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Author Topic: Your Favorite Modern Mechanics  (Read 9117 times)
Crafty_Pat
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« on: May 02, 2012, 02:54:03 AM »

Alrighty folks!

Let's hear about your favorite rules in and for modern games. Please observe the following rules...

  • Any rule is welcome, regardless of whether it's for combat, skill use, social interaction, or something else - but you should only endorse stuff you love here. Leave all the stuff you merely like at the door. Smiley
  • Rules from non-modern games are discouraged - unless you can (and do) make a clear and compelling case for why they might also work for modern, and (specifically) how. Be clear. Be concise. Sell the rest of us on your passion.
  • All posts should specifically cite the system the rule(s) come from (including edition, if applicable), and preferably point to a specific section or subject to reference.
  • You can and should sound off when one of our games includes a rule you'd like to endorse, but please only do so if you're really in love with the mechanic(s) you mention. We're after the best of the best here.
  • Most importantly, this will be a thread of non-judgment. Absolutely no arguments or bickering will be tolerated, and any posts that attack, denigrate, or even strongly counter someone's opinion will be yanked. Don't agree with someone's baby? Post your own alternative favorite. Do not argue merits (though asking why someone loves something, or for further clarification if you're unsure after they answer, is perfectly fine).

Basically, let's talk about what rocks in modern gaming! Let's share and discover together. Let's have some fun!

P.S. We're not saying any of this is research for Spycraft Third Edition. Of course, we're not saying it isn't either. Wink
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Bill Whitmore
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« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2012, 03:12:45 AM »

Quick clarification question.

Do you mean modern games as in a modern setting, or modern games as in new and/or recent games?

In other words, would you count D&D 4th Edition as a modern game since, while it is fantasy, it came out within the last few years?

Likewise with something like Top Secret/SI, which is set in a modern time but was released back in the eighties?
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« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2012, 03:17:18 AM »

Chase scenes.  Best mechanic for modern action Ive seen in a long time.  Every good espionage/action movie has a chase scene in it.  

The chase mechanic from Spycraft was pretty good, but I wish there was a way to make it more structured.  The old way was very free form where the scenery didnt factor in as much was nice, but I would enjoy random elements coming into play more that were detriments to both participants rather than just a result of a roll.   For instance, the GM could lay out 'legs' of the race where certain aspects would be in play like how rough the terrain was, how crowded it was, perhaps random rolls for unusual circumstance (like a stray baby carriage or semi pulling out suddenly).  You could scale it based on what kind of chase it was too.  Foot chases, Car chases, etc.
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« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2012, 03:28:14 AM »

Do you mean modern games as in a modern setting, or modern games as in new and/or recent games?

Games set in or near the modern day. Spycraft is a modern game. Cyberpunk... Maybe some of its rules might apply. Fantasy Craft is right out (though some rules might port over, which is why we leave that opening).

Quote
In other words, would you count D&D 4th Edition as a modern game since, while it is fantasy, it came out within the last few years?

4E falls into the same category as Fantasy Craft - out unless there's a rule that ports over cleanly and obviously (in which case we want to see the walk-through for how and why).

Quote
Likewise with something like Top Secret/SI, which is set in a modern time but was released back in the eighties?

Definitely a modern game in this context. So is the James Bond RPG.
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Crafty_Pat
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« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2012, 03:29:13 AM »

Chase scenes.  Best mechanic for modern action Ive seen in a long time.  Every good espionage/action movie has a chase scene in it.  

The chase mechanic from Spycraft was pretty good, but I wish there was a way to make it more structured.  The old way was very free form where the scenery didnt factor in as much was nice, but I would enjoy random elements coming into play more that were detriments to both participants rather than just a result of a roll.   For instance, the GM could lay out 'legs' of the race where certain aspects would be in play like how rough the terrain was, how crowded it was, perhaps random rolls for unusual circumstance (like a stray baby carriage or semi pulling out suddenly).  You could scale it based on what kind of chase it was too.  Foot chases, Car chases, etc.

Perfect, and thanks for the suggestions for making the mechanic better! Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2012, 03:35:40 AM »

Not specifically a Modern mechanic, but it definitely applies : Aspects, from the FATE family of RPGs. An elegant tool for roleplaying and luck manipulation at the same time, I love how it encourages players to think about how their characters would act in given situations.
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Crafty_Pat
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« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2012, 03:56:04 AM »

Not specifically a Modern mechanic, but it definitely applies : Aspects, from the FATE family of RPGs. An elegant tool for roleplaying and luck manipulation at the same time, I love how it encourages players to think about how their characters would act in given situations.

