2nd edition rules feedback

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stalfos stalfos's picture
2nd edition rules feedback

Long time lurker here, I decided to register and post some feedback regarding the rules as I've recently been running a campaign using the 2nd edition playetest rules (about 6 game sessions so far, light on combat but lots of socializing, spying, hacking). Before that I was GM for quite a bit in 1st edition (1 long campaign, and some 1-session missions). I just love the Eclipse Phase setting. I didn't get the chance to play Acrimony (the quickstart) but I read it and then listened to RPPR's podcast of that scenario.

I won't mention what I like, in order to keep this short. Here's the critique, organized by rules package:

GAME MECHANICS (November 16, 2017)

There are a few things we discarded, like regaining 1 Pool on critical success (it invites making more rolls with good Skills to recharge Pools), Trying Again (for missed tests we assume the circumstances have to change to even get a retry) and Defaulting (use the Skill you got).

Using Pools. Now there's one big red flag that we noticed right away: using Moxie Pool to Refresh Favors... especially combined with a Morph with 3 Moxie (like a Sylph). You could refresh up to 3 Major Favors per day (with average Short Recharge rolls). So I decided to ignore that rule. For favor refresh, you wait or you burn Rep.

ACQUIRING GEAR AND MORPHS (June 8, 2017)

I feel like the paragraph about Restricted gear is lacking in description of the possible consequences of acquiring, owning, using restricted gear (in Inner and Outer systems). Maybe add a cross-reference to the sections that will discuss such things, and the means to detect, disable and dispose of restricted gear by the authorities. (Do Autonomist communities Rep-bully you into recycling it? Or can you use a favor to have a local "vouch" for you?)

The Resources trait can be abused. I think it should have a limit on the number of times used like the Rep Favors. We haven't used though it as my current campaign is set in Saturn's orbit.

In Nanofabrication, the Restricted Items sections should cross-reference to the Mesh chapter when mentioning that nanofabricators may be hacked.

MAKING CHARACTERS (November 16, 2017)

More Backgrounds please!

Aptitudes: basic math dictates that a player should raise any Aptitude rating 10 to 11 (because of the way criticals work).

Skills... Mixing nouns and verbs for Skills names, I don't like it at all, but whatever. I use nouns always when asking tests (i.e. "roll Perception", not "roll Perceive", and "do you have Knowledge: Fashion?" not "do you Know: Fashion?")

I remove the Fields for Hardware, Medicine and Pilot. While it may be more "realist" to have fields of engineering and medicine, it doesn't serve a purpose in-game other than reducing Skill rating. Also, this way I don't need to bother with Defaulting (see above). I was happy to see 1 skill for all Guns. Why stop there?

Customization: 20 CP feels high. There isn't much room for the character to grow after. Given that Aptitudes can start at 20-25 easily, and that some careers give 60 Skill points, characters are already at 70+ in their occupational skills, so no need to spend CP into more Skills. So what do you buy? Always buy 2 more Flex (4CP), then you can have a couple points in Aptitudes (make 10's into 11's) (2CP), a Positive Ego traits or two (1-4CP?), a Skill Specialization (1CP), maybe some extra Rep. No hard choice required. In future games, I'll set this to 15 CP.

Positive Ego Trait: a nice addition would be something similar to Familiarity but for all drones (because engaging jamming mode requires an Integration test).

Negative Trait: I don't give CP for Negative Ego Traits, only Rez during play if the character gets in trouble. In the event that I do allow bonus CP, it's a limit of 1 Negative Ego Trait. Easier to keep track of.

Starting Gear Packages: I would've liked a small table with common gear used for each Skills, but it's probably something I'll post here once the game is released. 2 or 3 essential items to use for each Skill (give bonuses, or even just allow to use specific actions).

