Buck's Blog

The Stream-of-Consciousness Journal of a Wargamer

Another Approach to LSNC: Sci Fi

I have been making a number of abortive attempts at LSNC: Sci-Fi.  I am trying to take into account the difference between directed and kinetic energy weapons, represent different types of motivations (wheels, tracks, hover, legs), RF-guided weapons, thermal sensors, unmanned systems, and cyber/EW.  The first attempt used the shooting and defense numbers very much like LSNC: WWII, but it didn’t seem like the d10 provided enough variance for sci-fi.  Then I tried to use the card-based mechanic like Combat Patrol, but it didn’t quite work for a non-skirmish game.  It seemed like we were shooting Nerf balls.  In all previous cases, the amount of information needed on the base tables was getting hard to fit.  I have been playing around with a dice progression idea that includes more than the standard D&D set of polymorphic dice.

In this example, you can see that moving to a die progression mechanism simplifies the base label, because what is listed is a base capability, which is modified by the modifiers shown on the top half of the figure.  The idea is that modifiers of +1, +2, etc. move up and down the die progression.  Combat would be an opposed die roll.  I might start with a d10 to hit, but I am shooting on a unit’s flank, so i go to d14 (yes, they exist).  Your defense might be d10, but you are in woods (light cover), so you go to d12.  We roll.  If my attack roll exceeds your defense roll, I inflict a point of damage.  If my attack roll more than doubles your defense roll, I inflict two points of damage, knocking out a base.  I specifically didn’t have a capability to inflict two hits in WWII, but I think it would be good in Sci-Fi.

The advantage of such a system is that I could attack you with a d4, and you could defend with a d24, but I might still score a lucky hit.  I was explicitly trying to prevent this in LSNC: WWII, but I think it makes sense for Sci-Fi.

Why the special dice instead of just using more than one die?  Rolling 1 die, produces random numbers from a uniform distribution.  Rolling more dice produces random numbers from a distribution that looks like the normal (i.e., bell curve) distribution.  The more dice you roll, the more the results will tend toward the mean.  So I think all rolls need to be the same number of dice, 1, 2, 3, or whatever.  I like one die per roll.

An opposed die roll for shooting and defense seems right to me.

The bottom half of the card, could represent a unit roster for a player as a series of labels, or the labels could be cut out and pasted to the bases.  I went with a darker color scheme so they won’t stand out so much on the terrain.

I like the idea of a reaction number instead of an opportunity fire rule.  This could also be used for other purposes in the game.   There is no room for it on the label.

The movement table is a recognition that as I have been working on this, there is a pattern for the different types of vehicles (and infantry), which is represented in the table now.  I figure that people won’t have to refer to it much after a turn or two.

I also think players won’t have to refer to the card to remember the defense and attack modifiers.  I wonder if the shooting and defense modifiers should be different for directed and kinetic energy weapons.  What do you think?

My biggest concern with this approach is that people will get frustrated looking for the die they need. I was careful to collect dice so that each die type is always the same color (e.g., the d20 is always dark gray), which I hope will help.  The need to purchase several sets of these dice, one for each player, means that this game will likely be commercially non-viable.   I was thinking that if I sold these through Sally 4th, we could package up sets of dice in canonical colors, but if it is annoying, people won’t play.  As I’ve not had a set of rules that fall into the “cool rules” category, perhaps I should be sweating this.  What do you think?


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