebook version 003.1 Hardcover Edition. Why two links? Well, I only have the hardcover edition. The softcover edition is no longer within my possession and it’s kinda loosing its pages…… I had to retire it to the local library, hope they didn’t mind.

As always, the first step in the creation of a PC beyond the character concept is the purchase of SiliCore’s central character statistics: Primary Attributes. These attributes are Agility (AGI), Appearance (APP), Build (BLD), Creativity (CRE), Fitness (FIT), Influence (INF), Knowledge (KNO), Perception (PER), Psyche (PSY), and Willpower (WIL).

AGI is quite similar to like-sounding attributes of other Roleplay engines. So there isn’t much detail to go into.

APP is also like similar-sounding attributes in other Roleplay engines, so additional detail is not required.

BLD has little introduction and detail needed since it sounds rather similar in use in other Roleplay engines. And like many Roleplay engines, the standard measure of comparison is that of the average human being.

CRE is as it sounds, its use is parallel in other Roleplay engines so there isn’t much detail to dive into.

FIT is an interesting little attribute since it’s quite similar in use to other like-sounding values in other Roleplay engines, yet in SiliCore it’s also separated from AGI in terms of value and use. At its core, it numerically measures how physically fit a PC is compared to not only their fellow PCs, but also the average human being. It is also complimentary to BLD since it quickly showcases the difference between an obese character and a body builder if both have the same numerical value in BLD.
INF is also as it sounds, as is its use so there is little detail to go into without sounding completely redundant.

KNO has little need for introduction so let’s move on.

PER is also similar to like-sounding to other vital statistics in other Roleplay engines in terms of use.

PSY is another interesting little attribute, though its use in other Roleplay engines with similar like-sounding vital statistics is also expanded by that PC’s empathy with others and overall emotional and psychological stability and health.

WIL and it use, though similar in other Roleplay engines, is rather unique in SiliCore in that it is a core statistic rather than a derived value or complementary. Other then that, little detail is required upon illumination of its use in SiliCore.

These attributes are purchased through the use of Character Points, like many other Universal, genre-independent Roleplay engines. However, the number of character points given to each player to spend upon their PC varies upon the Reality Distortion Level (RDL) of the campaign itself, chosen by the GM during the campaign planning stages. Additionally, there are three categories of character types that have their own numerical value of Character Points to spend: Average Joe, PC, and Major NPC. It doesn’t take a leap of faith as to who has the most and who has the least number of Character Points at their disposal. This arrangement is quite similar to how GURPS handles the former and how MZ handled the latter.

What differentiates the use of the Attributes in SiliCore from other Roleplay engines is that the numerical value isn’t a straight whole number, but rather a Zero-Average Rating to which the number zero represents the average human being. In effect, the Attributes are modifiers to SiliCore’s system of dice role. This isn’t much different than the use of primary PC statistics in the majority of other Roleplay engines, it’s just more overtly obvious of their function.

The next step is rather contrary to the archetypical process of character creation in many other Roleplay engines: the purchase of skills. The reasoning, as explained fully later on, is that many skills actually impact the final numerical value of the Secondary Attributes.

SiliCore is unique compared to other Roleplay engine in that, though there is a pregenerated list of generic skills, a player can create their own skill so long as it is not too general nor too specific for the campaign at hand, and with GM approval as always. This little aspect of SiliCore skills is one aspect of the engine that I find most endearing personally, since it allows greater flexibility of creativity on the player’s part than to be stuck to the stone tablet of skills that the PC must rigidly conform. The basic foundation of SiliCore skills are separated into two numerical values: Skill Level and Skill Complexity.

Skill Level is typical of skills in other Roleplay engines which measures how good a PC is at that skill in addition to indicate the number of d6 die to be thrown for a task outcome, however it is the Skill Complexity that makes the it interesting since it numerically measures how broad the PC’s knowledge base of that skill is, though it has a value cap of five. The Skill Complexity can also limit, or hinder depending upon the GM at hand, the type of skill role a player can perform for their PC in that each skill-based dice roll requires a minimum Skill Complexity. With each Skill Complexity above the bare minimum equates to a modifier of +1 per numerical difference on a one-to-one basis. If under, by the default rules the PC simply can’t perform that dice roll or if the GM is willing, a modifier of –1 per numerical difference on a one-to-one basis.