ACTIONS AND COMBAT (June 8, 2017)

Lots of modifiers I don't use, but I think it's better than not having enough, so no complaints here.
The categories for range are a bit weird. Close Range is from 2 to 10m? Why not up to the weapon's range? Most spray guns have a Range of 15m. So Point-Blank is 2m (at +10 to hit), then Close is 3 to 10m (at +0), followed by "Range" which is 11 to 15m (at -10), and 16-30m (-20) and so on by increment.
So I decided to use:
Point-Blank: within 2m (+10 to hit)
Close Range: up to the Weapon's Range (+0 to hit)
And each increment of range further gives a cumulative -10. It's cleaner and still easy to calculate.

What's up with Reload? I prefer Ammo and Firing Mode.

Kinetic Ammunition table doesn't have the -1d10 DV mentioned in Armor Piercing later.

Area Effect Attacks: for the uniform blast, is it just for grenades and missiles or does it also apply to Laser Pulser (Stun) and Plasma Rifle? I mean, the average plasma rifle shot can still grill a marshmallow at 15m from the point of impact? Badass! Less so for the Pulser, but it can still shock people within an average of 2m of the target. I prefer Stun Grenades for riot control.

Oh yeah, how does a Uniform Blast work with the Disarm Called Shot (which divides damage by half)? Your vibroknife took half the hit? Ok, I guess.

The Specific Target Called Shot should refer to the Conditions list, for example: Eyes/Camera = blinded, Head = dazed; Hand = disarm; Leg = knockdown. The effect should only be applied if at least 1 Wound is inflicted by the attack.

In Social Manipulation, for the modifiers table: maybe a +/- related to Motivations (if the arguments aligned with or go against the character's motivations).

Weapon Traits: Lacks Smartlink, I'd count the penalty only for attacks past Close Range.

Armor: I dislike the fact that Helmet and Shield give armor modifiers still. Helmet should just prevent side effects of called shots (like ignoring armor or dazed, etc). Shields should give cover (a penalty to the attacker).

Radiation: good description but lacking mechanical effects of radiation sickness. Also, how helpful are the meds? What if I ate a few BananaFuriosa before I went to fix my leaking fusion drive? Will I be fine tomorrow? Are my medichines ruined by the radiation? Etc.

Lucidity and Stress: what are the game effects of the mental breakdown? Elaborate on this "catatonic state". Could your buddy force feed you some Comfurt and walk you back to a safe place? Is he better off popping your stack? Can your muse treat you? Could it assume control of your morph (using a puppet sock) to move you away from harm?
In the absence of a psychotherapist, could natural (mental) healing happen in accelerated VR?

THE MESH (March 19, 2017)

Loved it. The descriptions are most welcome!
I would've complained about there being too many rolls involved in hacking but you brilliantly added the Simple Hacking sidebar and Consolidated Hacking sidebar.

That's the short version I guess (which took me 2 hours to type!) I figured you didn't care to know about typos yet ;)

Keep up the good work, Posthuman Studios!

hperantunes hperantunes's picture
Nice review.

Nice review.

RobBoyle RobBoyle's picture
Great feedback. A few of

Great feedback. A few of these changes have already been incorporated, I'll take a look at the rest.

Rob Boyle :: Posthuman Studios

Hailspork Hailspork's picture
More feedback

I wasn't sure if it would be more useful to make a new post, or just continue here.

Reputation: f-rep is described as "Fame, the media network used by metacelebrities, journalists, socialists, artists, and glitterati". Did you mean "socialites"? I'm pretty sure @-rep is bigger for socialism...

I agree with a lot of stalfos's comments; in particular, the two comments on pools. The moxie morph seemed like an obvious exploit. For major favors, how about making a rep check at the end of every campaign arc? 1/campaign is too rare, 1/session is too common, 1/day with high moxie is crazy.

In first edition, gear was crazy easy to buy and a lot of guns came with smartlinks. While I like that we have to be a little choosier about our gear (eg not get every ware/augment with low cost) and I like that smartlink is assumed rather than a bonus, I don't like the combination of the two. Perhaps if more guns came with laser and smartlinks? Or maybe in the campaign packs?

