Thursday, May 5, 2011

Specialization and Signature Skills

Specialization is an ability to increase the effect of a skill by focusing on a certain area of that skill set.  For example,  pistol is a skill set including all pistols from holdout to heavy blasters.  A player can choose to specialize in one aspect of the skill set such as Heavy Pistols for example to gain certain abilities when using pistols that fall under that heading.

A signature skill is taking the process one step further and narrowing the specialization even more by selecting a specific weapon, ship or tool as the signature item.  For instance with our example above, the player could say choose a TAPH 8 (Heavy Pistol) in their inventory as their signature weapon.  When using this weapon they would gain additional benefits including the Heavy Pistol Specialization.

A player must be Specialized in a skill area to gain the Signature Skill.

How does this sound?  And lets come up with some examples of specializations and signature skill benefits.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

All Things Laser

Lets discuss lasers.  We have all had trouble finding a way to introduce a good balanced and interesting way to include lasers into the game.  Im not talking about Blasters, which are an entirely different thing.  Blasters use ( I can only imagine) A form of controlled plasma that is emitted as a focused blast.  A laser is a weapon that focuses light into such a narrow beam that it causes disruption of materials by burning through them.

Right now Blasters have the disadvantage of being large heavy weapons that do considerable damage at close range.  Lasers should have the ability to travel long distances and have an increased to hit ability as you can imagine them akin to a hose where the beam can be walked into the target.  But damage is the main concern here.  If one focuses a magnifying glass onto a piece of paper using the light of the sun eventually the paper will burn.  Does the energy of a laser work the same? Does the weapon beam have to be focused onto the target for multiple segments?  How does the new staging system work with this model?


Weapon Damage

Ultra 9
Weapon Damage has evolved from being a fixed number with a random (d6) amount added to the sum to represent the effect of the shot, to a more dynamic one in which the players to-hit result determines the damage.  In the old system, the higher the d6 roll the more severe the damage.  This system was useful and quick at a time when the games speed mechanics or flow was such that all turns were divided into 3 segments.   Weapon fire from semi automatic weapons (probably the most widely used weapon in the game) resulted in one shot per segment.  This resulted in a range between 2-9 points of damage per segment depending on the weapon type.  Since the advent of dynamic turns in which there is no set number of segments in a turn and that semi automatic weapons and some melee weapons allow for more then one attempt (shot/swing) per segment, a problem has surfaced in which the amount of damage per segment is too lethal 4-18 points of damage per segment is a lot.  In addition to the damage being somewhat skewed, the use of a d6 for severity seemed odd.

The solution to all of this was to create a more dynamic means of damage using the attackers to-hit roll (d20) to help determine the damage in a form of staging.  Staging is where the players roll vs the targets to hit number (TN) helps determine the whole result in one roll.  The better the hit, the more damage is done.  Each weapon had a staging range based on range.  For instance, a heavy pistol at medium range may have a staging factor of 2 and a base damage of 3 DR (damage rating).  So for every 2 points over the to-hit number, the DR increases by one point.

This seemed fine, however it was complicated to try and figure out every weapons staging number at different ranges (which of course are changing constantly in a game battle), not to mention the fact that the GM (game master) might be having to keep track of several of these ranges and staging numbers.  Needless to say, this was slowing the game mechanics down.  On top of this, there was also the fact that weapons were doing a set number of damage regardless of the roll.  If you had a heavy pistol and you hit twice in a segment, regardless of how well you rolled, you were doing a base damage of 6 point.  Now a heavy pistol (think .357 mag) should do a lot of damage, but we were eliminating the grazes and "I'ts merely a flesh wound!", shots, that make action gunfights interesting with that uncertain element.  So there as still a problem with damage....

So Ed came up with the idea of eliminating the base DR (damage rating) of each weapon and strictly allow for each weapon to determine damage by the dice roll.  Weapons classified as heavy weapons would stage at a factor of 1, medium at 2 and light at 3.  Some special weapons such as shot guns and sniper rifles stage differently based more on range.  All other weapons carry their staging out to their optimal range (the end of medium) once in long range, they add one to the staging number.  So a heavy weapon stages at 2 at long range.  Blasters are also an exception to this rule as they never change their staging.  It should be noted that blasters have a very short range compared to chemical based projectiles.