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Old 11-03-2009, 10:32 PM   #61
Kelly Pedersen
 
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Default Re: How is GURPS Alpha Centauri.

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Originally Posted by Phoenix42 View Post
things like Shredder pistols are supposed to be inherently useless (who needs a weapon that does 3d6 damage in warfare with enemies wearing 20+ armour?), while the "real" Gauss guns are pretty evil, as they should be.
Well, the Gauss guns do have their limitations. The biggest one is that pesky pi- damage type. Compare, for example, a 4mm Gauss pistol (3d (3) pi-) and a conventional heavy pistol (3d pi+). Against an unarmored target, the Gauss round does an average of 5.25 injury (10.5, divided by 2 for small piercing), and the heavy pistol does 15.75 injury on average (10.5, but multiplied by 1.5 for large piercing). The unmodified numbers do change when you throw in armor, of course: versus a Reflex Jacket (DR 12), the Gauss round, on average, gets 6.5 of penetrating damage, reduced to 3.25 of injury because of the damage type. The heavy pistol, of course, only gets .5 of penetrating damage, increased to .75 injury because of damage type. But the heavy pistol can take advantage of specialized rounds like Armor-Piercing Enhanced Penetrator even at TL 9, which gives it armor divisor 3, and only reduces its damage type to piercing, and brings its average injury up to 6.5.
Throw in the difficulties of servicing and replacing the Gauss weapons (dropped it in the mud and fouled up the barrel? Did you take High TL? No? Too bad! Roll your skill at -5 to repair it!) and you start to see why the colonists only used the Gauss weapons because they were already there, and built others as soon as possible.
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Old 11-03-2009, 11:05 PM   #62
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Default Re: How is GURPS Alpha Centauri.

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Originally Posted by HuManBing View Post
Your points are perfectly valid but you're talking about a hypothetical setting, and many different interpretations are possible.
One approach that works in an RPG setting is to make the University a minor faction, one with only a single base (ideally on an island to give it a little security from the most aggressive human faction). It becomes a kind of academic Hong Kong but if it still does the Science City projects it can lead game in advancement with a single city. (Which of course is the winning strategy for the Single Base Challenge)
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Old 11-04-2009, 06:03 AM   #63
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Default Re: How is GURPS Alpha Centauri.

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Originally Posted by HuManBing View Post
Absolutely. It's definitely possible, but may be more trouble than it's worth.

Then again, Lucasarts managed to somehow make the Evil Galactic Empire look actually pretty decent and sympathetic in the 1995 game TIE Fighter. That game had some inspired writing and I can imagine the job is not one for the faint-hearted! But definitely doable, if your players are willing to buy into the conceit and view the faction through a different lens altogether.

Edit: I guess my avatar may be a slight giveaway, huh? :)
Ah, now you mentioned it ;)

Don't get me wrong - while the Hive are never going to be nice, imho, they are definitely playable. That's what makes them so freakingly frightening - they're ideology is entirely logical and maybe even the most coherent of all the other factions. A Hive character can be truly evil (which is always an interesting roleplaying challenge) while being entirely consistent about it. Humans are, as a whole, flawed, egocentric and instinctive beings, to the extent that most of them are even unaware of their shortcomings. So why give these people a choice or representation when it comes to actions for the good of the collective? If a hive campaign is well-played, it can very well make an excellent setting for character play without the characters actually doing a 1984 on their faction. They don't have to be monsters, on the contrary, they might even think of themselves as the ones doing what is necessary, despite their better instincts. Plus the Hive, like the Imperial Fleet, gives you the chance to get all those old Nazi-type uniforms out the genre cupboard and have Genejack allies as cannon fodder - what more could one want? :)

