Late last month I started talking about Old School Mercenaries – a mercenary action RPG specifically designed to operate fairly closely to the standards of classic OSR games – specifically using Labyrinth Lord as the root system (but obviously running pretty far afield in several areas). I’m actually in the process of putting together a playtest draft of the game, and thought it was time to share some of the material that will be incorporated, and some of the material I’m hoping to incorporate into it. The actual format of the finished product has already been decided to be a set of three soft-cover 6″ x 9″ books (Mercenary’s Guide, Operations Guide, Setting Guide) and will also be available as a single hardcover release that combines the three softcover books into one volume (the cost of making three hardcover books is kind of prohibitive).
Material for the game so far:
Set In Stone:
- Ability Scores of Strength, Intelligence, Will, Dexterity, Constitution and Charisma.
- Initiative is modified by Intelligence instead of Dexterity.
- Physical health is handled with Hit Points.
- Basic system for most tasks (although not combat) is 2d6 + stat modifier, difficulty 8+
Pretty much set, but not actually written into the document:
- 4 ability score generation systems – Hardcore, Weighted, Organic & Weighted
- Hardcore is classic D&D – 3d6 in order
- Planned is point-buy
- Organic I want to be somewhere in between – basically random but balanced by total point value. So you roll as random, but then add or subtract points based on how far you are from the alloted point buy.
- Weighted gives you a number of dice and you decide how many go into each stat (minimum of 2 dice, more than 3 dice you only keep the best 3)
- Build-A-Class system – you pick two military specialties and get full bonus from one, half bonus from the second. Bonus is level-dependent.
- Firearm attacks assume multiple shots fired for each attack roll – this keeps it abstract and holds a little more true to modern firearms combat where most shots miss.
- Separate rules for aimed single shots (sniping).
- Combat to run almost entirely like classic D&D combat (d6 initiative, d20 attack rolls)
Stuff I want
- When getting shot at, you can be suppressed / pinned.
- You can be unpinned by getting yelled at (Charisma!)
- Top Secret style firearms damage – damage is modified by the weapon / ammo, but you roll the same damage for every attack.
- Subsystems for all the major stuff, albeit with a standard rule. Stuff to cover includes Spotting Ambushes, Setting and Disarming Traps, Evading, Navigation, Stealth, Comms (securing, intercepting), Combat Driving, Repairing and Jury Rigging, Interrogation (so we don’t have to roleplay through the torture, err, “enhanced interrogation” scenes), Indirect Fire Spotting, Commanding small and medium units, Scavenging & Scrounging, Black Market Connections, Training the local talent…
- No subsystems for things we always want the PCs to succeed at – Parachuting, Rappelling, Climbing Walls/Trees/etc,
Stuff I’m considering
- Armor provides Damage Reduction, not AC
- Hit Locations as an optional rule (DEFINITELY not a core rule)
- Somehow use real world weapon stats, or the GUNS GUNS GUNS system from BTRC.
- Fast healing after combat. I want combat to be deadly, but don’t want the characters rendered out of the action for a week to a month because they got shot and not killed.
- Raising stats as you level up, more like MF than LL.
Simon Forster said:
Sounds interesting. When you say ‘stuff I want’, do you want ideas from the community to throw your way?
Dyson Logos said:
It’s mostly stuff I haven’t managed to figure out how I’m going to handle yet. So yes, I’m accepting suggestions as I work on these sections.
m.s. jackson said:
“true to modern firearms combat where most shots miss”
I beg to differ sir! Every shot I fire hits the target! 😉
“Fast healing after combat.” One thing I really like about Old School Hack is that everyone (minus the fighter) has the same hit points and damage is very simple, most weapons doing 1 point. Also after the combat encounter, you regenerate to full after you rest (either a bit or a full day depending on how badly you were hurt). Easy, fast and effective.
Sounds excellent. Love the cover as well.
I used GUNS, GUNS, GUNS to design dozens, maybe hundreds of firearms. Never used them in Timelords or Space:Time, but they were fun to make!
Dyson Logos said:
GUNS GUNS GUNS is made of awesome. I have both it and MORE GUNS.
Looking forward to reading more about this game. Reminds me of assorted homebrews we used to play a long time ago.
Adrian M Ryan said:
Just catching up on my OSR blog reading and came across this post at Grognardia. Taking a “Gamma World” approach to some of these subsystems (that is, an ad-hoc approach where they are less consistent subsystems and more ways to deal with specific weapons/items/etc.) might be useful here.
For a general mechanic for non-item-based subsystems, something like roll d20 under attribute + modifiers works well, IMO. Modifiers can include class skills (+1 or +level if reasonable argument that your class should be able to do this), subtracting the relevant attribute modifier of the opponent in the case of something like interrogation or other opposed checks, and +1 for every other character with a positive attribute or skill bonus who takes the time to help that turn.
For something like interrogation, say I’m a 12 Will Green Beret interrogating a 16 Will Big Bad, with my 15 STR BigDumbBrute helping smash fingers. Base level is then 12, +1 for being a Green Beret, +1 for one person helping, -2 for Big Bad’s attribute scores, and I’ve got to roll a 12 or under. The player must come up with a list of questions before dice are rolled. Roll for each question asked, a question can only be asked once, and questions that rely on previous questions automatically fail if that first question does. Each question takes one “turn” to ask. There you have a system that’s both abstract and specific and will result in both successes and failures in the same task.
It’s pretty easy to apply this to other subsystems as well. Spot Ambush? GM rolls under Intelligence of lead character in the group. Stealth: each character rolls under Dex+mods. Commanding units: roll under Will+leadership mods+group loyalty mod-scary condition mods for each command. Etc.