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Stars/Worlds Without Number (General Thread)

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Instead of "x in 6" chances for random events, I prefer "1 in x".
You also get a range of different probabilities, but it's easier to remember what you're actually rolling. With a rule of "something always happens on 1", you can also roll in the open or let the players roll, and everyone knows immediately what the result will mean without having to explain it.
I like X-in-6 here because changing X results in a linear change in the chance of success, and it’s simple. You make 4 traps, so the chance is 4-in-6.

Another idea might be to use it as a penalty to a luck saving throw. That would roughly simulate that higher HD creatures are better at avoiding danger, and it buffs traps a bit. 🤔
 
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kenada

Legend
Supporter
Fair enough! Ultimately the intentionality of what you're trying to get out of it is most important-- so in terms of event frequency and timing, if the numbers make sense for the kinds of output you want, then that's what really matters. Personally then, I think it sounds like its in the phase where its very ready for playtesting at your table!
I appreciate the feedback. It forced me to look at the math of events. I agree it feels a little weird to have events happening all the time when you look at longer spans of time. I’m probably going to switch to a d16 table (and I even have a d16!), but I’m not 100% certain yet.

I also wonder if this approach could be adapted to event checks in dungeons. The only complication is that the chance can vary depending on what the PCs are doing. You could have separate tables for that, but it seems like it would be a lot of work too. More to think about. 🤔
 
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Yora

Legend
I just realized today that I never got the revised edition of Stars Without Number and still had the original 2010 pdf. (I never underatood why SWN was so praised.) Looking over it now, this all seems really familiar after having dug deeply into WWN. Anyone familiar with both of them and knows what the major similarities and differences are mechanically?
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
I wish I could answer the question, but I’m not all that familiar with SWN. I’ve heard that the revised edition is supposed to be fairly compatible. Speaking of SWN, there’s a Kickstarter for an offset print version. It’s not going to make revisions to the rules, but it will include some errata. It’ll also be nice and high quality like the offset print WWN book.

⁂​

So my point isn’t to say “I don’t know” or to link the SWN Kickstarter. I came across a small snag while updating the B/X waterborne adventuring rules for my wilderness exploration procedure. For river travel, going with or against the current modifies how fast you travel. Rather than be a multiplier, it’s adds or subtracts from your movement rate. That doesn’t play nicely with my time-based approach.

It’s easy to derive a formula [48 ÷ (48 ÷ t ± (1d6 + 6))], but that’s pretty ugly. It’s an edge case, but it annoys me. What I’m thinking of doing instead is have you track the affect of the river separately.

For example, suppose traveling downstream has a time cost of 4. That means, if you do nothing, the river will move you a hex in four hours. If your mode of movement has a time cost of 2, then you travel a hex in two hours. To determine how many hexes you have traveled, you add the progresses together. For example, after 2 hours you would be 1.5 hexes away. After 4 hours, 3 hexes.

This is all equivalent to plugging everything into the formula, but it should be way easier to run at the table. I just need to devise a nice table of time costs for going upstream and downstream.

I’d like to say this is a theoretical concern, but my PCs have been traveling upriver quite a bit lately. I’ve been winging it, but now that I have put together a system, I want to actually use it.
 

Yora

Legend
I looked at it some more, and SWN revised seems to be basically the same system as WWN. And quite a number of things I found peculiar about WWN turn out to be directly copied over from SWNr, where they seem much more fitting.
I mentioned how having a Healer in the party makes the interesting rules for nonmagical recovery seem somewhat pointless, but it makes a lot more sense in a game where psychic powers are not a default assumption for all campaigns. In fantasy, healing magic is basically always assumed to be part of the game. Or the henchkeeper focus, which seems hugely underwhelming compared to retainers in B/X. Spotted quite a number of small things like those.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
I found a post on reddit by Kevin Crawford comparing characters between the two systems. It’s a default assumption that characters are healed at full before an encounter, and the two systems do it differently. Healer is meant to replace easy access to pharmaceuticals (and psionics).

