Resource Expenditure in Star Frontiers

Drammattex's picture
Drammattex
October 13, 2011 - 5:14pm
Hey all. I'm brand new to the forum and site, and I'm absolutely loving everything I see here. 
I'm going through the Alpha Dawn rules and through The Star Frontiersman. Here's my question:

It seems as though several weapons offer options to deal additional damage by using up SEUs. Beam weapons, for instance. A character could do some devastating damage by turning that weapon way up and letting loose. Obviously this expends SEUs and characters will have to take a turn to reload when they use up a clip. Apart from the cost of equipment, are there any restrictions in place that keep characters from toting around essentially unlimited ammo and simply maxing out their damage on every shot? Since ammo is relatively light in Star Frontiers, it doesn't seem like it would weigh a character down too much. Is this more of a GM thing ("Hey, you can't carry that much ammo," "You've only been assigned x amount," etc,) or is there something I'm missing in the rules?

It seems like tracking that ammo is part of the game, knowing when to be conservative with it and knowing when you want to let loose.

Thanks!
Comments:

jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 13, 2011 - 5:54pm
One house rule from a game i played in was that any combination of grenades and clips that added up to ten equalled 1 kg. I thought that was a reasonable change and prevented people carrying 50 Grenades. Thing to remember is that anything the PC's can do the NPCs can do. Also changing clips takes you out of the fight for a turn. That's a whole turn the NPCs are blazing away. Jacking a laser pistol up 10 is appealing but at level 1 with a 35%chance to hit and a 2 rate of fire its not certain to get them anywhere. After a couple of combats they'll learn some power management real quick. Though there will be times when a player sets his laser rifle to 20 and takes careful aim and takes out an enemy with one shot.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Drammattex's picture
Drammattex
October 13, 2011 - 8:35pm
Cool. This gives me some good ideas of how to run it in general. I'll probably modulate the ammo depending on the mission, resources at hand, etc. Right now, having only read the rules, it's all theory. Can't wait to actually get playing. 

Loving The Star Frontiersman!

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
October 14, 2011 - 7:41am
Tracking character, vehicle, spaceship ammo is part of my games. Having limited resources gives the frontier a gritty feel. It's a "frontier" after all, you have only what you bring with you. 

What makes PC's powerful in SF is the gear they carry. A PC with an anti-shock implant, skeinsuit, albedo screen, laser rifle and 100 SEU backpack is a potent threat to your NPC hordes. I try to give out gear sparingly as they increase their skill levels. This includes gaining access to spaceships. Starting level characters ride the monorail, book passage on spaceliners, etc. 

Tell us how your games run, we'd love to hear!

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
October 14, 2011 - 7:50am
Just realized if you want more damage with less ammo consider allowing the sniper rifles from the Star Frontiersman. Check out the subject index.

House Rule: Characters of Military PSA may multiply their weapons skill level times the damage rolled, but only if he takes two turns doing nothing but aiming.

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
October 14, 2011 - 9:29am
Welcome to our corner of the Frontier!

"Apart from the cost of equipment, are there any restrictions in place that keep characters from toting around essentially unlimited ammo and simply maxing out their damage on every shot? Since ammo is relatively light in Star Frontiers, it doesn't seem like it would weigh a character down too much. "

Encumbrance Rules.

A character may carry as many kg as 1/2 the STR score, i.e. a 60STR permits 30kg carried. While the rulebokks list mass for the power beltpack and backpacks, they list the powerclips as "massless"...to which I house rule that 5 magazines or grenades (or any combination thereof) masses one kg.

Encumbrance is a wonderful rule in many a game, it really works to prevent the monty haul syndrome. It doesn't take much to encumber a character, especially those that are carrying toolkits (10-12kg per kit). Once a character breaks the ½STR limit, their movement rates get halved. If their encumbrance reaches full STR score, they can no longer move at all until they drop enough "stuff" to get below their STR score.

Even in the KH scenarios (zero gravity), encumbrance still plays a role. While a character can double their carrying capacity in such environments (i.e. encumbrance isn't just weight, it's also bulk/movement restrictions from additional "stuff"), the ½DEX/RS modifiers really impede any benefit from carrying that extra "stuff".
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
October 14, 2011 - 9:42am
Hrm... I have never had to deal with encumbered rules.

