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Author Topic: Part IV: Sorting the Nuts and Bolts  (Read 2587 times)
Le Joueur
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« on: December 28, 2001, 04:03:00 PM »

December 28th, 2001 -

At the behest of my friends here on the Forge, I will present Scattershot at the point I have it.  Even though this is a work-in-progress and much of the terminology is in a state of flux, I am not trying to present a diary of the progress.  Expect the lead component of this thread to undergo changes as Scattershot does.  This edition was originally put together very early on Friday, December 28th, 2001.  This series of articles will detail strictly the mechanics of Scattershot, articles relating to the techniques of 'how to play' will have to wait until I have more of them centralized and organized.  The third major component of the game, the setting and genre material is will be addressed once I get a new batch of playtesters.

As promised now we begin to describe the actual nuts and bolts of Scattershot's mechanics.  Everything in Scattershot's mechanics revolves around resolution of actions that participants have their characters perform.  In fact all other mechanics have been positioned so as to be simply another presentation of the resolution mechanic.  In order to adequately explain all that goes into Scattershot's resolution process, first I need to lay out a number of descriptors.

All things performed within Scattershot's resolution mechanic are described by Ratings.  Mostly numeric, these Ratings are the most important part of this mechanic.  There are many qualities and classifications involved in these Ratings and without describing what they are, a user might become confused what they are being asked to do.

First of all, all Ratings in Scattershot break down into three different Types.

Invoked

    When the character performs an act or has one performed on them (at either
Specific or Mechanical play 'densities') a Rating is used to determine the result.[/list:u]Magnitude

    The Rating is used to determine how much of something can be or is affected.  In a fashion likened to Mayfair's
DC Heroes, Scattershot has a chart of 'amounts' that can be affected (we have named this either the Universal Equivalency or Universal Effect Chart - also known as the UE or 'Huey' Chart).  Lifting capability qualifies as one of these.[/list:u]Resource

    These Ratings are something that 'gets used up' during play, either spent or reduced by circumstance.  Old-fashioned hit points are one example, but so are Hero Games' Endurance Batteries.[/list:u]Next we separate Ratings based on their
Application.

Instantaneous

    Any conscious action by a player results in this kind of Application
for the character.  Examples would be things like sight-based Observations, Fencing, Pottery, or any type of Detection ability.[/list:u]Reactive

    When some other party attempts an act
upon a character or that might involve them (whether they know it or not), this is the type of Application used.  Examples include forms of sensation or magical resistence.[/list:u]Residual

    There are two kinds of Residual Applications, on-the-spot and preemptive.  A preemptive Residual Application happens when something that is resolved has 'lingering' effects.  This might be how hard a code is to break (which is created when the code is invented); it could also be how good a work of art is.  When an on-the-spot Residual Application is required, it is created right then, but treated as though it had been continuously in effect prior to when it was needed.  This could be a 'how well did I do at the ball' savoir-faire result or how well something was jury-rigged.  (Residual Applications form a cornerstone to how the Scattershot mechanic is used, but I'll get to that later.)[/list:u]The next topic is the
Kinds of Ratings there are in Scattershot.  I'll take them out of order to make their structure and relationships clearer.

Preternatural or Supernatural Abilities

    This includes all manner of superpowers and magical effects.  If you are doing it with something other than your hands or physical tools, it's probably one of these.  Every use of a Rating in Scattershot actually involves two Ratings (but in some they can be somewhat hidden).  The first is some measure or limit on how much can be affected.  This 'quantity' (this is in quotes because sometimes the 'quantity' can be a distance or a philosophical property or otherwise) is indexed on the UE Chart often using a Statistic (more on these later) for both superpowers and magic (and most of the rest of these abilities too).

    The second Rating is the number that the dice are actually used with.  This is a Rating of efficacy that the character can perform the appropriate action with.  When the dice are compared to this Rating, the
quality of the success (or failure) is determined.  That's the basic structure of all Scattershot's resolutions.  Know the amount affected, randomly check against the character's efficacy, and determine the result.