Honestly, it feels weird. After our first big fight, the healer was able to patch everyone up without problem. Actually, she got the barbarian up straight away during the fight. It felt very similar to Pathfinder 2e, which is a system focused on tactical combat. I’m not sure how the death rules would ever come into play except when the Healer goes down.

I know that System Strain (rather than hit points) is supposed to be the limiter that provides attrition. Along with the resting rules, it’s not exactly easy to get it back. That should encourage the PCs to be careful, but I don’t know yet. We’re still pretty early into the campaign, and the PCs haven’t really set off out into the wilds fully yet.

Regarding Henchkeeper, I still don’t think it’s a replacement for retainers. The henchmen you acquire requires less attention to keep loyal — they’re loyal by default unless you abuse them or put them in dangerous situations. The intro to the focus even says as much. You can still acquire henchmen normally, but you have to pay them and make it worth their while.

Of course, there are no rules for that. I’ve been working on a mod of OSE for my group that adapts it into WWN, and I’ve stumbled across a few things that are missing or minimally specified. WWN spends a pages discussing all the different types of armor and weapons, but it tells you nothing about adventuring gear. What’s the capacity of a cart? Where are the stats for the ships (it mentions ship speed in the exploration section, but only for one kind)?

The wilderness adventuring procedure is anemic. Waterborne adventuring is an afterthought. There are no rules for splash weapons (and the grenade rules in SWN seem to specialized for flasks of acid or burning oil). There aren’t even rules for traps. It discusses small traps in the Trapmaker focus but never defines what a small trap is.

I suppose I’m being nitpicky, but it feels like WWN is designed for a particular kind of sandbox (one that is adventure-driven rather than exploration-driven). I’m managing to fill in the gaps, but it’d be nice if I could use it as-is. It says something about the system that I’m willing to do as much hacking as I am when I basically wasn’t with PF2 in spite of having more investment with that system as a group.
 

Yora

Legend
Even with WWN looking like a great fantasy game the system is looking even more fun for space campaigns.

The Snap Attack action in WWN looks interesting, but moving your attack to a point earlier in the round for a -4 penalty doesn't seem to useful in a fantasy campaign where weapons deal 1d6 or 1d8 damage, and many monsters they encounter have 4 hit dice and more.
But in a space game, where ranged weapons with 2d8 or more damage are common, and most enemies will be expected to be average soldiers or criminals, the ability to skip the initiative order for a -4 attack roll penalty sounds like a really fun option.

Imagine you are going to meet a small criminal for information, and as you approch him a bounty hounter steps out on the street, gets highest initiative, and raises his rifle.
Snap Attack! You skip ahead and quick draw your pistol (part of the Main Action to attack) to shot the bounty hunter or at least distract him while the criminal gets to cover. The criminal could easily get killed in one hit, and you might also be able to kill the bounty hunter in one hit.
Now for extra fun, the GM can also shout Snap Attack! Instead of you shoting first before the bounty hunter, he turns around to shot at you, and you both shoot at each other similtaneously.
Also remember, warriors have the ability to turn a miss into a hit once per scene. (Both in Stars and in Worlds.) Combined with Snap Attack, that makes pure Warrior a really interesting choice compared to partial Warrior, who doesn't get it.

A moderately interesting option in fantasy, but something I'd try to use all the time in a space game.

Shock damage now also seems much more worthwhile. Melee weapons are no longer the default attack that often deals more damage than the ranged weapons. It's now the unusual way to fight that also deals much less damage. Knowing that an ene,y charing you with a blade will hurt you no matter what makes it a lot more threatening. And a more interesting option than to keep shoting at an enemy who shots from behind cover. Cause a distraction and then one guy charges him with a sword.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
How are crafting difficulties supposed to work? You can make the item without having to roll if it relates to your background, but you have to roll for it otherwise. For example, an item that would be made by a specialist is a difficulty 11. If you try to make a masterwork version of that, what’s the difficulty? Is it 10, and if you fail you get a normal version (at 20× the cost of making a normal one)?

My inclination is to require you to beat the base difficulty and treat it as 10 or +3 (whichever is higher). Anyone else have ideas?
 

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