Alpha v0.084 - THE ARMORY UPDATE


A lot has gone into this build. For the most part, the goal was to improve flexibility and clarity, and though many things I had planned were left aside for this (actually quite big) cleanup update, I'm quite pleased with the current build. I've improved over many things thanks to the playtesting campaign I'm doing, thanks to both feedback coming from my playtesters and things I started noticing on my own. For the first time in a long while, I've changed the core of certain mechanics and subsystems to improve upon them because they were constant sources of confusion, and had the chance to expand upon them as well. I don't want to oversell the amount of changes that were made in this version, so I'll let you browse through the changelog and decide for yourself.

Also, I'll be uploading a single zip file containing the core playtest rulebook and the character sheet PDFs from now on, because having both separately made my itch.io analytics go nuts.

Changelog v0.084 - The Armory Update

Core Mechanics

Let's start with the big ones.

  • Separated Trait and Skill bonuses and increased the maximum dice pool size to six. 
You know what really confused players? The Trait and Skill bonuses giving you the same die. Sure it kept things smooth in paper, but it was actually quite confusing in practice, and I had missed the average dice pool mark by one. With that in mind, I did the next obvious thing and simply separated these bonuses.
  • Changed the wording on Success and Success+Drawback to better suit the possible outcomes. 
  • Rewrote the descriptions below each difficulty. 
This is mostly a change made for me rather than for the overall game experience. The text now better illustrates how each tier should be used, and opens up new possibilities in the narrative that aren't completely context dependent. Sometimes, you simply do a shitty job.

  • Reworked the Fatigue Die section, renamed it Exertion Die, and removed the Fatigue Check. 
Oh boy. The Fatigue Die. It's actually the first time i've actually changed it since the start of the game. First things first, the name had to go. Second of all, the check afterwards was unnecessary and confusing. Now it's crystal clear: If you want to put extra effort into your action and you use that effort bonus in your result, you take damage after the deed is done. Also, you can use it to reroll at the risk of getting a worse result.
  • Reworded the Other Checks section to fit a single page. 
  • Removed the Rolling One Die section. 
In an effort to improve space economy, and with the extra space that removing a big chunk of the Fatigue Die gave me, I took the chance to clean up the first pages just a bit more.

Armory

This was the actual focus of this update. Lots of things went into polishing up weapons and armor. So here's the thing: the weapon tags worked, but the cross-referencing didn't. It made a simple thing become very confusing and not actually as flexible as I initially thought. A lot of the tags have carried over, but now the tags system is far more intuitive, fast, and polished.

  • Removed Weapon Burdens.
These didn't actually add anything except confusion. Handedness and weight aren't really my concern, so they left immediately and were reworked into some new Traits later down the line.
  • Added new Damage types. 
Diversify. Hedge with Crypto. Lethal and Non-Lethal. The two new types are Non-Lethal damage: Stun, which damages the Fatigue track, and Psychic, which damages the Stress track. Attacks can only affect one Aspect at a time, but now you get the full array of non-lethal takedowns if you want to, and opens up the path for some scary enemies later down the line (spoiler alert for the future, wink).
  • Major cleanup to the Weapon Traits list. 
I can't say this enough: clarity and flexibility are my #1 concern. Weapon Traits being a jumble of cross-references and requirements was neither. All restrictions are now removed, except for some of them being exclusive to Ranged or Melee, and even those are displayed in a cleaner way. Additionally, weapons start with three traits instead of one or two, and offer a way larger range of customization than before.
  • Added new Traits. 
Not only that, but I've also updated old ones. Some changes you can expect are Hybrid becoming the Gestalt trait, Blast and Scatter being rolled up into Area alongside two new types, and the Floating, Indirect and Link traits becoming the Indirect (Floating, Ambulatory, Deployable) trait.
  • Added more Example Starter Weapons, plus some flavor.
What better way to showcase the narrative flexibility of the new tags than with a full page of original weapons?
  • Changed the costs and rules for Weapon Upgrades. 
Basic Weapons now cost 2 IP instead of 1 because of how they're laid out, and due to the nature of the new traits giving you far better weapons, the Upgrades have been reduced from 3 to 2 and given the costs of 3 IP for the first upgrade and 5 IP for the second one.
  • Reworked the way Ammo is quantified. 
Ammo didn't matter until it mattered. It wasn't engaging or relevant. With this new system (based largely on Gamma World's ammo consumption) you'll have to actually watch out for Ammo without having to count constantly.
  • Raised Light Armor to 8 and lowered Heavy Armor to 16. 
  • Changed the way Armor Upgrades work. 
just a little balance patch. Light Armor was a bit too low and Heavy Armor was a bit too high. Instead of giving you the possibility of increasing the armor number by +2, Armor Upgrades are now exclusively damage resistances, but aren't restricted to Elemental damage, so you can get resistances/immunities against things like Slash or Bludgeon and increase your resistance vs physical attacks.

