Monday, January 30, 2017

Exciting Crossover Event! Part One!

Back when I started pumping out Star Trek characters, I mentioned that, should gumption win out and the stars align, I might feature an EXCITING CROSSOVER EVENT between two big themes on this blog: character creation and Boldly Go!

Oh, looky! That day has arrived!

Those of you who have been following along (and many, many thanks that you have and continue to do so), may have noticed one thing that is common to all of the Star Trek games that I own and have made characters for. They are all extremely fiddly and also have loads and loads (and also loads) of skills.

Boldly Go isn't like that at all, and not because of any conscious decision on my part to run as far away from the other Star Trek RPGs as I possibly could. I didn't wind up looking at any of them until well after I had started working on Boldly Go and had this odd idea to just go back and see if my ideas dovetailed at all with any of the ideas that had been previously published. It turns out that the answer was a big no.

Boldly Go's first system was something I cobbled together after watching about half of The Original Series episodes of Star Trek. I was, maybe, four episodes in when I decided that I might want to write an RPG, based on the show, and so I continued watching with a notebook and pen beside me, so that I could write down anything that was either obvious or repeated that needs to be in the rules.

One of the earliest ones (and a perennial favorite), is the Torn Uniform Rule. To wit: In the event that you suffer damage from an attack, you may instead tear your uniform to ignore the effects of that attack. So, for all of you who have been wondering just how Kirk can fend off Gorn, solid-light holograms of his Academy nemesis, and unruly children without suffering much more than a scratch, now you know!

And, yes, this rule is silly. This is because I am silly, and also because Star Trek can be, has been, and (thank you, CBS) will be silly in future episodes. It's not silly all the time, certainly, but it's not a deadly-serious, hard-SF series all the time in which there are no jokes and weird/surreal things and no laughing. That's one thing that makes my game slightly different from other games that have come before--the acceptance that some things in Star Trek are just goofy, and that that's okay.

The other big thing about my version of the rules, which is what I wanted to talk about here, is that my first version of a Star Trek game had very few stats or skills. In fact, there were exactly five stats, each of which each stat had four associated skills. This made a stat/skill chart that fit nicely on a character sheet and looked a bit like this:

HtH Combat
Rng Combat
Use Tech

Where other games have, say, the Science skill broken down into a dozen different sub-categories (Astrogation, Astrophysics, Geology, etc., etc.), I only have the one skill. Why is that? Two reasons!

  • Reason #1: I hate lists of things so, so very much. The fewer lists I have to deal with, the better.
  • Reason #2: Because, in the show, just about every character knows some science. Spock knows the most, of course (unsurprisingly, his character wold have high scores in both Mental and Science, which would be representative of that knowledge), but Kirk, McCoy, and the others also know some science. 

During character creation, the player gets to assign some points to their stats and some points to their skills. Whenever something happens in the game that requires a skill roll, the player gets a number of d6s equal to stat + skill and rolls them. Any result of 5 or 6 counts as a success.

There's two paths to take at this juncture, and I decided to take the one that resulted in fewer lists. To wit: Rather than say, "here are a dozen different science skills. Spock has high ratings in most of them. Kirk has moderate ratings in, let's say two," I said, "there is one science skill that should properly be pronounced, 'SCIENCE!' Spock's score in it is amazing. Kirk may have one point in it, so he's familiar with science, but not particularly good at it."

Anyone who has played the game recently will look at the above and realize that this isn't actually how Boldly Go works. And that's true! That's because, with the help of Bob Dunham, I came up with an even better idea that makes even more sense in the context of the show.

I'll talk about time!

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