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Entry: Extended Mission

PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 7:54 pm
by Starglim
edit: Now up at with some extra content at

Topic: Semi-disposable

"Players control robot explorers searching through the mysteries of a devastated Earth, while trying to avoid system failures, coyote attacks, shorting out in a pond, or being blown to pieces by deranged war machines."

I've had some notion to develop a mini-campaign, RPG, or something, along these lines for a while. The specific setting and mechanics are all new. Recent reading about lost cosmonauts may have given this wargamey little concept a bit more of an edge than it otherwise would have had.

PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 8:03 pm
by Starglim
Known issues:
  • Cheesy layout and cover
  • An orphaned heading and broken paragraph
  • Late in the piece, I decided every character should have a low-power antenna, but it didn't make its way back into hit locations
  • "Radiation pockets" are probably the worst deviation from hard SF into genre cliche
  • Dying in the first dice roll is an intended feature, but for several reasons I should have followed my instincts to cut the dice roll to apply improved software
  • I said that Martians colonists wouldn't recognise high winds or bad weather, which is absurd

If it seems worth pursuing, I might write errata. Real RPGs have those.

PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 8:21 pm
by Dyson Logos
1. Love the concept.
2. Really enamoured with the bit-flip resolution system. I want to play around with it a bunch and see where it leads, and how it plays. Have you managed to playtest this at all?

So yeah, I really like the idea of giving this game a poke or two and seeing if it stands or falls over.

PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 9:01 pm
by Starglim
Thanks, I certainly wasn't thinking of the bit-flip idea as a universal system (though it occurred to me that it might develop into some distant derivation resembling a poker machine) but it has some properties that are useful for this game: it's binary and (cosmetically) based on a power-of-2 die, it throws malfunctions on significant efforts with hardly any added complexity, and can lead to players jiggling away at the system trying to get the robot to work.

I haven't had a chance to playtest it but it might be worth rolling out some encounters.

PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 5:15 am
by Rob Lang
Starglim, that's a superb entry! Well done, sir.

Have you any plans to extend the game now that you have your breath back? I do hope so, there are loads of places to go with this.

PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 6:34 am
by Starglim
I don't know about plans, but a couple of things come to mind:
  • Develop the New York landing zone in full and give it more of a plotline
  • A possible sequel, and one of the ideas I was kicking around at the start of the process: Extended Mission II: Brilliant Hammer is basically the Bomb 20 sequence from Dark Star. Players run AI-controlled nuclear cruise missiles that haven't gone off. Apart from wandering around musing about the nature of existence and death, and no doubt having some sort of adventures, each character's core systems would be built around a big complicated stack of safeties. Flip too many of them, and the nuke goes boom.

PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 10:50 am
by Dyson Logos
My first thought for the game would be to grab the ruined city maps from the 2e & 3e Gamma World boxed sets, the ruins of Pittsburg. Those would work great as a landing site. Then just run from there.

Definitely worth expanding that aspect, having a partially detailed sandbox-style landing site ready for first time GMs to run.

And... OMG. I love the Brilliant Hammer idea. It could be an awesome "Story Game", where most of the action is in the philosophy of the game.

PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 11:22 am
by Chainsaw Aardvark
I have to say, role playing Lunakhod and Sojourner has never occurred to me. At first, the concept seemed a little worrying - how attached can players be to drones? Most SF robots are just humans through a different lens (how strange - they're made out of meat!)

But with a creative and evocative system the cocenpt seems to work. I like the binary rolls, and the story is fairly evocative - though I think a return mission would be a bit sooner than 400 years (50-100 seems right, I'm rather optimistic about Humanity's ability to recover after disasters)

It might be intresting to add a nomic system of cards to randomly generate the terrain or problems. (ie each player submits a few descriptions on note cards, shuffle and draw) Perhaps a segment about playing the various mission control officers interating with Keeton would be a bit more involving emotionally.

Actually, I could see this as some strange hybrid board-game about who can make it thrugh the map collecting the best samples and finagling the most funding.

Don't wory about the lack of a low power antenna on the charts - it could be some sort of phased arary rectifier built thrughout the structure of the unit specficly to prevent loss of contact problems. I'm just trying to think about more procedures for desiging bigger and better probes - to open up some more competition and interaction between players. Technology.sample returns would take a while (about a year on a holoman trajectory, a few weeks brachistone - but with tremendous delta-V cost)

PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 4:05 am
by Starglim
Chainsaw Aardvark wrote:Perhaps a segment about playing the various mission control officers interating with Keeton would be a bit more involving emotionally.

That's a good point. Mission Control scenes can really tie the action down to earth, as it were - I think the one I have in mind was in either Space Cowboys or Apollo 13, actually, both are good examples - provided they're rare enough not to take screen time away from the heroics going on in space. Probably one cut-away in a game, or in several sessions, would be a refreshing break, if there's a way to find an appropriate point in the action to do it.

PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 7:07 pm
by Starglim
edit: Patch 002 (errata and corrigenda, updates, whatever term you prefer) at the location mentioned in the OP replaces Patch 001.