As I mentioned in my last post, my Gamer ADD has gone into over-drive and I am working on producing a yet-to-be-named mash-up of Star Frontiers (SF) and Swords & Wizardry Light (SWL). The goal with this mash-up is similar to SWL — strip down Swords & Wizardry + Star Frontiers so that a campaign can be played from about 4 pages of rules. Thus, the first thing I need to do is start making a list of things that won’t be in those 4 or so pages of rules.
- Rolled Characteristics: In SWL, a characteristic either gives a +1 bonus or no bonus at all. Since the implied reason for having rolled characteristics is a reference for ad hoc skill tests, they are not going to be necessary since there will be a proto-skill system imported from SF. All Characteristics will be expressed simply as “0” or “+1.” These will be assigned by the player at character creation.
- Armor Class: In a world that includes lasers, sonic weapons and rifles, armor is not going to be a huge factor in combat. Since this game will only encompass Levels 1-3, the easiest way to deal with D&D’s weakness for simulating firearms is to create a simple formula where every roll must reach‘20’ with all its bonuses and penalties to succeed.
- Thieves: Since the Thief is the proto-skill class of D&D and there will be a proto-skill system imported from SF, having a Thief class will be redundant.
- Elves, Dwarves and Halflings: I will err on the side of SF and simulate the three alien races provided there.
- Drasalites, Vrusks and Yazirians: The aliens I want to simulate will be inspired by these three races, but will not be these races specifically. I want to use them to create archetypes that one player will be able to call “Drasalite” while allowing another player using the same archetype to call “(Fill in your favorite sci-fi alien here).” This will allow for the game to delve into the space opera, Star Wars cantina scene rather easily while also allowing for a Referee to give a campaign a hard-science fiction feel by being more specific about the archetypes.
- A Ship-to-ship combat system: This is a bugaboo in sci-fi RPGs for me. As a player, I always found it really frustrating when the party got reduced to one entity in combat and therefore my ability to be creative with my character in order to affect combat virtually disappeared. Even if I were the pilot or the gunner, my actions were pre-defined by the ship. As a referee, I don’t like it because if I were to create situations in space the same way I would in a sand-box campaign, one roll could result in a TPK (the destruction of a ship) rather than the death of one character. Any space combat will be abstracted to the possibility that the party’s ship is damaged, and they need to repair it before they can go anywhere and/or have crash-landed on a hostile planet (like the cover of SF).
- The traditional six characteristics: This final one isn’t set in stone. SF has eight characteristics grouped into pairs: STR/STA, INT/LOG, PER/LDR. Since SF also has three categories of skills that I plan on emulating, it is going to be awfully tempting to pair up the six D&D traits so that each pair corresponds to a skill set.