February 20, 2012

Sketch 1: New Æon

I’ve wanted to write New Æon for a while. It’s a chance to cut loose on my own SF game, the sort of opportunity that I won’t get short of the good people of White Wolf cutting loose and giving Ian Watson and I the chance to reinvent Trinity. Since that ain’t going to happen1 I instead have New Æon.

Elevator Pitch

Mash up the system from Exalted 2E and Trinity with a garnish of bits from Apocalypse Prevention, Inc.2, make a setting out of one part DC 1 Million, one part WildC.A.T.S. 3.0, and some of Alan Moore’s ABC work into one big gonzo comic-book-science-fiction mess.

What Is It?

Two hundred years from now, mankind and assorted posthumanity have just recovered from the Silence, a terrible calamity that nearly destroyed everything. But even this New Æon isn’t safe: between psychic cults, sentient corporations, relics of the Old Future, outbreaks of Quiet, and the sinister threat of the Underverse, things just got interesting.

New Æon is set in a post-future inspired by Grant Morrison and Alan Moore. It has a… distinct authorial tone, kinda like the introduction to The Filth and is hard on SF weirdness for fun. The Underverse is my interpretation on what happens when a whole universe decides that having a sense of individual identity is hard, and instead invests it in a figurehead3. The Church of Gort is an excuse to have full-conversion cyborgs walking around with enough firepower to start a small border war. The primary rule boils down to if it’s post-80s SF, it has a place”.

New Æon is my popcorn game”—It’s so different to the sort of game that I normally write that designing it doesn’t use the same creative muscles. And the setting is my favourite bits of cheesy goodness squeezed into one setting, where a cyborg nun of the Church of Gort meets a holographic supersolider in a bar and nobody’s in the least bit surprised.

Where Are You At?

I’ve written half of the system. It borrows heavily from various action-oriented dice pool systems without being a direct rip off of any particular one. I have the basic rules down, but no more.

I like the idea of Roll (attack — defense), successes add to weapon damage, roll (damage — soak)”, but I need ways to make it tactcally interesting without having three dozen options at any one time. One idea involved using different colours of poker chip to track things like ticks, defence penalties, aiming bonuses and the like, while another idea involved making cards for every possible action, but that does feel like overcomplicating the whole thing.

The setting’s not been written yet save as bits that interact with the rules. I don’t know whether to leave that as-is, using the implied bits to build a picture in the reader’s brain. That’s a distinct possibility.

Current Hurdles?

I’m trying to come up with a combat system that is both tick-based and not clunky. Killing multiple actions with fire (outside of special powers) helps a little, but I really don’t want a 10-step attack resolution, y’know?

Also, writing up different systems for martial arts, psi, anachrotech, neotech, cybernetics, and fuck-alone knows what else and balancing everything together.

  1. If it does, I’ll let you know. Don’t hold your breath, though. As it happens, that exact thing did happen, though many years after this post was originally written. The Trinity Continuum is now owned and published by Onyx Path, and Ian is indeed in charge. I was part of the core system design team. It’s really very good.

  2. While API really doesn’t work for me, it has enough of the gonzo weirdness that it acts as a useful shorthand.

  3. Not strictly Darkseid Is”, but near enough.

gaming sketch

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