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.