Sunday 19 September 2021

Coming Apart v0.4

Without further ado, here's version 0.4 of Coming Apart. This is very much a design in motion, but some major changes are most of the way through.

Coming Apart v0.4 Rules

Coming Apart v0.4 Playbooks

Here's a partial change log of the v0.3 to v0.4 changes

  • Basic moves completely reworked
  • Weapon accuracy/damage table removed
  • Hazard damage revised
  • Mission clock ticks are coarser scale, O2/radiation every 3
  • Ship combat rewritten
  • Revised how ship quirks cause trouble
  • Added section on threats
  • Restructured the flow of the initial sections, started a GM section
  • Clarified unusual fold types
  • Catching a break is now on a 10+ not 12+

Basic Moves Reworked

The biggie is that this is no longer quite so obviously Powered by the Apocalypse. I find it quite challenging to not have an explicit measure of how difficult a task is in action genres, and that kept coming up for me.

What I do love is the move notation (if not the name), so that stays; there's now a core resolution mechanic that's very much like Blades in the Dark's three levels of difficulty (controlled, risky, desperate), and other specialized moves elaborate this.

(This relationship between the core move and the specialized moves is still in the pimply teen phase, but it will be clearer in the next revision.)

There is still an intermediate terminology problem at the seam - rolling 2d6 6-/7-9/10+ is a miss/hit/break, but then there are special names for the things that happen based on the degree of difficulty (succeed, fail, a cost, a disaster). In this design, 'hit/miss/break' is intermediate terminology that should be removed, and the specialized moves should be rewritten in terms of success, failure, costs, disasters, and so on.

Weapon Accuracy Removed

At the same time, I've pruned off one of the signature elements of The Regiment, the 'accuracy of fire' table. This makes sense in a battlefield context, but it was feeling more and more like complexity that wasn't paying for itself here.

Hazard Damage Revised

In its place is simplified weapon and hazard damage, all weapon dice just have a 50/50 chance of causing harm.

Ship Combat Rewritten

Ship weapons now use a different mechanic than the rest of the game, but I think it's simpler than fiddling with AOC. I'm going with the AD&D philosophy here that subsystems can be their own thing mechanically, and this is definitely not primarily a game about ship-to-ship combat (certainly not in the alpha/beta danger levels).

Mission Clock Ticks are Coarser

I like the mission clock, but I'm experimenting with making it coarser. Rather than tracking every few minutes, now the GM just tracks things that take a long time. This makes the bookkeeping chunkier, but I'm curious if this will lead to more GM cognitive load during play, having to decide what is or isn't worth a tick.

Section on Threats

There's now a short section that describes some of the shipboard threats. I think most people probably know what an anaconda is, but I was overdue for fuller descriptions of glass, dut-e-ful zombies, and SKULs.

What to Do With This?

Like v0.3 this is nominally playable, if you're okay with papering over a few cracks in realtime. If you do, or if you feel up for giving it a read, any comments in the PDFs in Google Drive are very welcome!