The Future is in Your Hands!

Jason Heavy Gear Universe 24 Comments

A quick update about Rumble in the Jungle, the text is in copy editing and will be going to layout soon. The novella has a nice appendix with character bios, maps, and glossary to go along with the fantastically fun story by Nigel Wong. Our second novella has started and the first draft is nearly done. Red Giants covers the Nova Red Riders during the War of the Alliance, and the regiment’s sacrifices during the bloody conflict.      

Since making the announcement that we are reviving the Heavy Gear roleplaying game, Greg and I have received a tremendous amount of feedback from the community on the future of the game. Initially we presented the idea that the new 20th Anniversary book would be 2nd edition compatible and our decision at the time was based on the wide popularity of the system during its initial run during the nineties. Of course in twenty years, the roleplaying market has changed substantially. So what does this mean for Heavy Gear fans? Greg and I want to give you, the community, the game you want. I had mentioned the inclusion of a GM’s Toolkit in an earlier post, and I wanted to go in depth on that part of the 20th Anniversary Edition.

The GM’s Toolkit will give the players and their Gamemasters the ability to streamline or expand the depth of the ruleset to suit their playing style. The GM will be able to implement the rules he or she wants to make the game as gritty or fast paced as the gamers want. The goal of this section is to address some of the common critiques of the original system, and to provide the gaming group with an solid system that they can enjoy.  This section of the book is also the part of the book that Greg and I want to hear from you the fans. What can we add to the Tool Kit to make the game better? I outlined a few of the changes I had planned in an earlier post, and the feedback that we received was excellent! Please keep posting your ideas and we’ll look through them and prioritize them based on community response.

 

To get the ball rolling, here are some of the ideas we’ve talked about or seen in the community:

 

  • Simplified Stats: The original Heavy Gear included ten primary stats and five secondary stats. Some of the stats were under utilized or redundant. Stats could be combined into a single stat for simplification and ease of use. This is especially useful for combat where quick reference to stats makes the game flow easier.

  • Career Ladder System for player characters: One commone complaint in the original system was the wide availability for growth into anything. The lack of character classes or themes allowed players to create some crazy skill combinations, which lead to a player losing focus on their character’s natural development. Character Ladders would let players advance naturally, with added benefits tied to their classes such as perks and discounts on skills in their profession. It would make skills outside of their profession a complex skill.

  • Stats split off from Skills: GM’s can attach an appropriate stat to skill. Agility in the old system was the dominant stat that players gravitated towards. To be successful in combat, a high agility stat was paramount. The old system of tying a stat to skill meant that all of the lucrative skills were limited to a few stats, while others were practically useless like Willpower or Psyche. GM’s using this tool can assign apporpriate stats to individual skill rolls. Dodge could suddenly rely on Psyche representing sheer luck keeping the character alive. Survival could be tied to Willpower to demonstrate the need to keep your spirits up when your marooned in the harsh deserts. Options abound and would be detailed.

  • Refined complexity system: Silcore had multiple levels of complexity, but unfortunately the system was ill defined. We would like to look at the possibility of refining and explaining the system in more detail.

 

All of these options are possibilities, and we want to hear from you, the fans, on what rules you want see expanded, changed or modified in the 2nd edition. Post your comments below and let us know what you want to see in the GM’s Toolkit.We do ask that write your most desired changes to the top of your wishlist so we can gauge overall interest and we can start constructing testing materials.

 

JasonThe Future is in Your Hands!

Comments 24

  1. Michael

    Hey Greg, Hey Jason, this is LCM 😉

    I love that you guys are working on the novellas and fleshing out the RPG! It seems the future is bright for the RPG line

    I have a few ideas that my be useful in the toolkit, along with some suggestions for the things you talk about in this blog post. I’ll put quotes around the selections from this blog post I am citing to keep things organized. anything not in quotes are my views.

    Suggestions:

    Random equipment packages that could be based on skill levels. this would make equipping someone a bit quicker in character generation stage. the higer the level, the more complex the equipment and more variety.

    Use Psyche as a modifier for rolls using e-dice. a positive psyche adds more dice to the roll, where as a negative psyche removes dice from the roll?

    for tabletop play, limit the ranges of weapons to two brackets maybe?

    ” Simplified Stats: The original Heavy Gear included ten primary stats and five secondary stats. Some of the stats were under utilized or redundant. Stats could be combined into a single stat for simplification and ease of use. This is especially useful for combat where quick reference to stats makes the game flow easier.”

    It was will power and psyche. I found that when I character takes a hit, the character should make a will check vs the MOS-psy to not be stunned. if they are wounded, I enforce a will check vs the # of system shock -psy to stay conscious. subtracting will from the base damage of a weapon was a good way to show off a character’s drive to survive as well. using psyche as a limit to fumble re-rolls is fun too.

