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PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 5:46 pm 
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Hello all
I've always fancied running a Sarah Connor Chronicles campaign, with half the sessions set in the present, and half set in the post-apocalyptic future of Skynet ruling the world. Jumping back and forth between the two from week to week. Sometimes literally - the characters time travel to the past/future. Sometimes in flashback - the characters recall that terrible time they were trapped in a ruined church by some terminators...

There's just a teensy, weensy little problem: I think my brain might melt keeping track of ever changing timelines! :?

Soooo... advice? Suggestions? Warnings? The phone number of the therapist you consulted last time you ran such a thing? :D

Other things to muse on...
1. Should every player have the same character in both timezones? Or could someone have a different PC in each?
2. System? I've run a one off Sarah Connor Chronicles in T2013 before. That was a nice level of crunch, and is geared for the Skynet-Rules-The-World end of things, but I also adore story points from the likes of Dr Who AISAT. However that system doesn't cope well with all-guns-blazing combat (as to be expected from mechanics designed to emulate the TV show).
3. Any opinions on letting one of the PCs be a good guy terminator? They will sooooo outclass the rest of them in fighty stuff.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2016 2:38 am 
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I'd suggest using the Hero System, for various reasons. I seem to recall one of your previous games used a certain Hero setting. ;) The Hero System should be able to handle pretty much anything you might need to do in this setting: combat, survival, hacking, intrigue, and so on.

I've done the "characters in multiple timelines" thing with a previous GM; he handled by generally avoiding having both of a player's characters from different timelines meet. There was always a reason for one of their characters to be off-screen. And we didn't do it very often. If you have players who can deal with role-playing multiple characters who might have conflicting goals or ideals, so much the better.

As for the Terminator as a PC, it's possible. The same campaign I mentioned above was a "build to concept" Hero System game, with PCs of widely varying point totals - everyone just built their characters as they conceived them without worrying about the point costs. The results were all over the map in point totals and power levels, but "balance" turned out to be less important than everyone having the character they wanted to play and having a meaningful role in the campaign.

There's a write up for the original Terminator over at Surbrook's Stuff:

http://surbrook.devermore.net/adaptatio ... nator.html

I think if you add a couple of Psychological or Physical Limitations modeled after the Terminator from the T2 movie, it would be a workable character: emphasize its difficulty in learning new behavior, and maybe give it standing orders to obey another PC. I'm really iffy on that last one, but if it works for your players it might be fun.

Depending on the power level of the other PCs, (check out the offensive/defensive "super skills" in Dark Champions) the Terminator won't necessarily outclass everyone in combat. It'll be inhumanly tough, but aside from that, the other PCs should be able to keep up with it in terms of cranking out firepower.

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After the Terracide... 300 years from today, artificial space colonies orbit distant stars while terraformers labor to create new worlds for humanity. Bizarre aliens come to trade exotic goods unknown to Terran technology. And the lifeless, charred husk of mankind's homeworld slowly cools in the empty, silent void of a dead star system.
Welcome to the rest of the Galaxy; It's Dark Out There.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2016 12:50 pm 
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Thanks for the link and suggestions.

I didn't use Hero for Terracide in the end (still awaiting the SW version of that BTW), I used Blue Planet with some house rules. For this, I think I'd opt for GURPS over Hero if I went for a points build, because I have a billion GURPS books.

Gah - I hadn't even considered them meeting themselves. That's not cannon in Terminator/Sarah Connor, so I'd sort of erased it from my mind. Better dedicate some thought to that... Of course, it is mostly going to be PC aged 30 goes back in time and sees PC aged 5, so not quite the same impact of my Stargate game where PC from Monday time travels to last Saturday! :-)


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2016 1:46 am 
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strontygirl wrote:
3. Any opinions on letting one of the PCs be a good guy terminator? They will sooooo outclass the rest of them in fighty stuff.


That really depends. I don't think that necessarily has to be true. It is important to keep in mind the limitations of a Terminator. It is also important to state, upfront, the limitations of a Terminator for potential PCs. It's also up to you to design encounters to keep everyone challenged, which will be difficult; I generally find that having a character is a combat god but is useless in social RP to be one of the worst methods of balance because it leads to "out to a pizza" syndrome - when combat begins all the "human" players go to pizza and let the Terminator handle it. When you're not in combat, the Terminator has nothing to do so the player spends all of his/her time playing with their iPhone or watching TV.

