Monday, May 28, 2012

Mechanics Draft 2: Rolls, Traits/Skills, Target Numbers

System Thoughts: Rolls, Traits and Skills:

A trait is something that is inherent to your character, a native, built-in quality. How strong you are, your agility, raw mental capacity.

Humans on average have traits that start at 2. The maximum cap for traits is 10. The soft-cap for traits is 5, because of scaling advancement costs.

Skills are learned functions, driving/piloting, marksmanship, etc. A skill has an unlearned, rank 0 state, and then 3 ranks: Student, Intermediate, Expert.

There are two kinds of Skill tests, trained and untrained. If a character has no ranks in a skill, they attempt the action with [1d10+trait]. Trained characters instead roll [2d10+Trait+Rank]

Target Numbers:

Target Numbers are determined in Increments of 5: 5, 10, 15, 20, etc.

Human scale action deals in TNs that rarely approach 25, even though it's possible to have [2d10+Trait+Skill Rank]. Humans can achieve an ideal roll of 35, but you're more likely to see results of 5-15.

Mecha scale action has TNs that are 15+, because piloting a mech imparts a minimum pool of 3d10, even if you aren't trained in a relevant skill. Training adds 1d10 to the pool, for a total of [4d10+Trait+Rank].

Mechs can also spend power to add more dice, or have more elaborate equipment and upgrades which provides other bonuses.

Opposing Forces and Secrecy: It's assumed that the game master will treat NPCs as opaque; that is to say, all NPC rolls occur behind a game screen unless instructed otherwise.

Players cannot inherently know the opponent's various traits without first dedicating effort to discerning them.

Target numbers and Secrecy: In general, it's assumed that all TNs are obvious and players can make informed decisions about how to manage their resources. Related to above, if

TN is generated by a defending character, the roll is hidden, the result is not. I.E. the players don't know how many dice the opponent rolls, or how high their traits are/what perks they have to achieve the TN.

However, in the event that a TN IS hidden, a player may attempt to discern the TN before attempting the action. We'll go into this more later.

Target Numbers and Automatic Successes: If a character's Trait+Skill Rank is greater than or equal to a TN, they pass uncontested rolls automatically. Contested actions are ALWAYS rolled.

The 'Sweet Spot' and Difficulty:

In Thermal Shock, the 'Sweet Spot' refers to the statistical average of 2 or more die being rolled, adding any static modifiers. There's a lesson that many high schools use,where students roll 2d6 and graph the results. 2 and 12 are the least commonly occuring numbers, while 7 is the most common, due to how many possible ways two numbers add up to seven. 1+6, 2+5, 3+4, etc.

In this game, anything over the TN is a success, so the 'average' roll gives you a roughly 55% of succeeding. I'm going to spare you the actual statistical modeling and just give you rough estimates for difficulty.

  • TN 5: Trivial - There is a chance of failure but it is minimal.
  • TN 10: Standard: Untrained characters often fail doing difficult tasks, and even trained ones have issues sometimes. This is the most standard difficulty for human-scale action.
  • TN 15: Challenging: Trained characters using perks and wits can tackle these tests. This is the lowest difficulty that occurs in mecha action.
  • TN 20: Incredible: For a human to attempt this is insane, to succeed is the stuff of legends. This is equivalent to Standard difficulty for mecha action.
  • TN 25: Legendary:
  • TN 30+: Epic:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Draft Mechanics Part 1: Basic Task Resolution

Here are, in the most bare bones forms, the base mechanics of TS. These are rough, uncut and unpolished. View them at your own risk:

The core resolution mechanic is based on [Xd10 + Trait] versus some form of Target Number. If you meet or exceed the target number, you succeed. There are no 'Roll Under' checks, as of this draft.

Humans, as a baseline, only ever get 1d10 before tools and the like.  For example, A human who wants to fire a weapon, rolls 1d10+Marksmanship, against a TN.

Traits are, for the moment, assumed to max out at 5, so you can never get more than 15 on any dice roll before modifiers.

System Level Goals

What are System Level Goals?

 A What are System Level Goal, in this context, is the guiding principle or direction you want to go in a game. It's asking the questions like: "Do I want to make a game where its very easy to die?" or "Do I want a game that focuses primarily on court intrigue, ignoring physical combat?"

So what are the What are System Level Goals?

  • Above all the game should be fun, but that's subjective, so I'll just have to do the best I can.
  • Combat should be fast and fluid, and in intended to handle battles between 3-5 PCs and an equal number of NPCs.
  • Provide rules for both human-level action and mecha action. This includes non-combat rules and meaningful goals and objectives outside of beating other mechs.
  • Dying as a human is easy, dying in a mech is hard.
    Example: Mechs can have their limbs and weapons blown off far more readily than anything else, resulting in a 'mission kill'.

Welcome to Thermal Shock

What is Thermal Shock?

Thermal Shock, or TS for short, is a prototype TTRPG ruleset, primarily created as a means to hone my own game design skills, and to spread awareness of my skills. I also hope to make sure people have fun!

The name is currently a working title, but for now, TS will do.

What do you do in Thermal Shock?

In this game, you and your friends play as pilots of advanced combat vehicles, a giant robot or some similar form of mecha. You and your fellow players serve as a small squad of trained, experienced badasses. Are you Soldiers? Mercenaries or Pirates? Private Security? No matter what you are, you ride in some of the baddest pieces of military hardware around.

Project Goals:

  • Create a fast, easy to resolve combat rules for cinematic battles
  • Allow for extensive customization of player characters and their iconic battle machines
  • Develop enough of a compelling world to give players a reason to play Thermal Shock.

About Me

I am Shyft, artist, game designer, all around reasonably cool person. Feel free to email any comments to