Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Nations 3 and 4

Nation 3: Realism

Pretty much based on modern-day Europe.  I've got almost nothing to say about these guys, if only because they're not any given extreme, and thus have nothing interesting.  Hell, I'm not sure what their original niche or purpose is.  The whole goddamn world's Ace Combat like, down to not using the normal map, if I can swing it.  Anyway, not so much one nation as a loose confederation of several individual states organized under treaty and a central governing body similar to the UN or EU.  Although many laws and policies are shared between nations, each also maintains a high degree of independence.  All of the individual nations have long and storied histories, their own customs and cultures, and some still hold on to old rivalries.  Individual nations often show differences in various aspects of quality of life, industry, communications, technological development, and so-on.  The fairly new united government has yet to restructure to a single military, and thus each member state is responsible for its own defense, and still maintains its own armies. 

Nation 4: Technology

Technically not a nation at all, but a global megacorporation.  It officially lacks political power and influence, but it manages quite a lot of pull between lobbying and provision of goods and services.  It isn't the only such corporation on the planet, merely the largest and most successful.  It controls large areas of land, including the entire city in which is corporate headquarters are based, and has claim to a large number of potential "citizens."  The company HQ is a colossal arcology tower in the center of a city boasting a large population.  The tower has various unsavory nicknames such as "the Ivory Tower," and is considered one of the wonders of the modern world, as well as a symbol of corporate power and excess.  The corporation is best known for living on the bleeding edge of cybernetics technology, and is one of the few groups to actively encourage and embrace cybernetic augmentation.  It also has a hand in several military and weapons R&D projects, energy, medical research, and entertainment.  The entertainment branch has generated buzz in recent years for fielding a major pop idol who is, herself, a full-body cyborg. 

They don't have an official military, only private security forces.  Private security that's got enough manpower and equipment to make small countries nervous.  They have enough forces to police the entire city in which the HQ arcology resides, in addition to go out on public works and support missions, such as mist reclamation.  Like any good cyberpunk megacorporation, all the security and the large private forces are justified by what is as close to literal corporate warfare as possible.  Competitors attack to steal and destroy research data and the researchers who created it, and retaliatory attempts to do the same are common.  VIPs need the utmost of protection at all times, and policing a city and arcology with a population in the hundreds of thousands to millions is no small-time task. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Nation 2: Grimdark

I'm not sure if anyone's reading this stuff, but updates is updates.  Next nation on the list, prototype-named "Grimdark," so you can guess that it's not the happiest place on Earth.  The nation encompasses a large area, and has a history of conflict, turmoil, and internal strife, although it is now something approaching a unified whole.  It's likely got some influences from WWII-era Germany, and maybe a bit of Russia/USSR.  With no friends amongst its neighbors, the nation has learned to be independent.  Its large territories, coupled with an extreme drive toward technological and industrial advancement has placed it as one of the strongest global powers, and made it well able to defend its own borders.  Except from huge rocks falling from space.  The meteors blasted much of their territory, causing widespread loss of life and infrastructure and plunging the entire country into a state of turmoil.

Although territory has been lost to the mist, infrastructure has been shattered, and refugees have poured into the more hospitable parts of the country, the military continues to flourish.  In the past, multiple armies have tended to exist at any given time, backed by large factions within the nation.  A civil war eventually settles who is in charge, and the various groups align under a single banner.  A draft is often in effect to help fuel the fires of war, at least if it can be justified.  With the sudden restructuring of the borders and alien threat, it's been reinstated once again.  Dodging the draft has thus also become a common and storied practice.  Unfortunately, forcefully recruiting people is also on the rise, and often for less savory positions, such as experiments to create the newest and greatest front-line soldier technology can offer.  The military tends to lack a stereotype on the whole, or even within its divisions.  Personnel of similar background or personality tend to band loosely together whenever possible, so one can easily find the group of civilians horrified to see what they've gotten themselves into, or the hardened soldiers so out for blood they continually test themselves against each other.  The dress uniforms were designed by a famous fashion designer, and thus look really nice, at least.

The national propaganda mill is operating at full capacity, to keep the citizens happy and in high spirits.  Patriotism is running high, and many are willing to do their part to help the war and reconstruction efforts.  Times are tough, and many of the people are overworked and poorly-educated.  The refugee population has it even worse, as proper housing or work is sometimes scarce.  For many, this is something as a shock, as just a generation ago, the healthcare was better, policies were less draconian, and education was pushed as important for the nation's future.  Many see the past as a symbol of what must be restored to their people. 

Even propaganda-bolstered nationalism can't save the military from distrust and fear, although it does lessen the impact. Some areas are practically under martial law, and tales of soldiers returning from the front are often mentally unstable, and capable of violent outbursts.  Enough of which happen to make he average citizen a little uneasy. 

