Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.

Main Menu

Cychosys, a new RPG system

Started by King Rat, May 18, 2004, 12:14:30 PM

Previous topic - Next topic



I threw down for the challenge, so I feel like I owe you guys a meaty post.  Let's see if I've got one...

When I said "tacked-on," I was referring to the tendancy for universal systems to have a solid core, usually concerned with simulating a close approximation of our own reality.  But, because of the universal moniker, the game has to do everything else, as well.  So, just to use GURPS, in Gurps: Martial Arts, they give you tons of new rules for unarmed fighting styles.  Gurps: Space gives tons of new rules about spaceships and blasters and stuff.  Every Gurps book I've seen has new advantages and disadvantages at a minimum, and when you tack these on to the main rules, you supposedly get a good approximation of the genre in question.

This is only kindof true, though.  If by steampunk I mean "gritty, dark, deadly exploits using anachronistic tech against the repressive Victorian elite," that's quite different from the steampunk which is "pulpy, light, improbable exploits saving the world weekly via absurd gadgets."
And, really, I don't think one base system can cover both.  It'd need variant rules for such fundamental things as accuracy, damage, healing and all the rest.  
Even a universal system has a certain "feel" to it.  Risus and Gurps are equally universal, but one's wacky and absurd, the other's "realistic."    There hasn't been a Gurps: Toon, and I hope there never is.

And this is where the rubber starts to hit the road.  If I want to play Arthurian fantasy, why would I use Gurps: Middle Ages 2 when I could use Pendragon?  If I want futuristic comedy, why would I sweat melding Gurps: Space and Gurps: High-Tech and Gurps: Illuminati when I could go with Paranoia?  Crazy, cinematic reality hopping?  Torg, not Gurps: Everything.
These games have more to offer than Gurps, in their area of specialization. Pendragon has great personality mechanics, and a real sense of generations passing.  Torg has nifty rules for disconection if you're playing with a reality that isn't real to you.  And I wouldn't want to play Torg using the Pendragon system, or vice versa.  Because with a game built around a tight focus, it can do that thing really well.
In comparison, a unversal system is limited - by definition - to more bland rules.

Rant over.  That's my standard argument.  Hell, I just used it a few days ago. You're free to take it or leave it, of course.  (You're pretty invested in the opposite side, after all.)

And I'll admit, you intrigued me enough to take a look.

I like it!  It's got some clever bits.  
And now that I'm invested, what sorts of feedback are y'all looking for?  What seem to be the rough spots?


The Chsoen One

Thank you for the post...

Well first of all I will say that we have tackled several different settings with Cychosys. If you look at the webpage you can see the settings we have touched in greater detail.

We have done cyberpunkish, space, romanesque fantasy, and currently doing Victorian super heroes. The system holds up well in all of these settings. I'll agree there is a "core" system per say. However the additon of the genres does not add additional rules. It adds a group of up to four skills and trademarks, those skills and trademarks work like every other skill or trademark in the system does. They are just inserted to give players the appropraite skills to mimic the reality they are playing in. The "feel" of the game is dictacted by the GM not defined by additional rules.

However, a nod to you about your concern in universal systems...we are developing "framing rules". This would be optional rules you could insert if you wished to help flush out things. Some of them are more of suggestions on how to design certain tricks than rules per say. I am only talking about two additonal rules at the most, not a full fledged sourcebook per say. Just to clarify.

I understand your argument about why use a universal system that may be kind of bland when you can use a more specialized system. However I will play devils advocate, I mean the argument between universal v. specialized is one that will rage on till long after were gone I'm sure.

To this I can only say its a learning curve, and to be honest in some instances even those more specialized systems are lacking in ceratin departments. Hell, the original reason we even designed Cychosys was because Cyberpunk lacked heavily for us. Not to mention everytime I want to try out a new setting I'm not forced to shop around for new systems, spend money on them if neccessary, and/or learn a new rules set everytime. I mean heck do they even publish Paranoia anymore?

Heck we have even played a few TORG one shots with Cychosys. Our GM is a huge TORG fan. It was done with two simple tweaks. Adding a skill called reality and allowing XP to be spent as possibility. We could never add that to the manual but once again it demonstrates how adaptable I feel the system is.

Once again I truly appreciate you taking a peek at it, and taking the time to post.

