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Author Topic: My "Power 19" for Imperium  (Read 3207 times)

Posts: 14

« on: October 03, 2006, 07:00:22 PM »

Imperium is the working title for my sci-fi rpg.  To get the ball rolling, I've written up a Power 19 for the game.  Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

The Power 19                              

1. What is your game about?

The game is about the lives of fighter pilots stationed on a space carrier.
It’s about how mission and personal goals/ambition compare and contrast with each other.  It is a mix of both fighter combat and story elements of intrigue (imagine a mix of Top Gun and Babylon 5 (although I hate to use clichéd examples like that!)).  The game really should evolve into a massive storytelling universe where player characters are confronted with life-altering situations that can change the direction of their motivations and goals.

2. What do the characters do?

The characters are fighter pilots in a squadron.  They engage in combat to further their mission and engage other characters in developing the story of their lives to further there own personal ambitions. 

3. What do the players (including the GM if there is one) do?

The players try to further their personal goals for their characters while overcoming story obstacles/barriers and character traits/deficiencies that can hinder their goals.  For example, say a character is a reluctant leader type, whose goal is to become the fleet’s hottest ace, yet is continually tasked with a leadership role that prevents her from obtaining her goal.  Players must deal with story conflict as well as their own conflict in developing their character.  I almost liken the game as one “giant” continuing character creation session.

4. How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?

The setting is based on a starship and the fighters piloted by the characters.  Occasionally, planet-side missions/adventures will be introduced.  The environment will be a mix of advanced tech and limited resources for maintenance.  A kind of anti-Star Trek where everything was neat and clean.

5. How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?

Character creation is what this game thrives on.  Character development is what this game is about; how the characters interact and impact each other, their environment, and the metagame story.

6. What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)?

The game will reward those players that immerse themselves in their characters and impact the game’s story.  For example, dogfighting will be performed by the players executing “proper radio traffic”.  Any deviation will result in consequences for the pilot, their wingmen, or even the entire squadron.

7. How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game?

The playing style will be rewarded with a currency system of sorts (tokens/XP) where the player can spend this currency to further advance their goals (purchase a piloting skill/rank advancement/etc).  Also, to help immerse the players into the setting, characters will be awarded “physical props” such as unit citations, medals & ribbons.  The playing style could be punished by rank demotion, grounding the pilot, transfer to another ship, skill loss, etc.

8. How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game?

The players will be largely directing through narration the course of their actions; however the GM will pose the challenges to the players

9. What does your game do to command the players' attention, engagement, and participation? (i.e. What does the game do to make them care?)

The game allows for the characters to advance their own agendas/goals as well as the squadron/fleets goals (if they so desire).  Character development/advancement allows the players to tailor the game to their own needs/wants.

10. What are the resolution mechanics of your game like?

The game will use CCG card decks to resolve fighter combat.  Other RPing will be resolved using percentile or d10 dice.  The mechanic will try to find a balance between simulationist and gamist approaches.

11. How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what your game is about?

The resolution mechanics will tie heavily into the characters abilities/traits.  This reinforces the importance character development/goal achievement.

12. Do characters in your game advance? If so, how?

Characters advance/develop by both increasing/decreasing skills and abilities and achieving/failing at their goals & missions.

13. How does the character advancement (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?

Character advancement is about telling a story on a personal level (the fighter pilot) and on a grander scale (as it relates to the characters impact or lack thereof)

14. What sort of product or effect do you want your game to produce in or for the players?

I want the players to really feel as if they have control over the story, no the GM.  The GM will merely introduce obstacles, the players will develop the character as well as the story.

15. What areas of your game receive extra attention and color? Why?

The area that receives the most attention is the depiction of fighter combat.  The system of character and resolution will create the most realistic “feel” of being in a dogfight without limiting gameplay to hard science/physics.  I think the problem with most fighter combat games is they tend to focus more on the fighter ships than on the pilots themselves.

16. Which part of your game are you most excited about or interested in? Why?

I’m really excited about the combination of a card resolution mechanic for combat and “traditional” RPG mechanics.  I think this intrigues me because players can either duel each other with the cards or engage in long term campaign play.

17. Where does your game take the players that other games can’t, don’t, or won’t?

I believe my game balances the life of a fighter pilot between fighter combat and shipboard life.  Other games seem to focus so much on the actual combat; while it is an important element of the game, it is not the overriding theme.

18. What are your publishing goals for your game?

My publishing goals are to start with PDF publishing for the core game book.  Supplements will follow in a serialized release schedule, where the “story” will be told over the course of time.  Hopefully, players will be excited to play these new adventures just as they would be excited to turn the page to the next chapter of a good book.  I also want to introduce an interactive website that will provide resources, extras, and aids to help “immerse” the players into their characters (such as individual squadron pages, pilot kill boards, etc).  I would also have small print runs to take to cons/local stores.

