Master Mines

We’re digging RPGs

Decommissioned: Keeping Time

(This is mostly a re-post from my own blog, put to public display in hopes of getting feedback)

The beginning of a D-Com game consists of the player(s) and Department Manager (my term for the person “runs” the game) discussing how long they want to play that night. The negotiated length of the play session determines a central mechanic in the game: Core System Time.

Let’s say the 2 players and the Dept Mgr decide on a 2 hour game. The two Battlebot PCs begin play with a 10 in Core and a d4 in “Fuzzy Logic”. Since in this example the game length is 2 hours or 120 minutes, every 12 minutes, both Battlebots lose 1 point of Core. When a Battlebot’s Core is 0, they are completely broken and cease all functions. These 12 minutes are real-time since everyone agreed to a two hour game.

If you think about this with the Core mechanic of “Stressing the System”, most of the time, the game would last less than 2 hours.

Here’s my favorite part of the timing mechanic. Once the play group settle on a game length (in hours), they play an mp3 that comes with the game that lasts two hours. The mp3 is completely silent (nothing to distract those players who hate music in game) most of the time. But for the two hour version, every twelve minutes, an audio cue notifies the players that a Core System failure has occurred (I’m envisioning a cool robotic voice).

But say you only want to play for an hour? That’s cool. The game will come with an mp3 with audio cues every 6 minutes. The game will come with mp3s for play sessions of 1, 2, 3 and 4 hours. As for what “comes with” means, I’m still pondering the details of either a CD included with the game or more likely, hosting the mp3s online.

* So, combined with the Two Stats, what do you think?
* Does this sound like a fun thing or a frsutrating thing? can GMs roll with this kind of short, structured game?


April 15, 2008 - Posted by | D-Com


  1. I’m not sure about the two stats. I think you need to hit the table to see how they work. The MP3 sounds like a good and cheap solution to a timed game, especially if it has a cool robotic voice.

    Comment by iamclyde | April 16, 2008 | Reply

  2. I think this is a neat and exciting idea. However I think it’ll be important for you to include rules about “pausing” for lack of a better term. You don’t want “what does this rule mean?” to steal game-time.

    Comment by robertbohl | April 16, 2008 | Reply

  3. I like the idea of the robotic voice, especially if the last two messages were a bit different: “Warning – Core Failure – Meltdown in 6/12/18 minutes” and “Unit Core Capacity exceeded – Meltdown in progress – Meltdown in 10…9…” or the like.

    Also, is there any way to *regain* Core? In Escape or Die, it is possible to reduce your Doom counter, I think, keeping you a bit ahead of (or behind, in this case) other players. My opinion for D-Com is straight downward spiral, with the possibility of accelerating that process.

    Comment by Matthew Gandy | April 16, 2008 | Reply

  4. I’m super excited that cool robotic voice is getting good feedback! I know an actress who is currently working on the show K-Ville that would be great for it. I may digitize it a bit to make it more robotic. Yay, I get to use my theater training.

    OK, down to business:

    Rob, you’re right. The Department Manager should get a pause button ONLY for rules clarifications… maybe for bio breaks. I want to really push the time limit, though, so the rules will be strict about when to hit pause.

    Matthew, thanks for the thoughts on the voice. The current vision I have for the game has no way for PCs to regain Core. So, the game will end in X hour(s) as an upper limit, but if players stress the system, then the game could end much earlier. That prevents me from tailoring each core loss by a percentage or an exact message on how much time is left.

    A slightly related thought. Should Core be listed in percentages instead of a 1 to 10? since I’m thinking of difficulties in a percent anyways, it would translate well. But, that really changes the Fuzzy Logic portion, meaning I’d have to change the difficulty to account for that… or should Fuzzy Logic only be d10s and increase number of dice instead of die type?

    Comment by orklord | April 16, 2008 | Reply

  5. Percentage for Core seems better to me. It makes it feel scienticious.

    You said at one point that most of the time, all of the BattleBots (or what are you calling them now?) will core fail. I’d like to know about that “most of the time” part.

    Comment by robertbohl | April 16, 2008 | Reply

  6. I’d like to know about that “most of the time” part.
    Good question, Rob. The answer deserves its own post. I’m using Battlebots as a placeholder until I find a better name.

    Comment by orklord | April 16, 2008 | Reply

  7. How about this:
    Core is percent – d10 equal 10%, 20%, etc.
    Fuzzy Logic is also percent and also d10, but only adds that many percent (1-10%) to a given roll.
    I like this conceptually, but there are several potential drawbacks:
    1) You’d probably want one die type/color for Core and another for Fuzzy Logic.
    2) You’d need to rack up lots of Fuzzy Logic dice quickly, to compensate for losses in Core.
    3) Lots of Fuzzy Logic dice means a lot of adding.
    Basically, it could affect speed of play, which is a serious issue for your game.

    Comment by Matthew Gandy | April 16, 2008 | Reply

  8. Matthew,

    I appreciate the suggestions for Core, but I’m pretty solid on Core being a static number that declines, not a Fortune roll.

    Good point that “lots” of Fuzzy Dice means extra addition. I’ll think on that one.

    Comment by orklord | April 16, 2008 | Reply

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