#3 Anti-Illusionism Squad
I suspect JSnead is reading this thread. If so, I want you to know that your contribution is appreciated, Mr. Snead!And of course thanks to Mr. Snead we have the Traveller edition of Mindjammer. Not CT, but still counts.
Without it, I'd have never touched Mindjammer.
Yes, SWN is great!And thanks to Kevin Crawford for making the D&D version of Traveller, which has quite a bit of transhumanism.
Except for the combat part of the system, I mean! But hey, it made me realize how much more fun it is to play an Adept/Expert!
Why, has this changed in newer iterations? I'd say it describes a good part of my gaming, not only in Traveller!When looking at world building in original Traveller I always assume explanations and justifications will be found in matters of culture rather digging too deep into the tech.
Classic Traveller always assumed the game was going from weird specific world to another weird specific world. It was never focused much on technology as a main concern in and of itself.
I'm referring to them as "Barbarians of Lemuria Careers", instead. But it's pretty much the same thing!I just realized last night - the way I think about skills in Traveller, inspired largely by CK!'s blog posts, is that it's kind of like RISUS cliches. Your career gives you certain abilities based on what it's useful for, and it's up to the referee to adjudicate rolls and DMs based on his opinion of those, with feedback from the player. So a Scout is good at, say, running a ship by themselves, surveying planets, keeping records, updating Library, and that kind of thing. Marines are good at boarding ships, swordplay, and kicking ass.
See, I can remember my younger self, and I just realised something...There is no universal -3 DM for lack of skills in CT.
In the example skill descriptions, sometimes unskilled characters gets a penalty, sometimes they don't, and sometimes a character won't be able to do a thing at all without a skill. A lot of this will come down to conversations at the table, as the Player describes what his PC is actually doing in a specific circumstance to figure out what is what.
When I started playing, I'd have run away at mach 9 from such a game.
Today, I'd run at Mach 3 towards such a game. (I'm now slower, but still as determined to get the game I want).
I remember reading that shortly after your blog about Traveller. I had to explain to people what I was laughing about!In the latest iteration of RuneQuest the design diary states:
I would offer that many RPG designs have this (or a versions of this) as their default design assumption. And that the original Traveller rules (along with the original Dungeons & Dragons or B/X D&D rules) are about the most opposite of the RuneQuest Gorantha design philosophy one can imagine.
But that was amusing, because Runequest/CoC/d100 systems in general are just as amenable as Traveller to the same gameplay style.
Mostly, it's a matter of group preference.
I actually applied your recommendation in a CoC7 one-shot, soon after that...with a GM who was sticking to the rules. I didn't intend to break any rules, but was curious how the rules for situational modifiers - which he said have been updated - would work for your style.Everything that is in the gameplay is not in the rules, and it assume that the Players will not be looking to their character sheets for inspiration. After all, a character sheet in Classic Traveller will often have only two or three skills on the sheet. Is that all the character can do? Of course not. Even when one adds in prior service and characteristics (also on the character sheet) there are countless other things a PC can do. The skills can augment a given action if applicable (as can prior service or characteristics) but they do not define either problem-solving or options.
Either one wants the sort of gameplay this type of play offers, or one does not. But it works as written if one accepts the situational, ongoing, neutral-adjudicating-Referee style of play it offers.
It resulted in this blogpost where I admitted being kinda confused. (Still am, but since then, I've been running it by gut feeling, and it seems to work).
Skipping the first part of my post... minor spoilers for a published CoC adventure incoming!
So yeah, gut feeling worked.Actual Play said:What I know is this: tonight, I played Call of Chthulhu 7e, and the game actually worked just fine based on the situation.
The evil sorcerer went down when my dilettante (who had no special skill with guns) just went next to him, while the anthropologist in the group was distracting him with a rapier cane. The evil sorcerer and his zombie were attacking the poor anthropologist, of course, because until then, I wasn't even attacking.
Me: Tell me where I am at the beginning of next round (no battle mat).
Keeper: You're 4 meters from the sorcerer, and 9 meters from the anthropologist who's trying to free the sacrificial victim while the zombie is attacking him.
Me: I make a couple more steps, stop and shoot the psycho mesmerist in the face at almost point-blank.
The Keeper gave me two bonus dice (new mechanic in CoC7e), with which my skill was enough to pull up the shot. All because I didn't shoot from a distance, but waited to close in.
Then I killed the zombie by toppling a pile of crates on it, and while it was pinned down, I shot it behind the ear. Until it stopped moving, which wasn't on the first shot.
It worked just fine. Granted, that's due to me making sure to improve my odds...but basically, an untrained character who would have Skill-0 in Traveller, pulled off winning the fight quickly and decisively - by acting while the enemy was being distracted, and using the environment.
To me, it made sense things would work like that. And they did, which was nice.
Was that a good balance between skill and situation? I don't know enough about guns to tell, but it seemed to be.
What I didn't mention in this post was that before that, my character was doing...nothing like the things that a CoC Investigator should be doing, actually. Mostly, I negotiated business, I played the piano (pushing my luck - new mechanic - and I rolled a critical there), and actually gossiped.
Because it made total sense that a rich dilettante/industrialist would do that while on vacation.
And then I used that to get information from people and about people. Including about the missing - as it turned out - sacrificial victim. Which, I suspect, shortcutted a lot of investigation.
Thus, I can frankly say that your advice worked for me, even when the Keeper was sticking to the letter of the rules. And now I'm trying to incorporate it as I run a game. It works, once again...
So I'm about to just make "pay attention to the situation, not the character sheet" one of my rules for good Refereeing/Playing.
I've played with a couple Bulgarian designers. Some of them keep to the rules, making it another playtest. Some play more loosely than the book suggests, yes.A lot of designers play games more freeform than the system they actually wrote. Miller, notably, doesn't even use skills, yet they're in the game. That can indicate any number of things.
And I can also tell you which ones have better sessions: The ones with more Refereeing experience, regardless of the approach!
So, I think it's mostly a matter of finding what works for you, and doing that. If looking at the character sheet works, do that. If looking at the situation works better, do that instead!
Also, people change, and you might find out you've changed as well. I know I did!