And speaking of dice rolls, before we continue, allow me to enlighten its exact mechanics. Like many universal, genre-independent engines presented here, SiliCore utilizes the traditional d6 die. And like many roleplay engines, a player roles a number of dice to determine a random outcome. The only difference is that only the highest outcome of a single die out of a group of dice are counted towards the final result. It’s a strange mechanic and its almost as if one is only performing a 1d6 roll for each encounter that requires it, but the number of die certainly increases the chances of a favorable outcome.

It is then you may ask “Well then what other use are the other dice for if only the highest one is counted?” Well it is determined by the RDL of the campaign as mentioned earlier, which come in three flavors: Gritty, Adventurous, and Cinematic. In a Gritty RDL-based campaign, they don’t do anything else. In an Adventurous RDL-based campaign, every additional six outcome grants a modifier of +1 to the final outcome. In a Cinematic RDL-based campaign, each additional five outcome along with additional six outcomes grants an additional +1 modifier to the final outcome.
Interesting mechanic, isn’t it?

However, there are certain skills in the pre-generated list that are too general in use (unless in a Cinematic RDL-based campaign) by a PC while in play, or a player would like to have an additional bonus to the dice roll under certain conditions. These are referenced as Specializations and each Specialization adds a modifier of +1 to any dice roll that meets certain circumstances.

Next are the Secondary Attributes, who derive their numerical values from both the skills and Primary Attributes previously purchased. They are Strength (STR), Health (HEA), Stamina (STA), Unarmed Damage (UD), Armed Damage (AD), Flesh Wound Threshold (FWT), Deep Wound Threshold (DWT), Instant Death Threshold (IDT), and System Shock Rating (SSR).

STR is as just as it sound, which is calculated by the average of BLD and FIT. The maximum mass that can be carried by a PC for only a few paces is cross-referenced by the BLD table.

HEA, like the name suggests, measures a character’s overall resistance to disease, toxins, and the like. It’s numerical value is calculated by the average of PSY, WIL, and FIT.

STA, despite what it’s name would suggest, is actually a measure of how well the PC can withstand punishment. It is calculated by multiplying the sum of BLD and HEA five times plus an additional proprietary value to ensure that the minimal number is one.

UD is, obviously, the amount of damage a character can deliver with their bare hands (or claws, or tentacles, or whatever). Its value, which is not a zero-average mind you, is calculated by the Hand-to-Hand Skill Level plus the total of STR,  BLD and a proprietary number with a minimal value of 1. Why the Skill Complexity isn’t added I’ll never know….

AD is quite similar to UD. The only difference is that the dependent Skill is that of Melee. Did I forget to mention that these damage value are for the Personnel Scale only?

FWT and its relatives are what makes combat in SiliCore so unique (and potentially lethal to PCs) in that though damage has a numerical value, the effect of damage is just that, effects. There’s no Hit Points or similar to count down, only the number of penalties to any dice roll, which for FWT is a modifier of –1. It is derived from half of the STA.

DWT is another unique aspect to combat in SiliCore. It’s modifiers are –2 and is derived from the STA value.

IDT is, well basic enough. If a damage exceeds this value, the PC dies. It is also calculated by multiplying the STA value by two.

SSR is to SiliCore what Hit Points and the like in other Roelplay engines. The only difference is that it counts down not the amount of damage left, but rather how much injuries a PC can sustain before they go into shock and dying, hence the name, on a one-to-one basis of each penalty incurred. Five times the HEA is how one finds the PC’s SSR.

Then there are the PC’s identifiable traits that make them unique compared to other characters in any SiliCore campaign: Perks and Flaws.

Like Disadvantages in GURPS, there is a fixed list of Perks and Flaws for each PC with variable costs (and rebates) each one represents and each Perk or Flaw has its own impact, gameplay, role play or otherwise, for that PC to perform. The only limitation is that a PC should have a rebate of no more than 12 points (20 in a cinematic RDL-based campaign) during character creation.

Like the MZ overview, the final step involves the creation of customized vehicles, weather they range from a high velocity motorcycle to the atypical giant robot to gargantuan spaceships to even planets if a GM allows it.

And like MZ, much of the core combat for SiliCore is tabletop wargaming, though there are separate rules for roleplay combat for vehicles. If only I could find them…….