19. Who is your target audience?

My target audience is gamers that crave a sci-fi game that allows their characters to grow and impact the overall direction of the story “universe”.
Gamers who want to invest themselves into a world where they can help mold and create just as much as the designer.


As far as feedback, I’m wondering:

1. Will the card/RP element interest people or turn them off?

2. Is a character development/advancement focused game intriguing?

3. What is your opinion of the serialized release model?

4. While the role of fighter pilot is clichéd in SF, do any other games pull them off well? (I have had a hard time finding one that intrigues me)

5. Do you see any pitfalls with percentile dice mechanics?

6. Do you think the element of player investment will turn off players?

7. The Card/RPG dynamic could pose some printing/distribution problems; do you have any suggestions/ideas?

Posts: 150

« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2006, 08:52:08 PM »

This sounds fun and would be great when you don't want to use miniatures. Personally, I like space combat with miniatures on a black hex mat and the RPG part takes a back seat. Your concept puts more emphasis on RPG, but limits the scope of the characters. They're pilots.

I'd love to see a good fighter combat system. The use of cards is appealing, as you can really take advantage of card art with minimal stats. If you treat this as an RPG first, then the fighter combat cards should remain static and slowly introduce cards based on character/vehicle level. An additional use for the cards would involve a gambling game within the RPG. Its possible to use the cards as a standard resolution system, with specific fighter combat info prevalent to those situations.

As a CCG, updates with new vehicles, races, threats will become important. New rules are part of the cards and the game evolves just like Magic. Limiting the game to fighter combat will get boring. Expand it to fleet actions, exploration and galactic conquest.

Star Wars, Wing Commander, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, Lost In Space (New) are just a few movies that have some good fighter scenes and ideas. Plan on developing a rich setting since space is rather bleak.

Good luck,

Frank T
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2006, 01:42:06 PM »

Hi Tully,

I like your idea in general. Watched Top Gun at least 10 times and read all the BSG books when I was 12 or so, so small wonder. The closest game to what you have in mind I can think of is MechWarrior, though it does not have your emphasis on character personality. However, it suffered from one problem that you might also run into, which is the game actually being two games in one. To make Imperium work, I think you will need to find a way to

a) Make the starfighter combat important to the story, and
b) Make the story important to the starfighter combat.

I also suggest that there should be a hard rule to determine how much starfighter combat and how much "story play" (for lack of a better word) there is in the game. Apart from that, I find the idea of having to apply real tactical and even strategic skill to "live up to your character" intriguing. Always did.

Regarding cards and PDF distribution, that has become quite a common model. People print and cut the cards themselves. It's of course indie punk, and sells in small numbers, but I don't think the cut-yourself cards will be a reason for many people not to buy it, if these people are generally willing to buy a PDF.

I would like to know a little more about the game:

What is the setting like? What is this "Imperium"? Is there alien life, and if so, what does it look like? What do the characters fight for, and what do they fight against?

How does your approach to player-driven play work? How do the players create story impact? What stats do characters have? How exactly are XP awarded?

Can you tell me more about this "serialized story"? How does it interact with the player authorship you strive for?

- Frank
Vargr Scout
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2006, 02:43:57 PM »

Tully, I like it.  How much "naval tradition and protocols" do you intend to weave into your setting?  A great understanding of the history of a fighting naval tradition can be picked up by reading the Aubrey/Martin series by Patrick O'Brian.  Even though it takes place in the Napoleonic-era Royal Navy, the traditions should translate to future space navy with little modification.

Of course, if you were in the navy yourself, you might have a great feel for the modern traditions and ethnology.

Over the years, I have tried to develop some Traveller naval campaigns, which would have focused heavily on the type of character interaction you talk about, specifically based on their rank and position on the ship.  Alas, my playing group had not the foggiest notion of what being in the millitary was like, and so it was lost on them. 

Frank T's concern regarding relating the star fighter combat to the story is easily handled by having a grand campaign worked out for the background.  You as the GM know that the enemy is marshalling an invasion fleet in the next system, your characters encounter a small patrol of enemy fighters on a recce mission, if they can capture one of them, they can pull of a major intelligence coup and then take part in a pre-emptive strike on the enemy fleet, if they allow the enemy fighters to escape, then they have the mystery of "what were they doing here?", and so on.

Wow, I am ready to start running my campaign, hurry up and finish the rule set:)


Posts: 10

« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2006, 12:34:53 PM »

Exuse my very intruding question: what is Power 19?

Best Regards,
Aviv Manoach

Posts: 6

« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2006, 03:14:47 PM »

One old(ish) TV show you might want to see if you can track down is Space: Above and Beyond. The main characters are a fighter squadron in the middle of a war.
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