Friday, June 29, 2018

MEST v2.x :: Additional Archetypes


Overview

As always, I'm striving to make MEST v2 complete and correct.

Archetypes are basically standard collections of attributes and traits. Common Archetypes are normally what each game session of MEST starts with. The most most basic is the Average Common Archetype where all Attributes are just 2 (average human), and there are no traits assigned.

The most expensive is the Hero Common Archetype which has a whole bunch more. See the image here for the complete table;

The Common Archetypes representing most human or humanoid characters. These haven't changed very much from MEST 1.6x except for maybe their BP costs and some tweaking of traits, especially for the Acrobat. I think the Beasts (Dog, Fiend, Predator, Monster) have had some adjustments as well.

Variant Archetypes

To add variety to each game-session, I introduced Variant Archetypes. Again, these are presumably human or humanoid character types. Therefore I've introduced entries such as Average, Cultist, or Acrobat, Sneaky, and Mystic, Leader. I've created quite a few to cover most situations or settings, being that MEST is a per se "low-magic" or "realistic sci-fi" game system. 

Here's a sample of the provided Variant Archetypes;


Animal Archetypes

For some players with a wide collection of figurines and miniatures, I've added Animal Archetypes. The table is a bit large and in all likelihood incomplete, but it does include entries for Bear, Cave Bear, all sorts of Dogs including Wargs, all sorts of Horse, and even a Komodo Dragon. As I build out more of MEST 2.x I'll probably expand the table just wee bit more, but the idea is to not be complete in the baseline rules since I'll have the genre documents to do that for me.  For example, the Dunjon of Death genre document will include varieties of giant spiders, rodents of unusual size, and maybe a few slimes or molds.

Here's a quick look at the include animal species;

The various animal species available for MEST 2.x. I like the fact that I've got all sorts of dog species listed so that I can differentiate between Wargs, Wolves, and Hounds!

Sophont Archetypes

A Sophont is an intelligent species commonly encountered in science-fiction and fantasy settings. The default sophont for MEST is "human", and most humanoids in MEST are just like what you'd find on television or in movies; humans with make-up otherwise known as "rubber-forehead aliens".

Therefore it wouldn't be unusual to limit alien species in MEST gaming sessions to just the Variant Archetypes and have ALL Klingons be Veteran, Warriors or Brawler, Knife-fighters, with just a few also being Leader, Fighter or Brawler, Brawny.

However, I've decided to list a few common sophont species for quick use. Just like the Animal Archetypes table where this list of Sophont Archetypes is not meant to be complete because each of the genre documents will introduce setting-specific entries. For example, the Gothic Horror genre document will introduce Wampiri ("vampires"), Lycans ("werewolves"), and Ungasumati ("mummies"). 

Here's a quick look at the included sophont species;

The current set of intelligent species included with MEST 2.x. Many of the names are specific to my FYBS role-playing game (I'll create a post later), but some of the entries shown are intuitive such as the Tcho-tcho being Pygmy, Leng or the Verminati being espys for GW's Skaven or Mantic's Verr-Myn.

Custom Archetypes

I wanted to provide a way for players to create their own Archetype, just in case the tables for Variants, Animals, and Sophonts is not enough!

The problem is that the points-costing system I use is very prone to abuse, as is any points-costing system. I've been tweaking and adjusting the system for several years now and I think I've got the numbers pretty much where I want them. 

Here's the gist of the system;
  • All characters have a BP cost which is a combination of all costs of their traits and attributes.
  • Some traits and some attributes are so powerful that they make the character exponentially more effective. Such considerations are REF, FOR, Tactics, and Leadership. 
  • For these traits and attributes, I introduce a Cost Ratio factor [CR]. These are written as +1 or -2.
  • Each CR represents a proportional cost adjustment. +1 CR means that for every 10 BP a character is worth, it increases in cost by +1 BP. So a 100 BP character with +1 CR is worth +10 BP extra; total is 110 BP. Also, a 100 BP character with a -2 CR is worth -2 BP per 10 thus -20 BP less; total is 80 BP.
  • You can think of CRs as fractional factors. Just divide by 10 and add 1.0. So +1 CR is x1.1 and -2 CR is x0.8. Same with +4 CR or -3 CR; these are x1.4 and x0.7 respectively.
You can see how having a spreadsheet or maybe having a very clear, concise process for determining costs will be useful.