As with most creation steps, the first is the conception phase with input from the GM on the design of the vehicle in question (assuming the GM allows for such a process mind you) to have it fit with the overall setting of the campaign. Once that is completed, it is time to select the Target Size value, which is basically a numerical value of how large an object is with the value of 1 representing the size of the average human being. Then there is the selection of the Armor Rating for the design with a minimum value of 1 and, like Stamina, the three damage thresholds for the vehicle is determined by the once, twice, and three times the Armor Rating value.

Then there is the selection of the Crew. This is quite different from the Mekton design philosophy since the mechanical design of SiliCore in that it is first and foremost a tactical wargame. Thus the onboard crew is purchased as yet a component of the vehicle’s design. The value of the crew, measured in the average skill level of the individual crew members, determines their cost. However, the onboard crew don’t necessarily have to be all sapient life forms. It is quite possible for each (or all) crew member to be a computer AI.

Next is the selection of the Movement Systems for the design, divided into Air, Ground, Hover, Naval, Rail, Space, Submarine, and Walker which describe that Movement System’s primary environment and system of operation. Air and Ground are quite obvious as to how they function, Hover is as it sounds though ground-effect systems require an atmosphere to operate, Naval is sea travel upon the surface of the water, Rail requires the existence of an infrastructure guide to move upon which must also be of the compatible type (i.e. a Maglev cannot travel on a Monorail), Space is just as obvious though it can be utilized as “Jump Jets” upon a planetary surface or similar, Submarine is too obvious to need further explanation and Walkers are just that; vehicles with multiple legs for locomotion.

Then there is the selection of the Maneuver Value and Deployment Range. The Maneuver Value is a Zero-Average measure with 0 representing the average human-controlled giant robot or power armor, however the maximum rating is just +1 with the majority of such values represent the control delay, turning radius or similar of the control system the crew uses to operate the design. The Deployment Range is the measure of how far the design can travel before it must be serviced, fueled, whatever the case may be, barring the needs of the crew such as sleep and sustenance.

Quickly following is the design’s Perks and Flaws. In function the vehicular perks and flaws are quite similar to character Perks and Flaws and thus require little detail beyond the fact that there is a separate list for vehicular perks and flaws for obvious reasons. It is also to keep in mind that the choices made in the design process are based upon the initial concept.

And now comes the part that, frankly, I found ingenious: The System Design step. It is quite similar in concept to the construction of Skill and thus very flexible. Though unlike Skill Construction, System Design construction is a little bit more involved and is almost like the design of a character.
Step one are the selection of the Basic Attributes of the System in question, of which there are four: Damage Multiplier (DM), Base Range (BR), Accuracy (Acc), and Rate-of-Fire (ROF). The DM is a measure of how effective the system is on a successful dice roll, be that in damage or some other special effect such as jamming. BR numerically measures how far the System can affect a target and expressed in hexes, to which the size of said hex determines if the map represents the ground/sea, air or space. The BR is effectively the system’s Short Range, with the Medium, Long, and Extreme Ranges equal to two, four, and eight times the BR respectfully, which is quite similar to how the damage thresholds are calculated. Acc is quite self explanatory, though value-wise it’s a zero-average.ROF is equally self explanatory and is also a zero-average value with negative numbers dictating the amount of time (expressed in Rounds) it would take to reload or recharge the design with each use.

Step two and three are that system’s Perks and Flaws, which are quite similar in use to Character Perks and Flaws and even Vehicular Perks and Flaws, though are listed differently for obvious reasons. The value of these Perks and Flaws directly influence Step four: the cost of the system. Without going into much detail, the straight value of the cost is calculated with the DM, BR, and ROF as variables. The calculated cost is also modified through Acc multipliers, the number of Perks and Flaws the design has, and number of Ammo the system has available before it must be reloaded.
Once complete, it is time to do the math and calculate the values of the design that is chosen. The first calculation deals with the design’s Threat Values, divided into three categories of Offensive Threat Value (OTV), Defensive Threat Value (DTV), and Miscellaneous Threat Value (MTV).

DTV is the numerical value of how well the design is defensively. Naturally something with a high numerical value in this category is either very tough or very hard to kill. Listed under this category is Movement, Maneuver, and Armor. Movement is quite obvious in that it measures how far the design in question can move in a given time frame. Maneuver is how well the design responds to changes in direction in addition to ease of control. Armor is quite self-explanatory so there is no need to go into additional detail.

