StriXern: Red Sea Intervention
The year is 77 of the Aeon of Orion (abbrev. A.O.), and humanity has begun the great projects to conquer the Orion-Cygnus arm of the galaxy. In preparation for the new era of exploration, much of humanity has emigrated from the overpopulated Earth and now dwells in the plates, disc-like worlds arranged around a near orbit of Sun in a Dyson swarm. Resources shortages, overpopulation and territorial disputes are seemingly exacerbated by influx of valuables being produced cheaply and cleanly by the plates, causing these habitats to become warzones for the various powers.
Politically the system is split between the militaristic neo-Byzantine and neo-Hellenic nation of the Hegemonia tou Alexandros (or simply, the Hegemonia) and the fiscally powerful Global Thirty-Thirty power bloc formed by the leading economies of Earth. Much of the world is in minor power blocs such as the United Solar Emirates that seek to resist Hegemonia incursions in the Middle East and recapture the Islamic golden age through their plateworld industry, or the upstart Union of Trans-Siberian Commonwealths which has usurped power from a now ecologically devastated Russian Federation (and the other CIS states) and finds itself embroiled with the Hegemonia for control of Crimea.
The remaining habitats in the Solar and countries on Earth are members of the neutral pan-national movement known as the Unaligned Constellation, which is made of former UN states that didn't join one of the large alliances in the wake of its dissolution, primarily lead by the an alliance of the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Japan and their fifty-two shared plateworld modules.
Character generation in StriXern involves first selecting a background for the character from one on the following list:
- Student: High school and college students are almost never what they appear to be, and if they are, never remain that way for long. You have inexperience but get 1 extra Deus Ex Machina.
- Military: Possibly a combatant from another colony or Unaligned Constellation, a supervisor training local defense forces or a mercenary hired from a G33 state-sponsored PMC. Get an extra 3 attribute points.
- Civilian: Soft and a little inexperienced in warfare but potentially a professional working on the campus or surrounding town, you are more skilled than your charges and the military stationed to oversee things at the colony. +3 skill points.
- Volunteer: A tourist, journalist or maybe something more sinister under the guise of the first two, you're removed from the events ungoing but have an outside perspective and contacts. Gains +2 Schema to spend.
After selecting background, characters must have their statistics determined by prioritizing categories between five categories for statistics, represented bellow. They are: attributes, skills, mecha, schema and deus ex machina. After assigning priorities, characters spend their pool of points to each of the categories, matching them to the general concept of their character.
Priority Assignment (First/Second/Third/Fourth/Fifth)
- Attributes: 24/20/17/15/14
- Skills: 6/5/4/3/2
- Mecha: 24/20/17/15/14
- Schema: 10/8/6/4/2
- Deus Ex Machina: 5/4/3/2/1
Attributes are the basic building blocks of your character, representing the basic abilities and aptitudes of your character which are generally applicable to most situations. More specific skills are developed with skills below.
- Power: How physically strong and powerful you are.
- Grace: How good you are at dexterity tasks.
- Smarts: How quick witted you are.
- Knowledge: How knowledgeable and good at research you are in general
- Charisma: How good you are at persuading someone, smoozing and seduction.
- Rhetoric: How good you are in debates, at winning arguments and swaying a crowd.
- Perception: How good you are at spotting the unusual.
- Integrity: How strong willed you are.
Note: Characters have a minimum of 1 point in every attribute (effectively acting as a points tax), and cannot add more than 25% of the points granted by their priority on a single attribute without spending FP.
- Willpower ([Power + Integrity] x Size), Round Down: Because StriXern is a heroic game versus a gritty one, the combination of mental fortitude and physical health are a single attribute. Gunfire, sharp words and particularly traumatic experiences all weaken a character's resolve and may push them towards defeat, although none is more effective than another. Characters may act normally up until their Willpower reaches 0, at which point they can no longer take hostile actions in a confrontation. This does not necessarily mean death, although having a Willpower track filled entirely with physical damage might suggest that as an outcome.
- NOTE: Social and mental influences are additive to the total a character can take before being defeated, but are largely situational. A character who agrees to a ceasefire or gives out after succumbing to mental exhaustion can react violently when betrayed or roused back to their senses, when similar opportunities might not be available for a decapitated character.
- Initiative (Grace + Smarts)/2: Roll 1d10 and add this value. The characters with lower values declare actions first and act on them last.
- Friends (Charisma + Rhetoric)/2: Maintaining solid friendships is difficult for people in wartime, so whatever they do have are especially valued. Characters are allowed to assign PCs or NPCs as their friends, allowing them to spend Deus ex Machina points to both have them perform incredible things (effectively giving another player a point if used this way) or allowing them to rescue another player once per encounter.
- Style (Charisma + Smarts)/2: The number of unique and marketable looks and outfits the character has. Listing these is cool.
