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 Post subject: Sapphire Project
PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2016 4:48 pm 
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I've decided to get back into sci-fi rpg stuff again.

So, I intend to make a game universe starting with a blank sheet and attempt to make something that 'I' want instead of tacking things on to other rules and settings. I expect it to a mix of 'Warp War', 'Maschinen Krieger' and 'Ghost in the Shell', thus a mixture of interstellar trade and war with some cyberpunk thrown in.

All rpg's have 3 parts to their rules;
1. a method of quantifying characteristics and abilities for entities relative to each other
2. a method for determining success/failure for said entities concerning their interactions with the universe
3. a method of applying results from said interactions to the stats of the entities ( combat damage being common in most rpg's )

Everything else is fluff, setting building, or prop building. Even chargen, such as standard traveller has, merely generates a history for the characters and reasons why they might have certain skills. Various add-on non-role-playing games, such as wargames or trading games, do little with the rpg elements except aid in generating history and events for the setting.

UWP and animal rules simply exist to build 'sets' for the roles to be acted out in, and rules such as 'Striker' and 'Fire, Fusion and Steel' exist only to build props for players to use that are rated on a scale relative to the characteristics/abilities of the universe's entities ( pc's, npc's, etc.). These can all be discarded and replaced with rules that are better suited to building the setting and populate it as I envision.

Because this is a sci-fi game with similarities to the same genre as Traveller, I'll base several things on those rules, but heavily modified. As a result, the best ruleset for me to use is the Mongoose Traveller SRD, which I can hack and slash to my heart's content. The core task system is good and the whole easily modded without stepping on any other toes.

I hope to keep this very 'realistic' relative to my own knowledge and what I want to create. For example, the game 'Sword's Path Glory' by Leading edge games, is very 'realistic' in terms of armor effects, wounding, etc. AND simulating stop motion animation, not the rush and chaos of combat; Advanced Melee playing with chess clocks and speed chess rules simulates combat far better although it is arguably less realistic.

My main goal for realism is to not blatantly break known laws of physics except for very good reasons and with reasonable levels of techno-BS. No artificial gravity, no over-unity efficiency, etc.

Other goals are to keep things simple enough that I can play using only dice, pen, paper and a cheap student calculator. Computers will help with stuff but should not be necessary.

I am lazy, so I'll end up using stuff I've done in the past, such as a 'sanitized' map of the Spinward Marches showing only star spectral types, gas giants and not names or borders.

I just have to commit to paper the things in my brain.
I'll post here for discussion and feedback.....

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 Post subject: Re: Sapphire Project
PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 3:40 pm 
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I've started ripping apart the SRD and making changes to character stats. Keeping with the idea that stats are relative to others' and that they are used for modifying interactions with the universe, I've changed the stats to reflect that such interactions may be physical, intellectual and_or social/emotional. Standard strength, dexterity and endurance cover the physical, whereas knowledge, intelligence, and focus cover the intellectual as analogues of strength, dexterity and endurance. Social stats use assertiveness, empathy, and confidence as analogues of strength, dexterity and endurance.

Skills are aligned with the appropriate group.

By using analogues in such a fashion, it should be possible to use the same rules for a fist-fight as for a debate to challenge another's view of facts ( intellectual ) or for a discussion challenging another's view of opinions and turn them to your own ( social ). The social group may even be used to 'fight' against the intellectual group simulating various attempts of social engineering or psychological manipulations such as 'gas-lighting'; gas-lighting is a form of psychological abuse in which a victim is manipulated into doubting their own memory, perception, and sanity.

This path seems to fall nicely into step with my ideas concerning cyberpunk and computers. The social stats describe a character's 'ghost' which cannot be used by AI as social stats are affected by hormonal balances which do not exist in hardware. As AI advances, 'ghost dubbing' allows for the storage and use of individual states of a person's 'ghost'. Further advances allow a full simulation to be coded by AI, at which point true full human-like AI with emotion and creativity emerges.

