Alternity Design Blog #15: Choose Your Future?

alternity metalWhat Does “Choose Your Future” Even Mean?

One of our core design goals with the Alternity game (now on Kickstarter) is to provide a game system that can be used for all sorts of science fiction. We call it a modular system because Alternity provides building blocks a GM can use to build worlds that match the genre and style of game they want to play. Some of these tools are like dials, allowing the GM to “turn up” or “turn down” things like the campaign tech level or character durability. Other tools are building blocks or subsystems–psionics, for example–that plug into the game engine but can be individually dialed up or down (or left out entirely when they don’t fit).

Healing and Recovery

While we’d discussed our damage system in an earlier design blog, a number of playtesters and backers have asked about how characters recover from their wounds beyond the application of medkits or other quick fixes. It depends on the sort of campaign the GM wants to run; just like other “dials” in the game, you can easily turn up or turn down the impact of severe wounds. The basic healing rule is as follows:

Rest and Recovery

You recover wound boxes with rest. After an encounter, you can take a quick rest (a few minutes) and recover all grazes (wounds of 1-3 points). More significant wounds require resting for 8 hours with no strenuous activity. At the end of your longer rest, you recover from all grazes and minor (4-6 point) wounds. Then, each wound of the moderate, serious, critical, and mortal damage tiers improves by one level, starting at the lowest tier and moving up. For example, a moderate (7-9) wound becomes a minor wound (4-6), a serious (10-12) wound becomes moderate, and so on.

Treating a Wound

You can make a Medicine skill check to aid an injured character during a rest. On an Average success, improve each moderate wound by one additional tier at the end of the rest. On an Excellent success, improve each moderate or serious wound by one additional tier at the end of the rest. On a Stellar success, improve every wound by two additional tiers at the end of a rest. You take a -2 step penalty if you’re treating your own wounds.

You can adjust the healing timeline based on the needs of the campaign. For lower-tech or grittier campaigns, you must attempt a Resilience check in order to improve wounds while resting, only heal one wound per rest, or require a week or more to recover from serious or critical wounds. Alternatively, a far-future setting might have ubiquitous healbots that fully repair (or replace) any character in a matter of hours.

Similarly, the lethality of the game can be adjusted by setting the dial for exactly what it means to be incapacitated when a wound is inflicted that the PC can’t take — from knocked out until somehow treated by an ally, to killed outright. The Alternity rules cover all of these options, and discuss the impact your choice will have on narrative and gameplay.

Tech Levels

Alien_landscapeAn obvious dial for campaign creation is the level of technological progress assumed by the setting. We can (and will) write an entire article on the different tech levels described in the Alternity Core Rulebook. This dial goes to 11, and spans low tech environments to far-future space utopias, making stops in industrial/steampunk worlds, pre-information age modern day, near-future stories, colonization of our solar system, interstellar exploration and colonization, and more!

Even within a tech level, you have dials you can adjust. For example, our campaign design chapter touches on how you can address FTL travel (and communications) in your setting. Instant jump drives? Hyperdrives like Star Wars? Wormhole travel? No FTL? The choices you make have ramifications for your world and create player expectations, so we’re going to give you the tools you need to make the best choices for your game.

Building Blocks

The Alternity Core Rulebook also features a number of building block elements which you can use or ignore depending on your own campaign. For example, cybernetics can exist across many different tech levels, and can be used to augment a character’s physical or mental traits, interface with computer systems, replace limbs or senses–all the cool stuff you’ve seen and read about. But you choose whether to include cybernetic enhancements in your game, and to what degree. Is your game a universally augmented setting in which nearly everyone is somehow enhanced? Or are augmentations only available to a select few (or criminals), making a cyberware upgrade expensive (but worth every credit). Or perhaps your world doesn’t include cybernetics at all–you can decide!

Campaign Design, and Samples

While the Core Rulebook contains a wealth of options for building your own setting, we won’t force you to do all the work. We’ll outline sample settings built from our toolbox. We’ll MotorValkyriehave the Protostar campaign ready to go, and possibly a second campaign depending on our stretch goals. We’ll also release short adventures with their own setting, providing enough detail to get through the adventure. Adventures like Thunder Run, a screaming heavy metal post-apocalyptic death ride across the Scablands (coming soon) illustrate the breadth of content that the Alternity game can support.

Alternity–Choose Your Future!