• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

Tweaking River of Heaven

jsnead

Social Justice Dragon
Validated User
I just got my softcover copy of River of Heaven yesterday, and like the PDF, it's lovely and I'm very pleased that I backed the Kickstarter – the setting is cool, the full color art is great, and I like the rules (mostly).
However, I think the rules could be a bit better, specifically the rules concerning Augmentations. I like the basic format, but I see two problems with the execution:

  • Bioenergy is seriously overused and is used for Augmentations where it doesn't make sense and which aren't powerful enough to warrant such limits
  • Some Augmentations are simultaneously too weak and two "gamey"
The first can be summed up by saying that any Augmentation that duplicates common functions of modern smartphones should IMHO definitely not have a Bioenergy cost. I'd say that same for any augmentation that doesn't give the character a major boost or for that matter any augmentation where the character being able to use it 24/7 is a problem.

The second problem is a bit more complex – several of the augmentations only give skill bonuses when according to their description they should do considerably more. The most obvious is the Climb augmentation, which gives the user gecko setae on their hands and feet, which should allow users to easily climb almost any surface, not simply gain +10% to Athletics rolls involving climbing.

My Solution to Bioenergy Costs
The only Augmentations that I'd give a bioenergy cost to are:
  • Altered Time Rate
  • Combat Reflexes
  • Group Intelligence
  • Speed
All of which are major boosts to the user's mind or body

I can see a reason to limit the Pheromones Augmentation, but bioenergy makes no sense for this sort of thing, perhaps X uses/day and it should definitely have an activation roll.

However, all other Augmentations should have no bioenergy cost, and most shouldn't even require an activation roll.

Giving Augmentations like GPS or Subdermal Communications an activation cost is basically like giving someone's smartphone an activation cost, and is silly, both because it makes no sense and because the advantages gained by the Augmentations are sufficiently small that they don't warrant a cost.

My Solution to Weak Augmentations
Climb
  • Magnitude 1 provides the listed bonus
  • Magnitude 2 also allows a character to move at ¼ their Movement per Combat Round without the need to make an Athletics test and can move at ½ their Movement per Combat Round by making a Normal Athletics test. Additional Magnitudes are not available.
Data Storage – each Magnitude should provide far more storage than 1 TB – given the tech level, storage should be effectively unlimited for anything other than high-rez VR and a few other similar applications

Extended Lifespan – too weak, how about each Magnitude adds 10+1d10 years to the character's potential lifespan
Flexibility – in addition to the listed bonuses, subtract 1 from the user's effective SIZ (to a minimum of ½ their SIZ) to determine how small a space they can fit in or through.

Improved Organs
All bonuses vs poison & disease are +20% not +10% also kidneys reduce water usage by ½ per Magnitude (to a minimum of ¼ normal), and lungs increase breath holding time by a factor of 2 per Magnitude (to a maximum of 8 x normal).

Night Vision – Magnitude 1, can see normally in low light conditions, Magnitude 2, can also see in complete darkness (via infrared).

Prehensile feet provide the same +25% bonus to Athletics for climbing, but do not remove the need for equipment.

Tolerance – the bonus increases to +10% per Magnitude for the specific environment. This augmentation also provides other less numerical bonuses. I'd also limit them to a maximum Magnitude of 5.
  • Cold: No cold weather gear needed at temperatures equal to -20 C x Magnitude
  • Heat: No special gear or protection needed at temperatures equal to 35 C + 10 C per Magnitude
  • High-G, character can function normally in environments with up to 1.25 + 0.25 Gs per Magnitude
Changes to Bioenergy – because it is used so much less often, I'd reduce the total bioenergy points to either POW x 2 or POW rather than POW x 3
 
Last edited:

colgrevance

Registered User
Validated User
Hi John,

thanks for sharing your tweaking ideas for River of Heaven. I, too, am rather underwhelmed by the augmentations available to pcs, most of them are 'standard SF gimmicks' that are simply installed in one's body. And I cannot decide if my reaction to the 1TB for storage space should be a chuckle or facepalm...