Gurp Toons...ick!

Anyways, we posted the system to kind of just get it out there for people to use if they saw fit. We didn't have any major design questions. We just kind of wanted general input.

Maybe you could speak on the parts you like, dislike, or just don't understand. Also, it has come to our attention that our manual could be a little better written/organized. We have been looking at it so long it never phases us. What are your thoughts?

King Rat

Ack~!  Sorry I've been away from the board for so long.  I'm reading through the replies now, and composing my response.  I will post it later today.

King Rat

Okay, I think I've addressed everything posted.  If I missed a question, or if there are others, please post.

Quote from: John HarperFirst, a layout nitpick: The PDF could not start in a worse way, for me. That first page of tables, without context, is very off-putting....  You might want to consider starting the document with a general statement of intent or other introductory text, instead of a page of tables.
Yes, well, the intro statement is on page two.  The standards table is the core of the entire system, and the author wanted it in an easily accessible location.  I understand your position, though, and I'm beginning to work with the author to make the manual more user-friendly.

Quote from: John HarperAt first glance, this system supports a wildly chaotic and unpredictable style of play. The dice system causes all characters to critically fail 8.3% of the time (a roll of 12 on 1d12) regardless of training. Based on the examples in the text, it seems as though a lot of dice rolling is preferred, even for tasks which are generally considered trivial in most RPGs. For instance, the Private Eye character in one example is asked to make a Navigation roll to remember how to get to his client's office. He also makes an Observe roll to spot any tails. That's two separate rolls for one bit of action, each with an 8.3% chance of a fumble.
The examples are intended to show the mechanics of the system, and should not be used to infer playstyle.  Navigation rolls typically would not be mde unless some part of the trip were unfamiliar to the characters.  It is not uncommon for our group to have 2-3 fumbles per character during a play session (8-9 hours).  I would describe the feel of the game as roughly midway between realism and pulp.  Fumbles/crashes are not necessarily catastrophic (even though it uses that term in the manual--I think that was left over from the old dice mechanic when fumbles had a 2.7% chance).  Their interpretation is largely situation dependent.  I can't remember a situation in which our GM has manufactured a critical event simply because a fumbe was rolled in a low-threat situation.  

Quote from: John HarperDo you have specific questions/comments/concerns that you would like us to address in this thread? That might help us focus the discussion.
I was hoping to get some input in to the user-friendliness and accessibility of the manual--its layout, organization, and clarity.  I've heard some questions regarding clarificaitons in dice mechanics and damage, so I know those could use a re-write.  This could be loosely thought of as a "beta test" of the manual.

Quote from: Andrew NorrisIt appears they recently switched from 2d6 to 1d12, and so I'd submit that it may very well be worth discussing the prevalence of critical failures (since obviously rolling two 6's is quite different from rolling one 12).
Yes.  Perhaps a more complete overview of the mechanic is in order here:
To perform an action, the player rolls a d12 and adds his character's skill and/or finesse.  Characters have fatigue pools, and if the player feels his total isn't high enough, he may spend a fatigue point to roll again and add that to his total.  This may be done as many times as he has points in the relevant skill/finesse.
Rolls of 11 or 12 grant one XP.  If a 12 is rolled, it is counted as 0, and the roll is ended.  A 12 on the initial roll is a crash, and causes the action total to be 0.
An 11 is counted as 0, and grants a free re-roll (it simply grants XP, and is transparent to the action total).  An initial roll of 11 counts as 10, and grants a free re-roll.  
Okay, under the 2d6 mechanic, it was becoming more and more obvious that the high end of the standards table was being reached too easily.  Part of the reason we switched to the d12 was to limit players blowing out their totals.  It is now much more difficult to roll more than 5 or 6 times on an action.  Some other changes were made to limit re-rolls.  Action totals are now much more inline with where we feel they should be.

