Wednesday, January 28, 2015

ChromeStrike (0.9.866)

I've been playing around with anydice more, and over the past couple of days have realized a fault with skill checks. As is, characters at most might have like 8 effective value with skill checks (5 Attribute + 3 Skill Ranks)- while this is okay in personnel combat, and having attacks miss a decent portion of the time, it is less so fitting for trade skills. Who wants to fail in repairing a mech or diplomacy 50% of the time, especially when trained in it? To this end characters may now take a couple of hours, or a day, to receive a -1 or -2 modifier to their roll. That should even it out a bit.

It should also be noted that many of the maneuvers from mech combat (Kneel, take cover, aim, etc.) are also performable in personal combat. Personal combat still needs to be heavily redone in order to be more gritty, and in-depth, but this should still help improve it that much more.


Rulebook- 0.9.866


  1. So is this even slightly still in development? I only ask because I've been running an ongoing campaign for a year now and I actually have some feedback, on the off chance anyone cares.

    1. I have a second version of ChromeStrike that is in development, but it's been taking a back seat to my other current projects (namely Towergirls: the Game). The second version is a bit more chunky and works somewhat different, mechanically, but I'd still love to hear how that campaign has gone and get any feedback you wish to share- that might impact some stuff that I eventually end up doing to the sequel.

      Here's a link to a very WIP version of Chromestrike 2. It's still in the brainstorming phase. Feel free to shoot me an email/message, too.

  2. A couple of disclaimers:
    - I initially misunderstood how actions worked and assumed that Utility actions could be used to move, like how standard actions in DnD can be combined with a move action to "double move". In the end I didn't bother correcting this, since it proved innocuous. The only conditions where it's particularly helpful are retreating and helping melee builds close.

    - I erred on the powerful side for Perks. Simply put, the sample perks vary widely in power: Conditional +1s to DR or AR pale in comparison to something that increases damage output like "This is Highly Unsafe" or things that lightly warp the rules of the game like "Go for the Head". When approving custom perks, I largely balanced them against the more powerful sample perks, both for PCs and for (named) NPCs.

    - I wrote my own setting. This isn't really mechanically relevant, just something to note. I made a lot of custom enemies.

    - Once I was more comfortable with the system, I eventually started expanding it a little. Later on, I started designing new parts to put to market, new enemies with capabilities not achieveable simply by customizing existing foes, and even implemented a simple leveling system. The mechanical feedback below intentionally neglects these things, and focuses on things that were noted before I started tweaking.

    1. As for system feedback...

      - The first major thing I found bothersome (and quickly houseruled to alter) is the way rolls are handled in this system. Essentially, skill rolls, reaction rolls, and armor saves function on a roll-under system while higher is better for attack rolls. This was a massive source of confusion for the first few sessions when the players were never quite sure whether their roll was good or not until I clarified the result for them. I ended up houseruling so that higher results are more desirable in all cases, and setting Target Numbers as I felt appropriate (I cut my teeth GMing DnD 3.5, so this came naturally to me.)

      - This is a fairly minor thing, but there's no real frame of reference for anything in time-space. Rounds take place over an ambiguous amount of time, distances are ambiguous in the spaces they represent, and so on. This can make it surprisingly difficult to actually visualize anything, or to create maps that make any sort of sense. (For my own game, I noted that the Tank fluff text describes their speed as 60 MPH, and assumed that the Tank's 5 speed was representative of that measure; thus, 1 spd = 12 MPH)

      - Speedsters are essentially untouchable past a certain point, short of natural 11s and 12s. I'm aware that this is a known issue, but it's a very noticeable one. Part of it is that speed effectively double-dips into DR, increasing it both directly and through move bonuses to dodge. It's also shockingly easy to pump speed extremely high, which is part of it.

      - Speaking of Move Bonuses, they can be somewhat cumbersome to handle in play, especially when there are many actors on the field. Since they change from turn to turn, it's a noticeable time investment to write them down somewhere. They're also highly variable in nature; with move penalties you have to track both subject and the magnitude, usually for most or all of the actors on the field. Another layer of complexity is added by the parts that affect it (Mono-03 head, CO-02 Chassis, CO-01 arms), which add a second variable to track for any actor featuring them because their dodge bonus and attack penalty are not equal.

      - Weapons! Some weapons see a lot of use, others are largely seen as just not worth it or too impractical to use. The PCs largely agree that the Heavy MG is overpriced; while 2x attacks and AP1 make it theoretically fairly powerful, in practice it seems to jam at least once per combat. It's also only very slightly cheaper than the (far superior) MG57, which at least one PC regards as the best all-around weapon. The railgun is the most powerful weapon, but has too many drawbacks to be functional (for mech use; I've stuck a railgun on a combat turret, which proved terrifying). Rockets and Missiles are pretty much the only limited-use weapons that the PCs utilize; rockets are an extremely effective way to put a lot of damage downrange against tough, easy-to-hit targets, and missiles are pretty much the only way to semi-reliably hit speedster builds once they've moved. Other limited-use weapons like the Chemical Laser, Shotfist, Shredder, Jackhammer, etc. have seen little-to-no use except by NPCs (the Shotfist and Shredder are essentially useless, the CLaser can serve a niche as an alternate sniper weapon, and the Jackhammer has incredible damage potential with HE rounds but has too short a lifespan to justify using as a PC, even with a storage tank).