    “Career Ladder System for player characters: One commone complaint in the original system was the wide availability for growth into anything. The lack of character classes or themes allowed players to create some crazy skill combinations, which lead to a players losing focus on their character’s natural development. Character Ladders would let players advance naturally, with added benefits tied to their classes such as perks and discounts on skills in their profession. It would make skills outside of their profession a complex skill.”

    this is nice. I like the idea of a life path option for character generation as well, allowing a character to gain some skills and equipment in a unique way. rather much like mekton back in the day lol

    “Stats split off from Skills: GM’s can attach an appropriate stat to skill. Agility in the old system was the dominant stat that players gravitated towards. To be successful in combat, a high agility stat was paramount. The old system of tying a stat to skill meant that all of the lucrative skills were narroly defined into a few stats, while others were practically useless like Willpower or Psyche. GM’s using this tool can assign apporpriate stats to individual skill rolls. Dodge could suddenly rely on Psyche representing sheer luck keeping the character alive. Survival could be tied to Willpower to demonstrate the need to keep your spirits up when your marooned in the harsh deserts. Options abound and would be detailed.”

    adding a diagram or stat tree for each skill would be nice. so for like Small arms: its stat tree would have AGI, PER and KNO in it, and acrobatics would have AGI, WIL, and FIT.

    “Refined complexity system: Silcore had multiple levels of complexity, but unfortunately the system was ill defined. We would like to look at the possibility of refining and explaining the system in more detail.”

    complexity could be an extra cost layered onto the original cost per skill level, and I like the idea that it functions as tie breaker.

    1. Post
      Author
      Jason

      Life path is a great idea. It would help flesh out player character backgrounds and give them unique creation options. If the stat split option is a popular one, each skill will have a sample of how to choose the appropriate stat. Complexity levels would be defined on the skills as well. Psyche and Willpower will definitely be used for more in the GM Toolkit. Equipment packages are a great idea!

      1. Albertorius

        I’m a great fan of lifepaths, particularly optional ones. If you can (and why not, it’s CC), take a look at Eclipse Phase’s lifepath and skill packages character creation from the Transhuman supplements; I found them really interesting and well put.

        1. Post
          Author
          Jason

          I’ve got a copy of Eclipse Phase and most of the supplements, but I’m missing Transhuman. I’ll order it and take a look at it. I know there’s several other games that have life paths and I’m a big proponent of having a well developed background for my players. I definitely want to add a Heavy Gear life path. I think it’ll be a fantastic tool for players and GM’s.

  2. Albertorius

    …huh. I don’t know what to think about the Career Ladder. For starters, I’ve never, ever, heard anyone complain that their character could grow in any direction they wanted to (that actually feels very weird to me). I’d actually say that maybe one of the things that stalled “natural” character development could be a too high and exponential grow in XP costs for skills, stats and the like. Once characters reach a certain range (usually skill 3/stat +3 [although the latterwas prohibitive, so…]) players didn’t feel the need of keeping spending XP for minimal advantages (there was no incentive to keep wasting resources there). I think that’s what you guys could be addressing, instead of adding what amounts to character classes in a classless, point-buy system.

    Then again, the new Star Wars games did it well with their specializations and talent trees, although I don’t know if that approach would be good for HG.

    The stat reduction I can see, but it would depend on the actual implementation.

    Stats split off from skills, I think everyone already does it, so non issue xD.

    I was a fan of the revised Complexity system, so if done well it would be a plus for me.

    1. Post
      Author
      Jason

      Career ladders would have secondary skills that players choose and characters will be able to purchase skills outside of their path, but the xp cost would go up. The career path would also have unique abilities unlocked for purchase similar to the types found in the GM guide. We’ll add to that list as well, obviously. If you have any thoughts on how to address the stat/skill curve issue, we’d like to get those ideas out to the community to discuss.

      1. Albertorius

        I wouldn’t mind to see something along those lines as an option, but I’d prefer to still be able to just pick stuff I want and pay a cost. Also, skill packages with default costs would be great to help players not “forget” skills important for certain archetypes.

        As to the stat/skill cost curve issue… well, it is actually complicated. For starters, the costs being what they are, going up in skill to more than rank 3 is… well, unoptimal. The cost is too high for the result, especially with Complex skills. That compounds, of course, with the fact that Sil’s probabilities are bell-shaped, so higher skill tends to get up the averge, but not much more. In that regard it’s always better to spend your XPs on stats instead of skills, past skill rank 2 (as stats always costed 20 XP or 40 XP with BLD and some of those were really useful, but to get a skill to rank 3 you’d be spending 9 or 18 XP).