Customization: CP and MP being different seems odd. Perhaps merge these together?Removed, since I see that MP is just a part of sleeving

Knowledge Skills: So when I build a character, I get to pick any two knowledge skills for my muse to have, but my character might not have any? Why not give an extra 20 point knowledge (any) to each interest pack and give the muses a list to choose their two skills from?

Traits: More of these please, with a stronger limit on negative traits (particularly negative morph traits). Does +5 to COG checks also give +5 to COG skills? I assume not, but it would help to clarify.
Clarified in the forum, but still could use more clarity in the rules

Pools: Unless I missed something, these seem to be entirely tied to your morph. Seems like a good spot for new traits. Actually, why not merge the "Extra Flex" CP option in to traits as well? Then, throw a limit on CP spent on positive traits so that Extra Flex isn't a gimme. Speaking of Flex, aren't all of the narrative options "must be plausible"? Seems like that might be a better after-the fact note.

Psi Pools: I knew I missed something above. Let's say I get +1 Vigor for 4 minutes. I spend the vigor for +5 Reflex for 24 hours. What if I already had 1 vigor; which gets spent first? What happens at the end of 4 minutes? Does the buff go away? If not, can I recast it and get it more? Give the whole party +5 Reflex for the cost of a few infection rolls? I'm not saying that's not a balanced trade-off (or that it is), just that this would be a good spot to clarify. At least there's no "Burst of Narrative Exposition" to give Flex... though the part of me that loves OotS kind of wishes there was.

Block Skill: With melee and guns merged together so much, this sleight seems a little overpowered. Maybe a -30 penalty, with complete block only on superior success? Even then, perhaps an exception to melee.

Languages: I think this step in should be after Flex, since you can spend CP to increase COG and INT. Alternatively, maybe ditch the COG/INT tie-in.

Blueprints: In my first adventure, I gave out a "Limited License" blueprint (guardian robot). Essentially, they could get a receipt when they recycled it, and get their 1 use back. That way, they could take the item with them whenever they farcast, but not have 20 guardian bots. If their bot were destroyed, it can still be recycled. If it were completely lost, they lost it for good. Would this be useful?

Point-blank: Shooting in melee is easier? I get this with spray weapons, but not say, sniper rifles. I don't see a problem with not penalizing kinetics and beam weapons (or if the target isn't fighting back), but it seems weird to encourage that close. Makes total sense with spray weapons.
It was pointed out that sniper rifles already have "no point-blank", and that people are pushing for more weapons to have that trait.

Spoof vs Exploit: I was a little confused on the difference between these. Can you give examples, particularly of when you'd spoof for longer than 1d6 minutes?

Actions: Why not say "Maintaining tasks is a type of complex action"? Seems redundant otherwise.

Combat: It seems like way too many steps; not to say too much going on, just too many steps. Steps 2-5 seem like 1 step to me, called "Make Opposed Test". Obviously, you look at the result of the test, you don't need a different step for that. Similarly, steps 6-8 seem like 1 step. Also, step 1 should explicitly mention things like choosing firing mode. So:
Step 1: Declare Attack
Step 2: Make Opposed Test
Step 3: Roll and Apply Damage
Step 4: Determine Wounds

Extra Actions: It doesn't say when you need to spend pool. Spending it at the end of the round, before the new round begins seems 100% better than spending pool to go first (except in round 1). It's like going first AND acting in the usual spot (you just lose the quick action). Spending it during your turn would add some risk (what if you no longer need that action), but doesn't feel thematically appropriate. Maybe the init option is something done when itiative is announced (after the roll, but before the first actions)? Also, maybe only +10 to init instead of "First!"?

Shock/Stun: It seems like a superior success on your SOM check should completely negate the stunning from a shock attack. Also, maybe it's just my D&D background, but the "Stun" condition seems mis-named. Dazzled? Staggered? Stun also seems a little OP as an automatic result of hitting with a shock weapon. Maybe only on superior successes? Or perhaps instead of a -30, it's a stacking -10 (like a temporary wound)?

ubik2 ubik2's picture
Hailspork wrote:Customization

Hailspork wrote:
Customization: CP and MP being different seems odd. Perhaps merge these together?