Enemy Knowledge. Terminators definitely outclass ordinary humans ignorant of what a Terminator is and what it can do. For instance, fodder like bikers being jerks or police just trying to do their job are a poor match against Terminators. However, in the original Terminator, it was able to be seriously damaged using some pretty makeshift weapons (pipe bombs). All it required was the willingness to take risks and knowledge of the enemy to understand that ordinary pistol or rifle fire isn't going to stop a Terminator. If the bad guys are Terminators or are humans who have some rough idea of what a Terminator is (if their enemy is an employer who using human mercenaries, he or she may keep the secret of Terminators by simply saying that their opponents are hopped up on some combination of say, amphetamines and painkillers, so riddling the enemy with bullets may not stop them, so they might bring much more destructive weapons).

Damage. Another aspect they don't really touch on in the TV series but might be something you'd consider is that Terminators might be extremely durable, but damage might be nearly impossible to repair using modern technology. If they're playing a T-800 series, they have to take care with the flesh on the outside. While it will heal, major damage that leads to conditions such as gangrene or something is going to leave them with bare metal parts. While clothing will cover a lot of damage, it's definitely going to harm a Terminator's ability to blend in if the Terminator always has to be wearing gloves or even worse, a hood or something. So the Terminator can't just go walking into the middle of a shootout. (Yeah, yeah if you're playing in many countries in the mideast, you could have the Terminator act like a traditional woman or you could go to parts of North Africa be a Tuareg man, but seriously.) Damage to the endoskeleton might effectively be permanent as the players don't have access to the industries necessary to fashion fully operational replacement parts. Replacement parts to restore some functionality might exist, but the inferior technology would inevitably have an effect on performance. Damage to the computing system or power system would be particularly problematic (the thought of having a Terminator running on bundles of batteries or something giving it peak combat performance for like 15 minutes, but usually running on "low power" mode and requiring a good 12 hour recharge for every 12 hours of low power performance...)

Ground Pressure. This is something that sounds really nitpicky, but it's a very real problem that you could bring up before someone wants to play a Terminator. Steel masses more than water. That is to say, a Terminator has a much greater ground pressure that its appearance would suggest - a Terminator is almost completely metal. This means that a Terminator cannot go all places that a human can without having to worry about ground pressure; rickety or rotting flooring of an abandoned house, wooden spars in semi-demolished buildings, rusting catwalks in abandoned factories, all of these things might suffer a structural failure from a Terminator walking on it. It also cannot effectively swim (though it could walk along the bottom provided it isn't too deep). Skynet has to be aware of the problem as well - you may actually give a player the option of playing a T-800 "full infiltrator" model that has a skeleton made of lighter-weight materials that wouldn't mass significantly more than a human (or even less!), but this body would be much less durable than the steel-alloy battle frame.

Just Embrace It. If your players are okay in games without combat (I personally get a bit bored without some action), just embrace it. "Okay, you run into some gangsters, but the Terminator wipes them all out. So you continue on to the meeting site..."


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2016 1:20 pm 
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Thanks epicentre.
I'd already considered the Terminator being really heavy - there's some canon bits in the TV series of one falling off a pier and sinking like a stone, etc.
Damage is a good thing to think about for the Terminator. Need to put some thought into that. (I now want to see Schwartzenegger in a burka! :-) )

I definitely want combat in the games, but probably only 1 fight per 1 or 2 sessions. And those to be SHORT fights (in terms of game mechanics and real time).

A Terminator that is useless in social situations could be one of the fun bits of the game, if the player is prepared to roleplay it.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2016 9:12 am 
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Another important factor might be to allow someone to play an earlier model of a Terminator than the T-800. (I think 1000 is right out.) While Terminator: Salvation had many things wrong with it, I found the idea that the T-600s actually were susceptible to small-arms fire to be pretty interesting (at least if you shot them from practically point-blank range, possible with special ammunition). It might be worth it to make up a some intermediate model between between the 600s and the 800s which perhaps might be ... I wouldn't say vulnerable to small-arms fire, but not effectively immune to it, especially if the opponents were forewarned and had some sort of special ammunition.

The issue with characters that are useless in social situations is that if that's their disadvantage there's something of a dilemma. If they can grow and change then there'll come a time when they overcome their social awkwardness at which point they really do become the "bestest with the mostest." If they can't because of "programming" then it sort of puts the player in a bind where their character can't grow.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2016 2:09 pm 
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Ooh earlier models - good call. Was definitely crossing the 'liquid metal' off the list of available options.

For social stuff I was thinking along the lines of the character learning stuff by rote but not 'getting it'. In game mechanic terms, the character sheet does not change - Etiquette and Streetwise are still at 5%. So the player can now roleplay that he's been told to compliment a lady on her choice of clothing, but does it in inappropriate situations, like complimenting a policewoman on her anti-stab vest.

The downside is that the game might turn into Carry On Terminator. :shock:


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