Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 166: System Swap

Main Topic

What do we mean by system swapping? Well the idea is if we put this all together in say 5e what would it look like in something like D6 Space or Gumshoe? What are things that really matter for those systems and what do they change or bring to the forefront of the game? 

We have been thinking about the setup in the lens of Savage Worlds. While most of us are not super knowledgeable on the system. But what would we do if we did other game systems for this. 

Zen’s Systems- 

So I am going to go with 2 different systems that are very different from each other and from the base system for the setting. I am going to go with Fate as well as the system from Star Frontiers. 

  • Fate: Well what are the big things that Fate does well. Player agency and proactive protagonists are hallmarks of Fate. The system is very story driven but has a bit of crunch if you push it. Also the system is able to add new things pretty easily. Psionics can be bolted on as well as ship combat things. Aspects make some things super easy to just do without having to get deep in redesigning the system to work in the framework we have laid out so far. 
  • Star Frontiers: So this system is a lot more pulpy then some. Savage Worlds has that built into it as well. That was why I thought this could be kind of adjacent. The system wants players to be explorers of worlds. Since the ship is so big I thought it could draw that in as a bigger thing if that is something you want to do. The system is a simple d100 for most things so that makes it pretty easy to use. The idea of occupations is also a way to fill some of the roles we have discussed in different episodes. You can read more about the Star Frontiers system in the Card Catalog entry found here

Joules’s Systems-

  • Savage Worlds: Savage worlds mechanics tend to be very swingy.  And when uncertainty and worry is part of the setting the mechanics can really help set the mood.  Its open enough that you can pretty much come up with rules and mechanics for whatever kind of character you have.  And honestly, there’s a lot of “risk vs reward” baked in which really ties in well to a post apocalyptic setting.  Running a game in this system, think Mad Max crossed with Erol Flynn.
  • Dread: If you want to stress the heck out of everyone, including those who aren’t even playing the game but are in the house, Dread is a hell of a system.  No dice, just a jenga tower.  You build your characters based on a questionnaire system and background system similar to fate.  And here’s the thing, when you’re doing something your character would know how to do, you just do it.  However if you’re uncertain, taking a risk, or operating outside of your wheelhouse, you pull a brick.  It really heightens the drama where folks will do everything to limit the number of pulls.  Cause if you topple the tower? GNC.  This wouldn’t be good for a long form campaign, but for a one shot?   It will definitely hold attention, that’s for sure.

Guard’s Systems-

I decided to use two systems that encapsulate two different approaches to gaming, separated by over a decade and a half. The FASERIP system developed for Marvel Super Heroes, Buck Rogers, and the “second edition” of Star Frontiers and the d20 system from Wizards of the Coast’s 90s and early 2000s. 

  • FASERIP. The venerable FASERIP system was the basis for the old TSR Marvel Super Heroes Game, and even the later Star Frontiers revamp in Zebulon’s Guide, but it persists as a widowed system. Why would I use it for something like the Edenship? It has all the weird abilities I could ever want to use allowing a quick and easy psionics, alien, and high tech application by GM action. The advancement can be pretty ponderous, but that is okay for a post apocalyptic setting where you are mostly human. It provides a resolution system that uses a percentile system but has a green-yellow-red scale of success that makes it easier to adjudicate on the fly. On the downside, it is still a pulpy or heroic system that encourages big actions and big results that could cut against the idea of the hard scrabble underpinnings of the Edenship. The biggest lift for a GM here is defining the contours of the characters to mold the FASERIP system into a less superheroic style. For more on FASERIP, check out the Card Catalog series of posts about using it for a superheroic campaign
  • d20 Future. The D20 OGL style system is rightly critiqued as being at times ponderous and nitpicky in ways that no game games approach aside from D&D 3.X and Pathfinder 1E. This is exactly why it can make for a great post apocalyptic engine. It provides an importance of minutia and a resource management system at a meta level by requiring players to manage all of the fiddly bits and sliders of chargen. Using the d20 Future book that is sadly not part of the OGL, a combination of the work for The Wasteland and Genetech campaigns makes it easy to put the rough mechanical frameworks in place. The upside of the system is that it has a robust engine with a lot of support for a GM’s dilemmas including adjudication and optional rules on top of the nitty-gritty resource management that may be utilized at all levels. The downside is that it is a level based game that has a linear progression requiring the GM to think more seriously about the balance of power between NPCs and PCs. 

Closing remarks 

Zendead – Raising Dion This show was so cool. I loved so much of it. I wish there had been more of it but it has a total of 2 seasons and 8 episodes per season. There is so much in the show. Commentary on issues that are very dear to me. So please go and watch this show worth every minute that we can give it. 

Joules – Cutie Honey.  Old School anime.  It’s hilarious and silly and has some of the goofiest sci/fi & magic girl situations.

Guard-a-Manger – Mission to Mars. Buzz Aldrin has never stopped looking to the stars. In Mission to Mars, he lays out how he sees a viable and achievable plan to not only have an astronaut reach Mars, but how to achieve a habitat there. Whether you agree with all of the conclusions or methods, it is a thought provoking book and begs the question of why we don’t try harder to return to the stars. 

Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae

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