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Yet Another Game System
Yet Another Game System

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The way YAGS handles skills is that each skill check has an associated attribute. Skills aren't always associated with the same attribute (Athletics uses Strength when climbing and Agility when balancing for example), but some skills are.

Currently, combat skills are split between Agility and Dexterity. Brawl (wrestling, punching and knives) uses agility, Melee (swords, maces and shields) uses dexterity.

Looking at it from the point of view of low tech/fantasy characters, a 'warrior' needs good attributes in strength, health, agility and dexterity. A 'thief' needs dexterity (locks and traps) and agility (for cat burglars). A thief (or even a craftsman) would also be quite a good warrior, since melee weapons come off dexterity.

So my thinking is to make Melee an Agility based skill, focusing more on the 'moving around' and speed aspect of hand to hand combat rather than the 'hand-eye coordination side of things. I don't think either necessarily makes more sense than the other, but it probably gives a better breakdown for the type of person who would be good at that attribute.

Warriors will be able to drop the use of Dexterity (though this may still get used for thrown weapons), and 'lock and trap smiths' will no longer have a big advantage when it comes to fighting.

It's not a huge change from a rules perspective, but it could impact character generation quite a bit.
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The one big change made to Yet Another Game System towards the end of last year was a change to how damage and soak worked. Previously, the attacker rolled their Damage and the defender rolled their Soak. The difference between the two is then used to determine how many wounds are caused.

Things have been simplified so that Soak is no longer rolled. Whereas before it defaulted to 12 + d20 for a human (without armour), it is now simply 12. These reduces the number of dice rolls needed in combat, and reduces the randomness a bit.

The side effect is that Soak has dropped by 10.5 points, maybe everything a lot more deadly. To counter this the way melee damage is calculated has been changed as well. Previously, damage was equal to 4 * Strength + d20 (with a bonus from weapon damage). It is now Strength + d20. With an average Strength of 3-4 for warriors, that's dropped damage by 9 to 12 points, balancing things out a bit.

Damage from firearms and other effects have likewise been dropped by 10 points, making them a bit more predictable. It becomes less likely to shoot someone with a gun and do no wounds, because the target rolled a high Soak and you rolled a low Damage.

Another knock on effect of this is that the Half Strength rating for large creatures can now be dropped. This was a kludge to fix the problem that Strength * 4 caused for large creatures. A Horse with a Strength of 10 would be doing a base damage of 40, pretty much guaranteeing an insta-kill from a kick. If a large creature should be doing massive damage, then it can have a bonus damage to simulate this. They already do get a damage bonus (from claws, horns, spikes etc), but it was previously dwarfed by their strength bonus.
#RPG   #freerpgs  
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There are currently five personality traits defined in the YAGS Habisfern campaign setting - Bravery, Chastity, Discipline, Sanity and Temperance. Traits are always considered to be like saving throws - a high trait is good from the point of view of the player, since it allows them to keep control of their character in certain situations. Failing a trait check means the GM may determine how the character acts.

Generally, most trait checks will be designed to be relatively easy - players don't like to be told what their characters are doing all the time. But when the temptation is particularly great, and the situation potentially dire, it can be good to have a way to determine which character's are most likely to do the rational thing.

However, in a warrior based society, where the great enemy is the cold and passionless Ice, high traits can have a social stigma associated with them. A high Chastity or Temperance especially can lead to a bad reputation. Yes, you can play the character that never drinks more than a sip of beer whenever the lord throws a feast, just in case the party is attacked in the night, but you will be viewed with suspicion and may even be considered to be giving deliberate insult to your host.

The special trait is Sanity, which is both a resistance to magic, and a hindrance to learning magic. It can also be sacrificed to give a bonus when learning magical mysteries and runes, so many powerful wizards will be lacking in that which they probably need most.
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Slowly, the original YAGS campaign setting of Habisfern is starting to waken from its six year slumber. I'm working on a new set of mapping tools so I can have a single map for the entire world, and starting to update the campaign encyclopedia.

Since it's all open source (GPL'd, just like YAGS), the setting notes have been moved to GitHub. At some point the conversions need to be run to turn the XML source documents into HTML and PDF to make them readable by those not versed in Docbook-like syntax.

https://github.com/samuelpenn/habisfern
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As part of the YAGS Bestiary I've been thinking about how to represent venomous creatures within the game. Many games implement venom (or poisons, diseases and drugs) as a single save versus poison, which you either succeed or fail. This doesn't feel quite right, for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, it's not very realistic since a lot of venoms take time to have their full effect, and the victim tends to suffer through several stages of symptoms before their die (or not). Secondly, it can mean either sudden death or little or no affect for a PC, all based on a single die roll, which isn't good for the game.