Yup, we love Aspects as well (as anyone who's playing the Mistborn Adventure Game can attest) - and yes, it's perfectly suited to modern play (and already featured in several modern games).
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« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2012, 04:09:02 AM »

Dramatic Conflicts in general, actually.  But not Hacking conflicts.  Hacking is profoundly boring for almost the whole group.  In fact, if it can be avoided entirely, so much the better.  I don't think I can overstate how much I like the other dramatic conflicts, though.  I wouldn't argue if combat was handled that way.
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« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2012, 07:05:09 AM »

Aspects from FATE for encouraging people to use both them for positive and negative traits, rather than just turtling and being way too precious about their character.

The XP unlocks from Marvel, as a kind of "achievement unlocked" system.

Using relationships and abstract concepts such as love or justice as scores in Smallville.

Alternity's system of success levels, so organised into Ordinary/Good/Amazing successes instead of a specific hit or miss DR.

Sanity. Always Sanity. Dead of Night's Survival Point mechanism as health & sanity & drama points, along with the currency of the Tension Points work brilliantly.

Oh, and to stroke the ego of Crafty Games, the action dice for all their ways of affecting the story.

I'm sure there are more, and will mention them when I remember what they are.
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« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2012, 07:09:50 AM »

I mentioned this during the Declassified at Gencon last year, I love the Mutants and Mastermind's 3rd edition rule of using modifiers for stats instead of the whole number. It makes more sense when buying your stats to buy +1 or + 2 instead of buying 12 or 14.

I also love the use of Equipment points. The only issue I saw was in the Stargate: SG-1 rules, the team had SO much equipment they didn't know how to carry it all around.  Tongue

Vitality Points/Wound Points is a great aspect. I don't care how tough your James Bond Spycraft character is at level 20, one good bullet to the head will still take him down.

Action Points are fun all around, especially when as a GM, I get more the more I give.  Evil
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« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2012, 08:44:05 AM »

Is it sad that I've gotten so jaded I can't think of a single mechanic from any RPG that I truely love instead of merely tolerate?

That being said, the best wealth system I've seen is the extremely abstracted out Resources merit from new World of Darkness.
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« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2012, 08:48:51 AM »

I've always liked the variant damage rules.

Action dice are nice.
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« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2012, 09:18:02 AM »

Not strictly a modern mechanic, but applicable to any game, I LOVE the detail rules from the Mistborn game.

Quote
Anyone is free to add any details they want, though
there are two all-important rules to remember:
1. Any player can veto a detail about his or her own character (e.g. deciding that
they do not, in fact, have mud on their boots). After all, everyoneís worked
hard on their characters, and they shouldnít have to accept anything about
them that they donít like. Unless...
2. The Narrator can veto or confirm any detail introduced by anyone, regardless
of whose character is impacted or how. Sometimes a new bit of description
will help the story along, or help with a dramatic moment, or shift attention
to something important, and the Narrator needs the power to make sure such
descriptions remain in play.

Started bringing this up in every game I play in, and it has dramatically shifted how my players interact with the world, all of them becoming more invested in it and the NPC's they meet, knowing that they can call some shots too.
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Crafty_Pat
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« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2012, 09:33:56 AM »

Started bringing this up in every game I play in, and it has dramatically shifted how my players interact with the world, all of them becoming more invested in it and the NPC's they meet, knowing that they can call some shots too.

Why thanks very much! (Mistborn is mostly Alex's baby but that particular section is one of mine. I'm glad to see it's well received.)
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Patrick Kapera
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« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2012, 10:01:40 AM »

Yeah, Core Narrative Control is a shared responsablity between the group and GM.

Player input on Campaign Qualities (Do you want Dark and Edgy like 24's CTU or Light and Campy like 70's Era James Bond?")

When it comes down to Modern Espionage RPG'ing you've got the Holy Trinity of James Bond, Jason Borune, and Jack Bauer. If your game can't handle all three of those playstyles, don't even bother.

Resource Control. Are you scrambling for anything you can get your hands on (Burn Notice) or do you have unlimited access (Q Branch)?

Chase Scenes are a must. If I can't show the player's Ronin and say "We're gonna do this!", and then transition to the rooftop footchase from Bourne, something's wrong.

Player Narrative Input: "I really liked that female rebel from Columbia last Mission, can I have her as a Contact?"
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