Quote from: Andrew NorrisI'm also interested in the experience mechanic -- right now, it seems that a character will gain 1 XP every time their player rolls an 11 or 12. (For reference, the sample character seems to start with 100 or so XP.) That's an intriguing idea, that learning is based on some particular insight gained from a striking success or failure, but I'd be curious to hear about the designer's experiences with things like some players advancing much faster than others through sheer luck, or players who manipulate play to get as many rolls as possible so that they can advance more quickly.
Characters advance at varying rates, but it's not a huge difference.  And since this is not a level-based system, the differences are not that apparent.  Three PCs in the current campaign are have had fairly equal screen time (about six months of play), and they vary from 350 to 410 points.  The strongest character can warp time, and sometimes uses it to gain actions in combat.  The other two characters are only about 20 points away from each other.  At this level, these are negligibledifferences.  Our GM has consistently thrown situations at us that pummel one or two characters, and give one or two an opportunity to "lead the party."  Every PC enjoys frequent rotation in both categories, regardless of experience.  We've all made occasional frivolous rolls in the hopes of XP gain, but it's not a real problem with our group.  Any system can be abused, and it's ultimately the responsibility of the GM to moderate the playgroup and keep things under control.

Quote from: GarbanzoIf you've got a generic system, one that does just about everything fairly well, but needs tacked-on rules to really do anything in a super-spiffy way, what's going to make me play Cychosis rather than GURPS (if I like super-crunchy games) or Fudge (if I slide in the opposite direction)?

What's going to draw someone to yours? What is the real key to Cychosis, the one-sentance sum-up that's going to make me take a deeper look?
Cychosys is a pretty middle-of-the-road on the Gurps/Fudge scale.  Its main selling points (as I see them) are that is has a simple dice mechanic, through which the whole system runs; and its damage system, which expands on generic hitpoints with fatigue and an effects system that includes such things as exhaustion, bleeding, stunning, being knocked out, etc., without adding additioinal rules to the system.
There are no tacked on rules to handle aspects of various genres, such as magic, cyberware, the spirit world, faith, kung-fu, etc.  The core rules provide a list of "standard" skills that have been judged common to most settings.  The genres provide additional skills and character trademarks, but the rules in which they are used are the same.  Genre framing rules and examples are currently being written, and should be up soon.  These will probably become de facto standard rules, but are more intended to show how one possible way common themes in each genre, such as spellbooks, miracles, creation of automata, lycanthropy, etc., may be handled.  In other words, framing rules may change fromm one setting to another, even though they share genres.


QuoteThe examples are intended to show the mechanics of the system, and should not be used to infer playstyle. Navigation rolls typically would not be mde unless some part of the trip were unfamiliar to the characters. It is not uncommon for our group to have 2-3 fumbles per character during a play session (8-9 hours). I would describe the feel of the game as roughly midway between realism and pulp.

I think you'll want to change that.  The only thing a player is going to have to tell them how your game is meant to be played is the text you write.  Get as much mileage as you can out of every example.

An example that simply illustrates how to read the dice is  50% wasted.  Phrase the example so that it actually conveys useful knowledge beyond that.

For instance, who calls for rolls to be made?  In 90% of the games out there this crucially important piece of information is underplayed or entirely absent.  Examples are the perfect place to convey this information.

Consider the difference between:

"For example:  Roy wants his character to climb the wall so decides to make a Climbing check.  He's in no real hurry so he figures the difficulty will be only average."

"For example: Roy wants his character to climb the wall so he asks to make a Climbing check.  The GM feels this is within the character's ability so assigns a difficulty of average."

"For example:  Roy announces that his character is going to climb the wall.  The GM says 'hold up, that will require a Climbing check.  I'll call it average difficulty'".

You can see the absolutely tremendous difference in how play will feel between these three ways.  Most game rules never say and most players never look for it.  They all just do it the way they've always done it (whichever way that is).  But if you're writing the game assuming the third way is how it works, and I'm playing the game assuming the first way is how it works...there's a disconnect.  The sort of disconnect that might lead me to think your game is broken when really you're just operating on a different set of assumptions then me.  

Get those assumptions up front and center.  I can always decide "oh, I see how they're doing it...I don't want to do it that way", but at least knowing what your assumptions were I'm better equipped to run the game.

Examples are perfect places to incorporate this sort of thing.

Of super super primary importance is the question "what do you actually roll for".   This question is also hardly ever addressed fully.  Most games will make a lame attempt such as "don't roll for basic things like crossing the street", but rarely do they tell you what you should roll for.  

