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need some design advice for a sci-fi wargame

 
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mean_liar
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 6:12 pm    Post subject: need some design advice for a sci-fi wargame Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

One of the projects I'm working on is Houses of Hydraulics and Plasma, a sci-fi game where the characters are noble pilots of massive mecha who lead regimental military forces, engaged in an ongoing war against an opposing imperial power. The characters and their forces form a larger military force, which engages in operations against their enemy, attempting to win battles to turn the tide against the enemy, personal glory to add to their legend, and glory to their (different) Houses. The game is a mashup between Mekton, Houses of the Blooded, Space Marine/Epic 40k, Fiasco, and Pandemic... and possibly CthulhuTech depending on what tools I build into the generation of the overarching imperial enemy.

Anyhow I've got the basic mechanical spine of the game, but the next part has me more stumped than I'm comfortable with. I want to come up with characteristics for the various Systems the players will be attempting to take control of. These characteristics would modify the base mechanical assumptions of the Operational portion of the game... stuff like local Nebulae which prevent high integration of forces with each other during assaults and more risk of extreme-range/orbital bombardment friendly fire.

What kinds of characteristics would make a System more memorable? As it is, the game plays out like a series of tactical and operational scenarios and I want to keep them spiced and not rote.


Last edited by mean_liar on Fri Jan 16, 2015 6:12 pm; edited 1 time in total
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AndreiChekov
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

are you talking about obstacles and stuff in various star systems?
Like one of them messes up missile accuracy, or radar or something because of all the pixie dust and cocaine floating around?
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Red_Rob
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2015 2:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Well, for a typical wargame scenario the key things you care about are resources, movement and combat effectiveness.

So for resource themed systems you could have the following:
  • Provides additional resources
  • Allows access to a special unit or unit modifier
  • Uses or reduces a resource
  • Increases the production of resources in nearby systems
  • Provides a bonus based on something else being controlled / available

    For movement you could have the following:
  • Hampers all movement
  • Hampers certain units movement
  • Cannot be moved through by some / all units
  • Allows faster / further movement for some / all units
  • Connected to some other system that is far away / outside normal movement range
  • Provides bonus movement in nearby systems

    For combat effectiveness at the system you could have:
  • Makes combat harder for all units
  • Makes combat harder for certain units
  • Provides an advantage to the attacker / defender
  • Provides some kind of alternate combat rule
  • Recycles units destroyed at the system
  • Damages some / all units in the system every turn / other interval
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    mean_liar
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    PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2015 2:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    Red_Rob, there's a few things there that I hadn't considered, but I wasn't looking for mechanical descriptors as much as thematic/evocative tags.

    So far as I can tell, the game's greatest risk is that it ends up merely as a series of tactical exercises, which is a lot more dry than what I'm hoping to create. A series of mechanical adjustments is all these things are really going to be, but in order to give things some life I'm looking for a context in which to put them in. You know, like how all DnD combat is "do damage, kill your opponent" but a fight against mind flayers in a labyrinth is a very different feel from storming a fortress of orcs. These adjustments to the solar system the characters are assaulting are going to create the overarching environment for several sessions (and tactical exercises) and I want to do what I can to give it some pop, some radical adjustment to how things operate such that it's thematically engrossing/engaging as well as creates adjustments in the mechanics that has the players nodding their heads in agreement.

    What I've come up with so far is:

    Obscure Language
    Unique Cryptography
    Endemic Radiation
    Subterranean Culture
    Nebulae
    Integrated Surveillance State


    Last edited by mean_liar on Mon Jan 19, 2015 2:35 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Red_Rob
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    PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2015 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    The way our group does these kinds of things in our homebrew games is work out mechanics that make for a fun and dynamic play experience first and then work out what fluff best matches. Usually the mechanics will suggest something that matches pretty well and flavourfully explains what is going on. I would start by looking at the Operational minigame and work out what alterations would prove interesting or force you to use different tactics, and then try to think what situation or effect could produce that.

    So you might decide that having units of small vehicles suffer a chance of suffering losses each turn whilst Titans etc. are unaffected makes gameplay interesting, and call it "Sandworms". Or having a certain area of the system that provides a combat bonus when captured is a cool twist, and call it "Archeotech Hoard". But I would recommend working out the mechanics first to avoid making cool sounding systems that lead to uninteresting or counterproductive gameplay.

    To give specific examples we'd really need to know more about the scope of the game - Is the background hard sci-fi, anime space opera or grimderp? Are space battles a thing? Are Operational battles system-wide or planetary focused? What tech level do things operate at?

    If you want to keep things interesting I might recommend randomly allocating several traits to a system once you have a bunch worked out. So each system could have for example an Economic trait, an Operational trait and a Planetary trait that determine what effects it has during battles there and once it has been captured. So you might get a Populous, Low Tech, Ice Planet or a Dilithium Rich, AI Controlled, Deathworld.
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    mean_liar
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    PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2015 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    That's good advice, re: creating mechanical adjustment packages and then finding a narrative scope to suit. Creating independent conditions columns (economic, operational, planetary, etc) is also a really good idea. Thanks!

    I think that's enough to keep me going for a bit, but to answer the questions...

    The game's operational sphere occurs within a System, with various Targets. The Targets have some values appended to them (military strength, political influence within the system, wealth), and characters engage in a limited set of operational activities (as in, choose an action from Table C, roll your trait against the system or target's trait depending, find result of Catastrophe/Failure/Success/Triumph), then the system responds in kind a la Pandemic/Darkest Night/et al. Operations center around executing tactical engagements, espionage, logistics, and politics, with the players torn between acquiring wealth (used to upgrade regiments and mechs), political influence (used to increase their personal glory and that of their House), and simple military success (possibly gaining glory, and definitely required to achieve ultimate operational/strategic success).

    Space battles are a thing, with Regiments abstracted to a level such that they should be thought of more as an army/branch of service rather than any kind of unitary, single-focus unit; a single Regiment is enough to pacify an unopposed planet and would contain all manner of vehicles and marines; they're basically classified according to their most prominent trait rather than their net composition. They acquire upgrades much like the mechs do. Mechs themselves are large and deadly enough to be equivalent to a Regiment, though they can't pacify planets.

    General tech level is probably around Traveler TL 13 or so. No time travel, but jump drives (a big operational concern is what forces are left behind at the Jump Carrier, necessitating the character(s) guarding the Carrier engage in political and espionage actions rather than assault actions, and thus losing out on Glory).

    While the mech combat is a round-by-round thing, Regiments act on a different time scale and in those situations mechs are treated like super-Regiments with some unique traits. Basically when mechs and Regiments collide, there's first a mech/mech battle with one side driving off/destroying the loser, with the remnants deciding what their response is going to be.


    Last edited by mean_liar on Mon Jan 19, 2015 9:30 pm; edited 2 times in total
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