Cutthroat Notes

About time I actually posted something here, eh?

Well, I’ve been hard at work on Cosmic Cutthroats. After 2 months, it’s playable. I’ve created a couple of characters for the game, and run a sample combat. It was fun!

I’ll talk here about how the game works, comparing it to my previous games where that might help.

First off, in case anyone is confused, this is a tabletop RPG, that uses paper and pencils and dice. Or a PDF reader, a dice roller program, and a chat program. Thankfully, in this age of ‘actual play’ videos, this is a point of confusion that doesn’t come up as often as it used to, but it still pops up from time to time!

The task resolution system uses 2d12 + an Ability Level, compared to a target number. The Ability is usually a Skill, but sometimes might be an Attribute, a Trait, or another game mechanic. If you beat the target number, you succeed, and if you don’t, you fail.

If you roll matched numbers on the dice, something special happens! If you’re successful, something good happens, a critical success I call a Triumph, and if you fail, you roll a Mishap. Higher matches are better, lower ones are worse.

You may notice that almost any roll can score the a Triumph or Mishap, even the best possible Triumph or worst possible Mishap. Interpreting what “best possible” and “worst possible” means is a task left up to the GM and players during the game. This is the same task resolution system that my super hero RPG Metagene uses, and it’s been a lot of fun.

There are six Attributes: Body, Brains, Agility, Charm, Guts, and Edge. Edge provides a pool of “hero points” to spend to improve your actions, and some Powers require you to spend Edge to activate them. Attributes typically range in value from 1 to 12, with 6 being average, which I believe is roughly the _Traveller_ ranger for Attribute scores.

There are two kinds of Skills, Basic and Advanced. Basic Skills start off with a base Level equal to 1/2 of one Attribute, or 1/4 of two. Advanced Skills also gain a similar boost, but only once you purchase your first Level in the Skill. Skills have the same 1 to 12 range as Abilities.

Traits are minor advantages that don’t really qualify as Skills or Powers. Powers are a bit more expensive than Traits or Skills, and you can modify their per-Level cost by taking Power Calibrations, which can make them more or less effective.

Some Traits and Powers let you purchase additional Options to make them more versatile. The Martial Arts Trait lets you buy additional maneuvers, and the Elemental Control Power lets you purchase Blast, Flight, Life Support, and other uses for your element-shaping. Options have a flat cost equal to one Level of the Power or Trait.

Drawbacks refund points, in exchange for giving you some disadvantage. There aren’t a ton of Drawbacks, and you aren’t expected to fill up your allotment of Drawbacks to make an effective character. In particular, Drawbacks aren’t based on specific personality aspects of your character.

Your personality aspects are reflected by your Qualities. Acting according to your Qualities lets you regain some lost Edge, but contravening your Qualities means you feel drained and lose Edge.

Gear can be gained directly through Powers or Traits, or purchased with in-game money. Gear purchased in-game can be permanently lost or stolen, but gear gained by spending character points is a part of you, and it’s expected you’ll regain it if it’s taken away at the end of the session.

There are no “classes”, per se, but there are species, robot model, occupation, and other packages, all pre-built and ready to go. Packages provide a 10% discount on their contents.

The point costs for Ability Levels get slowly more expensive, so there’s a certain pressure to create a character with diverse interests and abilities, rather than dumping all your points into one thing and hyper-specializing.

Combat is assumed to be moderately cinematic. There is a level of gritty detail, like weapon reach is taken into account in melee combat, but most enemies are Mooks and go down after losing all health in their current Injury State, or when they suffer certain conditions. Equipment and magic belongs to one of a general class of technological and magical eras, so there’s an advantage to having an elf from a magical world, a robot from a sci-fi Realm, both in the same party.

That’s it for now. Maybe next time I will post the results of the first combat trial, just for grins. Stay tuned!

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