A bit of a meander today.
Some of you may remember that last year I tossed around the idea of Code Black, the Pen & Paper RPG set in the First Law: Override universe's Mantic Space.
Well since then I've been brewing on a few ideas.
Note: Some of you may have received an email from me already about a planned Round Table Skype chat I want to host. A lot of these ideas will be coming up in that chat. If you have not received anything from me but you would like to be involved with this project, let me know!
Those who know me know that I write things from a setting first, with rules to follow.
The setting of Code Black is as follows:
Technomantic (Mantic) Space. A version of cyber space that connects across the entire Outer Fringe including such notable places such as Krata-Prime, The Bastion, and Honos.
Mantic Space is a virtual world where a user connects via a physical connection (jacked in) through a neural interface. It is a place where it's laws are fluid. Determined only by what people believe and expect.
If there is a strong enough belief in something, it exists within Mantic Space. However there are certain things that does not exist. The 99% of users (Jacks) have absolutely no special abilities within Mantic Space. Despite the idea that 'superpowers' are awesome, the vast majority of people lack the genuine self belief or imagination to make it a reality.
You however have that self belief, you can imagine what it would be like to fly, to create tools and weapons out of thin air, or to sculpt Mantic Space to your own whim. You are the 1%.
In recent times, certain locations have begun to disappear, replaced by a total lack of substance. A shadow of it's own existence. Any Jacks who were present when the location 'Shadowed', being left in the real world as brain dead vegetables, unable to move or speak. But very recently, the avatars of these Jacks have begun to appear across Mantic Space. Where these Shadow-Jacks appear, it is only a matter of time before the whole area is Shadowed.
To combat this threat, both the Accord and Reavers have formed a coalition, a group to operate within Mantic Space and try to deal with the Shadow before it removes Mantic Space out of existence all together. This group consists of those who are the most sensitive to Mantic Space, they are the 1%. Their very existence is considered a galactic secret. They are Code Black.
So when it comes to rules, I'm a little light on the ground. I want to simulate the basic combat rules of Override (Attack Dice vs Defence Dice), it will be using d10s a P&P standard) but it's primary resource mechanic is not Utility & Interact Actions.
Instead Code Black is using a shared resource with health. Currently it's called Belief (subject to change).
So a character has a set amount of belief, let's say we have Bonney the Kid, she's an elite hacker in the real world with a real affinity for Mantic Space.
Bonney's Belief is 10.
Belief, like I said before is both a resource and a health. To perform an action requires a certain amount of belief. Let's say for example, it takes 2 Belief to shoot a gun.
So Bonney is being attacked by a Shadow Jack, she pulls out her pistol and tries to shoot it. This means that regardless of outcome she only has 8 Belief left.
In our example the Shadow Jack shoots Bonney, it has caused 2 Damage to her. Bonney now only has 6 Belief left.
Bonney didn't expect the Shadow Jack to have a ranged attack, so she has to deal with it before it's too late. Bonney thrusts put her palm, a stream of bright white light emanating and piercing the darkness of the Shadow Jack, peeling away it's shadow and causing it to collapse on the floor. Bonney has used her Exorcism ability, a special power that does an extreme amount of damage to Shadows. Like all Mantic Powers, Exorcism has a Fluid Cost. The more Belief you pump into the ability, the better chance of succeeding it has. Bonney really wants this to succeed so she uses 5 Belief, meaning that Bonney only has 1 more. She can do nothing else for the remainder of the turn.
Another example would be that Bonney casts Exorcism, but it fails to pierce the veil of the Shadow Jack. It reacts by shooting her again. Her Belief has been reduced to Zero and she is booted out of Mantic Space (kind of like being dead, but depending on what has happened, (burned out [delayed reconnect/respawn], brain-fried [requires aid from party members], or cardiac arrest [dead]) Bonney may be back soon.
In our third and final example, Bonney is casting Exorcism, but she isn't sure if it is going to succeed, plus she doesn't want to die if it fails, so she only directs 2 Belief into the ability.
Bonney isn't alone however, in her team there's Johnny and Billy. Johnny and Billy also want to see Bonney succeed, so they funnel their belief into her cast, 4 Each. When funnelling (using yours to boost someone else) for every 2 Belief, it adds 1 Belief to the Cast (rounded down, so no benefit for using 3 over 2). Bonney now has cast 2+2+2 Belief into the cast, meaning Exorcism is now charged to 6Belief!
Using Funnel, players are able to band together to perform acts of true magnitude, but in doing so are reducing their Belief as a whole, leaving themselves open to reaction or surprise attacks.
And that is the basics of the game so far.
Now currently you might be thinking "what about imagination?" Currently you are talking about special powers that would presumably be listed in a book. What if we wanted to do something that isn't listed? This is where the GM comes in, a factor that could never ever be matched in a normal (GM Less) game.
Let's say you want to do something simple but isn't available at the moment in the games, or to your character? (Using Exorcism to blast away at a non-Shadow NPC for example) fine! You cast the same, but reduce your target number by 50% making it more difficult, and this is a minor change. In short there are 3 types: Minor Change, Major Change (75% reduction), and Discovery (something that is not based on modding an existing ability) (75% reduction, and failure causes instant Booting).
Obviously there are certain limitations, you can't make anything 'insta-kill' or anything else that counts as 'auto win the current situation'. This is purely for game mechanic reasons. If the objective is to eradicate all Shadow Jacks within a certain district, you can't just cast a supernova to instantly kill all Shadow Jacks in that district.
So there we have it. The basics of Code Black.
Once again, if you want in on the round table discussion/sound board, just let me know via the comments, email firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @doctorloxley or @FLOverride
Until next time, stay safe and be excellent to each other!
- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley