Sunday, September 9, 2018

Cypher System Session Seven and Friday Starfinder; How One System's Style Bleeds into Another

Slidikin and other beasts from Numenera are sneaking their way in to the campaign.....there's a lot of cool stuff in Numenera, and if ever I will run a prepublished setting, it's going to be this one. I recently received my copies of Numenera: Destiny and Discovery, the massive two-volume second edition of the setting, and in a few weeks or months when I finally find the time to properly read it all and run a campaign, I suspect I will.

Until then, I have my ongoing Ensaria campaign, which is walking a fine line between classic high fantasy and weird science fantasy. This allows me to liberally borrow from sourcebooks for both Numenera and The Strange with impunity.

I don't know yet if my current obsession with Cypher System will last forever, but I have to say I think it's got some very long term prospects.

Meanwhile, Fridays have resumed with Starfinder and we had a more or less full group for once. Running Starfinder before Cypher is a good idea; I spend less time questioning why D&D-style systems have to embrace escalating damage and hit point values, and more time just playing it straight....albeit without minis lately. I'm more or less convinced right now that the best way to enjoy the overall D&D style game (or Starfinder, or anything else) as I want it, at least, is without minis.

I know not everyone agrees; on Wednesday nights, where I run my D&D ongoing Chirak campaign, the entire downstairs is filled with Adventure League games, with GMs who often go through painstaking effort to lay out terrain for carefully modulated adventures. D&D can work great that way, I am sure.....but the sorts of games I run make that really difficult, because I often have no idea what direction the players are going to go....and as such, I have to show up with loads of maps and minis to cover any possibility. Moreover, it seems inevitable that the entire pace/flow of the game changes, and not for the better I feel, when you have to start laying everything out.

So for Starfinder and D&D, although I didn't precisely call it as "short/long" range for terminology purposes, I have dramatically encouraged players to think in terms of more fluid movements. "Can I get to this guy?" is a yes/no situation with closing being more relevant to the general headspace of the story flow; it is not as important for the scenario that "PC A" have to spend two rounds moving to close for an attack than it is that he gets there and makes the attack. Doing it this way made for a better integration of combat and narrative; now only the ridiculously high hit point totals and need to land repeated blows over many rounds get in the way of a smooth experience.

That did, of course, leave me with thoughts on how I bet Starfinder could work great with a health system sort of like Savage Worlds; but even as the thought arises, I still feel like the full experience works best as intended, even if its narratively intrusive at times (well, all the time). The simple fact is, part of Starfinder's charm is watching how much damage the operator, soldier or solarian can manage to dish out in one round, so a system where total damage became more static seems...ah....counter productive to the game's spiritual intent.


Lot's of good inspiration across the board for both Cypher and Starfinder. I'll see if I can post some of it next week!

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