Oz-zO, building a SciFi heartbreak


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I have been gaming for a large part of my life, I don’t consider myself too terribly deep into the more obscure systems and settings but have a fair rounding and have a decent current group to run with. But, and there is always a but, I constantly want to noodle around with a setting or system that is all my own even if it is highly derivative. This is a classic impulse amoungst our set I think and one that does no real harm if it is approached honestly so with no claim to being a professional or expecting my results to be either I am going to in the light of day make an effort to pull the lever.

Zincorium has fairly kindly agreed to match me post for post in system and world building so to make the process pretty simple and have a placeholder system name for each of us I am building Oz-zO and he is building Zo-oZ. I expect at least one if not both of us will at some point in the process write at least some fiction alluding to the Emerald Station. Having known each other for many years and largely having similar influences we often bounce ideas and setting concepts off the other. I know that even if I am on a different kick than him he will at least point out the worst parts of my ideas.

What is the goal?

To have a system, setting and starting adventure that can be picked up and played with no link to this blog or additional support (unless such support is named and linked as a core part of the game say a character creation app at a fixed address). I don’t know if either of us will make it that far and even if we do it will be about the journey more than the result but that is the ideal. I hope to put up a post a week and when work-life permits to put up a second post discussing influence, systems I enjoy (or hate) and similar.

Oz-zO starting point

Dice are neat, but so many of the game I have played in the past few years have seemed to be iterations on the same basic play style or mechanics with the same basic flaws that bother me as a player and ST, this is especially true in the realm of Science Fiction. I am not going to try to build an all purpose universal engine, instead the hope is to build something that supports the kind of stories told in Zoids, Macross, Blue Seed, Farscape, and Voltron. The key feel should be that social connections and battle scenes are equally worth running and playing and that the physics of the system and setting don’t get in the way of the story but provide hooks and a fabric to play against. That said the problem of scale is one that often shows up in games with Mech or Fighters where all the problems can be solved with the mechanical and the rich story elements get shoved to the background in play.

I am going to start with the idea that Talents, Tools, Techniques, and Training are all key bits that need to be represented and that the act of resolving checks should be as engaging as the rest of play. Influenced by Mouse Guard, Burning Wheel, FATE, FF Star Wars and others I am going to try and set the player and ST should both have a role in the telling of the story and setting.

Mechanically I am still early in my conceptualization so you will be able to see a lot of my stumbles but the basic premise is a resource system where each player has access to tokens that are played and adjusted by their 4T’s on a physical (or digital) play mat and that the in scene events influence the play as do other characters/players. How the resources are allocated, what complexity I land on and other topics will certainly come up. I know going in that by taking such a different approach I am going to immediately face some challenges and will hopefully build useful terminology as we go. Hopefully if anyone follows along they can add helpful advice.
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