Stars/Worlds Without Number (General Thread)

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Amusing conversation with one of my players while I work on prepping for Saturday.
Me: I’m working on factions. Finland Expeditionary Forces has the “Useful Idiots” asset. Can you guess what that is? 🤣
Player: That better not be us lol
Me: Not exactly, but it is “adventurers”.
Yeah, the local military leadership views adventurers as disposable. It just felt so right to give their faction that asset when I wrote them up. 😄
 

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Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
I’m not sure about that. The player archetypes in Numenera fit its setting incredibly well. While there is a lot of fantasy in Numenera, the game also leans more into some of the science-fiction with its foci: e.g., Talks With Machines, Fuses Flesh and Steel, Dances with Dark Matter, etc. WWN has a lot of science-fantasy, but Numenera is more overt with its “sciency” aspects.

Also, IME, I have seen so many different opinions - from my players and online - about what would have been a “better” system for Numenera than its native Cypher System: e.g., Fate, Cortex, WWN, PbtA, etc. I think that what one considers the “best” system for Numenera often says more about one’s expectations for what the Ninth World should be or what one wants it to be rather than what it is. 🤷‍♂️

That said, one could definitely run the Ninth World using WWN, but that would also move the game closer to D&D style fantasy than it already is.
Fair.

Here's what I liked about Numenara. The setting. The description of the character "I am a robust Glaive who drives really fast cars" (not a real description). The art. The science/fantasy meld. The character advancement system.

Here's what I didn't really like. XP as currency to change role outcomes. The "tiers" of success based on 3 - just so we can continue to use a d20. Unnecessarily fiddly imo. Poor/No social rules.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Fair.

Here's what I liked about Numenara. The setting. The description of the character "I am a robust Glaive who drives really fast cars" (not a real description). The art. The science/fantasy meld. The character advancement system.

Here's what I didn't really like. XP as currency to change role outcomes. The "tiers" of success based on 3 - just so we can continue to use a d20. Unnecessarily fiddly imo. Poor/No social rules.
I can sympathize with the dissatisfaction people may have for the Cypher System when it comes to playing the Numenera setting, as some of my own group have expressed similar issues. I have no desire to steer you towards or away from the Cypher System, or WWN for that matter. WWN is hackable enough that one should manage to fill in the gaps of more tone-appropriate abilities, spells, and options for the Ninth World. My own preference, however, is to build the world from or around the options in the system and see where that takes me.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Is the Relocate Assets action the same thing as a Move Assets action? There are several asset special abilities that refer to the former, but it’s not defined anywhere.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
After doing my first round of the faction game, I’m not sure. It feels super clunky, and the book’s explanation and organization of things is confusing.

A few observations:
  • It sucks to be a small faction. You start out with no assets, so your only option is to generate treasure for awhile and hope no one notices you or acts against you.
  • It’s probably a good idea to run a few turns prior to the start of the campaign. Otherwise, everyone starts out with no treasure and all their assets back at their base of influence. I guess? It’s not specified. (I did the latter.)
  • It’s not really clear how overt conflict is supposed to work. If I want to charge in and smash your base, I can’t just go hit it. I have to establish access to it. So I guess you really want something to infiltrate because there are no siege assets (Siege Experts just give you treasure).
  • I wish “in the same location” was better defined. The game uses a freaking hex map! Why not use it to simplify faction movement and position? SWN just assumes you can attack any world. This part feels really ill-defined and/or considered.
  • Why was asset type removed from SWN? Some assets don’t really make sense as something that can move. Why should Cooperative Businesses, which are subtle, be able to just mosey over to someone else’s cities and subvert them?
I also dropped one faction because none of the mechanics make any sense for it. The party brought a vampire back with them when they returned from the iterum where I ran Halls of the Blood King. She’s going to eventually want to create more of her kind and expand her influence. None of the assets really make sense though even though it seems like she should develop into a faction.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Is the Relocate Assets action the same thing as a Move Assets action? There are several asset special abilities that refer to the former, but it’s not defined anywhere.
I will look, but I think that for a lot more rule specific questions like this, I would almost recommend the WWN Subreddit more. You are likelier to even get an answer from Kevin Crawford (aka Cardinal Ximenes).

