Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tech Trees and Research

I have been playing a lot of Civilization, Alpha Centauri, UFO: AI, and other assorted turn based strategy games lately. I've also been thinking of the old game Syndicate.

I was wondering if anyone has ideas on how to incorporate weapons research into their games. And I know the obvious answer is "just give them the stuff you want them to have!" but that's not going to cut it this time.

Here's a system off the top of my head:

Use the Showdown! point values to determine the cost of weapons/ammunition. Say the PCs want to research some fancy powered armor. A Battle Suit is 12 points, +2 for the Pace, +2 for the Strength bonus, +3 for the +1 Shooting bonus, +3 for the jumping stuff, so 22 points. That's the amount of research points they need to accrue in order to start building Battle Suits. We can assume that at least one prototype is built when research is finished, and to simplify things, the prototypes are reasonably functional (no crippling design flaws).

Research points are acquired via a research team. Each researcher has a d6 in Knowledge (R&D). At a basic level, you're rolling a single d6 for a single researcher; the second researcher adds a Wild Die. A third researcher adds a +1 bonus, and so on up to +4 for 6 researchers. Two more researchers up the R&D die by one type, while another two up the die type by another step. A research team may not exceed 10 members. If two teams of 10 members work on the same project, their Wild Die is upped to a d10.

A project gains consistent research points every session equal to the average number of XP handed out to the group. This is merely an attempt on the designer's part to speed up this process. At the beginning of every session, the research team(s) roll their R&D die; the amount of raises and successes are allocated towards the project each team is assigned to. A failure indicates no progress; a Critical failure subtracts d6 points from the project. A single researcher is assumed to have rolled a Critical Failure if he rolls a 1 on his Skill Die.

Every time a team successfully completes a project, roll a die; on a 5 or 6, the team has advanced their die type by one step, up to a d12. For clarity, this means a team that has advanced to a d12 in R&D with a full complement of 10 members has an effective die type of d12+2, with a +4 bonus and Wild Die.

I know there's a lot of flaws in here but I'm eager to hear what all y'all got. I'd also like the players to have some kind of input on the success of the project, whether that means field tests of prototype equipment, bringing in items to reverse engineer, or rolling the bones in between sessions.

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