Instead of a single roll then, you make a roll each round over a number of rounds. The base Health difficulty is the Potency of the venom, normally in the range of 40-50 - impossible for most PCs to succeed at. A venom has a list of effect which are applied, and each time you fail you suffer the next effect in the list. The following round, whether you succeed or fail, you make a further check but the difficulty drops by 5 points.

For example, typical effects for an example venom might be Shock / -2 Dex / -2 Agi / Paralysis / Coma / Death.

In this case, a typical adult human is unlikely to die (even if they fail every roll, the 'Death' result is difficulty 15 and they'd be rolling 12 + 1d20 on their Health check). A child or unhealthy person may die, a healthy hero may avoid the Coma or even Paralysis effects - but they won't avoid everything.

A drawn out result gives other PCs a chance to aid the victim. Some effects might be drawn out over minutes, hours or even days instead of rounds, potencies can be much higher (or lower) and the drop rate could be different as well. It also gives an opportunity to try and identify a venom or poison by the effects (either by skill roll, or player knowledge).
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Having watched Skyfall last night, I started thinking about how to handle shooting into a melee in games. YAGS already has some simple rules for this, but it occurred to me that it may be more interesting to split such an action into two parts - firstly, waiting for a good opportunity to fire, and secondly firing. This would seem to be a closer fit to how this is normally portrayed on screen, and allows a more interesting decision than 'should I shoot or not'.

When waiting for an opportunity, you should be able to choose between a risky shot or waiting for a clear shot (which may never arise). In both cases, you make a Guns check (or possibly another skill, such as tactics, or even straight Intelligence) to try and select a clear shot. A careful shot is slow, so you have to wait until the end of the round before making your check. If you fail, then you don't get to shoot. A risky shot is quicker, but if you fail the first check then you shoot anyway and hit a random target (there's always a chance of hitting the right random target).

If you manage to find a clear shot, then there's still a chance of hitting the wrong person, but it's much reduced. Currently this is done by increasing the fumble chance rather than giving a skill penalty. Firing bows into melee should probably be harder than guns due to the slower projectile and therefore greater chance of the targets having moved around, and lasers should be easier.
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Most of the check ins over the last few weeks have been updates to the YAGS Bestiary, a document that hadn't been touched for several years. Previously, actual creature statistics had been only displayed as web pages, but I'm now including them in-line within the document itself. I've also continued the plan of using miniatures for graphics.

I've mostly been concentrating on common animals (since, if these aren't right then there's little chance that more fantastic creatures will feel right), and need to finalise their statistics (and, also, painting the figures which also serves the purpose of clearing my backlog of unpainted lead).

Since the stylesheets haven't really supported in-line creatures before, there's also been a lot of work in getting the stylesheets working for generating the PDFs. There's still a lot of work to do here, and the layout is still somewhat messy.

https://github.com/samuelpenn/yags/tree/master/src/bestiary
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As an experiment I've added the YAGS subversion source repository into GitHub. I'm not sure yet whether I will move to GitHub entirely (I first need to figure out how I fit Git into my regular backups), but at the very least it's given me some visualisation of commits over time.

The commit history goes back about 12 years, to when I was still using CVS. The very first commits were Harn spell lists, for my Harn campaign. Anything before that wasn't in source code control (and was mostly written using Ovation Pro on RISC OS, just before I completely made the move to Linux).

I also seem to make most of my commits on Sunday evenings, between 9pm and 10pm, with the least work done on Tuesdays.
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Currently thinking about whether I should use rocket equations for calculating spaceship movement. Currently, acceleration is simply based on constant mass, which is a big simplification since mass (at least for the first few TLs after space flight) will change significantly as 'fuel' is burnt, changing the performance of the craft.

One possibility is to split mass into three categories - fully fuelled, half fuel and no (less than a third) fuel, and to give three acceleration ratings based on the spacecraft mass at these points. A craft might have an acceleration of 1g when full, 2g at half fuel and 5g when near empty. It's extra complexity, but it feels right.

Working out proper delta-v would require the use of logarithms, but only at design time and this is relatively easy to do with a calculator. Logarithms are already used for working out sizes anyway (+5 size for every ten fold increase in mass is a logarithmic scale - it's just hidden behind words and tables).
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Currently working on tweaking the skills for computer use in Yags. All the computer skills have been merged into a single Computing skill in order to simplify things. There's a low level technique called Scripting, which is a pre-requisite for most of the other techniques (including Programming).

I've also started updating the Computers article, to cope with the new changes, but I need to have a think about how computer intrusion and security should work, and have another play with the difficulties. Previously, breaking into secure computer systems was hard, but could be made easier by exploring other vectors (e.g., dumpster diving and social engineering), and I think I'm going to keep that. I just need to change the skills and tweak the target numbers.
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