Edit: From what I can tell (pp. 324-326), yes, it's the same thing.
 
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kenada

Legend
Supporter
Ran today’s game. Things went very well, though I ended up needing NPCs I hadn’t converted to the new format yet. I need to add an exploration activity for tracking, but I have an idea for how that should work. After mulling it over, I think I’m going to replace the faction game with something that’s more useful to my needed.

My current thinking is factions can engage in a number of Operations equal to their Wealth. Ops are tracked with a countdown clock and are typically related to one of their attributes. If they engage in more than that, they have to pay upkeep in Treasure. To help reduce the burden of having too many Ops, they can obtain Assets that allow them to engage in more Ops or perhaps in certain specialized Ops. Progression in an Operation would be determined by rolling at the start of the round in faction game (like the fortune roll in BitD). When the clock completes, the faction gains XP. The more difficult the Op, the bigger the clock, but the more XP they get for fulfilling it.

What I dislike about the faction game is it doesn’t fit my conceptual model of a faction. I have a cult, but it’s not some evil doomsday cult. On the other hand, people may not want its influence to spread. I feel like it doesn’t model that very well. If I want to infiltrate and subvert or scout things, the units available just don’t feel all that great. It’s hard to know what you “should” buy. I would rather just be able to state what my goal is and have some guidelines for costing it out and managing it. If you’re going to force me to rely on fictional positioning for things like permission and location, then just let me go all the way. It’s fiddly in a way that feels at odds with the rest of the system.
 




kenada

Legend
Supporter
Hmm. Interesting. I’ve been running an OSE/WWN hack that is focused mostly on restating WWN. I’m now working on a revision that shifts the game more strongly towards OSE. I think my eventual goal is to make it mostly OSE with the elements from WWN that I think are particularly strong. I started with classes, and it really struck me how little classes in WWN actually get. Let me explain.

My approach for classes is to treat the WWN classes as groups to which the OSE classes belongs. That means any class in the expert group gets Masterful Expertise and Quick Learner. On top of that, you get the class abilities defined in OSE. My impression of OSE classes had always been that they were pretty tepid (especially compared to newer editions). With the extra group chassis, they’re extra awesome. The part from WWN shores up their baseline competency, and then the abilities give them flavor. For example, thieves are really good at skills now, but they can also read almost any text and use scrolls.

Where I’m getting at with WWN is an expert with the thief background is basically like other classes except a bit better at skills. Even with foci (which I also plan to include in a limited form), you don’t get that kind of class distinction. I guess that’s one of the downsides of a generic class system. While you can represent a lot of concepts, they’re mechanically less distinct than a system that sets out concept-specific abilities. Is that a good or bad thing? I don’t know. I am curious however whether my players will want to convert early (rather than save this for our next campaign).

Edit: Fixed typo, not → now
 
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Thomas Shey

Legend
Where I’m getting at with WWN is an expert with the thief background is basically like other classes except a bit better at skills. Even with foci (which I also plan to include in a limited form), you don’t get that kind of class distinction. I guess that’s one of the downsides of a generic class system. While you can represent a lot of concepts, they’re mechanically less distinct than a system that sets out concept-specific abilities. Is that a good or bad thing? I don’t know. I am curious however whether my players will want to convert early (rather than save this for our next campaign).

My own feeling in the OD&D days was having to do new classes to just represent a concept was not a virtue. Its one reason I went over to heavy duty build systems for many years.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
My own feeling in the OD&D days was having to do new classes to just represent a concept was not a virtue. Its one reason I went over to heavy duty build systems for many years.
I’m not trying saying that needing different classes is a virtue or that OSE is doing it right. I was just surprised by how little you actually get in WWN (as well as how much classes in OSE got since it had been my perception they were pretty meager compared to their counterparts in newer editions). Aside from your class abilities, which are impactful, most customization is done through foci in WWN. That’s like only getting feats to customize your characters and few to no class abilities in 3e. The thief archetype character in our group is 4th level and has three foci that make him similar to traditional thief classes, but he still has fewer abilities and requires at least 2nd level to have all those foci.