In the case of a superhero, except in special circumstances, all their powers will be based on a single Statistic, likewise with a mage or psychic.  When these kinds of abilities are Reactive they include things like 'active' defenses.  In Residual Application these are things like force fields, memory wipes, illusions and the like.[/list:u]Skills

    These include primarily things a character has learned or is talented with.  Things that can be done in the 'mundane' fashion are considered skills.  The major thing that separates skills from the above abilities is that skills use static limits of what can be affected.  For example, a psychic might be able to lift a car with telekinesis only when something boosts their power level, but an auto mechanic is able to repair a single car in about 3 hours.  Modifiers alter this, but not the same way as a magician is slave to the amount of 'available' magic.  Each skill lists its base parameters (and all of them happen to be based on 5 templates that are offered later to create additional material).  (An example of a Skill used Reactively would be a counterfieter recognizing a forgery that, itself, is a Residual Application of the skill used of the original forger.)[/list:u]Statistics

    There are 6 Stats in Scattershot Strength, Agility, Hit Points, Reaction, Observation, and Power (surprisingly it
can be pronounced; SAHROP).  Stats are Ratings that are 'self-referent,' this means that when a roll is needed, the amount effected is also indexed with the same Stat.  Strength and Power are primarily Magnitudes.  Agility, Reaction, and Observation are usually Invoked.  This leaves Hit Points (and in some genres, Power) as mostly Resources.  (Power is used as a Reactive, Invoked ability when preternatural characters act upon 'natural' characters.  A high Agility can afford a small Residual bonus on skills listing its effect.)  I can go into the unusual interpretations of these seemingly classic Stats if requested, but I will leave that until later.[/list:u]Advantages (and Disadvantages)

    These are the only Ratings that do not occur as numerical (especially in the
Basic mechanics).  Their primary use is in General Play, but they function as Residual Applications when used in either Specific or Mechanical play.  Since they rarely benefit any other roll more than 1 point, the horrors of 'currency issues' never arise.[/list:u]Like Advantages and Disadvantages, bonuses and penalties are treated as Residual Ratings.  This becomes very important in certain situations in Scattershot and as far as I know may be an original way of looking how these work.

There are a few other variations worthy of note in Scattershot.  The Durations of ability usage are also very important in deciding how an ability affects play.  There are three Durations noted in Scattershot.

Immediate

    These are acts that only take a single action by a character, like firing an arrow at a target.[/list:u]Involved

    These activities take more than one time unit in Scattershot, in
Mechanical play, the exact amount of time can be very important.  Sometimes Involved actions are considered a series of sequencial actions, such as taking part in an archery tournament (which is a different skill than normal archery) or tracking wild game.  This awareness of Duration is directly linked to one of Scattershot combat's more interesting features (but I'll save that for later).[/list:u]Scenic (I really need a different word here)

    These activities basically take an entire scene unto themselves to play out.  Only on rare occasion will a Scenic Duration skill usage be 'played out.'  They are usually handled during naturally occuring breaks in play, like 'between' scenes.  A couple of examples include hunting and foraging.  Usage of a Scenic Duration ability usually only occurs during
General play.[/list:u]One of the special mechanics in Scattershot involves using a skill (or other ability) at a Duration they are not associated with.  Using 'strategy' (managing a whole battle) in place of 'tactics' (taking advantage of the situations of a fight) is one example, another would be using to 'charm' in a scene in place of 'savoir-faire.'  (This 'defaulting' is actually based on how Scattershot handles the bonuses and penalties for taking more or less time to do something.)

Another variation noted in Scattershot is the value of the Scope of what is being resolved.  This not only includes things involved with concepts like the Scope of a subject being affected, but also the scope of those performing the act.

Individual

    Most activities are resolved on this level.  One individual acts upon another or a small group (what they act upon is alternatively limited by the UE Chart).  This works on every
'density' of play quite easily.[/list:u]Squad (another term that needs a changing)

    This scope is especially relevant when addressing the components of a scene individually would take altogether too long, destroying 'flow of play.'  One of the techniques of Scattershot combat involves shifting up to this level under certain circumstances.[/list:u]Mob (and so on)

    Other Scopes obviously exist, but are almost always handled in
General play (though sometimes it can creep down to Specific play) and Scenic Duration (wars can be handled this way).[/list:u]When you take the Types and Applications of a Rating into account, the Kind, Duration, and Scope of how it works, you begin to see how Scattershot makes use of the Ratings involved

Next time, peeling away the layers of the mechanics.

Fang Langford
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Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!
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