    2. - The Shields are not, strictly speaking, weapons, but are also worth noting as something the PCs have made heavy use of; with a free hand to carry one, repairing wounds to the shield after the fact is almost always cheaper than repairing wounds to the arms/chassis, and less likely to cause major debuffs in the process. One PC has gone so far as to ask for a perk to allow their shield to cover their head, which I allowed. The same player asked if shields could be used to 'bash', using essentially the same mechanics as a kick or punch but taking the AP0 hit to the shield instead of a useful part. I also allowed this, since it made sense.

      - Speaking of Operating Time, while the Railgun drains 12 hours of operating time and the external power pack increases it, there's no clear indicator of how much operating time a mech has by default. I think it might mention 48 hours in the setting text somewhere? Still, if the rules interact with a number, it should probably be initialized in the rules text.)

      - There is no means for a character to develop their skills as written. This is not necessarily an issue, but it feels particularly strange given that even a maxed skill with a maxed base stat does not have an overwhelmingly high success chance. A PhD Physicist with 6 int and 3 points in Physics can still fail to succeed at routine problems (though a true expert would probably have a perk in the vein of "Warrior and Mechanic" to cover this).

      - A lot of this is criticism, but I will say that the Electronic Warfare System is wonderful. It offers a lot of utility at a reasonable investment. It's not exactly broken, but it's almost always useful and against certain types of enemies it's just incredible. In my last session, the Hacker PC and an NPC Mech Pilot with hacking skills had a hacker duel. Well, 'duel'. Mostly the PC hacked him and he failed to resist, and he couldn't do any hacking with his comms down. Also he failed the roll to not panic with his comms down.

      - The Targeting Laser, properly supported, is one of the most powerful things in the game. As long as you have allies, anything you can hit with a targeting laser is likely to die very quickly. This goes double if you have access to artillery. In the last session, my PCs successfully requisitioned a pair of MLRS Missile Trucks to hang out offscreen, and when they were having trouble against a squad of Enemy Pilots, the one PC with a Targeting Laser called in a pair of Artillery Strikes on the Ultraheavy Tank Mech in the group. 2x Hits, 2x Damage, twice. Amazingly, that Tank mech was still up afterward but it had only one wound left. Obviously this only applies in situations where you can actually use artillery, but even the regular buff version is pretty strong.

      - Combat on foot is INSANELY lethal. I realize this was probably intentional, but yeah. One session saw a few PCs getting into several fights on foot, and they mostly survived because they either got the drop on enemies, had allies to serve as meatshields, or simply got lucky and the enemies didn't roll well. The only PC who took a hit in personal combat died instantly (by RAW; I decided he was critically wounded in a manner that would be quickly fatal without immediate medical attention, because I was the GM and could do that).

      - There are probably other things I'm not thinking of right now.

    3. Oh, almost forgot. If you're interested in hearing about the campaign itself rather than just my conclusions with regard to mechanics, there's a Campaign Journal on GITP.

    4. This is all great, thanks. It's been years since I've touched any of the rulebooks so I'm mostly going off of memory here.

      -Rolling high/low in different places is definitely something that will be avoided in the future.
      -One speed is 12MPH, that is correct. It should have been clearly denoted as such somewhere in the book.
      -Speedsters are an issue. In early builds SPD did not raise flat DR at all, only movement, and that devalued Speed builds a little too much. (Or was it only flat DR and no movement DR? I forget) A middle-ground would be preferable.
      -Weapons are relatively balanced IMO, but the HMG is an issue as you pointed out. Making the jamming less likely (or removing it altogether) would be preferable, but it needs at least some sort of drawback to not be the end-all-and-be-all, IIRC.
      -Shields could deinitely be toned down, yes. Shield bashing does make sense.
      -Battery usage was a very quick afterthought and would need to be explicitly explained. Most mechs have 48 hours of power, yes, so a railgun would chunk away 25% of that provided the mech has no External Power Pack.
      -No skill development is because skills/perks were very much barebones and had little work gone into them. This is one of the things I will address and aim to improve upon with ChromeStrike 2.
      -EWS is definitely great. I could see some kind of defensive bonus against other Electronic Warfare Systems. They were created to give utility/commander build mechs something active to do, or so that someone could go movie hacker build. Mostly work on both counts.
      -Targeting Lasers working as intended. Might need to be balanced a bit, but it's priced mostly suitably and takes up a valuable slot, provided that it's not a hireling PA with the TL.
      -Combat on foot is meant to be insanely lethal, but it sounds like you handled it perfectly.

      I am definitely interested in hearing about the campaign itself. I'll be reading over that.

      Thanks for all the feedback! I'll be sure to keep it in mind when I get around to developing the sequel more.