This could also fall in line with replicants from Bladerunner. Only here, the social stats, or 'ghost', are programmed into a bio-engineered brain by its makers. The Voight-Kampff test to distinguish a replicant from a human could be seen as a form of Turing test.
__________________________________

In MegaTraveller, computers were rated by cpu's, connections, and yet were given a older High_Guard compatible computer number. This number was related to cpu's per connection; sqrt ( cpu/connection )-2. If I arbitrarily use this number in an intellect stat for each instance of a program running, then I can estimate a computer's stats for a computer from the MT design sequence. for example, a computer with 400 cpu's running a single instance of advanced AI would have an apparent Int of 18 for solving problems ( Edu-0 ), whereas if it were running 4 instances of the AI program, it would appear as 4 Int-8 beings, albeit with no knowledge ( Edu-0 ). Keep in mind that an AI program would not be the only program running as an OS is needed as well as various installed programs relating to skills.

Under this system, it might seem easy to link thousands of cpu's together in a bot-net to achieve god-like intelligence and education, but the number of connections forbid it. In fact, thousands of bots could be used to dilute the cpu/connection and slow down/ dumb down large systems like a DDOS attack. Depending on cyber-security routines, any cpu or direct-interfaced brain connected to the network could be used, fully or in part, in such a bot-net ( like how Ishikawa uses the cyberbrains of people jacked into his pachiko parlor ).

The same method might be used for local storage to hold data to account for Edu. The level of local storage becomes the limit for the apparent Edu stat. Even though the total sum of knowledge when connected to a world-wide network is immense, only local data is processed and with data rates being limited by physics, the 'knowledge' of the world-net cannot be made available all at once. It'd be like drinking an ocean through a straw.

Using this system I have proposed, hacking becomes a matter of simple combat using intellect stats and skills over a network. Programmers have to write code to supply themselves with virtual weapons, armor, camouflage and transport used in a virtual universe. User interfaces are whatever the programmer feels comfortable with and probably won't translate well for another user.

Just an outline to give the basic ideas behind the cyberpunk aspects I want to have in my sf universe.

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 Post subject: Re: Sapphire Project
PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2016 5:52 am 
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This is much more difficult and interesting than I would have thought at the start.
I'm still trying to find appropriate words to communicate what I mean with each of the stats where they make sense and are analogs for each stat within a group. Stats for 'doing', 'knowing', and 'feeling' that cover the level of intensity, control and sustainable duration for each such as would allow similar/same rules to be used for each area.

Because 'knowing' and 'feeling' both occur inside the brain, trying to decide how they relate to each other in a way that makes sense for what I'm trying to simulate is interesting. Clearly, computers can 'know' and manipulate that knowledge well enough, therefore the 'feeling' area is what constitutes the 'ghost' , or personality. Whereas the data used by computers and logical thought is objective, the 'ghost' feelings add subjective value judgments to the data which account for emotion. The data, in this case, is everything that a being has learned or experienced since being capable of accepting information through his senses. Computers can only simulate this imperfectly as a living being would base their value judgments on earlier feelings modified by hormonal fluctuations are other vagaries of neural chemistry. It is my opinion that this emotional aspect, in combination with the mental aspect of the capacity to manipulate data ( mental dexterity ) that allows for creativity. For example, the arts, humor and social interaction all exist not just to convey raw data, but to influence the audience's emotional state. Because of this, an AI needs a 'ghost' to pass itself off as a believable sentient and not just a clever simulation.

'Ghost Hacking' is the manipulation of this meta-data within an individual's memory.
'Ghost Dubbing' is copying a single state of the meta-data from a individual's memory.

In many cases either method, 'knowing' vs 'feeling', might be used in attempts to influence others. Facts and logic can be used to get others to align with a character's position, but even more often, arguments might play upon the emotions of others. Witness political campaigns were the fears and desires of the target audience are manipulated even if the information is questionable.