Drammattex's picture
Drammattex
October 14, 2011 - 10:13am
Thanks, folks! I'm totally with you on tracking ammo, w00t, and for all the reasons you stated. It looks like I'm not missing anything here: the amount of resources the PCs have is really something to be modulated by the GM. Which is totally fine. Just wanted to find out if there were any specific rules or restrictions attached beyond, heh, "common sense." And in all honesty, I prefer a common sense ruling to a mechanical one. That's why, after sorting through Alternity, d20 Future, and a few others, I've settled on Star Frontiers. The rules are basic but inclusive, and easily adjudicated. There aren't gigantic, bulky volumes of mechanics to remember; instead, there's the light, modular touch of The Star Frontiersman (which, I'll say again, is fracking _awesome_).

As I've been reading through the rules I've had a few ideas I'd like to put into play. D&D 4e has been a good teacher for me in terms of implementing balance, and I may borrow some 4e-isms for my Star Frontiers game. For instance, I may standardize movement and turn structure somewhat as per D&D 4e. I like the balance there, and it's actually quite close to the way the original Star Frontiers rules work. Surprisingly similar in many regards.

Some fiddly bits I plan to use: I'm going to use little bowls of tokens for ammo. When the players use it, they slide out how much ammo they're using and drop them in the bowl. I think this will help my players get a good tactile sense of how much they have (and as you said, w00t, a fun part of this game is gauging that resource; this would make it more meaningful for them, I think).

Other fiddly bits: Since Star Frontiers makes a "to hit" distinction based on whether you're standing still, walking, or running, I'll place markers beneath the characters/creatures to indicate which one they're doing on their turn. Probably green for running, yellow for dodging. Maybe red for standing still if necessary but I'll try to avoid it.

I'm only on The Star Frontiersman #2 right now, but I love a lot of the optional rules that have been presented in the first two issues and at the end of Alpha Dawn, and will probably use all of them. Another thing I'm grateful that D&D 4e has put in the collective gaming consciousness is the concept of half hit points meaning "bloodied," and that state having certain effects on characters and creatures: Since Star Frontiers characters move at half speed when at half stamina, and since the cool hit location rules in The Star Frontiersman #2 rely on creatures suffering adverse effects when hit for half their stamina (i.e. "their bloodied value"), it's helpful for me--and undoubtedly for my players--that "bloodied" has been part of the games they've played over the past few years. It makes those rules easier for me to remember and apply.

That said, I plan to push for deep characters and meaningful stories in my games... interspersed with exciting tactical combat from time to time. :-)

Drammattex's picture
Drammattex
October 14, 2011 - 10:11am
Shadow Shack wrote:
Encumbrance is a wonderful rule in many a game, it really works to prevent the monty haul syndrome.
Thanks, Shadow! Heh, I'd been looking over those rules a few nights ago, but noticed that clips were light enough that a character could carry _a lot_ of them about without having a problem. That's sort of what prompted me to come here. I wanted to see if there were any spacial type restrictions listed, rather than just mass.

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
October 14, 2011 - 10:14am
Then you never refereed the Crash on Volturnus module with a small group. Smile Just carrying the PC's basic equipment plus the stuff from the survival pack and items they picked up onboard the Serena Dawn almost always puts one or more of the PC over the 1/2 STR limit and makes them encumbered, usually from having to tote around the various toolkits as Shadow Shack mentioned. 

