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The Matrix - Super Powers Companion variant

 
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velikch
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Joined: 23 Jun 2011
Posts: 97

PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 1:35 pm    Post subject: The Matrix - Super Powers Companion variant Reply with quote

So I'm launching a PbP (Play by Post) Savage home-brew variant set in the world of The Matrix. The premise for how to do this is pretty straightforward - I'm using the Super Powers Companion for the ruleset. All abilities for people entering the Matrix are only functional while in the Matrix (for obvious reasons), and the one power that is absolutely forbidden is Super Sorcery (there are several other powers that don't make any sense at all in a Matrix game and I'll tackle those individually should they crop up, but this is one that makes sense in the matrix but not for player charaters) which I'm limiting to Agents (many thanks to Clint for clarifying Super Sorcery).

So I think it will be interesting. I'm open to discussion of how to give SPC a Matrix spin, so if anyone has any suggestions for Matrix-y things I'm interested in getting your opinions or answering questions about what I'm doing.

----------

Anyone interested in joining should shoot me a message (I'm avoiding plugging the site or the sim here publicly as I don't rightly know if it would be appreciated, but shoot me a private message if you are keen on joining). It's slow paced but essentially you need only post a few times a week, or more often if you're especially keen. All the dice rolling will be handled on my side to determine outcomes, the players won't hardly use Savage Worlds at all, the use of it will be exclusively to determine outcomes on my end.

If you haven't done PbP before, some of them enable players to roll dice and to make blunt statements about skills or abilities they are activating "I'm casting Bolt for 6 pp", but the nature of this PbP is more or less storywriting, meaning not bluntly stating what your character is doing but rather more eloquently describing your character's actions, thoughts, etc. It's purely roleplaying sans game system for the players. That being said, the players don't know the SW core rules nor the SPC rules or even what game system I'm using, I'm simply interpreting their own generalized ideas into SPC characters.

So it might be interesting if players who actively know the rules joined up and created characters - which is something I'm welcome to.
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velikch
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also the question of how to do bennies in a slow-paced PbP is also a major topic I've been thinking about for a while. I'm planning on just slowly regenerating them for the players (with Young, Luck, and Great Luck improving the rate of regeneration, or Bad Luck reducing the rate by a proportionally valid amount compared to the non-improved regeneration rate) but how often exactly I will be giving them bennies is still uncertain. Suffice to say I'll be gauging the amount of usage and complementing that so that hopefully there is neither a deficit nor a surplus (except by players with edges/hindrances that modify their own rates).

I have indicated to them that they have the ability to bluntly, out of character, say "I really want this to work" (with clarity on what part of their action they want to spend a benny on) which flags their action as one that requires spending a benny if the action fails. I've also indicated that they do have a limited number of times they can "influence" their odds, which will regenerate over time, etc., and that I reserve the last of these for the possibility of character death with a quick "you only have 1 chance left, do you really want to use it on _________?" as a chance for them to still use it if they really feel it's necessary.

Bennies is a whole 'nother barrel of fun when it comes to this PbP game using Savage Worlds and SPC as a base, heh.
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Maine
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Joined: 01 Jan 2009
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rather than doing bennies by session like you would in a live game, do them by story arc / act.

You could also give them a benny at the start of any fight sequence if they are below their maximum number of bennies.
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velikch
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That was a major consideration of mine, especially the latter as I suspect they will never use them except in a fight. But the question of how often that will amount to is still up in the air.

By "slowly regenerating" I mean as opposed to "replenishing" which is generally what happens in Savage Worlds (excluding variant/house rules for bennies) - at every meetup, each player gets their character's starting number of bennies (what I'm calling "replenishing" since you get a large chunk all at once that brings you up to a normal level), whereas with this I'm planning on giving a benny here and there, with people with young, luck, and great luck getting them more often and people with bad luck getting them less often. It's effectively smoothing the curve which would be good for a purely Story Arc model. Per fight however I'd have to play it by ear a little. So...I'm trying to do a blend I suppose.

It is something close to what I was thinking though. Smile
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Maine
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You can also reward them for good roleplaying, so you can use that as your metric for replenishment, playing it entirely by ear.

If a player is making the game interesting and enjoyable for everyone, and their benny supply is running low, reward them for taking chances (whether successful or not) and doing entertaining things.
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velikch
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I take that as a given; I've been running Savage Worlds games for a few years now and have been playing for longer and that's been pretty much the standard: giving away bennies for good roleplaying or doing or saying cool or highly amusing things.

For clarity, bennies aren't really something I question how to do with this PbP, I only question how much time will pass before a benny is given which is a number I can't put my finger on until it has run for a while. I do appreciate the suggestions though, all of them. Smile
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Maine
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry, I didn't mean to imply you didn't know about rewarding additional bennies Smile

I mean you can use the current number of bennies as a living metric - the lower they are the more likely they will be to get rewarded a benny, and use the usual trigger events (good roleplaying). The lower they are, the lower the threshold to reward a benny.

Although, the more I think about it...

The session-based nature of benny pools is a relatively unique concept in the RPG world, as it is a meta-game mechanic with an undefined and arbitrary lifespan, tied to the character and lacking in persistence. Bennies have inherently different value to players who play 6 hour long sessions vs those who play 3 hour long sessions. Trigger-based benny replenishment (i.e, reward for roleplaying, optionally at start of a fight, etc) helps mitigate this issue, but it is not quite the same.

Because of this, I think you might find you don't even need to worry about timing replenishment, weighting system; just play it the FFF way and wing it, fully replenish between story arcs, and you'll save yourself some hassle and bookkeeping.