Combat

Alongside the weapon and armor updates, combat had some touchups made due to things that I realized during playtesting.

  • Separated ◯ and ⊖ in the Priority order. 
Why weren't this separated before? I asked myself as it became a tag match of Team Players vs Team Monsters combat.
  • Changed the names of the Action Types under Action Economy, and added Aid. 
Instead of the vague Simple, Complex, Committed, etc. actions that were here before, I've renamed and polished the Action Types to better reflect the kind of action they are about: Free, Interact, Advance, Concentrate, and Move. Note that these are the exact same actions as before, but their themes and uses are much clearer, and they continue to be freeform with a cost attached to them. Also, I added the Aid action, something that was technically possible beforehand but I wanted to highlight.
  • Expanded upon the Move action. 
Added the costs for moving through difficult terrain, and added reactive attacks (and disengagement) when moving away from an enemy engaged in melee combat with you.
  • Added the PARRY Defensive Action. 
Why not? Block didn't quite cut it for this action and melee needed some love. Parry is only usable in melee combat and allows you to counter-attack if you succeed. Duelists ho!
  • Moved Counter-Attacks to the Defensive Actions section. 
Since this is exclusively a reactionary thing that follows defensive actions (Dodge and Parry), I moved it to its place and simplified it.
  • Added Area Damage to the Attack Rolls section. 
I thought this one was a no-brainer, but why forgo the chance of clearing up exactly how this is supposed to work instead of trusting group checks?
  • Reworked Fatigue and Stress damage. 
Gave some insight on how Non-Lethal damage works so it's better presented, and gave it some defenses dependant of the Resilient Aspect of a character.

Cleanup and Fixes

Got nothing much to say about these. These changes are minor but happen constantly.

  • Reversed some of the changes made to Hexcrawl, making Hexes 20km again and changing MP to Hexes and Speed. 
What can I say? I fucked up. Points were neither intuitive nor fun, and Hexes being smaller made things quite difficult. Changed them back to the old pace and cleaned them up a little with what I learned in the last build.
  • Renamed Replacement as Prosthetics. 
A simple term change, but it feels better this way.
  • Altered the way Evocative Materials and Ritual Herbs are presented, giving them numbers and Uses. 
Clarity and whatnot.
  • Updated the descriptions and names for all the Ancestry options.
Changed some names and polished up some races so they better represent what they're like. Humans are now Nomads, Elves are now Sylvans, and Trolls are now Jötunn, and all races have a main name and a couple secondary/alternative names.
  • Rewrote the Character Creation section.
  • Rewrote the Aspects and Attributes section.
  • Added the concept of Resilient Aspect.
These are all in the same page. Mostly clarity so chargen goes smoothly and people know when to choose and when to create. Aspects and Attributes got a bit of expansion thanks to the new space, and decided to add the concept of Resilient Aspect (i.e. having an attribute bonus with Endurance, Focus or Willpower) so I would cut some major space when mentioning that bonus so many times throughout the game.

Files

Trail of the Vagrant Star (Alpha v0.084).zip 5 MB
Feb 09, 2019

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