The equipment in the Survival Pack alone weighs 13 kg for the items given acutal masses in the equipment list (remember 1 liter of water = 1 kg).  Toss in a 10kg tool kit, some extra water from an unused survival pack, all the extra rations, their skiensuit, and the odd weapon they picked up and you're starting to look at 25+ kg which starts to make some of the characters encumbered.  Usually this means that the Military PSA types (who don't have toolkits) end up as pack mules for the Tech and Bio-social PSA characters to carry some of their gear to even out the load.
Ad Astra Per Ardua!
Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
Managing Editor - The Star Frontiersman Magazine

Drammattex's picture
Drammattex
October 14, 2011 - 10:52am
TerlObar wrote:
Then you never refereed the Crash on Volturnus module with a small group. Smile
Not yet! So far I've only read through it. But this makes good sense. Sounds like things are balanced nicely in this regard once you add the other equipment. I think I'll have a much better perspective on it once the players roll up some characters and start buying equipment. So excited! :-D

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
October 14, 2011 - 10:54am
Drammattex, combining 4e and SF is great! 
I have not used miniatures or chits to play SF in a long time... :-)
Perhaps you could take some notes and submit "Running SF with 4e combat rules" or something to the fanzine? 

I started a SF>4e conversion around here somewhere.... can't find it at the moment. :-/ If you want I'll try and dig it up. I have the races mostly done. 

SFman #2, long ways to go! I'm sure you'll detect the evolution of the fanzine, it's been a great run and continues to get better and better imo. If you want print copies check out the DwD site.

I've now adopted, "Well fiddly bits!" for my grumpy tech character whenever she can't fix something.  lol

Lastly, engaging and exploratory combats can lead to meaningful stories that build "deep" characters. :-) 




Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
October 14, 2011 - 10:55am
Roll up a new character here; http://www.starfrontiers.us/character

(Tab at the top of the site)

...one day I'll have all the SFman races listed.

Deryn_Rys's picture
Deryn_Rys
October 14, 2011 - 11:15am
I think that in addition to the standard encumbrance rules a little common sense rule that we have always used is to add a little column to the equipment list known as location. A player must determine where he is carrying every peace of equipment on his person and common sense dictates you can't carry six rifles with shoulder straps if you only have two shoulders (now someone is going to try to justify this....I can sense it). By asking players to justify where they are carrying equipment it starts to make them think realistically about exactly what they can carry.
"Hey guys I wonder what this does"-Famous last words
"Hey guys, I think it's friendly." -Famous last words
"You go on ahead, I'll catch up." -Famous last words
"Did you here that?" -Famous last words

Drammattex's picture
Drammattex
October 14, 2011 - 11:27am
w00t wrote:
Perhaps you could take some notes and submit "Running SF with 4e combat rules" or something to the fanzine?
Funny you should say! I was considering exactly that (that is, if I don't find that article already written somewhere in the next 15 issues). Truth be told, I've been looking for a good sf system for a long time. I've been lazy about it, but it's been a constant desire. For a while I considered building a sf game from 4e mechanics, but I gave up that idea after actually building a 4e class. Even in 4e where damage is relatively standardized (depending on role), balancing out interesting effects--and making those effects different and interesting enough across several classes--is _hard_.

I had an old copy of Star Frontiers on my shelf, but hadn't ventured to read it. My cousin and I played once or twice in the early '80s, but I couldn't remember much about it. When I moved in August, I found it on the shelf, bagged the chits, and threw away the broken box. With the books sitting there in full exposure I finally picked them up and started reading through them.

What I'd wanted from a sf game was sort of what D&D was to fantasy, especially in the old days: a system loose enough to tell whatever kind of story you wanted, where you didn't feel you were playing it wrong if you didn't use the default setting. Something where you could freely customize and invent without tripping over rules.

I've been playing a lot of indie RPGs lately (Kagematsu, Fiasco, Dogs in the Vineyard, Dread), and I love games that don't use a grid. But there's a part of me that loves to throw down a tactical fight on occasion. So I wanted a sf system that could accommodate that as well (also... I may or may not have bought some Dwarven Forge sf sets that may or may not have been sitting unopened in my closet for the past few years...). Thus, I was very surprised to find how incredibly similar Star Frontiers combat is to D&D 4e combat. Looking at the example of cover in the original book--it looks just like all the modern definitions. What can you do on your turn? You can move, you can attack, and perhaps do something small. Just like the D&D of today. I'd love to see your Star Frontiers 4e conversion if you find it!