I like the idea of using SPC; I'd guess you'd be playing it using the low-power setting rules?
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velikch
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No worries.

And sorry for my lack of clarity, it goes hand in hand with my lack of brevity. I'm not worried about figuring out what the time frame is, I'm worried about what to tell others. I suppose it's presumptive worrying, the worry that people will be concerned with how often they will receive their bennies so as to appraise their worth in my game. I think that because different GM's by the nature of how they run their games give different values to their bennies that that value of a metagame mechanic is a basis for passing judgment on the game in part. So my message really is that bennies are still a bit of a question mark and will require some time to gauge.

But thanks for allaying my concerns on this point.

I'm setting the power level at Minor Leaguers (AB: 6pp, +3pp/PP Edge) and using the Street Heroes optional rule. The exception though is that I'm adding that for 3pp Knockback is no longer limited to one raise in effect (as per the Street Heroes optional rule) but requiring the Veteran Rank before this is available. I'm thinking 3pp for this on account of the fact that with only 3pp per Power Point edge means a whole character advance buys the super powered knockback which for a Matrix game seems pretty fair - not everyone can knock someone back all that far and are generally quite powerful, and not all very powerful people in The Matrix necessarily have the super knockback.

Also going hand-in-hand with the Minor Leaguers rule, I using the Natural Growth rule as well. So the setting is low-powered but the progression of increasing power happens regardless of player choices which I think reflects canon quite well (mostly in the beginning, after that I'm not sure the Matrix canon really says much about growth in those regards but I still like the idea all the same). It also helps avoid the disparity between the player character who went heavy on power points versus the player character who went heavy on edges, the latter being able to take edges that qualify for others that enable them to do things both inside and outside the Matrix. There will be a discernible difference between these characters, especially at the higher levels that for me I don't think should exist.
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velikch
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 12:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've concluded that I'm starting things out at Seasoned for this. After making this decision I'm still set on keeping Inherent Power; it just makes sense for a Matrix game I feel.

Also having had a look at some character concepts already, I realize that Minor Leaguers is too small a scale for power increases for a Matrix-esq character. So I'm upping the ante to Second String, which means at Seasoned they'll start with 12 power points.

But the major decisions just sort of happened as character concepts started rolling in and it was dawning on me that a Matrix-esq character should be more powerful that what I had originally decided on (Novice and Minor Leaguers), especially if they didn't just take the red pill. Seasoned+ seems to be the way to go. Plus all the character concepts involved being experienced characters, so Seasoned it is. Wink

I realized that Inherent Power doesn't give them the Power Points edge for Novice rank, which I think is fine. I wanted to do Inherent Power to avoid a huge disparity between characters in and out of the Matrix, so this allows for a small difference which is cool by me.

It's looking pretty good so far. Getting pretty excited to start this game up. Mr. Green
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ValhallaGH
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Joined: 25 Apr 2010
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

velikch wrote:
I realized that Inherent Power doesn't give them the Power Points edge for Novice rank,

It never gives them a Power Points edge.
Inherent Power gives them Arcane Background (Superpowers) for free. And Nothing Else.

There are additional options (Natural Growth and Total Power) that can further affect how many power points characters have. Natural Growth provides the Power Points edge at every rank (Novice, Seasoned, Veteran, Heroic, and Legendary) for free. Total Power gives a set number of power points with no player ability to change that number.
If you don't use either of those options then players can (usually) take the Power Points edge up to once per rank (5 times total, no more than once each rank).
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velikch
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Woops, said the wrong one. Natural Growth is what I meant (I had been using the right one before, guess I was tired last night). Inherent Power makes sense too though for this.

Good catch on the Clint quote about "achieve a new rank" not "reach" it. I had interpreted it as "reach".

Many thanks! Very Happy
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ValhallaGH
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No problem.

It's also worth considering the Super Karma option. They take an additional Major hindrance to get extra starting power points. Not appropriate for all characters or campaigns, but worth considering if power level is an issue.
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velikch
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice suggestion! I don't think it's necessary in this case, but worth keeping in mind for future Super Campaigns.
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HawaiianBrian
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 02, 2013 1:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From time to time I've casually pondered how I'd run a Matrix setting. One thing I'd do is have players create two characters -- one is their "real world" character and the other is their "Matrix" persona, because their real-world skills would be totally different. In fact, they might even be a different rank!

In the movies, Neo is put through a training program which basically downloads knowledge directly into his brain. Presumably the others have undergone the same treatment, though obviously Neo had an even greater knack for it. Problem is, you can't just give all characters a d12 in every Trait for obvious reasons. Maybe you could start them at Seasoned and then use the "Born a Hero" setting rule to allow characters to buy Legendary advances.

Another idea is to give each character a pool of, let's say, 10 advancement points to spend every time they are about to do a run into the Matrix. They can use these points before the run to temporarily purchase knowledge, skills, edges, etc., and they can also opt to save a few of them to call in an impromptu download, just like Keanu did when he needed to know how to fly that helicopter in the first movie.

As for Matrix powers themselves: I'd actually suggest coming up with a list of pre-approved powers along with their trappings and just give them to each character for free, because in the Matrix everyone knew how to do the same stuff anyway. As for Power Points, it's a toss up... Super Powers better mirror the power and scale of stuff people in the Matrix could do (leaping great distances, slowing down time, etc.) but using an AB with actual PP you spend has the advantage of mirroring how characters sometimes have moments of doubt and can't pull something off.

Anyway, my two cent.
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