OTV numerically measures the design’s offensive capabilities and logically a design with a high enough value is dangerous to confront. As such, most of the weapons created in the System Design stage are found listed under this category.

MTV calculates the values of the design that does not fit in the previously mentioned categories. In short, it measures how versatile or useful the design is beyond combat. Within this category are Crews and Passengers, Deployment Range, and Perks and Flaws. The Crews and Passengers notes not only the capacity of the latter for deployment, but also the number of actions a vehicle can perform during a set period of time based upon the number of the former. Deployment Range is rather self explanatory and Perks and Flaws are quite obvious and do not require much explanation in detail.

Once those Threat Values are calculated, they are then averaged out to find the total Threat Value, which is also used to calculate the final cost of the design itself. The first step is to calculate the default Size and Cost of the design, with the total Threat Value as the primary variable. The Pre-Production cost is calculated based upon the difference between the desired Size and default Size values, with smaller Size values requiring the multiplcation of the default cost by the ratio between the desired and default Size value. Larger desired Size value require only multiplying the default cost twice and little else.

Then there is the selection of the Production Type, which not only affects its final Cost, but also the number of Lemon Rolls that is performed for not only that design’s line up, but also each individual unit. This step is completely optional for the GM, but required for players (again, if the GM allows for customized designs). Quickly following are the Annoyances which are for purely roleplaying purposes.

Next is the assignment of the design’s crew (I did mention that much of the rules for this section is for tabletop wargaming right?). As previously mentioned, the quality of the crew’s training (sapient or AI) determines the modification of both the Threat Value and Final Cost’s calculated values based upon the average skill level of the onboard crew. And speaking of Final Cost, the value is calculated with the Pre-Production Cost and Production Type as its variables. There are, of course, special cases that vary the creation process to fit a particular concept and idea such as noticeably smaller and exponentially larger designs, emplacements, Combiner and Transformable vehicles and the like.
As previously mentioned, I liked SiliCore’s Skill and System Design construction rules. They are simple, flexible, and allows for a greater range of design possibilities with limited…um… limits to what could be done design and roleplay wise compared to other construction systems. I also found the base dice roll mechanics to be quite novel, standing out from other roleplay engines in that though it is a roll-over system, it doesn’t add up all the dice outcomes but instead looks for the highest value of one die.

I personally only have a few issues with SiliCore’s tabletop engine mechanics. In particular I’m not a big fan of such a large number of primary attributes, as my little…*ahem*, outburst from the Hero System overview. Ten seems rather excessive and too specialized to allow for much customization to make the character '”unique” and is too strongly reminiscent of the Classical Age of roleplay engines. What can I say other than it seemed like one too many attribute dice rolls when it can be quickly summed up in the following engine overview.

My second issue is with the overall vehicle design system which caters almost exclusively to the tabletop wargaming aspect of SiliCore. Individually each step is logical and almost ingenious, but overall it is still a ruleset for wargaming. Granted, Mekton is also a wargaming engine but it also allows for easy integration for roleplay purposes if only due to the source inspiration.

Tri-stat dX

The basic foundation of what would be known as the Tri-stat dX was derived from the first edition of Big Eyes, Small Mouth (BESM) when it was created in 1997 and premiered two years later as interest in anime was on the rise. The company Guardians of Order and original owner of the property even produced Ultimate Guides for established anime franchises to be compatible with the Tri-stat dX. At its core, the Tri-stat dX was a genre-independent system (though initially utilized for anime-based campaigns) that was flexible enough to fit any mixture of genres that the GM had in mind.

Sadly, Guardians of Order was rendered defunct in 2006 and the publishing rights have gone to White Wolf Publishing/ArtHause Games, though fan support is still going strong even if there is limited official support for Tri-stat dX and the BESM franchise to which it was derived and refined.

For the character creation overview, instead of the free PDF of the Tri-Stat DX Core Rulebook, I will be utilizing the 2007 Hardcover Third Edition BESM core rulebook. Why the amazon link? Well, it appears that White Wolf is no longer selling it….

