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Mindjammer RPG: Character Skills and Stunts

November 6, 2013

2201-23_eidolon_engineer_thumbLast week I took a look at occupations in our upcoming Mindjammer 2nd edition roleplaying game. This week I’d like to focus on character skills and stunts.

As you might expect, Mindjammer customises the Fate Core skills list, though to a fairly limited extent. We have a Drive and a Pilot skill; and Unarmed Combat, Ranged Combat, and Melee Combat skills. Burglary is renamed “Intrusion”, and Craft is renamed “Technical”; as well as Knowledge, we have a Science skill. We’ve added a Bureaucracy skill.

And that’s about it. Noticeable by their absence are Leadership and Technopsi from Mindjammer 1st edition; for Leadership, we’ve gone with the Fate Core thinking that Leadership was a bit “meta”, and we’re focussing on the use of skills like Rapport, Empathy, Provoke, and Deceive for leadership activities. What we’ve done with technopsi represents an overall design philosophy for Mindjammer 2nd edition; rather than isolating technopsi activities as a separate skill, technopsi is now one of the various contexts in which you can take actions – so if you have a Mindscape implant, and in some cases certain stunts, then you can use any appropriate skill for technopsi actions. You can use Investigate with your Personal Sensor Array for technopsi sensorview; you can use Will for mindburn; and Pilot or Drive to remote control a vehicle, etc, using the Mindscape. It’s a much more organic approach to Mindscape activities, building them into the game from the ground up, and in play it allows you a lot more flexibility.

For stunts, we’ve aimed as much as possible to follow Fate Core in taking some of the overload off stunts which they had in Fate 3. Starblazer Adventures and Legends of Anglerre in particular put a huge emphasis on stunts – including some very elaborate stunt trees – as part of character advancement, so that as characters advanced, the number and nature of their stunts became overwhelmingly important, and the rulesbooks gave disproportionate space to an ever-increasing list of stunts. We’ve reined that in; with Fate Core‘s extras, we now have a very flexible tool for use in character advancement, far more multidimensional and less onerous. As a result, we’ve flattened the stunt hierarchy, and as much as possible restricted ourselves to the number of pregenerated stunts we’ve provided. In today’s preview, you can see the Technical skill, which has the longest set of stunts out of all the game’s skills (most of which have just a handful). Given that Mindjammer is a science-fiction game, and given the depth of the setting and the variety of actions scientific and technical characters can take, we hope you’ll forgive us – in a sense, Technical stunts are to scientists and technicians what weapons and armour are to military characters – the arsenal they’ll use for cool and game-significant actions.

(Click to open)

(Click to open)

Take a look at those Technical stunts. First, you’ll notice that the stunt families are quite “flat”, without the deep nested prerequisites of 1st edition. That allows characters with only a few stunts to have a decent breadth of ability; you could easily have a technical character who’s a very capable Meditech, Memetic Engineer, Mindscape Engineer, or Starship Engineer, right from the start of play, which keeps your character awesome from the get-go. Where you go after that – well, the pregenerated stunts allow you to broaden your abilities, but we hope you’ll also get into designing your own stunts, and exploring the deeper aspects of your character’s occupations, aspects, cultures, and genotypes – and even maybe eyeing some of those post-human advancement paths…

As a final point, take a look at the “Technical and Tech Index” text box on page 100. There’s a bit of design philosophy there; that text box explains a pretty thorough way of using relative tech indices in play to deepen your use of the Technical skill. If you want to. That last bit is key: all through Mindjammer we’ve tried to present rules and background incrementally, so you can use as much or as little complexity as you want. Mindjammer is a big game; it’s a complete, full-featured science-fiction RPG, with rules for characters, starships, constructs, robots, aliens, cultures, organisations, planets, civilisations, star systems, stellar bodies, alien life, biospheres, ecosystems, astrography, transhumanism, mutations, gear, enhancements, technopsi, trading, salvage, mining, espionage, cultural ops… you get the picture. We’ve tried to include all the rules and a big chunk of background in a single volume, to clear the way for the campaign supplements and setting sourcebooks to come; it’s everything you’ll need in a single volume. But at the same time we’ve tried to structure the book in a way that’s easy to dip into and quick to play – in each chapter, any complexity is always optional, and you can play pretty much with the basic rules in Chapter 2, and maybe some of the extras in the Technology chapter. Then you can add in the extra bits you want for your game, as and when you want them. That Technical text box on page 100 is typical; it’s there if your game is going to rock with that degree of attention paid to Technical skill actions, but completely optional if, say, your game is more about military sci-fi or personal interaction.

That’s it for this week – I hope you’re enjoying what you’re seeing! Next week, we’ll have a look at some of the cool things that are coming up for Mindjammer equipment. Time to fire up that sentient starship character and take his humanoid avatar extra out of stasis!



Let us know if you have any questions, or would like me to talk about something specific in these posts. Drop me a message here, or come and join us at the Mindjammer Google+ Community. See you there!

This week’s artwork is “Eidolon Engineer”, by the awesome Eric Lofgren. Eric’s work features extensively in Mindjammer – The Roleplaying Game, and I’m chuffed to bits to have him on board!

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 7, 2014 12:32 am

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