Skills are special competencies a character has, representing formal training, higher learning or even instinctive skill. When relevant to a given roll, a skill adds its rating to the given attribute. In most cases, skills have ratings of 1-3, detailed bellow.
- Level 1 (Ability): Skills rated at 1 give situational bonuses limited in scope. Firearms 1 applies to all conventional applications of firearms, such as pistol-whipping with Power + Firearms or shooting with Grace + Firearms. In effect, these are buffers against receiving penalties from unfamiliarity with a given object or subject.
- Level 2 (Complexity): Skills rated at 2 represent broad knowledge and understanding. Firearms 2 allows a character to repair any weapons they have as if they possessed Gunsmith 1, or make use of weapons which are not exactly firearms such as LAW munitions launchers or artillery. The 'Complexity' tier in effect allows a player to argue for alternate skill applicability at a 1-dice penalty in the absence of relevant skills.
- Level 3 (Mastery): Skills rated at 3 represent the apex of human understanding and skill. Level 3 works identically to all lower levels, save that a character may also choose a specialization relevant to their skill that applies an additional +1 bonus in its purview such as Firearms (Pistols), Firearms (Disarming) or Firearms (Creating Obstacles in a Chase Scene).
Mecha points have their own attributes similarly to people- the points do not stack, although a person's skills may cross-apply into their mecha combat pools if relevant.
Additionally, each odd-numbered point allows a unit to choose a number of qualities that add +1 die or a narrative effect when used. Warning: Gimmes are summarily punished.
See also: StriXern: Sample Mecha
The mecha statistics are:
- Melee: The unit's melee power, and ability to press targets into melee combat continuously thanks to superior acceleration (albeit relatively low top speeds).
- Skirmish: The unit's arsenal of fast-attacking, low-damage weapons such as rapid-fire rifles, chest-mounted rotary cannons and light missiles. Skirmish-configured units tend to have verniers and thrusters configured for strafing and flanking.
- Long Range: The unit's stowed weaponry designed for precision attacks or extreme combat ranges, such as beam rifles, anti-ship railguns, heavy missiles, etc, as well as the thruster configurations that allow for quick withdrawal back into optimal combat ranges.
- Parry: Melee defense of any type, including physical or energy shields, defensive drones or something as simple as hardened spurs to deflect blows.
- Defend: General defensive measures to resist skirmish-range weapons such as light cannons and the main weapons of most mecha, such as armor, energy barriers and special coatings.
- Intercept: Anti-missile and anti-beam countermeasures to resist weapons fired from the most extreme ranges, such as anti-beam particulates and CIWS.
- Special: Special features such as AI-controlled and thought-guided drones, advanced C3 suites or thruster systems that produce afterimages with mass. Unlike other attributes, each point provides a special quality rather than each odd-numbered one.
- Pilot: Pilot rating is not a quality of the unit itself, but of the user's skill and familiarity with a specific model, tolerance to the present G-forces, and the quality of support systems like G-suits and performance-enhancing medications to supplement their capabilities. Specific situations (usually any time the unit is damaged or disabled) will require pilot rolls to remain awake, forcibly reboot the machine from the inside, or resist punishing G-forces from performing maneuvers the inertial compensator cannot negate.
Mecha Combat in Brief
Unlike regular combat in this system, combat range matters. Units are typically designed to fight and survive in certain engagement ranges, to certain tolerances for the unknown or unintended. Maintaining optimal engagement spaces for the loadout of a unit is essential to combat.
During the initiative phase, a unit, all characters roll their Initiative value and then get assigned order from highest to lowest. To attack, characters first choose their engagement zone relative to the target, these being Close for Melee, Medium for Skirmish and Distant for Long-Ranged. Melee rolls at +2 dice against Close targets, while Long-Range rolls at +2 dice in Distant range, while Skirmish adds +1 dice in Medium range.
Because characters with lower initiative scores declare actions first, their desired engagement range can easily be discerned by higher-rated characters who can act correspondingly and pre-empt them. When characters attack eachother from different engagement ranges, the higher-initiative character attacks first and decides the initial range. The character who goes after can then either abort their attack and use a different range, or make a pilot roll to close or establish the desired range with a difficulty equal to the difference in initiative scores.
If two characters act on the same turn and attack one another, they must declare simultaneously and make opposed Pilot rolls to establish space relative to one another, with the range going to the winner (and the loser being able to act as if they were lower on the initiative scale). On a tie, the range defaults to Skirmish unless someone tie-breaks with Deus Ex Machina.
Schema are not just the resources of a character but also describe their ambitions and connections in the world. Special ops training could easily be represented by having high skills or attributes as it could be a specific Origin schema, while being wealthy could be represented as Influence in a financial company or Relations with someone who is (such as a parent).
In general gameplay terms, they offer their rating as a bonus to relevant rolls such as using Contacts to enhance an investigation of a scenario or Influence to secure the rental of a boat. They may also offer other options, as detailed bellow.