So, further poking at the bear. Still concentrating on armor. My original thinking was “nanoweave armored vacc suit, but really, the N7 Armor that Space Jesus wears in ME2 and ME3 is really space armor … so let’s do some evil maths.
- Space armor has DR 75. Add ablative Shields of 30, this gives total DR of 105
- Scenario 1: Hostile with gauss rifle – 6d+2(3) pi-
- Bullets do average of 20 points.
- BULLET 1: Even with armor divisor, this round will not penetrate the DR. Shields are reduced by 20, bringing total DR to 85.
- BULLET 2: DR 85/3 = 28 … so again, unable to penetrate DR. Shields depleted as of this round.
- BULLET 3: DR 75/3 = 25. Average damage is not going to penetrate this DR at all. To get through, a shot is going to need to average 26 points on 6d+2 which isn’t impossible (all 4s?) but is unlikely.
- Note: Gauss weapons can be boosted which increases piercing damage by +1 per die at the cost of draining the propellant bottle. If that’s the case, then we need to recalculate thus:
- Boosted bullets do 6d+8 or average of 26.
- Boosted Bullet 1: DR 105/3=35, so round doesn’t penetrate. Shields reduced by 26, bringing total DR to 79.
- Boosted Bullet 2: DR 79/3=26, so average damage does not penetrate (only just). Shields are completely depleted at this point, bringing DR to 75.
- Boosted Bullet 3: DR 75/3=25, so average damage does penetrate with a pathetic 1 point. Apply pi- stuff (halved) then impaling (doubled) and the target takes 1 hp. A firefight with this is going to take a looooong time…
- Observation: UT has gauss weapons as 4mm. I’d really like to see a larger caliber and how that stacks up…
- Scenario 2: Hostile with grav gun – 4d (10) imp inc
- Bullets do average of 12 points.
- Bullet 1: Armor divisor means this protects against 10, so 2 points will get through. As impaling, that means 4 hp damage. Painful but not likely fatal. Shields reduced by 12, bring total DR to 93.
- Bullet 2: DR 93/10=9.3, so 9 points resisted. This means 3 points get through, which is doubled for impaling to 6. Character has now taken a total of 10 hp damage which puts a normal person at 0 hp and a PC is probably around 2 or 3 hp left. Shields reduced an additional 12 points, leaving only 6, for total DR of 81.
- Bullet 3: DR 81/10=8.1, so 8 points resisted. 4 points get through, which doubled (impaling) equals 8. Character has taken a total of 18 points and shields are completely depleted.
So once again, grav guns, with their armor divisors of 10 are too powerful and, against space armor (or combat hardsuits which have the same DR), gauss weapons aren’t powerful enough … unless I can find rules for higher caliber railguns (e.g. 8mm or even 10mm as opposed to standard 4mm) at which point gauss weapons will probably once again become the preferred weapon of choice…
What about equipment though? Some of the ME stuff is definitely out there. My thinking along these lines is to keep it simple:
- “Omnitools” are just TL10 (?) wearable computers with holographic displays and the appropriate computer programs loaded in. So a hacker would have intrusion stuff, an engineer would have building stuff, a physician or medic would have a medical scanner (UT200) built in and so on. The holos that appear are just special effects that don’t really have a lot of actual use (and could probably be turned off or muted or just seriously altered.) I suppose it could be a portable universal mini-tool (UT85), but that doesn’t work for me.
- Medigel … is problematic. Will probably need to let players know beforehand that doesn’t exist because honestly, that robs of all the danger.
- Personal shields are relatively easy to figure out – they’re additional DR. UT190 has the following: “A force screen’s Damage Resistance is semi-ablative: every 10 points of basic damage rolled removes one point of DR, regardless of whether the attack penetrates DR. A partially-ablated screen regenerates 1 DR per second for every 10 DR the field started with (minimum 1 DR). Thus, a DR 50-59 screen regenerates DR 5 per second.” This doesn’t track with ME at all – their shields appear to be purely ablative. The real difficulty is probably figuring out how much of DR – I’m tempted to just go with a static 30 (with presumption that this can be upgraded later?), but haven’t fully committed.
- Armor is difficult. ME1 is really the only game where you have multiple versions of armor, with ME2 and ME3 allowing you to modify your default armor with new mods so I lean toward using a nanoweave vacc suit (UT179), which puts the DR at 30/15* (Flexible) and weight of 30. Throw in the above-mentioned shields and you’re looking at DR 60.
