Chargen and Encounters

Hey Folks! Digging further into character generation today, and starting to define an encounter system to possibly run it.

Earlier in the day, I mainly focused on the sorts of questions chargen is going to answer. What will it tell us about the player? How can it be used in the game? In what order do we need to define things? I perused some of my favorite old pen & paper RPGs for ideas, and the overall structure started to solidify.

Basically, it'll be like a mix of NEO Scavenger and Traveller RPG. I think the overall structure will be closest to Traveller, where the game guides the player through a series of questions about homeworld, education/career, and special events. Each step along the way, the character evolves with new skills, abilities, and drawbacks, as well as social network changes and wealth. A mining gig can result in a permanent injury, or a mineral boom windfall. Or maybe a strike resulting in possession of a mining rig and outlaw status.

The NEO Scavenger part comes in with respect to the way stats are measured. Instead of "navigation 3" or STR=5, we'll go with NEO Scavenger's descriptive terms like "Navigator" and "Strong." If you're not strong, you don't get "Strong." That simplification worked pretty well in NS, and I think it'll work here.

There's a lot yet to figure out, such as how to present these choices, how much variety player's will have, and what types of rewards can be given (and how). But I think this approach will result in the player getting invested in the game sooner. The character creation process will feel more story-like, requiring less perusing of rules and stats, and just "rolling with it." And when done, the player should already have an idea of where they fit in the world.

With that structure in mind, the other question that started begging an answer is "how do I present this?" And one of the first things to spring to mind was "the encounter system."

This sort of Q&A process with the player is exactly what the encounter system is meant to do. Present the player with a situation, their options, and based on their choice, present additional situations. I've already got a pretty good template to start from in NS. And furthermore, the space prototype has a related system called "interactions," which uses a lot of the same rules and fields. So I'm considering merging interactions and NS-style encounters together.

The big benefit to this is that finishing it means I also get the game's story dialogue UI as part of the deal. Not only can I get the player character established, but I can use the UI to present the player with missions, encounters, conversations, and other events.

It's a pretty big undertaking, though. This system was easily one of the more complex ones from NS. And interactions are one of the more complex ones in the prototype. But the good news here is that both work, and at least one is battle tested. So it's just a matter of salvaging pieces that work from either and making sure they fit together.

Well, that, and beginning the process of adding a boatload of content :)