Building a Custom Variant Archetype

So, one of the many ways of creating a Custom Archetype is to combine a species template from the Animal Archetype or the Sophont Archetype tables with an entry from the Variant Archetype table.

Let's combine the Brute Sophont with the Brawler Variant. Here's both templates next to each other; take note of the last two columns for dBP ("delta build-points") and CR ("cost ratio").

We'll combine these two templates.

Steps
  1. The first step is to add the dBP from both templates together. This makes +26 dBP plus +25 dBP for 51 dBP Total.
  2. The second step is to note the CRs and order them from highest to lowest. So, its +1 CR and then -2 CR.
  3. The third step is to adjust the dBP Total using the CRs in order. First is +1 CR. This means for each 10 dBP, adjust the cost by +1 BP. For 51 dBP this is +5 BP, causing a new total of 56 dBP. Second is the -2 CR. This means for each 10 dBP, adjust the cost by -2 BP. For 56 dBP this is -10 BP, causing a final cost of 46 BP.
Here's the above in picture form:

Math. How does it work?

For people with calculators, we can just convert the CRs into decimal factors by dividing each by 10 and then adding 1.0. So +1 CR becomes 0.1 plus 1.0 = 1.1. And -2 CR becomes -0.2 plus 1.0 = 0.8. Multiply both together 1.1 x 0.8 = 0.88. That factor is multiplied against the Total dBP of 51 making (51 x 0.88) = 45 BP.

The difference of 1 BP between the two methods is small enough to ignore during game-play because players are allowed to have upwards of 25 BP differences into totals for their Assemblies.

Anyhow, we'll call this combination of Brute + Brawler maybe "Brute Brawler". If we'd add Leap, Claws, Bite, and Detect, it could maybe become a Kzinti in "rage mode".

Other Custom Archetypes

I've included rules for creating other archetypes as well. I've got one for creating new Sophont species and another for creating new Animal species (or Sophonts, or whatever). 

Tables for generating new Sophont Archetypes.

Tables for generating entirely new Custom Archetypes. These can be used for crating new Animals and new Sophont species.


Traits Lists

Lastly, I've decided to make the most common Character Traits become available. This is sort of open-ended; I'd rather that any new archetypes don't use more than few beyond whichever was used for the creation of Variants, Sophonts, or Frames. Use at your own risk!

Here's the pick-and-choose list for traits. Go wacky and make things unbalanced if you'd like.

Finishing the Kzinti

Above we've created the Brute Brawler Archetype. It's 46 BP using +51 dBP and CR 0.88. Let's make it represent a Kzinti from Larry Niven's Kzin-Man Wars by adding Leap, Detect, Claws, and Bite. And for theme, we'll also add [Berserker]. 

We can get those traits and their values from the Character Traits List above.

Bite is +9 dBP
Claws is +3 dBP
Leap is +8 dBP
Detect is +5 dBP
[Berserker] is -2 dBP and -1 CR
Brute Brawler is +51 dBP

Total is 74 dBP.

Final Cost is 74 x 0.88 x 0.9 = 52 BP

And there you have it! 

The Kzinti Write-up 

Using the MEST v2.x recommended format, the Kzinti write-up looks like this:

Kzinti 402|044|424
Brute Brawler (+Bite, +Claws, +Leap, +Detect, +[Berserker])
[Beast+][Berserker]. Bite. Brawl. Brawn. Claws. Detect. Leap.
52 BP /+74 dBP -2 CR

The top series of numbers is CCA RCA REF | INT POW STR | FOR MOV SIZ in that order.