Also, I did purchase print copies of Alpha Dawn, Knight Hawks, Gamma Dawn, and Star Frontiersman #1 from the DwD site. I probably didn't need them in print, but I wanted to give DwD some money after downloading the incredibly impressive, high quality stuff that you guys have done here. Plus, when I get the game started, print resources will be useful for the players. :-D

Drammattex's picture
Drammattex
October 14, 2011 - 11:29am
Deryn_Rys wrote:
I think that in addition to the standard encumbrance rules a little common sense rule that we have always used is to add a little column to the equipment list known as location. A player must determine where he is carrying every peace of equipment on his person and common sense dictates you can't carry six rifles with shoulder straps if you only have two shoulders (now someone is going to try to justify this....I can sense it). By asking players to justify where they are carrying equipment it starts to make them think realistically about exactly what they can carry.
Awesome! I was thinking about this the other day, wondering if I would encounter an article on it in The Star Frontiersman. So many things I think of, The Star Frontiersman has already printed. It's psychic, I tell you.

jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 14, 2011 - 11:53am
Thought occurred to me, if your going to use chits to track ammo I think I'd want to raid a Risk game for the Roman Numeral pieces- having those on hand will simplify the process I would think. Also don't forget changing SEU settings takes time.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
October 14, 2011 - 12:28pm
For those of you who want a complete (or at least nearly complete) Star Frontiers to 4e conversion jump over to the This is My Game blog and do a search for "Skinning the Frontier".  Deadorcs, one of the bloggers there, has done a nearly full conversion of Star Frontiers to the 4e system, everything from stats to races to classes to feats to equipment and weapons.  I've never played 4e (or anything beyond 2e AD&D) myself but looking over what he has done and following D&D discussions and blogs other places he seems to have done an excellent job. 
Ad Astra Per Ardua!
Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
Managing Editor - The Star Frontiersman Magazine

Drammattex's picture
Drammattex
October 14, 2011 - 1:01pm
Very cool, TerlObar. Deadorcs put a lot of work into that conversion and it looks very nice! Well done.

For so long I was looking for a 4e conversion just like that, but man--after spending some time with the Alpha Dawn set and The Star Frontiersman I think I've fallen back in love with the loose mechanics of the olden days. Especially with those light mechanical tweaks like Edges/Flaws.

I've enjoyed every edition of D&D I've played, and I've played all of them (okay, I never played the white box). Each has its own strengths, its own fans, its own detractors. 4e concentrates on game balance, so it's a useful model for me when scaling stuff.

Provided nobody beats me to the punch, I'll do an article for The Star Frontiersman sometime in 2012 incorporating a few of the 4e-isms I'm using to adjust tactical combat. Ultimately they'd be very light add-ons. I have a lot of experimentation to do.

Even farther off-topic: what's this I'm hearing about "Frontier Space?" I take it this is an entirely different system that has a lot in common with Star Frontiers? (I should probably start another thread for that, huh?).

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
October 14, 2011 - 1:06pm
Great site!
Someone should put that stuff in a single PDF. :-)

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
October 14, 2011 - 1:12pm
Frontier Space(TM) is an upcoming RPG based on the d00 System(TM). Based on what you like about RPG's it could be the modern game for you! haha!

Bill Logan and I are the developers. Not much is public at this point, but we are looking for play test groups. I think the DwD site has an option to become a member and check the playtest button, but you can also PM me. 

I think a bit was announced in the AIF product and you can see one of the covers. :-/







Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
October 14, 2011 - 1:13pm
Good golly this thread took off...

Drammattex wrote:
Thanks, Shadow! Heh, I'd been looking over those rules a few nights ago, but noticed that clips were light enough that a character could carry _a lot_ of them about without having a problem. That's sort of what prompted me to come here. I wanted to see if there were any spacial type restrictions listed, rather than just mass.

One restriction, per se --- players that like to use maximum charge shots will be reloading frequently. A pair of 10d10 pistol shots or a single 20d10 rifle shot means they'll be reloading during the next combat turn instead of shooting, and that makes for a PRIME target that the bad guys will shoot at: "Hey, that guy's fiddling with his ammo clip...he won't be shooting back at me!!!"

