Friday, January 15, 2016

Sci-Fi; Adding Mystical Power to Games

The mix of mystical powers and science fiction is hard enough to reconcile. Though the Warhammer 40,000 series of games seems ot have done it, they are a genre all their own. Warhammer blends science fiction and fantasy and technologies that have long since passed plausible reality. It is strictly a game that stands alone. Most science fiction does not blend the two easily. 
The following examples are ideas on what might be usable in sci-fi games. They are general concepts which can be adapted to fit within a game. I wrote them with the intention that they serve as idea which others would want to alter and adapt to fit their own games. Please feel free to adapt as you see fit.
Shambattle Spy Rule: Each side designates one soldier of the enemy to act as a spy. This figure is played as a normal soldier on the other wise. The spymaster chooses when to activate him. At that point, he is operated by the spymaster. He can be used to attack enemy soldiers.
In my opinion, there have to be limits. He cannot be an officer. You may have to limit what kind of soldier he is. Maybe he cannot be a heavy weapons man, or an elite trooper, etc.
Telepaths and empaths: there is little use for telepathy in the heat of a battle. Like most psychic skills, its use is for non-combat situations. Indeed, most psychics cannot use their skills when under duress, such as in a gunfight. They need time and enough calm to concentrate. The one use in a battle game would be to expose the spy. Should a telepath come within a half move of a spy, the agent is exposed. To make it harder, neither the telepath nor those within a half move of him can have fired that move. The also cannot be involved in hand to hand combat or the operation of a weapon.
Zen / The Force: A fighter using spiritual power will have certain advantages. The use of Zen and the Force are both legendary in their respective fields. The first obvious effect is to enhance the fighter’s offense and defense in close combat. A fighter can strike and deflect weapons.
A second enhancement is for those fighters who may use aimed weapons. They will have improved accuracy, like snipers. Think of Luke using the force to aim his missiles in the first Star Wars movie, or a Zen Kyudo archer hitting target.
The Force allows a fighter to move objects and attack at a distance. He can push an enemy or knock him down, depending on his skill.
With Zen and the Force, there are levels of ability. We can simplify this for game purposes. These would be Novice, Average and Master. We think of a novice as Luke first learning to use the Force. A Master is a highly accomplished fighter. Historical figures like Miyamoto Musashi and fictional characters like Obi Wan and Darth Vader are masters.
A Novice gets +1 when defending and attacking with a sword or light saber. If using the Force he can also deflect one shooter per turn using a standard firearm. (This is not a Zen power, except whe ndeflecting arrows and hand-launched projectiles).
An Average warrior gets +2 on attack and defense. A Force user can deflect 2 shooters per turn using standard personal firearms.
A Master gets +3 on attack and defense. Usoign the Force, he can deflect three shooters with personal weapons or one squad-level heavy weapon.
As novices have yet to develop enough concentration, they must roll before using the Force. On a six-sided die (not the nerdy D&D dice) 1 and 2 he fails the concentrate and so fight as a normal fighter.
An average Force fighter who is not shooting or in close combat can stop an opponent at 1/2 move away. This does not work on other Force users, nor on officers, as they have developed sufficient will to be unaffected. The affected individual cannot move for 1 move.
A Master force fighter can push an opponent to the ground at 1/2 move. The individual cannot move for 1 turn and fights at -1 for one turn. If the opponent is an Average Force user, he can only push him back. A Master can use this skill against anyone with whom he is not engaged in combat.
Like a telepath, a Force fighter will detect a spy at up to 1/2 move away.
A Master is going to be a very powerful piece in a game, so steps must be taken to retain game balance.
Rule of Three: to make close combat more practical ,we had invented the Rule of Three for the updated Shambatte (A Game for Old Fashioned Toy Soldiers) and OMOG. A figure attacked by three figures resolves combat thus:
In a 2 to 1 fight, the single fighter is penalized:
He fights at -1 against the first enemy
He fights at -2 against the second foe
If there is a third enemy in the fight, the defender still fights the first and second enemies as above. The third automatically kills him. This Rule applies to all normal fighters and the Novice.
For fighters using the Force, an Average level fighter has the Rule of three extended to a Rule of Four. He gets -1 for the first enemy, -2 each for the 2nd and 3rd enemies, and is automatically killed if there is a 4th enemy.
For a master, he fights the first enemy at no loss, the second fighter at -1, and additional enemies at -2. He is not automatically killed, no matter how many are in the melee..
Thinking of Sci Fi commanders, who would be my picks? Kirk was too much of a hothead and too impatient. He got a lot of people killed. Not a guy you want on your side in a gunfight. Adama was too laid back. Picard was passable., Archer and Crichton both would be good in small actions with a squad or smaller. Darth Vader was good with small units and larger operations. He would be a good man to have on your side in a small gunfight and a larger assault.
Vader’s problem is the material with which he must work. Let’s face it, folks, Imperial Stormtroopers are matched by Star Trek’s red-shirt security for coming up short in a fight. If Vader had troops like the mobile infantry of Starship Trooper, he would have done wonders. Even with mediocre troops, Darth Vader got things done

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