Master Mines

We’re digging RPGs

Back in the Cockpit


 Anyway, I’ve been on a short hiatus, but it’s been good.  It has given me time to think.  So I’ve really been concentrating on two things: chargen and the central mechanic of the game: choice.  (I’ll get to that in a minute.)

I’ve really subconciously become attracted to the idea of a character’s story arc…sort of PTA in mecha land.  Sort of…

Anyway, what I came up with is a system of chargen that focuses on three things: a character’s past, present, and future.  (Impressive, huh?)  But what I want a character to do is choose their archetype first.  I have started with 12 archetypes: Mecha Jock, Reluctant Warrior, Confident Fighter, Knight, Holy Warrior, Warrior Mystic, Warrior Poet, Technogeek, Seen The Light, Wise Mentor, Grizzled Veteran, Friend Who Left First

I expect that list to expand and contract.  Each archetype will offer a basic template of skills, attributes, and ways to advance.  The Grizzled Veteran starts with more stuff and advances slower.  The Reluctant Warrior starts with less stuff, but advances more quickly.  Each archetype also offers a list of starting descriptors (adjectives), some of which the player has to take, some of which the player can choose.  All of this describes the now.

Players also can choose 3-5 lifepaths which describe significant events in the character’s life prior to the start of the game.  I have a slew of them and the arrange from farm boy to public school to asteroid miner.  Lifepaths also add descriptors and fates.  I don’t really want lifepaths to confer attributes/skills/etc.  I do want them to incur a penalty or a price (probably in the form of additional Fates.)

 Fates is a new twist I added.  Fates describe the character’s future and what will happen over play.  They are arcs that will happen in the story.  They are gained via lifepaths (maybe archetypes…) and at the end the character picks one and then the group adds one.

 Now, the game becomes about how descriptors come into conflict and how they tie into fates.  That’s my next step.


August 3, 2007 - Posted by | Mecha


  1. As I read this post, I got the impression that the characters all seem to be secondary. In the Anime that I have seen (not much, I admit), there seems to be one main characters and a lot of buddies, sidekicks and other secondary characters.

    One thing that I think would be an excellent design challenge for this game is to have the game master play the primary character and the players play these secondary characters (buddies, mentors, etc.), but in such a way that they control the story and feel like they are driving the game. Perhaps, when choosing fates, each character also gets to choose a fate for the main character, or choose some aspect of how their character affects the fate of the main guy.

    Comment by btaggart | August 4, 2007 | Reply

  2. Wow…I hadn’t intended that the characters be secondary, so it’s interesting you picked up on that. What passages made you feel that way? I’m a big believer that the subconcious (sp?) expresses itself in phrasing, etc. so if you can tell me what you made you feel that way, I would appreciate it.

    That being said… there’s something incredibly powerful n what you suggested and something I am going to have to think long and hard about.

    Comment by commondialog | August 4, 2007 | Reply

  3. Yeah, I realized after I had posted that I may not have represented myself correctly. I didn’t get the impression that you had meant it that way, but the idea of them being secondary characters came to me while reading your post.

    Mostly it was your list of archetypes. The last three (and to a lesser extend, the three before that) are usually the supporting/plot-based roles. They don’t have to be, but that’s what popped into my head.

    It is also in conjunction with something you had posted earlier, about a player choosing a mentor-style archetype knowing in advance that his character will die, but having that participation in the plot provide advantages to replacement characters.

    I have no ideas, really, on how to make a game out of playing the supporting characters, but if I come up with any, I’ll gladly share them. What you’ve presented so far would certainly welcome something like that.

    Comment by btaggart | August 4, 2007 | Reply

  4. Yeah, I think it would welcome some ideas on how to do this. Actually, I listened to Fear the Boot 62 this weekend and they talked about games with rank (like who is the Starship captain, who is the first officer, who cleans the deck) and it has got the wheels turning. More on this later…

    Comment by commondialog | August 4, 2007 | Reply

  5. The GM-as-primary-character thing sounds a good deal like My Life With Master to me, albeit kind of flipped on its head.

    On the other hand, it also sounds a bit like metaplot-heavy trad games where the PCs aren’t the focus and don’t get to do anything consequential or interesting. So, you might have to tread carefully to avoid that…

    Comment by misuba | August 7, 2007 | Reply

  6. Misuba,

    Your caution is well taken. While I tend to kind of like metaplot, I don’t want the PCs to not be the focus. If I go with the GM as primary character I want to do two things:
    1. Have the GM run the main character by the group and make sure that the PCs characters play off the main character well.
    2. Make sure each PC gets a (to steal a term) spotlight episode. I was thinking of advising that a good number of sessions be equal to AT LEAST the number of players + 2 or something like that so that each player gets their turn to make sure their conflicts come into conflict.

    I do see NGHB as a game that could run longer than a handful of sessions if desired.

    Comment by commondialog | August 8, 2007 | Reply

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