I am not overly concerned by the activation costs, though, as the rules clearly state that these only should come into play in stressful situations like fights, and I like some limiting factor for combat augmentations. Even the aug effects should probably be interpreted liberally by players and gm. The more I read about RoH, the more I feel like the author wanted to create a mostly freeform rule system that probably would have been better served by such narrative games like FATE...

One thing I decidedly dislike about the augmentation rules is the Transhuman attribute. If aug magnitudes ever reach a sum of 20 or more, a player character becomes a "posthuman npc" - looking at the available aug descriptions and their supposed impact on personality, I simply do not see this happening (Group Intelligence and Altered Time Rate possibly excepted, but there simply is not enough information about the way these affect consciousness and personality to tell). I do understand that RoH is decidedly NOT about transhumanism, but with the available augmentations the danger of becoming something no longer recognisably human is very small, in my opinion.

But I'd like to know your thoughts about this!

Cheers,
Hendrik
 

jsnead

Social Justice Dragon
Validated User
The more I read about RoH, the more I feel like the author wanted to create a mostly freeform rule system that probably would have been better served by such narrative games like FATE...
I like the basic idea & d100, like CinUni, is a solid robust system that can work well and that I vastly prefer to systems like FATE. However, I definitely see problems in the implementation of the augmentations. As I mentioned above, one of my biggest problems is making them too "gamey" with each point of an augmentation gives +10% to X skill rather than the augmentation allows the user to do X.

One thing I decidedly dislike about the augmentation rules is the Transhuman attribute. If aug magnitudes ever reach a sum of 20 or more, a player character becomes a "posthuman npc" - looking at the available aug descriptions and their supposed impact on personality, I simply do not see this happening (Group Intelligence and Altered Time Rate possibly excepted, but there simply is not enough information about the way these affect consciousness and personality to tell). I do understand that RoH is decidedly NOT about transhumanism, but with the available augmentations the danger of becoming something no longer recognisably human is very small, in my opinion.
Again, this makes sense in theory, but in practice it's perfectly possible to reach 20 points via too many points of Data Storage, Extended Lifespan, GPS, and Improved Organs, which from my PoV is ludicrous.

I can see getting Transhuman points for each point a character raises a characteristic above human maximum (so, if you use Enhanced Characteristic to give yourself an DEX or INT of 22, then you have 22-18 = 4 Transhuman Points. Maybe then give 2 points for every Magnitude of Altered Time Rate or Group Intelligence, and 1 point for each Magnitude of Combat Reflexes, Cortical Shunt, Hypaedia, Subdermal Communications, and Unskillable, and 0 Transhuman points for all other augmentations.

I'd see those costs as a bit too extreme, but not unreasonable.
 

colgrevance

Registered User
Validated User
I can see getting Transhuman points for each point a character raises a characteristic above human maximum (so, if you use Enhanced Characteristic to give yourself an DEX or INT of 22, then you have 22-18 = 4 Transhuman Points. Maybe then give 2 points for every Magnitude of Altered Time Rate or Group Intelligence, and 1 point for each Magnitude of Combat Reflexes, Cortical Shunt, Hypaedia, Subdermal Communications, and Unskillable, and 0 Transhuman points for all other augmentations.
Thanks again. The exact costs/thresholds probably would have to be tweaked after serious playtesting (e.g., I think the threshold should be higher than 20), but I like the direction your suggestions are going.
 

Arkat

Skål Kosmonauter
Validated User
jsnead:

I have incorporated your improved augmentations in my River of Heaven house rules. Do you mind if I put them up on the River of Heaven G+ community?
 

jsnead

Social Justice Dragon
Validated User
jsnead:

I have incorporated your improved augmentations in my River of Heaven house rules. Do you mind if I put them up on the River of Heaven G+ community?
Not at all, I'd be pleased and honored.
 
Top Bottom