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Re: Street Rats

PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2016 12:49 pm
by kylesgames
Rob Lang wrote:I've not downloaded the books (as I have a backlog) but I was wondering how Street Rats is different to Cyberpunk/SLA Industries/etc.

How is this take on 90s punk going to be different?


Well, Street Rats is a lot "higher" in scale than some of those games. SLA Industries, for instance, is very grim, but Street Rats would fall into the "High Cyberpunk" genre, if such a genre were to exist. Bioborgs and the like are intended to shift it toward a more Blade Runner feel, and there are elements of biopunk.

It's also very heavily inspired by the Cold War; in the alternate timeline the USSR persisted until the 2040's and global thermonuclear war, so society had more time to be shaped by pre-Detente politics, and as a general rule technology is amazing (relative to the modern day), but society is crap. Shadowrun sort of handled this in the other way, with the cold war falling to the megacorporate influences of the 21st century.

In Street Rats, you've got a confusing debacle going on. You have simultaneously the political structures of the Cold War (the USSR, China, and US/Europe equation), a number of cabals (who want to build/monitor/or end transhuman developments), and corporations of increasing influence and strength. Most of the power figures in the world have their hands in both politics and their personal cabal; for instance, the Sentinels gained power in Russia, and attacked North Korea to provoke a war with China. China jumped in, reinforced North Korea (and decried the "Russian" killing of the local government officials so that they could have the state be even more heavily under their control), and then the Korean War sparked up again. The US and China deployed nuclear weapons against each other, and the Russians joined in to beat up China (and invade the US, although Russian nuclear weapons were aimed almost exclusively at China).

The result is fractured states across the world, which have banded together into pacts (more or less affinity groups, but also military alliances). The game is US-focused, because that's where I live and it's easiest for me to write about it. You can have your pick between the militarized/quasi-libertarian state (the UAS, basically the West Coast after Russia invaded) or the more centralized state with more European bents (the FS on the East Coast). Forty years after the bombs, large portions of land are still unclaimed, becoming the Containment Zones (the NACZ is the only one really touched on, but there are large German and Asian zones as well as a sprinkling of others around the world). Although the average inhabitant of these places enjoys a pretty normal life (barring the fact that they get unhealthy amounts of radiation), ferals have sprung up in the less civilized areas and the wastes are used to cover illicit research (a la Deus Ex).

Really, Street Rats is as much cyberpunk as it is postcyberpunk, biopunk, and cyberprep; the three divergent styles (Misery, Mirrorshades, and Mohawk) actually correspond to cyberpunk (the brave new world is dangerous), postcyberpunk (the brave new world is familiar), and cyberprep (the brave new world is awesome!), with the only difference being that the setting is more heavily inspired by traditional cyberpunk.

Basically, the idea is to take all the classic Mirrorshades tech and bring it into the later timeline; it's sleeker, faster, deadlier, and there's more of an influence from things like Eclipse Phase and post-cyberpunk/transhuman/posthuman science fiction. The core ethos, however, is still focused on survival and the harsh life of the streets.

Re: Street Rats

PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2016 11:25 am
by kylesgames
So I'm reworking a lot of Street Rats:

Combat is getting a huge overhaul, but that's just paving the way for some later changes.
First, armor and hardened armor are being replaced by a new Protection system; they still exist, but only as binary states (you are either armored/hardened armored or not armored/hardened armored).

Protection ratings are calculated as the two highest sources of Protection plus an augmentation, with the caveat being that no Protection source can be counted twice: cyborg/drone sources of armor count as augmentations.

So, for instance, a character could have Toughness-Armor-Augmentation, Armor-Armor, Toughness-Augmentation-Augmentation or so forth as sources of protection. Wearing two pieces of armor is significantly sub-optimal, however, as you can only wear one piece of armor with an Armor Penalty rating and wearing two pieces of armor imposes an additional Armor Penalty, which now reduces Defense and Speed to give a greater nerf to heavy armor users.

Hit locations go bye-bye, which means that some minor armor rebalances have been done: codifying armor's Storage statistically is a thing, and the new armor system paves the way for exotic armor, like active camouflage. This also allows a number of mechanics to be simplified, and removes a step of combat. It also gets rid of my players whining at me about the prevalence of hits to the left leg, which has been a source of both amusement and agitation for me.

Removing hit locations allows me to handle cyborgs and drones a little more simply and keep them as a coherent part of the combat system.

Finally, the automatic fire modes have been improved to make them less universally garbage, while aimed fire and rapid fire now increase AP (though aimed fire still increases damage to a lesser extent than it used to) to make them a little less assertive in the fire mode field.

Re: Street Rats

PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2016 2:59 pm
by Onix
Left leg hits can be mitigated by saying that if the roll to hit is good enough (under a certain threshold of success) the player can pick the hit location. So far that system has made sense to my players. But if you're getting rid of hit locations anyway. . . never mind.

Re: Street Rats

PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2016 6:13 pm
by kylesgames
Onix wrote:Left leg hits can be mitigated by saying that if the roll to hit is good enough (under a certain threshold of success) the player can pick the hit location. So far that system has made sense to my players. But if you're getting rid of hit locations anyway. . . never mind.


Well, there were called shots, but they actually fell into the unfortunate category of "this thing allows you to gain a bonus, but you're better off with the raw damage to a random location and hoping to shoot the leg off if you hit it".

Re: Street Rats

PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2016 9:49 pm
by Onix
The problem with called shots is that they usually require the player to . . .
1. Declare the shot before hand.
2. Miss if they don't make a better than normal roll.
3. Only really reward head shots.

Which just means they don't get used unless the character has a high enough skill that they can reliably make the better shot. I don't always agree with the philosophy that saying no doesn't lead to interesting stories, but in this case I do.

If I get to call a shot after I've made the good roll, you'll see the players call shots all the time.

Re: Street Rats

PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2016 10:16 am
by kylesgames
Onix wrote:The problem with called shots is that they usually require the player to . . .
1. Declare the shot before hand.
2. Miss if they don't make a better than normal roll.
3. Only really reward head shots.

Which just means they don't get used unless the character has a high enough skill that they can reliably make the better shot. I don't always agree with the philosophy that saying no doesn't lead to interesting stories, but in this case I do.

If I get to call a shot after I've made the good roll, you'll see the players call shots all the time.


The way it worked in Street Rats is that it was a no-penalty shot (Aimed fire is a penalty in and of itself because you only get one attack per turn when the norm is getting more), and since light armor was heavily oriented toward the vest department you could choose to nonlethally cripple a limb or aim for the head for the potential bonuses of knocking people out.

It wasn't hard to do, but it was a little less interesting than it should have been.