Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I've been busy creating a "Master Document" for the weapons and traits that I'll need for the MEST Narrative advanced rules.  It will also help with the generation of genre documents. One of the benefits is that this document helps me think of what could be possible within the MEST Narrative frame-work so that I can determine interesting powers and traits.

Part of the exercise with the master list of weapons and equipment is to get a sense of what is powerful and what is not.  With the knowledge I'll be able to properly scale the powers of super-hero characters like the Hulk, the Flash, or Captain America.  Of course, I've got my own genre variation of this known as SH2156 which you can see an inkling here: Silmarrimis.  I can't wait to bring in Frenzy, Controller, Ogar, The Black, Futility, and a whole host of other unique creations.

I'm still in process of completing the more outlandish weapons for the document but already I can see that I'll have to consider the following for any super-heroes.
  • Fear.  These guys will have some equivalent of Grit 2 [ typical hero ] to Grit 5 [ Captain America ].  These are big numbers when combined with QA that goes from 3 to 6 for Dr. Doom or Mr. Fantastic.
  • Celerity.  I've created Celerity as a trait to allow characters like the Flash, Quicksilver, or even Spiderman to have more action points.  The thinking is still pretty rough, but I'll make the cost be a multiplier on the total BP worth of a character.  Spiderman would have 3 AP. Quicksilver probably 4 AP and the Flash 5 AP.  Movement rules will need to be identified as well.
  • Armor. Luke Cage and Rhino might have Armor 8+ which can stop a .50-calibre round.  The Hulk gets more armor as he gets angrier; probably start at 10 and +2 per 'Angry' step; it should eventually lead to being Berzerk.
  • Energy.  A character like Iron Man would have the Energize X feature for his armor.  Maybe it starts at AR 8 and goes higher - maybe up to 16.  But then his repulsor cannons may do 6 Damage and as high as 12 ... barely enough to deal with an Angry Hulk.  I'm not sure if I want to introduce energy management here; I'm sure there's an easier way to deal with overloaded usage by Iron Man.
  • Fight.  The majority of the supers from DC and Marvel have tremendous experience in fighting.  Batman/Catman/Huntress, Wolverine, Master of Kung-fu, Daredevil, Elecktra would have these probably at Fight 4 to 6.
  • Shoot.  Characters like the Green Arrow and Hawkeye would have Archer/Shoot 5 or 6.
  • Acrobatics.  Harleyquinn, Spiderman, Angleman would have these around 3 or 4.  Combine that with SPD 5 or greater and these guys become very hard to hit.
  • Magic.  Dr. Strange, Zatanna, and their kind are also very powerful.  I'm sure that there's a general way to bring in magic effects into combat that could make it interesting without being a game breaker.  There's already the HPL Mythos genre (work-in-progress) that is exploring use of the Spell Tables/Cards.  Maybe something like that.
  • Planning.  Many of the brainier heroes like Batman, Mr. Terrific, Dr. Doom, or Mr. Fantastic need to have a way to get the upper hand on the tactical and leadership situation by providing more than just assigning the Obviate, Tactics, or Leadership traits.  At some point those stats will bring in huge differentials in Initiative checks but won't do much for theme.  I'm considering a new trait that will allow mid-game changes .. sort of like a deux ex machina effect.
Anyhow, these are the extremes but should be because of the fact that the supers are the archetypes for those tricks.

To view the work-in-progress for the master document, visit  http://sites.google.com/site/mesttactics/ or just download the document directly from here.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Introducing MEST Tactics

The interminable investigators.

The crafty cultists.
Welcome to the blog for a new tabletop gaming rules system that has been in development for nearly two years.  It's the MEST Tactics rules system.  MEST is the acronym for 'matter, energy, space, and time'; the measurable properties of the known universe!  MEST Tactics [ here now MEST ] was designed to be a universal set of narrative-scale gaming rules.

It is universal because it can be applied to multiple genres ranging from science-fantasy down to 'swords-and-sandals' fantasy.  It is narrative-scale because it can be played with just a handful of miniatures; between 6-12 models for each player in a standard game of 750 BP [ Build Points ].

Some of the key features include a unique dice-pool mechanic designed to limit the number of six-sided dice used, a short but comprehensive actions list, quick-play, opposed rolls for action resolution, reasonably modeled combat attrition with morale, bonus actions, and stream-lined force composition.  Characters are rated in six standard attributes and with an average of 2 traits apiece.  Weapons are assigned to a character depending on its model's sculpt but some weapons and equipment can be acquired free of cost as long as they are uniquely assigned.

Design Goals 

The goals of the game design process were to take the best aspects of other widely available narrative-scale games and distill them to their essences.  The resultant system needed to provide players with enough variety of decisions to make each session interesting.  It needed to handle ranged combat and close combat in a universal manner which could be applied to both black-powder societies as well as to future-wars.  It had to be consistent enough in its design that it should be easy to generate character templates, weapons, equipment, and mission situations.  For example, the same rules for modeling an average human equipped with a bow should be able to model a giant robot equipped with a beam weapon, or maybe a fearsome Lovecraftian horror armed with tentacles.

The Game Play
The player that wins the initiative check at the start of each turn decides who goes first. Depending on the amount of success ('casacades'), that player who goes first may be able to activate 1, 2, or more models. Activation then alternates one model at a time.  Models are provided 2 AP [ Action Points ] each to spend on various actions such as move, attack, hide, detect, suppression fire (if using rate-of-fire weapons), or even to rally themselves or others. Characters may be pushed to get and extra AP now at the cost of being 'delayed' to receive less AP at the start of its next activation.  

Opposed tests are used for both the to-hit and the to-damage tasks; players compare their test scores which are a character attribute plus their dice scores.  The winner of to-hit test scores 'successes' which may 'cascade' into the damage test; increasing the number of dice thrown.  Cascades from damage tests cause wounds to the defending character which becomes KO'd [ 'knocked-out' ] should it receive too many.  So far this is standard fare for a narrative-scale game.  What is interesting is that the attacking character receives one bonus action to use immediately after either successful test.  More so interesting is that the defender may opt to counter-strike and immediately resolve the damage test if the attacker failed to score successes for the hit test ... and receive its own bonus action should that test succeed!

More Information
MEST Tactics is still in the development phase.  There are plans to expand it into many genres; some have already been experimented with.  The good news is the the core rules [ 'MEST.narrative.pdf' ]  have been very stable and are available for play-testing now.  All other files - works-in-progress - are hosted at the MEST Tactics Web site and are ready for download here.