Brains can only pass data at the speed of chemical reactions, and it is the need for the chemicals and being rid of the by-products that cause forms of 'endurance' to be needed for biological brains in 'knowing' and 'feeling'. Computers and cyber-brains function until their power is interrupted. Brains need time to flush toxins and perform a type of 'garbage collection', dreams and fantasy.
___________________________________

In combat, where the body takes damage which is reflected by changes to str, dex, and end, the mental/emotional stats would take damage only when the brain is damaged. A clean headshot could destroy the brain without affecting the body at all ( except for the loss of the hypothalamus and control of autonomic nervous system which would cause death eventually ). In such a case, damage would be applied to both the mental and emotional stats. Conversely, damage to the body caused by failure of various first-aid treatment would also be applied to the mental/emotional stats to reflect shock and blood loss to the brain. When physical end reaches '0', the body cannot move at all. When the mental 'focus' reaches '0', conscious thought ceases. When emotional 'confidence' reaches '0', the character becomes delirious. When all 3 are '0', the character is dead with no chance of recovery. 'Focus' and 'Confidence' are analogues to physical endurance.

Naturally, such a level of detail should only be applied as desired or needed by the plot. NPC's and unimportant characters can be handled as within standard Traveller.
_____________________________________

Problems and troubleshooting usually use mental stats and skills. Interactions with others might use either mental or emotional stats/skills although using emotional stats/skills are limited to only those beings with 'ghosts' of some kind. The skill list will state which set of stats to use. Once the problem is found and a repair solution is decided upon, actual repair work will use physical stats/skills.

Some societies, such as Star Trek Vulcans, may choose to completely avoid using the emotional stats/skills even though they will still exist.


luckily, I have no deadline for completion of this project except my own death.

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 Post subject: Re: Sapphire Project
PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2016 9:09 pm 
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I recently took one of those corporate personality courses (again).

An interesting aspect of this, was that your social characteristics were defined as:

Expressiveness
Assertiveness
Flexibility

None of these characteristics are affected by intelligence or HOW you think, they are personality traits.

Expressiveness could be used to determine how comfortable are you in social situations (giving a speech for example, or acting/singing.

Assertiveness is used for "stick to-itness" It is what you roll to complete a long/arduous task; but also your natural pecking order within a group - do you want to lead or be lead?

Flexibility is MENTAL flexibility. How comfortable are you with change. This could be used to measure how you react in new situations.

None of these traits are about how EFFECTIVE you are at that task, but your natural inclination in that task; which might work well as a characteristic. Skill is still important and can be used to cover for a low trait (like other skills...).

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 Post subject: Re: Sapphire Project
PostPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2016 3:31 am 
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thank you for the info.
I do understand that the 'social' characteristics I mentioned are not affected by intelligence as much as they are concurrent with it. Separating them from the mental characteristics was an attempt to keep intelligence apart from the social aspect, or as my wife has commented, separating IQ from EQ. Intellectual vs emotional. A computer AI can have intelligence, memory, 'focus', but that's not where the personality, 'ghost', or soul lie. An AI can be intelligent, but it takes intelligence + personality to equal a human-like sentience.

After re-reading my earlier posts, while I understand the idea behind my methods, I've come to see them as too much and too over-the-top for a decent RPG, but I still feel that personality must be separate from intelligence somehow. Instead I've come to consider removing Traveller's 'social standing' ( which I abhor for its blatant class-ism based primarily on how much a character spends on his own monthly upkeep ) and replace it with ego, conviction, passion , personality or some other term which might equate to how an individual's strength of feeling concerning validity/veracity of his own ideas or viewpoints is regardless as to whether they are true or not ( I'll use conviction for now ). Used as such, it might be a characteristic to base morale on. Also a good characteristic to base leadership off of.

Intelligence accepts truth based on evidence.
Conviction accepts truth regardless of evidence.

intelligence plus conviction might = creativity
knowledge plus conviction might = decisiveness

I feel an AI would have no conviction as it would base the veracity of its knowledge-base only on evidence and statistical prediction, whereas a human-like being's conviction is based on his emotional state, which a computer does not have, and can only simulate.

and keeping track of 6 stats is easier in-game than keeping track of 9 stats ( plus any stat a player might want to add such as social standing or psionics ).