So...yeah, not a happy place.  Working hard to be stable and preserve what it still has, and in many ways on the front lines of a war with an incomprehensible enemy.  They probably develop a lot of the methods for reclaiming mist-affected areas or treating people affected by it.  I see the place as desperate, and going to great extremes to avoid suffering a worse fate. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Setting, Part 2

The setting is split into specific nations/factions.  There's a bit of a rationale for this, and I feel I should explain it.  Now, obviously, all the fluff exists to address concerns of a complete lack of fluff in previous releases.  The setting factions are built to appeal to specific styles of play, or at least broad genre cliches.  The idea is, if we picked something like say, making things standard, Deus Ex style cyberpunk, or excessively grim and dark, or even all Strike Witches style happy and positive, we'd not be pleasing many people.  So, each faction is built to lean toward certain themes and thus as a whole, they provide a broader appeal.  You want a game to lean certain ways and explore certain themes?  Set it in the place that supports your tastes the best.  Think a specific faction's just not what you want at all?  Change it.

Nation 1

Prototype name: "Happybright"

A small island nation based loosely on Japan.  It tends to hold to isolationist policies, and although it does trade and have contact with most other nations, through most of history, it has been relatively weak and not a major player on the global stage.  Internally, the nation holds many secrets, notably the study of magic.  Now, this bugs me quite a bit, because it runs counter to pretty much everything else everywhere else in the setting.  So, I'll probably need to change it, because even if things end up working the same no matter who you are, someone is going to bitch about the fact that these guys have honest to god physics-breaking magic and how it either doesn't fit or they aren't using it properly.  But, I digress...

The majority of the population belongs to old families with their own magical traditions, and the art itself requires intense study and investment in personal improvement.  The withdrawn politics and culture represent this focus on the spiritual.  And, of course, a heavy imperative to keep it all secret.  Recently, the alien Mist threat has dragged the country into the spotlight, due to a few attacks made on its shores.  The initial damage was severe, but led to a startling discovery: the mist can not only be exploited as a source of energy, but certain materials could be refined into potent magitech circuitry. 

The military is kept highly separated from the civilian population.  Bases are usually well-removed from major population centers, and the average soldier can only rely upon his fellows.  This does breed a strong sense of camaraderie within the armed forces, but the only contact between military and civilian between family members.  Assuming, of course, the family isn't mostly within the military already.  On bases, personnel are treated well, and effort is put toward maintaining comfort and peace of mind.  The military on the whole is one of the largest supporters of new research into magitech cybernetics and augmentations, and the primary user of the same.

A typical civilian spends his or her life furthering the study of magic.  Although the average person with little magical power will only master a handful of spells, every such action is seen as furthering the art as a whole.  Magic is a complex art treated with such secrecy out of a mixture of egotism and pity toward those either ignorant of it or simply unable to control it.  The public opinion on war tends to lean toward regret.  Recent advances such as the ability to reprocess mist into a power source have jump-started the nation industrially, and given it the advantage it needs to rival its neighbors.  National pride is on the rise.

If things lean more toward Japan during WWII, things could take interesting turns, with war rationalized by ideals such as purity versus impurity, and so-on.  I'd have to do some research, but it might make these guys more interesting, or at least potentially less nice.

This is pretty long already, so I'll just do one nation per write-up.  It's an excuse to update semi-regularly for a while, anyway.  I'm still not sure I want these guys to be involved with actual magic, though.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Setting, Part 1

Well, I said I'd blog some setting things, so it's time to start on that, with the general state of the world.  The setting is futuristic scifi, with heavy cyberpunk elements and maybe a few light touches of transhumanism.  But, I'm not too fond of a lot of implications of "transhumanism," so it's not going to be much of a thing.  The world's been relatively stable and peaceful, but 20 (or more) years ago, a series of meteor impacts killed millions and caused severe damage to infrastructure across entire regions.  The status-quo was quickly disrupted, by this event, and things have been getting worse since. 

The meteors brought additional problems, as after the impacts, the Mist came.  The Mist is one part weather pattern, one part terraforming system.  It usually spreads slowly, and never dissipates over areas where it's taken hold.  In those same areas, it changes the land, and everything in it, altering it into an alien landscape.  I'm not sure yet whether it should be meat moss and biology gone awry, inorganic beauty like forests of metal and crystal, or a little of both.  Whatever the case, the Mist changes the world, in strange ways.  It alters any animal or plant life just as well, usually resulting in mutations or death.  It wouldn't be too bad if that's all it did, though.  It can be dangerous to people, as it'll do to them the same as to anything else, but with sealed protective clothing, you can go out in it just fine.  And brief exposure is usually safe.  Sometimes, though, something takes hold, and results in horrible mutations or crystallization of a limb, or what-have-you.  Good news is, whatever pathogen causes this is localized, so removing the affected areas stops it from getting worse.  Bad news is, losing an arm sucks even when cybernetic replacements are available. 