- Weapons is where I hesitate. Based entirely on the various codex entries, the weapons used in ME are Grav Guns (UT143) which are pretty decent but the GURPS entries have Rcl 1 and armor divisors of 10 (!), which is definitely not the case in the game. The assault rifle in ME1, for example, is so unbelievably inaccurate that it is irritating. I’m likely to use gauss weapons instead (UT141) just because. There are no man-portable beam weapons in the game. In ME2, you do get the flamethrow, mini-nuke (!), cryo thing, and a lightning thing, but they aren’t super great (except the mini-nuke.)
- Okay, so let’s have two equally equipped GROPOS shoot one another.
- Both are wearing the TL10 nanoweave vacc suit with full shields (DR60).
- Both are carrying TL10 gauss rifles (UT142) which do 6d+2(3) pi-, have an Acc of 7+2, RoF 12, and a recoil of 2.
- Soldier One fires a single shot at Soldier Two and hits. Average damage on 6d+2 is 20 points. With an armor divisor of 3, his opponent’s shields will protect … 20 points. Hmm. However, as the shields are ablative, this means his damage resistance is down to 40 as 20 pts of shields are gone.
- Now, if Soldier One fired a full burst (12 shots) at Soldier Two and connected with … let’s say a 3 round burst, things get a bit more interesting:
- 1st bullet did the above damage.
- 2nd bullet: again, average damage is 20, but target’s DR is now at 40 before divided by 3 which gives only 13. This means 7 points get through. As pi-, this is halved (to 3) but is impaling so target took 6 points of damage. Shields (which were down to 10) are thoroughly depleted at this point.
- 3rd bullet: average damage is 20, but target’s DR is just his armor now (so 30). Apply the armor divisor and it defends against only 10. Jump through the hoops here (halved for pi-, doubled for impaling) and the target takes 10 points again.
- This means, with a three round burst, the target has taken a total of 16 points of damage, which likely puts him into the negatives and will have to roll against one Major Wound check (unless they’re a mook, in which case, they’re dropped.)
- Hmm … that’s … not bad.
- Flipping it around, let’s presume that Grav Guns are used instead of gauss rifles. So a Grav Needle Rifle has 4d (10) imp inc (the incendiary modifier probably needs to go away) with RoF 20 and Rcl 1. As before, let’s presume the target has the nanoweave vacc suit with full shields so DR 60.
- Presuming, 3-round burst that hits. Average damage of 4d is 12, which is definitely less average damage.
- Bullet 1: Apply armor divisor of 10 vs DR of 60, which means it protects 6. Average damage is 12, so 6 gets through and is then doubled due to impaling so we’re back to 12. Already, this weapon is a lot more lethal. An average soldier is at or below 0 hit points already and will have to make the major wound check. And that’s just one bullet!
- Bullet 2: Shields of 30 were hit by 12 points, which means 18 points remain. Total DR is thus 48. Apply armor divisor and see only 4 DR applies. 8 points gets through, then is doubled to 16 for impaling. This is serious major wound territory already and, with the damage already soaked by bullet #1 is probably death check territory.
- Bullet 3: Shields of 18 took 12 points, dropping them down to 6, which gives total DR of 36. Armor divisor means only 3 points of DR protect, so this round inflicts 9 points, doubled to 18 for impaling. If this dude isn’t dead at this point, holy cow. He’s taken (by my count) 46 points of damage. That’s multiple death check territory.
- So yeah … definitely thinking gauss weapons are the way to go. Otherwise, this is too lethal. Like “You’re clearly playing on Insanity mode…”
As stated, my original thinking was to start with the PCs on a ship about to crash. Following that line of thought, this is what I’m thinking the initial story arc would be:
- Begin in media res. All PCs at different locations on an Alliance ship that is going down! They must get to the nearest escape pod while the ship disintegrates around them. Think opening scene of Mass Effect 2 (which is still the best opening of the three games.) Maybe run this as a modified Chase of some sort?
- As “luck” would have it, the only remaining escape pod thing is where all of the PCs end up converging so they get away from the ship together. But then, their pod gets clipped by something and sends them tumbling out of control. The g-forces knock them out.