        What we did in our games was to 1) reduce the cost of the upper skill levels (half, IIRC, or maybe just capped at the rank 3 cost, don’t remember) to get them more in line with the actual “revenue” of the skill advance, and we stopped using XPs altogether and used instead one of the optional rules from SilCORE: instead of XPs I gave out Emergency Dice, and the ED used in skills were counted as XPs for that skill. That way you actually had to use the skills to be able to upgrade them.

        1. Post
          Author
          Jason

          The skill level xp adjustment makes sense. The core book won’t get rid of the free form construction system for players if the group opts to go that way. The career ladder rules will also have a build your own career rule for GM’s to design new career archetypes. The book won’t be able to tackle every single career type, but it will have a nice chunk of professions.

  3. Brett

    I wouldn’t mind seeing some abstract rules for possessions/wealth for “military” campaigns. I.E. knowing my character’s salary is X/month but it’s a military campaign so most necessary gear is provided has always been odd. Either strip the salary to background elements (Maybe a family of lifestyle perks) or make it meaningful (if a campaign is such that characters are skirting normal procurement such as by doing adventure-stuff in their own time.)

    1. Post
      Author
      Jason

      Something like that could easily be incorporated. There could even be a wealth skill that is rewarded rather than purchased and players have to roll against a purchase threshold if you wanted an abstract way to represent wealth/affluence or lack there of.

  4. Whipblade

    Career Ladder sounds cool. I’d most like to see some kind of specialties system for feats or abilities rather than just having everything skill based, or getting another +1 to a skill/stat. Most games out there have something that lets you make your character special rather than just a set of skills. I think those that let you make interesting decisions that really change your character are the most fun. A few examples:

    D&D/Pathfinder: Lots of options, but requires too much time/effort in character creation.
    Cyberpunk: Cybernetics to customize
    Shadowrun: In addition to cybernetics, you can get magic.
    Vampire: Clan choices affect powers you get access to.
    Iron Kingdoms: Two Career options that affect ability choices

    Simplified Stats sounds fantastic. I’d like to see Melee and Ranged combat separated to two different stats instead of just agility.

    Hand to Hand combat needs some major work so you can actually do damage to someone wearing armor. A martial arts system could be cool.

    1. Post
      Author
      Jason

      Expanded abilities are definitely on my list and tie into the career paths. It wouldn’t simply be adding to skills. It’s also an area that will need plenty of community feedback on how well they work and what types of abilities you’d like to see.

  5. Dyne

    +++ Career Ladder System for player characters: A nice idea!! But… if the system is too much restrictive two PC HG pilots could be identical :/

    +++ Stats split off from Skills: This is basic, and SilCORE already does it 😉

    +++ Refined complexity system: I like this!!

    +++ A martial arts system could be cool: +1!

    — Simplified Stats: Is true that some of the stats were under utilized, IMO these stats need a boosted not erased.

    1. Post
      Author
      Jason

      The simplified stats would be in the GM’s tool kit for groups that are looking for less crunch in their game play. The original stat system will be in place for general game play. I think we can do somethings with the expanded abilities and a martial arts.

  6. A.0 (Boris)

    I agree with Albertorius respect to the career ladder… one of the most atractive things on HG is the fact you can grow your character in any direction you want. The training system on Silhouette is based on the fact you need time, sources and a teacher to learn something, so that makes you keep track
    of your develpment.. maybe you can speed up the training system.
    In reference to the complexity, i would rather see an upgrade to the Silcore complexity system that’s directly related to the Stat splitting.
    Thanks for reading!

  7. Archwright

    Social conflict and resolution were difficult to work with. At best, you have to construct 5 more secondary stats and at worst you end up losing granularity (usually handled by a single Influence roll). It was a pity that the setting is so rich and nuanced, yet interacting with its people is so difficult. I’d love to see the social system better fleshed out, or even better, fully integrated into the system.

    (Caveat: I only have experience with the SilCore version of Heavy Gear.)

  8. Kannik

    Sweet, I second the motion to decouple skills from specific attributes. In trying it out with my group, we’ve found that having the flexibility to marry any appropriate skill with an attribute that’s right for that kind of action leads to far less odd situations and more creativity by the players. I’d be interested in seeing what you have in mind with the attribute refinements as well!

    Other thoughts and ideas:

    – Find ways to leverage dice additions and subtractions (such as for extra actions) and limit straight up +1/-1s to rolls; the +s have a large assured impact on MoS and MoFs

    – I don’t know if this is what you mean by career ladders, but adding “mechanical perks/bits” that lets the character do interesting things is always fun, kind of like “ace tricks” that a super experienced gear pilot could do that an ordinary grunt might not, could be cool.

    – Continuing the two above, add a bevvy of nifty things that characters can do that cost either dice or complexity, to allow for interesting choices and actions, including martial arts, combat actions, vehicle maneuvers, etc.