Of course the obvious answer here is to carry more guns, but that infringes on encumbrance more than ammo.
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Drammattex's picture
Drammattex
October 14, 2011 - 1:17pm
Excellent. Thank you for the info (both of you)!

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
October 14, 2011 - 1:19pm
Deryn_Rys wrote:
I think that in addition to the standard encumbrance rules a little common sense rule that we have always used is to add a little column to the equipment list known as location. A player must determine where he is carrying every peace of equipment on his person and common sense dictates you can't carry six rifles with shoulder straps if you only have two shoulders (now someone is going to try to justify this....I can sense it). By asking players to justify where they are carrying equipment it starts to make them think realistically about exactly what they can carry.

Ah, the nefarious "backpack that conveniently has what I'm looking for right on top" syndrome. Wink

And, without further adieu --- the dreaded justification: you can carry six rifles slung over one shoulder. Just don't expect to have much movement in that arm...considering the hand will be needed to secure all six slings so said rifles aren't sliding off said shoulder. Yeah, just try aiming a pistol with that arm as all six rifles come sliding off the shoulder...

But I have utilized similar location rules as well and appreciate them.
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Belaris's picture
Belaris
January 1, 2012 - 6:10pm
I would suggest more combat than you would think necessary, but my players all like the military realism base.  Nothing like a nice restaurant dinner-turned-shootout to warm the blood in the afternoon Tongue out.  Plus that was the one time I made them run from a fight!  When in doubt, give your mooks gas masks, black uniforms, and smoke grenades in underslung grenade launchers.  

All tales aside, combat is an excellent plot exposition when done tactfully and shown to have consequences.  A shootout in a public park will get the attention of police far faster than a back alley scuffle with knives, but both can accomplish the same plot purpose if planned out right.  

Oh right, location rules.  I have them state where specific weapons are (pistol in the boot, knife up the sleeve, etc) and equipment that could conceivably be needed in a time crunch situation.  Everything else is in a jumble in a bag as far as I'm concerned.  An exception is anything illegal, from smuggled goods to silencers.  I keep personal tabs as to where those are, but have to be careful not to mention them too much.  My players should remember what's illegal and hide it if they want to keep it.

jedion357's picture
jedion357
January 4, 2012 - 6:09am
@Belarus: "I love the smell of napalm in the morning!" -Kilgore.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

AZ_GAMER's picture
AZ_GAMER
January 4, 2012 - 4:39pm
Belaris has a great idea for a GM/referee aide. A sihouette diagram of players where specific locations can be noted for equipment, weapons, etc. That way if the ref has a scenario where he needs to know just where something is on a player to determine difficulty rolls or whether an act is even plausible, the ref will know from the chart where his people are packing what

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
January 4, 2012 - 8:32pm
AZ_GAMER wrote:
Belaris has a great idea for a GM/referee aide. A sihouette diagram of players where specific locations can be noted for equipment, weapons, etc. That way if the ref has a scenario where he needs to know just where something is on a player to determine difficulty rolls or whether an act is even plausible, the ref will know from the chart where his people are packing what

Excellent. We could use the Ablative Damage sheets, add a few notes like, "backpack", "pouch", "duffle bag", etc. Perhaps @Belarus could do a short write-up for the fanzine. 

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
January 4, 2012 - 8:39pm
Oh, and include a mechanic for damage hitting various carried gear. At least, a less math-heavy mechanic than presented in "A Shot in the Arm". (Note to self, when remastering this article, include an optional new mechanic.)

AZ_GAMER's picture
AZ_GAMER
January 5, 2012 - 12:10am
when a character wants to change location of an item, for example they just notify the ref that they are taking their vibro knife & sheath off of their right side utlility belt and strapping it onto their right hip. Ref then notes the change on the sheet. I imagine the sheet having 5 or 6 silhouttes of PC's so that the ref can look at the whole party in one glance at the sheet.

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
January 5, 2012 - 6:58am
Cards would work as well. Use two card decks, one for location and one for items
Place the item cards under the appropriate location card.

Could even use as a mechanic, for instance; Referee, "As you turned to run away a stray beam hits your backpack. Without looking, draw two random cards from the backpack, the first item is destroyed the second item take 5STA points of damage."