- When they wake, they find themselves dirtside, short of pretty much everything. As they weren’t on duty at the time of the initial surprise attack, none of them have a lot of gear. Fortunately, this is a military escape pod so there is conveniently enough gear – armor, rifle, pistol, etc. – for all PCs.
- Unable to make contact with anyone else – major jamming going on which hints at some piece of tech nearby. Someone should be able to determine approaching vehicles are possibly hostile, so set up ambush? Batarians arrive and PCs can take them out, learn the slavers are responsible and that they are holding other Alliance survivors. Duty/Sense of Duty should drive PCs to making the attempt to rescue everyone.
- Locate the holding facility, discover it is heavily defended so PCs have to come up with something fricking cool to gain entrance. Based on references to Torfan in ME canon, this should probably be a mostly underground facility. Encourage “Action!” ideas like:
- Sneaking in via the sewers or air vents?
- Diversionary strike with the captured batarian vehicle?
- Accessing computer nodes and hacking environmentals.
- In general, let the PCs be Big Damned Heroes.
- Rescue surviving Alliance personnel, discover that PC team leader is highest ranking still alive (should be Lieutenant (naval), so O-3 or so), and then discover the Batarians were taking orders from … someone! Maybe capture Batarian leader?
- In course of assault, discover & steal (for the escape) the future “Hero Ship” – I’m thinking of using the Idris frigate from Star Citizen, mostly because I frankly hate the look of canon ME Alliance ships. See below for image:
Continuing my “thinking out loud” process here, I want to turn to characters. Now, the initial plan was to being in media res with the PCs aboard a crashing starship, which sort of indicates that they would start out in the same unit. However, what I’m currently thinking is that they don’t know each other very well at all, so logically, it would work better if they weren’t in the same squad or platoon or whatever. Perhaps instead, have them all be in the same battalion (equivalent) so some of them may recognize the others but only by sight. That works better because it means some (or all) could have dark secrets that come to light later.
With regards to team make-up, I really like the stuff in Action 4: Specialists which lets you pick and choose elements from a basic template. Totally thinking of going with that.
I also really dig the way ME1 split up your version of Space Jesus into two groups of categories. The first is their origin which is one of three:
- Colonist – raised on Mindoir which was attacked by Batarian slavers. You’re the only survivor.
- Earthborn – born in the gutters on Earth, grew up on the streets. Joined to get away from that.
- Spacer – born and raised in space. Both parents are military.
Then you have their military history, also split into three:
- Ruthless – involved in the campaign to rid the Skyllian Verge of slavers. Got 3/4 of your troops killed in the fighting but got the job done.
- Sole Survivor – went to Akuze and was attacked by thresher maws. Everyone died but you.
- War Hero – at Elysium when Skyllian Blitz struck. Rallied civilians, led them to defend. You’re a BDH.
So I’m thinking of emulating that in some way, except with a larger group, I obviously will need more options. If I create the characters myself, though, I can just assign them arbitrarily? Maybe leave points open for additional “lenses”? Honestly, probably just create characters and allow players streamline in play. My thinking here is thus:
- Hardened Veteran – You participated in the Skyllian Verge campaign and saw some real hairy shit on Torfan. Every single one of your closest friends died when Lieutenant Shepard led you on an assault to take out the heavily fortified underground bunker, but somehow, you survived. As one of the few living members of that elite team, you are given wide berth and great respect.
- Fierce Patriot – Growing up on the colony of Elysium, you were barley an adult when the Skyllian Blitz struck in 2176 and it was there that your childhood died. You saw friends and family get cut down and only Lieutenant Shepard’s presence saved your life. Afterward, you enlisted, intent on showing your worth to the whole galaxy.
- Honored Tradition – Even as a kid, you knew you were going to be in the military. Your parents were military, their parents were, and their parents, and so on. So here you are … and to while you don’t much care for all of the life, your upbringing pretty much ensured that you were far better prepared for this kind of life than many of your peers.
- Lucky Scoundrel – It was the military or prison for you after that last score. How were you to know that the dude you swindled was so well-connected? And since you weren’t enthusiastic about spending your best years behind bars, the military it was. Now you’ve got access to more state-of-the-art gear than you could have ever imagined!
- Grounded Pilot – That last crash was totally not your fault. You’d complained about that piece of junk a dozen times and when everything went south, you were lucky to walk away alive. The inquest panel blamed you though – it was your asshole commanding officer’s fault – and not only stripped you of your rank, but grounded you permanently. Now you’re stuck playing grunt.