Casters are a bit better in the customization department (gaining arts in addition to spells), but they’re pretty limited in what they can do. Arts aren’t a replacement for having utility spells, and your ability to cast spells per day goes up very slowly (especially if you have a partial mage class). The priest in our group is built as a healer/necromancer. The idea was that she would be good at healing and trashing undead, but killing undead competes with using her single spell slot for other things. Additionally, if the party avoids combat (which it has), her healer arts are basically useless.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Well, don't get me wrong: as long as you're using conventional classes, having some of that attached is a virtue. One of the things I've said is not a perfect feature of most BRP games is that they largely have no way for a character to represent anything that isn't an attribute or easily expressed as a skill. Some things just don't work that way. Which doesn't mean you can express all concepts without them. You either do something feat-like (which is the PF2e approach) or you bake it into the class.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Well, don't get me wrong: as long as you're using conventional classes, having some of that attached is a virtue. One of the things I've said is not a perfect feature of most BRP games is that they largely have no way for a character to represent anything that isn't an attribute or easily expressed as a skill. Some things just don't work that way. Which doesn't mean you can express all concepts without them. You either do something feat-like (which is the PF2e approach) or you bake it into the class.
I guess I’m a bit confused. I’m not sure we disagree? WWN has classes, but there’s not much attached to them. You have two ways to customize: foci (feats) or mage partial classes. The former is like PF2 if you got a quarter as many feat picks. The latter is like PF1 archetypes where you replace half the class with something else. Notably, the latter is only available to magic-users. If you want to make a thief or knight or whatever concept, your options are really limited. Picking a few foci just doesn’t feel like enough, especially since you make half of your picks in the first two levels.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
I’m not trying saying that needing different classes is a virtue or that OSE is doing it right. I was just surprised by how little you actually get in WWN (as well as how much classes in OSE got since it had been my perception they were pretty meager compared to their counterparts in newer editions). Aside from your class abilities, which are impactful, most customization is done through foci in WWN. That’s like only getting feats to customize your characters and few to no class abilities in 3e. The thief archetype character in our group is 4th level and has three foci that make him similar to traditional thief classes, but he still has fewer abilities and requires at least 2nd level to have all those foci.
I'll be honest, I'm pretty OK with that. Simple classes allows more room for the character to be customized by narrative events giving custom rewards. It takes away player-facing build decisions, sure, but I think that's a feature for OSR style play.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
I'll be honest, I'm pretty OK with that. Simple classes allows more room for the character to be customized by narrative events giving custom rewards. It takes away player-facing build decisions, sure, but I think that's a feature for OSR style play.
That’s not WWN though. You have skills to pick, everyone gets 5–7 foci (from a list of 35 or so), and mages have arts to pick in addition to their spells. Other than a B/X-based chassis, WWN feels a lot closer in spirit to 3e than it does other OSR games. It certainly has more player-facing build decisions than OSE (and consequently B/X).
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
And to clarify: I’m not saying it’s good or bad. I just found it surprising that OSE classes get more mechanical stuff than what you can build in WWN even with all its extra customization options. That’s not what I expected.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
I guess I’m a bit confused. I’m not sure we disagree? WWN has classes, but there’s not much attached to them. You have two ways to customize: foci (feats) or mage partial classes. The former is like PF2 if you got a quarter as many feat picks. The latter is like PF1 archetypes where you replace half the class with something else. Notably, the latter is only available to magic-users. If you want to make a thief or knight or whatever concept, your options are really limited. Picking a few foci just doesn’t feel like enough, especially since you make half of your picks in the first two levels.

We don't, really. I have some issues with both the class ability and the feat approach, but that's back to my whole thing about exception based design. But if you're gonna do that (and after all, that's D&D derivatives all over), one or the other is the way to go.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
I'll be honest, I'm pretty OK with that. Simple classes allows more room for the character to be customized by narrative events giving custom rewards. It takes away player-facing build decisions, sure, but I think that's a feature for OSR style play.

I'm unable to be enthused about my character definition only meaning things at the discretion of the GM.
 

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