If I'm making a roll to write a computer program am I making 1 roll to write the whole program?  Or am I making a series of rolls, 1 to see if I get the functionality I want, 1 to see how buggy it is, 1 to see how efficient the coding is, 1 to see how fast it runs, 1 to see how intuitive the interface is...etc?  This isn't a suggestion to put long explanations into your skill list.  Put the explanation into your examples.  If you give an example of a guy writing a computer program and its handled in a single roll, then I know "oh, 1 roll will accomplish about that much stuff" and I can extrapolate that out into other things.

But if you write the example so that it takes just 1 roll, but then turn around and say "these aren't real examples that shouldn't be used to infer playstyle...then I'm back in the dark".  You designed the tell me how the rolls are meant to work.  Don't give me examples of rolls that you'd never actually use yourself in the game.  Give me real examples that show me really how things get accomplished.

QuoteFumbles/crashes are not necessarily catastrophic (even though it uses that term in the manual--I think that was left over from the old dice mechanic when fumbles had a 2.7% chance). Their interpretation is largely situation dependent. I can't remember a situation in which our GM has manufactured a critical event simply because a fumbe was rolled in a low-threat situation.

Similarly be explicit about this.  Do not rely on GM judgment to determine when to apply a fumble and when to ignore it.  This is important system mechanic stuff.  Why bother using a rule set if the rule set is going to leave all of the important issues up to the GM anyway.  Might as well just make it up.

If you put a 1 in 12 chance to critical in your system, then there should be a 1 in 12 chance to critical in your system.  If you give the GM the full power to simply ignore the critical as desired...then the rule is utterly pointless.  You might as well say "there should be opportunities for critical's during play, the GM will just make up when they occur".

If you write a mechanic that has a specific rule for criticals, and then find yourself ingoring them most of the time, then...quite honestly...its a pretty poor rule and you need to go back and rewrite it.  Any rule that is written with the idea of being freely ignored, is a rule that never should have been written to begin with.  You either believe in the rule enough to enforce it, or you don't.  If you don't you scrap it or rewrite it until you do.

For instance, why even call it a fumble?  Why not call it a "plot twist event".  Whenever that number comes up "something" happens.  Something unusual that would not have been expected as the result of the action being performed.  Something that doesn't necessarily have any connection to the action being performed other than it coincidentally happened at that time.  "Reinforcement show up", "it starts to rain and the smoke screen begins to disappate", "the power goes out", "the room catches fire"...whatever.

This can then be a dial that gets set by genre.  It can be limited to something plausible for more gritty games, or it could be completely over the top and absurd for more campy games.  

You could even go so far as to let another player determine what the plot twist is instead of the GM.

Lots of different things you could do, but whatever you decide to do, it should be a rule that you expect to always use when it comes up.  Rules that you expect to ignore most of the time are just poorly written and in need of a fix, IMO.

John Harper

What Ralph said. Everything he said is solid, helpful advice. Take it very seriously.

If you want Red Raven to be more than a convenient house-system for you and your friends, these are the issues that need to be addressed.
Agon: An ancient Greek RPG. Prove the glory of your name!

King Rat

Quote from: John HarperIf you want Red Raven to be more than a convenient house-system for you and your friends, these are the issues that need to be addressed.
Eh, this is the Cychosys thread, but you're forgiven ;)

Quote from: ValamirSimilarly be explicit about this. Do not rely on GM judgment to determine when to apply a fumble and when to ignore it. This is important system mechanic stuff. Why bother using a rule set if the rule set is going to leave all of the important issues up to the GM anyway. Might as well just make it up.
I understand what you're saying here, and the wording is being changed, but Crashes are never simply ignored.  And they are not as nebulous as a random plot twist event.  A Crash is always bad, and it's always worse than simple failure.  The magnitude of the difference between a Crash and a failure is informed by the drama of the scene.  A Crash on a Navigate roll may end up in the character boarding the wrong train, or accidentally entering a high-crime district; instead of going a few blocks before realizing he's lost.  A Crash on a Search roll in a library may result in the book in question being stolen or lost, rather than wasting half the day before locating it.  But, a Crash to Shoot the grand-high-adventure-baddy may result in accidentally shooting a party member in the back (typically, my character, in our playgroup ;P ).

So, yes, the description of Crashes needs to be changed, but it's not truly a rule to be applied at the GM's whim.  Rather, the GM moderates the severity of the fumble based on the drama of the moment.

Your comments about the examples are well noted.  We've known they could use improvement, but you have helped to focus how we should go about re-tooling them.