Kelly:
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Throw in the difficulties of servicing and replacing the Gauss weapons (dropped it in the mud and fouled up the barrel? Did you take High TL? No? Too bad! Roll your skill at -5 to repair it!) and you start to see why the colonists only used the Gauss weapons because they were already there, and built others as soon as possible.
Good point - although I do think that military personnel would be trained in fixing/cleaning their own weapons, even crappy ones like shredder sidearms. I like to think that the reason was slightly different, albeit along the same lines: The shredders were made of carbon composites and plastic, so they are basically suffering from the same faults as the M16, only worse. In order to train people in their use, you need special classes, which lengthens bootcamp-periods and introduces another tricky IQ-based skill, viz. familiarity/specialisation, for grunt soldiers (and lets face it, that never works well); Also, they are flimsy and fragile compared with the Planetmade sturdy equipment. Knock someone over the head with a shredder in close combat, or sit on it by accident, and you're looking at more than just a TL-penalty. And then try to find servicable spare parts. Carbon composites on Planet? With virtually all carbon being cannibalised for farming, and no fossil fuels to speak of at TL8/9, you can easily go to -8 for lack of equipment and supplies as well as extensive damage to a fine object for the repair task. Of course crafty players will find ways round that, but it remains an annoying effect, and that's what it should be.
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Old 11-04-2009, 06:27 AM   #64
vicky_molokh
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Default Re: How is GURPS Alpha Centauri.

Actually, the problem with Hive is that they aren't described in enough detail in the original 'supplement' (i.e. Alpha Centauri 1.0). They might look like utilitarians, but there's more to them.

BTW, I always liked 'President Ya' (sorry, just had to quote the funny translation) for being ascetic. Pretty admirable when it comes to leaders.
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Old 11-04-2009, 07:37 AM   #65
HuManBing
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Default Re: How is GURPS Alpha Centauri.

One final observation about the Hive that struck me is this:

In most real-time strategy games and turn-based strategy games, you are - essentially - playing as an absolute ruler with control over all military, economic, and security powers! Even in games like Civilization, where you can nominally run a Democracy or Capitalist nation, you (the player) are still in charge of production, troop disposition, and so forth. That's a tried and true formula for making a game fun... and it's a valuable insight as to what might make the Hive a cool faction to role-play. Put the players in the driver's seat, and then suddenly a faction with authoritarian leanings becomes full of potential.
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Old 11-04-2009, 08:52 AM   #66
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Default Re: How is GURPS Alpha Centauri.

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Originally Posted by Molokh View Post
Actually, the problem with Hive is that they aren't described in enough detail in the original 'supplement' (i.e. Alpha Centauri 1.0). They might look like utilitarians, but there's more to them.
.
Definitely. They're also nihilists, and wow do they act on it. Morgan is a utilitarian, I would venture, because he always acts according to (his) benefit, but does not completely disavow ethical conceptions of right and wrong per se. But Yang is just beyond that. A utilitarian says that right and wrong depend on the situation, a nihilist says there are no right and wrong, only that which is punished and that which is not. I think that the quotations by Yang say most about the Hive leanings ("what do I care for your suffering?..."). They sound so logical, so obvious and clear-cut, but taken to their full extent, they're completely sociopathic. You gotta admire that :)

There is quite a bit of description, especially when it comes to Yang's personality, in the "beginning" story in the Alpha Centauri file. Takes ages to read, and some of it's over the top, but you really get a feel for Yang, Lal and Zakharov. In fact, it is very interesting to play out the Unity voyage as it is described in that document with all its disasters as a prequel adventure to an Alpha Centauri Planetfall campaign. We did it in our group and it really got a nice feel going.
Has anybody else tried a Unity adventure? I'd be interested to hear how it worked for other groups and constellations.

P.S.: Is having the characters actually play the leaders and then lead the faction actually viable as roleplaying? Because I always had the feel that it would only lead to endless planning and simulation sessions, and not so much actual characterplay as such.
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Old 11-04-2009, 09:42 AM   #67
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Default Re: How is GURPS Alpha Centauri.

I'm not sure all the AC societies actually work if you look at them too closely, at least if you take them at face value.
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Old 11-04-2009, 10:22 AM   #68
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Default Re: How is GURPS Alpha Centauri.

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Egad, I hope not to meet you in a dark multiplayer lobby. I can never seem to get them as fast as I used to be able to in the older games.
Oh, I assure you, I only sound good if you ignore the nine out of ten games where I'm wiped out by the year 0. It's just that when I'm not, I've got tech developement going several centuries ahead of the real world, and I think typically getting more so as I progress.
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Old 11-06-2009, 04:33 PM   #69
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Default Re: How is GURPS Alpha Centauri.

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Originally Posted by martinl View Post
I'm not sure all the AC societies actually work if you look at them too closely, at least if you take them at face value.
Why's that? I mean, yeah, obviously you've got the whole sci-fi bias, and slight utopian/dystopian tendencies, but apart from that, why shouldn't they work? Or what exactly do you consider face value? :)
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