The CP is all part of your character, while the MP will likely vary depending on the adventure you're running. Did you mean GP?

Hailspork wrote:
Knowledge Skills: So when I build a character, I get to pick any two knowledge skills for my muse to have, but my character might not have any? Why not give an extra 20 point knowledge (any) to each interest pack and give the muses a list to choose their two skills from?

All players have at least 250 skill points to spend on knowledge skills. The Academic gets slightly more at the expense of active skill points.

Hailspork wrote:
Does +5 to COG checks also give +5 to COG skills? I assume not, but it would help to clarify.

While this could be more clear, under the Aptitude Checks section (page 2 of Making Characters), each of the aptitude checks is defined. One of those is the Cognition check, which is a roll against 3x your COG. The trait grants a bonus on this COG check (and not on skills).

Hailspork wrote:
Point-blank: Shooting in melee is easier? I get this with spray weapons, but not say, sniper rifles. I don't see a problem with not penalizing kinetics and beam weapons (or if the target isn't fighting back), but it seems weird to encourage that close. Makes total sense with spray weapons.

The Sniper Rifle has the No Point-Blank trait, meaning it does not get a bonus for firing at point blank range. There was also a suggestion to add this trait to the various other rifles (and not to the submachine gun), since otherwise the submachine gun is non-optimal.
Hailspork Hailspork's picture
No, I was looking at step 12

No, I was looking at step 12 in character creation, which gives out 6 MP. I guess if that's just part of sleeving, it's not as big a deal.
You may get 250 total points, but most are limited to a certain selection. My point was that there's less freedom to choose miscellaneous topics, and it's odd that Muses do have that freedom.
Ah, I see that on the sniper rifle. Yeah, that trait settles my concerns.

Urthdigger Urthdigger's picture
It mentions that you're free

It mentions that you're free to allocate your skill points however you see fit after packages, so long as you exchange knowledge for knowledge and active for active.

This means that, essentially, every character has 400 points for active skills and 220 points for Knowledge skills that they can allocate as they see fit. You totally get the freedom to choose miscellaneous topics, the packages just provide a default for players to build off of.

ubik2 ubik2's picture
Urthdigger wrote:This means

Urthdigger wrote:
This means that, essentially, every character has 400 points for active skills and 220 points for Knowledge skills that they can allocate as they see fit.

There's another 30 from your faction, though perhaps you don't think those can be allocated to other skills.
Hailspork Hailspork's picture
Oh, I missed the faction

Oh, I missed the faction skill points.

Thanks for all the feedback on my feedback. I updated my original post with strikethrough and italics.

Urthdigger Urthdigger's picture
Oh, yes, I wasn't counting

Oh, yes, I wasn't counting the faction one. I was curious why that didn't wind up a nice round number!

eaton eaton's picture
Quote:Skills... Mixing nouns

Quote:
Skills... Mixing nouns and verbs for Skills names, I don't like it at all, but whatever. I use nouns always when asking tests (i.e. "roll Perception", not "roll Perceive", and "do you have Knowledge: Fashion?" not "do you Know: Fashion?")

This has come up before, and I'm in the same camp — I think I'm good with the verbs (they definitely give things a dynamic feel when describing some fairly dry skill checks) but the mix of nouns and verbs in skill names? Infosec, Psi, Athletics, Kinesics, Guns, Melee, Fray, Hardware, and Medicine, Survival… versus Deceive, Interface, Program, Infiltrate, Provoke, Perceive, and Persuade… The mix makes most skill conversations feel very "off."

Some are obvious: Fray -> Dodge, Medicine -> Heal, Infosec -> Hack, Melee -> Brawl, Guns -> Shoot.
Hardware, Athletics, Kinesics, and Survival are a bit trickier. Given how late in the process it is, I can understand if it remains as it is… But yeah. Feels like a really weird rough edge compared to how smooth other stuff is.