So we have some great news this week from Arkrite press about the State of the Game. Jason and Greg are hard at work getting the RPG up and rolling at top speed and there is some great community involvement there. Gears are perfectly designed for a RPG environment because it lets you put the player characters in near mortal danger and still have them be the heroes at the end of it. It's also a setting where you can do spycraft, be a military unit, be civilians and do it all in a future world where people matter.
The really neat part of the announcement fro me is the part where they announce that the system will be a D10 system to allow for more variation on the rolls. This is great news as for RPGs you really need the ability to differentiate between a wide variety of skills and skill levels. For Heavy Gear Blitz the choice was made early in development to keep to the venerable D6 for good reasons.
One issue that can happen when switching to dice with more faces is that the range of values can get so large that for general purposes a difference of one rating in skill can end up being meaningless. In a RPG this is a good thing as you don't want a stat increase to suddenly change the way a player character plays, you want a steady improvement, not a massive change. For this change I take my hat off to the guys, it's a great change.
In Heavy Gear Blitz an important consideration is model evaluation. How a player looks at a model and determines what their role is in a force, and their value in relation to their points.
For Heavy Gear blitz we want model evaluation to be easy. The more variation that was allowed for skills the harder model evaluation would be come. Currently there are seven allowable skill levels from a skill of 1+ which always translates addition dice into successes, to a skill of – which always causes additional dice to have no benefit. Most military quality models in the game fall in the 5+ to 3+ range of skills with Electronic Warfare being the skill where most models may have a 5+ or 6+ as standard. A skill of 6+ is barely competent, 5+ is average/bad 4+ is average/good, and a skill of 3+ is excellent. This is a simple formula and neatly sums up how you can expect your models to perform if you give them the various tasks of attack, survive, or recon.
The idea was floated early in the play test for the Alpha rules to go to a D8, D10, or ever a D12 system for more differentiation and the decision was made to stick with D6. Model evaluation was one factor, the other major factor was the range of values. With a D6 the range of values that a roll can give you is quite wide. One player can always flub a roll by rolling all ones and the other player can roll a six and get all the skill bonuses for an eight or higher. This can give you a MOS of seven or higher. Bracing to shoot with a Burst:2 weapon while on an elevated position can give you MOS:9 if you get really lucky. When it came right down to it the big change to adopting the skill levels as the bonus system for rolls provided enough variation between models when combined with the other attributes and all the possible traits that it was sufficient for the game.
I applaud Arkrite for making the step to a different system that will more closely follow their needs for the RPG. Make sure you follow them on their web site and on facebook for updates about the RPG and get your friends playing as part of their test pilot program.