Moving on, beyond the character concept stage there is the purchase of the core PC values of Stats, to which there are only three: Body, Mind, and Soul. Personally I praise this style of central numerical PC values in that it doesn’t over complicate which aspect the PC is strong and weak and allows a certain level of customization to how these values are perceived in-game, which will be explained later on.

The Body Stat’s use is parallel to like-sounding statistics and attributes of other Roleplay engines, though these numerical values are represented in numerous other categories.

The Mind Stat’s use is also parallel to like-sounding statistics and attributes, and as well these numerical values are represented in numerous other categories.

The Soul Stat overall represents that PC’s willpower, luck, determination, and sometimes psionic and magical abilities in addition to empathy along with other paranormal and supernatural aspects that can be found in a BESM campaign.

These Stats are purchased, yet again, through points. The number of points available to a player to spend upon a single PC, though, depends upon the Power Level of the campaign in question, quite similar to what is found in GURPS, Hero System, and SiliCore engines. These levels are Human, Heroic, Mythical, Superhuman, Superpowered, and Godlike. If you are still wondering which has the least amount of points and which has the most, I must seriously question your level of intelligence….
Noteworthy, and another fact that I greatly favor in BESM and other roleplay engines that have this function, is the encouragement of a GM to award detailed character conception with additional points through a background history of the PC, a character story, or other unique creation to further help the character concept of the PC in question.

The next step are the Attributes, which is rather confusing to many since many primary numerical values are called Attributes. The use of these Attributes is quite similar to the Advantages in GURPS and the Powers in the Hero System, especially in the customization department and each Attribute’s power in-game is measured by their Rank, similar to Levels in other Roleplay engines. The same can be said of that Attribute’s relevant Stat in dice rolls. Skills are also covered and considered Attributes. How Attributes differ from other Roleplay engines with similar mechanics is through its Attribute Progression. Or rather, the speed to which an attribute (or skill) is improved upon by either points or experience and are categorized into Descriptive, Linear, Fast, Medium, Slow, Reverse, and Special.
Descriptive Progression is a customized progression that is explained, in detail, in the Attribute Entry.
Linear Progression is the typical progression found in many other Roleplay engines to which one is given so-and-so value per level.

Fast, Medium, and Slow Progression are mostly self explanatory, but at its most basic is that it is quite similar to Linear Progression with only the value each Rank being radically different than previous rank entries.

Reversed Progression’s use is the opposite of Linear, Fast, Medium, and Slow Progression.
Special Progression is quite similar to Descriptive Progression, though more often than not has additional special rules in their use.

For each Skill Attribute, not only are there Specializations as seen in SiliCore, but also variable costs depending upon the primary genre of the campaign in mind to indicate that skills important in the setting.

Additionally, Attributes can be utilized to create an Item (with its associated Defects) as BESM/Tri-Stat dX’s version of equipment. This can range from simple objects such as small arms to giant robots to even starships, GM pending naturally.

Next are the PC identifiable Defects, which consequence allows a rebate of points to the player. Naturally there is an upper limit to the number of Defects, and by extension the number of rebate points, which is dictated by the GM. Typically there is an upper limit of eight defects, though normally there are between two and five defects. Additionally, the Defect in question may not negate a PC’s Attribute or ability.

These defects are categorized into four groups: Lesser, Greater, Serious, and Radical. Each has a particular point rebate that changes the final point cost of the PC in question.

Then there is the calculated derived values, mostly based upon the Stats of Body, Mind, and Soul in some fashion though they may be altered by a particular Attribute or Skill. These are Base Combat Value (BCV), Damage Multiplier (DM), Health Points (HP), Energy Points (EP), and Shock Value (SV).

BCV numerically measures how well the character can perform in combat and is found by the average of the three stats. This is further divided into Attack Combat Value (ACV) and Defensive Combat Value (DCV) which is found by adding each Level of either Attack Combat Mastery or Defense Combat Mastery Attribute to the BCV.

DM measures how powerful their unarmed/melee attack is upon an opponent or target. Though it has a set standard, this can be changed with each Level of the Massive Damage Attribute added to the DM and can also be modified by the Superstrength Attribute.

HP is self explanatory and is exhausted on a one-to-one basis so there is little need to go into additional detail. It is calculated by the multiplication of the Body and Soul sum. This can be further modified by either the Tough Attribute or Not so Tough Defect.