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 Post subject: Re: Sapphire Project
PostPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2016 7:57 pm 
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You could always just do Charisma or Mental Strength or just Emotion.

I agree Social Status is BOLLOCKS (to borrow the English term..)

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 Post subject: Re: Sapphire Project
PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2016 3:16 am 
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I think the term 'emotion' fits as well as any and better than most... thanks
so, intelligence when dealing with objective facts and emotion when dealing with subjective 'facts', and the knowledge stat as a measure of how much of a person's sum total knowledge base is based on objective fact.
extreme values in 'emotion' might be indicative of a potential personality disorder or mental illness such as asperger's or mania, perhaps.

a computer with enough memory and cpu/instance might be;
know-20
int-15
emo-0

Spock might be;
know-15
int-13
emo-3

I'm afraid an example of low knowledge and medium intelligence and high emotion might not be complementary to some folk. As for myself, I seem to be average knowledge, higher-than-average intelligence, and lower-than-average emotion. I'll understand better what that might mean as I dig into inter-personal skills and tasks.

I can imagine that the opinions and 'subjective facts' that emotion deals with are influenced by up-bringing within a cultural setting, perhaps as defined by hofstede's cultural dimensions, thus causing character generation to be influenced by aspects of world-building.

damage to the head can result in direct damage to the mental stats, which in turn may cause the physical stats to diminish until physical death as with MegaTraveller's first aid rules. Conversely, a physical bodily death will eventually lead to a mental death. Damage to the brain effectively changes the character into a possibly different person, such as with a lobotomy or ECT ( shock treatment ).

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 Post subject: Re: Sapphire Project
PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2016 12:14 am 
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Welcome back Ishmael, I took a similar break for most of this year. I'm back now and bastardising the CE for a near future setting.

Being English, I concur that social standing is indeed, complete and utter bollocks.

I wanted to keep to 6 attributes and I've replaced SOC with communication - a person's ability to communicate with others.

Keep posting, I'm enjoying the thread.


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 Post subject: Re: Sapphire Project
PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 3:46 pm 
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Going to go with Knowledge, Logic, and Emotion.
Knowledge is the information that a character has accumulated throughout life and is affected by tech level dm's to reflect how advances can change what we see as the true nature of the universe.
Logic is the ability to synthesize new ideas and assess the value of those ideas based on objective evidence. This is also a level of conviction that the assessed values are correct until such time as new evidence is available.
Emotion is the ability to synthesize new ideas and assess the value of those ideas in the relative lack of objective evidence ( aka, opinion ). This is also a level of conviction that the assessed values are correct even if evidence shows otherwise ( faith ).

Averaged logic and emotion gives apparent intelligence, wit, creativity, etc.

For example;
Someone with a higher emotion than logic will form a hypothesis and then look for evidence to support that hypothesis leading to possible observational bias. However, emotion is necessary for creativity and 'thinking outside the box'.
Logic allows someone to 'get' a joke, but emotion determines if that someone finds it funny or if it falls flat.
AI's have logic is spades, but lack true emotion which is merely simulated and thus lower.

The task system will probably look like MT's, as I've pre-added the difficulty DM's to the 8+ target number.
Difficulty, one stat DM, one skill, and perhaps a DM based on tool quality or other situation that the ref will allow, but nothing more involved than that. Different skills will pair with different stats ( for example, to repair a broken system may allow knowledge "I've seen this happen before." or logic "No clue. Let's pull the prints and work it out the hard way." to be used ).

I hope to focus on inter-personal tasks to make sure that they work okay, whereas combat stuff is more traditional wargame-like. The 4 systems I still own as files or cd's all have differences as to handle damage and first-aid/medical, so I'll have to cobble something together that seems reasonable to me from scratch. the beginnings of an Azhanti_High_Lightning style boardgame for combat was started long ago.
viewtopic.php?f=45&t=58&p=290#p290
___________________________

UWP world generation is from an old bit I posted somewhere long ago. Its for habitable zone only, though.
https://sites.google.com/site/moukotige ... itablezone

I still need to work out the population/economic based stuff.
___________________________

Deciding on damage values/types for weapons will have to mesh with gearhead rules, which I have only flirted with so far.

