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View Full Version : Homebrew system coherency check-- STaRS



Grod_The_Giant
2013-06-18, 12:25 AM
Some of you may be familiar with my homebrew rules-light system, STaRS (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=262434). Some of you may not-- that's OK. In fact, that may be better for this thread. See, I've finally gotten back to working on the latest (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=15146758#post15146758)-- and hopefully final-- draft (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=15146758#post15146758), and I've been having trouble putting one of the core mechanics into words. (I get it in my head, my players have gotten it in-game, but when I try to explain it in writing...) Rather than try to get feedback on it mixed in with everything else, I present it to you separately, here:

Scale
STaRS is a fairly abstract system. In two different settings, a superhero and a medieval knight might both have a Strength Rank of 7. And yet, the superhero can lift a car over his head with ease, while the knight would struggle to carry an armored comrade. The distinction lies in the use of Scale. All of a character's attributes lie on a Scale, expressed in Levels.

A task at a lower Level is effortless. A normal human will never fail to pick up an apple, or be harmed by a water balloon.
A task at the same Level as your capabilities is difficult, and requires a check. A normal human would have to roll to pick up a two hundred pound weight, or shrug off a punch.
A task at a higher Level is impossible. A normal human will never succeed in picking up a car, or shrugging off a bullet.


Scale is best thought of in terms of plausibility.
{table]Level|Name|Description|Example tasks
-2|Effortless|Itís almost impossible to fail|Sit up, tie your shoes, speak
-1|Easy|A normal human will succeed more-or-less constantly|Climb a flight of stairs, jump over a milk crate
0|Practical|A reasonable challenge for a normal human|Climb a chain-link fence, hurdle a bench,
+1|Plausible|A reasonable challenge for an action movie character; theoretically possible for a normal human but practically impossible.|Climb the outside of a building, hurdle a 10-foot fence
+2|Implausible|Impossible for a human without some form of outside influence|Climb a sheet of plate glass, Leap tall buildings in a single bound.[/table]

Scale can easily be expanded beyond +2, although levels start to blur at that point. It's rarely relevant for most tasks-- something is either achievable, achievable with sufficient Advantage, or impossible.

How much each level of scale represents can vary wildly depending on the genre of the game. A gritty, realistic game might classify action-movie type stunts such as driving a car down a staircase as "+2/Implausible." On the other hand, a superhero game might have such abilities be the baseline, and "moderate superhuman" feats such as lifting tanks be classified as "+2/Implausible."

Characters start at human capabilities (but see Sidebar: Inherent Scale). When they have a Trait which shifts the Scale at which they operate, the Star and the Director should cooperate to define the new Levels.


Sidebar: Inherent Scale
Different beings and vehicles operate on different Scales. A horse, for example, can carry more weight, run faster, and endure more than a human, but is less intelligent. The horse doesnít need to purchase Talents and Flaws to represent this inherent scaleóitís a natural part of being a horse. Stars should consult with the Director to determine what aspects of Scale are inherent.

Old Draft
Scale
STaRS is a fairly abstract system. In two different settings, a superhero and a medieval knight might both have a Strength Rank of 7. And yet, the superhero can lift a car over his head with ease, while the knight would struggle to carry an armored comrade. The distinction lies in the use of Scale. All of a character's attributes lie on a Scale. The exact details of the Scale vary from character-to-character and setting-to-setting, but its effects are the same.

A Trivial task is one for which no check is required, and there is no real chance of failure. Trivial tasks for an average human might include a Strength check to lift a bag of groceries or a Smarts check to view your email.
A Minor task is one for which a check is required, and there is a real chance of failure. Minor tasks for an average human might include a Strength check to bench-press a hundred pound weight or a Smarts check to try and remove a virus from your computer. Because Minor tasks are so variable in difficulty, Directors should make liberal use of Advantage and Disadvantage to adjust the difficulty of the roll to the difficulty of the task.
A Major task is one which is almost or completely impossible. Major tasks might include a regular human lifting a car or curing cancer.


Examples for an average human:
{table=head]Ability|Trivial|Minor|Major
Agility|Balance on a sidewalk.|Do a gymnastics routine.|Dodge bullets.
Awareness|See a house across the street.|Catch a stranger in a lie.|Read the lips of a man two blocks away.
Cunning|Know that it's a bad idea to jump off a cliff|Plan an ambush|Swindle a god
Manipulation|Tell a white lie|Persuade a guard to let you past|Lie to a telepath
Presence|Tell a joke to a friend.|Befriend a stranger.|Stop a riot with a few harsh words.
Smarts|Check your email|Solve a logic puzzle|Create a cure for a disease.
Strength|Carry a 10lb bag of groceries.|Carry a 100lb weight.|Lift a compact car.
Speed|Jog down the street.|Dodge a sword stroke.|Win a race against a car.
Vigor|Ignore the effect of being hit with a foam dart.|Ignore the effect of a punch.|Ignore the effect of being stabbed.
Will|Say "no" to a stranger.|Keep calm when being threatened by a monster|Resist a mind control spell cast by a god.[/table]


Inherent Scale
Different beings and vehicles operate on different Scales. A horse, for example, can carry more weight, run faster, and endure more than a human, but is less intelligent. The horse doesnít need to purchase Traits and Flaws to represent this inherent scaleóitís a natural part of being a horse. STaRS should consult with the Director to determine what parts of Scale are inherent or not.

So, my question to you is "does this make sense?" And if it doesn't, what parts are unclear, and how are you understanding it?

OzymandiasX
2013-06-18, 10:23 AM
So scale for a super hero would just mean that shrugging off a bullet would be a 0 instead of the +2 it would be for a normal dude? If so, then I'm with you so far...

Grod_The_Giant
2013-06-18, 04:05 PM
So scale for a super hero would just mean that shrugging off a bullet would be a 0 instead of the +2 it would be for a normal dude? If so, then I'm with you so far...
If you have an ability increasing the scale that your damage resistance works on, then yes, that is how it works.

Tony is a baseline human. For him, shrugging off a gunshot and taking no damage is an Implausible task. It's just not going to happen, no matter how much he wants it to. If he gets shot, he's going down.

But then Tony puts on his power armor. The armor increases the scale on which he resists damage. It might make the task Practical (roll to resist all damage), or even Easy!

Tony's Battle Armor might give him the following abilities:

Armor-- Boost to Physical Health (Roll to ignore small arms)
Servomotors-- Boost to exerting force (Lift a car)