Rock Scissors Blog

A multi-way conversation between roleplaying game authors and developers. Occasionally useful.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

I'm stuck at the crossroads of two somewhat mutually exclusive sets of ideals in the midst of a conversion project. I think I may be painted into a corner.

The project is adapting Dave Van Domelan's Toolkit system based RoboMACs setting to D20 Future. For those of you not familiar, Toolkit is a system descended from the Last print incarnation Space Gamer/Fantasy Gamer's Freestyle Roleplay system. It's about a half rung up the crunch ladder from systems like OTE. You can minmax to some degree, but it's pretty well pointless. After all, we're talking about a game with two range bands; "In Range", "Out of Range."

The conversion itself isn't so much the issue - it's a neat setting and we believe that many will pick it up for a few idea thefts and more neato mecha, but it runs into a few design issues when thrust up against the Mecha rules in D20 Future. The Mecha Crusade rules are very much of the Gundam vein. Mecha are semi-rare, very large machines with componants that are so terribly large that very few special systems - like life support - can actually be built into the machine. A Mecha the size of a city block can't carry much more than a modern conventional air superiority fighter. As such, the design process is geared towards a very short equipment list for the Mecha/Pilot to use. RoboMACs Mecha are far more in the Macross vien, rather like modern fighting craft ( be it tank or jet or chopper ) along with transformation systems and the like along with a smattering of clunkier style hardsuits. The big bads, being AI, have similar technology without that pesky need to breathe and such.

As you can see, these aren't precisely compatible. Of course, that's nothing a few rules modifications couldn't fix.

Or "Why not use MechaMorphosis?" Well, for one, I don't have it and can't seem to find it locally. I'm not entirely sure it would be worth chasing down without knowing what's OGL and what's not. And based on the preview it appears to suit my needs even less than the Mecha Crusade rules, as it seems to treat the giant transforming robots as a race and assign them role based classes. Not really a bad system for a living robots system, but not really gonna do so well for the side with the squishy pilots in RoboMACs. I really don't think it would do to have two systems in play. One for the big bad sentient Robos and one for the Piloted craft of the "Good Guys."

There's also Guardians of Order's D20 mecha, but it strikes me as far too much crunch work to get the mecha going. And I have to question if its market penetration is deep enough that much benefit would be gained from using its rules rather than something hand-rolled or extended from D20 Future.

Then along comes a fascinating suggestion. One I'm surprised I didn't think of as its my default choice when it comes to what rules subset should I use for this project. Mutants and Masterminds.

How does everyone else solve this type of quandry? Or am I overthinking a simple situation.