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 Post subject: Re: Sapphire Project
PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2016 6:51 am 
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Taking a break from characters/ tasks and combat
Comparing different systems ( MT, Mgt1e, Cepheus, and T4 ) can give wildly different results for simple things as head-shots and basic damage, so I'll pass until I choose to dive into that morass again.
Instead I've been pondering world-building.
Using a method I made up long ago
https://sites.google.com/site/moukotige ... idea-stuff

I've added mods I use for population and have attempted to tie it into Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions.
Power Distance Index seems a good match for Traveller Government if we ignore worrying about 'type' of government ( the 'type' should be evident to some extent from the other cultural values anyways )
Uncertainty Index should be a near replacement for law level.

Population
Population is generated by rolling 2d6 – abs( ( atm - 7 ) / 2 ) - abs( ( hydro – 7 ) / 2 )
DM = - 1 if tidally locked
DM = + .5 if population is herbivorous ( when compared to an omnivorous population of similar body mass )
DM = - .8 if population is carnivorous ( when compared to an omnivorous population of similar body mass )
DM = + (2d6-7)/10 ( just a random variation.... use 1d10's if desired )

Please keep the entire number, decimal places and all ( as in x.yyy ). this number raised to the tenth power gives the approximate population where 10 ^ .yyy gives the traditional Traveller population modifier.
Add .005 to the population number to simulate an annual growth rate of ~1.1% ( earth circa 2016 ) and .01 to simulate an annual growth rate of ~2.3% ( earth peak yearly growth rate circa 1960 )
Log ( actual population ) = ~ population number

The modifiers based on atmosphere and hydrographics seek to place higher populations of worlds that are closest to earth-like conditions that humans have evolved to thrive in. Populations and settlements on more hostile worlds are smaller and require technological assistance from sponsor worlds. These might represent scientific outposts, mining settlements or other sparsely populated enclaves. Unless such worlds have a large enough population base to maintain a self-sufficient manufacturing base including acquisition of raw materials for the needed technology, they will slowly deteriorate and possibly die out without outside support.

Culture
The population number rounds to nearest whole value, but where it rounds up when the decimal portion is => .7; this corresponds to a traditional pop mod of ~5 as 10 ^ .7 = ~ 5.01.

Using Hofstede's cultural dimension Theory;
Power distance = 2d6 + pop – 7
Power Distance tends to have higher inequality, lower development, larger populations, rural populations, are are often colonial acquisitions. Low population densities ... *rural*
Lower Power Distance tends to have smaller groups, are industrialized, and have a history of independent movements. High population densities ... *urban*
Individualism = 2d6 – Power distance +7
Individualism tends to be developed economically, wealthier and have a lower birth rate, in moderate to cooler climates
Low Individualism ( Collectivism ) tends to underdeveloped and poor, with higher birthrates
Uncertainty Avoidance = 2d6 + power distance – 7
Uncertainty Avoidance tends to be undeveloped and changeable, have extensive detailed laws/legislation often concerned with maintaining tradition, have religions based on strict dogmas.
Low uncertainty Avoidance tends to developed and stable, have a less organized legal system based on what is just vs what is legal. Religions are often based on relative positions on morality and deal with fewer absolutes.
Masculinity = 2d6 + Individuality – 7
Masculinity tends toward competitiveness, wealth acquisition and strict gender roles.
Low Masculinity tends to stress cooperation, gender equality and support for social programs.

Still working on long-term vs short-term societies as well as indulgent vs restrained, but should follow similar methods. Will work on revised spinward marches map with these ideas soon.

More info on Hofstede culture Theory
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hofstede' ... ons_theory
tons of academic papers available as well concerning all kinds of things such as impacts on economies and technology usage, etc.

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