- Intelligence Officer – You’re not even supposed to be here! This is a job for the damned military and you’re trained as a spy, an analyst who just happens to be a damned good shot and a better tactical planner! If you’d kept your mouth shut, your control officer wouldn’t have decided you were the best person to be a liaison with the jarheads. But here you are…
All of this is still preliminary though…
Some interesting ideas have sort of materialized with regards to this game concept. In short:
- What if the game is initially set before the first Mass Effect and then ends the initial run with the PCs arriving at Eden Prime? This would hint at an offscreen TPK (total party kill) caused by the arrival of Saren, Sovereign and the Geth, but E.P. is a big planet. Surely there’s a place for the PCs to kick a bunch of ass and not be whacked, yeah?
- In ME1, we learn that the Normandy and thus, Shepard, were meant for the 63rd Scout Flotilla commanded by Rear Admiral Mikhailovich. This seems like an ideal place for the PCs to be based.
- If the PCs are actively in pursuit of a former Council Spectre who ostensibly went rogue and was then later dealt with by Saren, a crossover between them and the Normandy crew seems inevitable, especially if any of the PCs have served with/under Shepard. Thus, they could exchange notes.
- Would be awesome if could find some really cool space combat rules that properly emulate the ME universe and have the PCs participate in the Battle of the Citadel at the conclusion of ME1. Problem there, though, is most of the planned characters are really gropos, so a space battle might not be their thing.
My Friday group is probably the ideal group for this as only two of the players (out of five, not including myself) haven’t played ME1 and one of those has watched me play pretty much the entire trilogy. Unfortunately, right now, GURPS doesn’t quite move fast enough for some of the players – at least one of them only tolerates the game because he doesn’t want to actually run anything. Not to mention, I already have the Dresden Files game for that group and we’re going to be doing GURPS: Traveller here shortly … still, it might be worth considering regardless. Maybe I should offer it as a series of oneshots? We do those on the Saturday group (though they have a tendency to become 3 or 4 shots, what with our playing style.)
I think I am going to go ahead and start working on this as if it was an actual, intended game … but I’m not going to bother telling the players until I’m ready to go. I’ll probably go ahead and figure out the actual characters as well. Thinking … five PCs and GURPS: Action as a basis … might be interesting to use Action 4: Specialists as a basis instead of Action 1.
More as it occurs to me…
Finished out Mass Effect 1 last night and it occurred to me that a lot of the problems that Shepard experiences in this game could have been resolved if the ultra tech society that has folding up weapons, the capability to dissolve pretty much any bit of equipment into “omni-gel”, and easily portable “virtual intelligences” bothered to put functional helmet cams (complete with audio recording) on the their armor. Seriously, everyone is all “You’re the only on who saw/heard/talked with X…” throughout the entire game (which flatly ignores the two other characters with Shepard during the op), so it stands to reason that they should have taken some sort of recording bit. Hell, when Tali is introduced, she has a recording of Saren & Benezia!
Fridge logic at its best.
Started replaying Mass Effect last week, this time on the desktop. Really wish I hadn’t because now I’m sort of thinking about how I would run a ME game in GURPS … and because my brain is wired to react in a certain way, I’m having to jot down my story notes or it just won’t leave me alone.
So what I’m thinking is thus:
- Mass Effect: Counterstrike (although Mass Effect: Incursion has a nice ring to it as well…)
- Set during ME1, but is not intended to cross-over in any major way. Minor ways, yes, but not major.
- All PCs are human and members of the Alliance military. This is non-negotiable, although a single government operative might be a valid character idea.
- Begin in media res with PCs aboard a crashing starship originally bound for Eden Prime (to lend disaster relief). Initial adventure sequence deals with characters first surviving the crash (hopefully), then determining the cause of the crash (Batarian slavers seems logical) and dealing with the threat.
- In the course of the above, intel should be obtained indicating that the bad guys were doing so on someone else’s orders, which leads to the formation of a new taskforce devoted to uncovering the identity of the mastermind while simultaneously securing the sector of space that this took place.
Going to keep making notes in my Google Docs for this in the hopes it’ll stop bothering me … or hey, who knows? Maybe I’ll end up running it some day.