The Mist also harbors its own life.  Some sort of alien invaders, or so it seems.  They don't always show up, but they're usually very large, and very dangerous, when they do.  The general pattern is a large creature will exit the mist zone, and travel a preferably large distance away, where it settles down, takes root, and converts itself into a factory that starts spilling out more mist.  This is the general way in which mist spreads, outside of slow diffusion.  Sometimes, these monsters instead attack human population centers or industrial sites.  In any case, tit's preferred to destroy them rather than leave them alone, although this is rarely achieved without significant expenditure of firepower and loss of life.  Notably, the deaths of such creatures often release a large amount of mist particles into their immediate surroundings, posing a threat to the soldiers who had just defeated them, and requiring clean-up efforts to ensure the area is safe. 

As previously mentioned, the syndrome mist produces in humans is usually treated with cybernetics, and the mist itself seems to have little to no effect on machines or cybernetics of any sort.  Coupled with the threat of alien monstrosities, and the high amount of firepower and durability a cyborg represents compared to a normal human soldier, and most major nations now have a sizable and growing number of combat cyborgs within their ranks. 

That's enough for now.  Next time, I'll go over the specific nations. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Progress Update

Well, progress continues to be slow, but hey, that's how it is with me.  I'm easily prone to distraction, so I don't usually get things done quickly.  I've done everything from play through Corpse Party (good game, by the way; highly recommended), to trying my hand at baking bread. 

But, what's the state of my homebrew?  Well, a few steps forward, a few back. 

The game fluff continues to be lacking, although I now have a good set of starting points to flesh out.  I'll make another post soon to go into greater detail on what I do have.  It's on a lower priority than some of the other things I could be working on.  I also need to create a world map, and names for the various countries.  Neither is something I am good at.  Worst-case scenario I'll use a map of Earth, with the continents moved, and the sea level changed. 

Playtesting with the current DitS system has shown it may have some issues which need to be addressed.  The system of separate movement and attack/action phases may make the game far too slow to play, and movement/weapon ranges need to be changed to  grid spacing to make things easily accessible and lower the number of times people need to ask if they're in range.  So, in many ways, I'll have to go back to the drawing board to deal with the core system, most likely moving it back toward the sort of action economy seen in most games, and dropping an independent movement "phase" altogether.  This is fine by me, as the general system leanings more toward people behaving like people rather than like vehicles suits me just fine.  The last possible gripe is that skills are a bit too open, or at least easily bought to high levels, notably in the case of attack skills and defenses.  Characters are too "safe" and need little strategic thought, in other words.  So, I'll have to examine that again and consider a few fixes. 

On the plus side, I've made some progress.  Characters have been switched over to a wounds and critical damage system, which should be a bit more interesting and mesh well with the idea of fancy cyborg characters.  PCs can shrug off losing an arm or a leg as a temporary inconvenience.  Progress has also been made toward adding additional weapons and equipment, in a more robust system. 

Character Advancement:
I haven't even gotten around to this one yet, however, I can give a sketch of how it will work.  Characters earn Credits from doing missions (i.e. going on adventures, playing the game).  Credits are spent to purchase new weapons and equipment, and may also be used to upgrade current equipment or even improve a character's attributes.  If I can, I'll put a system in place in which a character's reward is penalized for things such as taking sever damage or losing limbs, to possibly even paying for ammunition expended.  

I also need to work on a name for this semi-new system, as it's no longer just planelegs and flying.  The working name is Mecha Musume System (MMS), although something a little more poetic may be in order. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Finally, an update

Man, I never post anything anymore.  This is more a symptom of my life not being very interesting than anything else.  Anyway, I've decided to get back in the saddle when it comes to working on my game, although it's going to be a while before I can report any significant progress.  I'm not the best writer or most creative person, so it'll take me a while to get anything done in terms of creating fluff or crunch. 

My main areas of focus for now are:
  • Fluff.  The game needs a setting, with a few different factions, and some interesting background material.  Not everyone may use it, but it's better than just a sterile set of rules.
  • Rules for ground combat.  Dive into the Sky has none.  If I'm going to broaden the system, I will need to institute rules for situations outside of air combat.  Preferably, the air combat and ground combat rules will be able to interact well, and one can seamlessly move between flight, and fighting on or near the ground.  Mecha musume types seem to do that, especially in the sort of sources I'm looking to for inspiration, like Infinite Stratos and Cosmic Break. 
  • More equipment options, and better rules for equipment and weapons.  The current rules are somewhat lacking in this regard.  And I will need to change it if I want an Armored Core approach to things, in which characters have many options which do different things.  
  • Character advancement rules.  As before, there are none.  This isn't good.  At all.  I've got some ideas, at least.  
So, there we go.   I'll also need to look into art eventually, because it makes for a prettier document. 

Oh, I was asked a while ago for point-buy rules for DitS.  They're in an older post, but here they are again.  Rather than roll dice for attributes, you get 100 points to distribute across them.  Each attribute still starts at 20, and points add to the attribute on a one-for-one basis.  No attribute can be above 40 at character creation.  This method will yield slightly above-average characters.