EP is quite similar functionally to Fatigue Points and even Mana Points in other Roleplay Engines. It can also be used to boost the outcome of a dice roll to signify willpower and spirit to overcome an obstacle as showcased in many action-oriented anime franchises. The value is calculated by multiplying the sum of the Mind and Soul stats.

SV functions similarly to other like-sounding names in other roleplay engines, though it also functions as a threshold to measure how much damage causes a major wound if penetration does occur and thus become life-threatening. The value is found from the division of the HP.
If cleared by the GM or after some suggestions to the PC, the player is then ready to participate.
Optionally, a player can create their PC utilizing a Template as a basis, similar to its use in both GURPS and Hero System. These templates are Size, Racial, Occupational, and Power. Ideally they should be performed during the early process of character creation.

Size Template are quite self explanatory, though require some additional detail. Each Size Rank beyond Medium (the default human scale) costs and redeems points based upon the various Attributes and Defects to reflect the pros and cons of that particular Size Rank. As expected, there are modifiers to calculated values to reflect the greater, or lesser scales upon these templates operate compared to the average human being. Also unlike the other Templates, there is no customized Size Templates (at least, not initially….)

Racial Template are also quite explanatory and also require additional detail to illustrate its impact on BESM. Effectively they are a list of attributes and defects which clearly identifies one race (or more accurately “species”) from another that is inherit to that group as a whole. This also means that there are no skills found within the Racial Template unless it was an innate skill that is gained no matter the environment that individual character was raised in. Each Racial Template may be custom created by the GM, or the player with GM approval, to fit the desired setting.

Occupational Template are again quite explanatory in that they describe the list of skills a member of that particular profession must have to be considered such an archetype. It can also cover particular lifestyles, callings, and social status. The Occupational Template also can feature Attributes and Defects to further reflect that unique archetype in how it accomplishes their occupational goals and their limitations.

Power Template are mostly Attribute focused in that they are collection of restrictions that the player, and by extension the PC, must overcome in order to utilize their abilities for role play. The Power Template are normally found upon attributes with supernatural, paranormal, or metaphysical origins and executions.

I primarily enjoy Tri-Stat’s extremely simple core mechanic: There are only three primary values which is just enough for quick play and general enough to encourage character customization. I also enjoy how many of the Attributes, Skills, and Defects are quite customizable and individualized to fit a particular character concept. It’s not as customizable as SiliCore’s Skill and System construction, yet it’s not as massive as Hero System’s own Power System *whimpers*. Though it is advisable to have more experienced players and GMs take a look at the idea beforehand to see if there should be any tweeks to have the mechanics be closer to the concept in mind.

Also, as previously mentioned, I particularly enjoy how the engine even encourages deeper character development of the PC in question, even if it is a reward-based encouragement. My only complaint is that the Size Template somewhat impacts the ability to create different sized Racial Templates (particularly in the large department) and restricts the kind of options available. Granted, this is only a pet peeve if one is a player with a limited amount of points available. For a GM, it doesn’t have such an impact unless they are worried about gameplay balance, which would be if the Racial Templates in question are for PC use. GM use Only templates aren’t so limited.

Now then, lets sum up my thoughts and feelings of the different roleplay engines that are featured, as well as my own little rant upon the subject of character creation.

As many of you should have noticed by now, I greatly favor simple value mechanics and broadband customization. I also have a pet peeve on over specialized primary values, rule systems, and low customization of PCs. Then there are ideas from such engines that I either agree wholeheartedly or despise immeasurably due to the above mentioned likes and dislikes and, though there were a few engines that were close, they simply have features that just didn’t give overwhelming favoritism over all others.

The roleplay engine that met this deceptively simple yet strict criteria, in at least the character creation phase, would require the primary value simplicity and customization of Tri-Stat, the secondary value modifications of GURPS, the Skill and Weapon design of SiliCore, the core mechanized construction system and profile layout of Mekton, ability modifiers of Hero System and customization option of all three other engines, the character concept bonuses of Interlock and BESM, and the morality class of the Megaversal System. It would be nice to see such a system but as of this blog entry’s publishing, my only choice is through house rules that are probably a book all onto itself.

Anyway, discuss below and please, try to be civil in your responses. And speaking of responses, I would respond more easily if you display your screen name in your comments.

“What about the roleplay mechanics?” I hear you ask. Well, that’s a topic for another time.

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