    – A dramatic narrative chase and combat system for when the maps don’t come out, either for tactical or personal combat.

    ‘Course, as you said, there’s been 20 odd years since it first came out, and there’s been a lot of refinement on the “sacred cows” of RPG design by looking through the lens of “what does this rule provide for the game experience, as played, at the table.” There’s probably much juice to running everything through to find good simplifications and to provide for more flexibility. }:)

  9. Iain McGregor

    Heck, I’d love an option to remove stats all together . Stat and skill is very ’80s. In anime who cares why you are an awesome mecha pilot, you just are, through training or I ate ability.

    Career Ladder sounds a lot like classes. Create feats for skills, but isn’t the point of an RPG to see characters grow in new and different directions?

    Personally I want as light a system as possible. My fun doesn’t come from minutia of “realistic” rules, it comes from doing stuff. And the less the rules get in my way or make it easier to do things then the better gaming I can have.

    My personal version of Heavy Gear probably wouldn’t be commercially viable. And that is my caveat for you guys, you are making a game for others.

    And where are those 28mm Gears? ^_~

    1. Rhoderic

      The game system (or “non-system”) you describe is something I would play too, so you’re not alone. But you’re probably also right in that it wouldn’t be commercially viable. One of the most appealing RPG rulesets I’ve come across is Barbarians of Lemuria, but it’s hardly a coincidence that it’s not a “big” commercial game. It doesn’t have enough actual rules to commercialize 🙂

      1. Iain McGregor

        I’m about one free afternoon from making a players guide for Heavy Gear from Technoir and its supplement Mechnoir. It’s a very striped down game not unlike Silhouette, but much more narrative in play. The fact that all the rules can fit in under 16 pages and plugs into a system that makes a dynamic plot web is the real selling point. Since the system was meant for cyberpunk, it does really good at conspiracies and blind side “”OMG/WTF”? And best of all, the plot evolves as people do things rather than have to be plotted at the beginning and fall apart during successive play.

        I seriously want to run that as an SIU game in the vein of Homeland meets The Unit.

        PS: I also love BoL.

  10. Rei Malebario

    Assigning a Gear (for gear-using characters) as an integrated part of character generation so that you can expend resources on having access to better stuff would be ace.

    I’d really like to see the overall number of stats reduced although I’d also like to see the importance of Agility reduced. One possible solution could be to introduce an Aggression stat for use with all offence-based skills averaged with a different stat (depending on which type of combat – it could be Perception for shooting and Agility for HTH combat). There’d still be one stat that would be important to all combat but it would only count half AND it would be useless outside of combat (unlike Agility which also happens to be useful for just about all physical activity). Additionally, it would be difficult to achieve very high bonuses from stats making skill levels relatively more valuable. (It wouldn’t have to be named “Aggresion”, obviously – it could be called Violence, Killer Instinct, Combativeness or something else altogether…)
    Suggestion for alternate set of stats (off the to of my head):
    Aggression (discussed above)
    Agility (as usual but with more of a focus on gross motor coordination)
    Endurance (Fitness but without suggesting brawniness just overall healthiness)
    Brawn (combines Build and STR into one)
    Presence (combines INF and APP with aspects of WIL and PSY)
    Creativity (as usual)
    Perception (as usual but also combined with Aggresion for shooting instead of Agility)

  11. Trey

    I dislike the complexity system all together. It’s unneeded.

    I don’t really care for the Career Path discounts but doing something like Careers certain talents to put on top of the core system wouldn’t be so bad.

    I like Advantages and Disadvantages.

    I do not think Body needs to be so expensive.

    In my group, we have a house rule where emergency dice (Dice added by spending XP) apply as XP spent on increasing a skill. This meant that during gameplay skills were increased through use as opposed to just increasing willy nilly.

  12. Dire Wolf

    I really hate the Complexity system. We still play the second edition. I kept my 3rd edition HG books for referencing other things, but we don’t play that system.

    I don’t have a problem with a ‘class’ system. I’m also not a big fan of combining some abilities. I don’t believe that Dexterity and Agility are always the same thing.

    Removing stats is not something I would be behind. It may be 80s but it works. I don’t like the systems that are all over DriveThru that proclaim to be a real RPG but it’s just a bunch of flavor text and three ‘stats’. It’s a bit too open-ended for my tastes.

  13. Zar

    To tell you the truth, I do not want many changes at all to the second edition rules. It will be great to have options that are in addition. Just please do not make any drastic changes to a great system. I’m most interesting in knowing if the tactical combat will be the same and if we will still have the ability to design new vehicles.

    I really do not like the talk about classes. I do not want DnD. What I think the game could use is Gamemaster tools to make balanced encounters, better advantages and disadvantages, more personal equipment, and adventures.

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