The whole time I was reading the series, I felt like there was potential for a RPG to be based on this setting. It has all the essentials - an easy to sum up background, potential for fun quirky characters, and a familiar enough feel to get the uninitiated in to it. Keep this last point in mind while I tell this next part...
|Yep, this gets complicated....|
While I had thought about a Black Ocean game, I hadn't gone past the very basic framework of an adventure. I hadn't thought about the game system, or any of the details. Once my 2 PC's picked character types, I made up some stats for each and sent them to the players to customize.
It's hard to sum up an universe created over 8 books in to a 2 paragraph email, but that's what I did. Surprisingly, my players stayed mostly within the framework of the universe and the archetypes of their characters. The impressive part of this is that neither of them had read any of the source material, I was the only one to have read any of it.
Being familiar with the D6 Star Wars game we had been playing, I based my system very loosely on this.
I picked skills relevant to each player type and gave them starting values. To try to keep the game from getting too crunchy on the numbers, outside of the named skills, everything else starts as 1d6. So if a player wants to try something, just roll a die and see what happens. The skills that seemed most essential to that character started at 2d6.
Challenges are broken down in to difficulties. To do something easy, roll a 3 or better. So for those "everything else" rolls, players have a 50% chance of success. If it's a skill they possess, they'll succeed 97% of the time. These are the types of tasks that the average person can do most of the time untrained, and that people who are trained to do them do many many times in a day. An example would be the pilot character coming in for a landing in good weather.
|Numbers are fun!|
Next step up needs a 9 or better to succeed. At this point only 28% of 2d6 rolls will make it. Landing the ship in bad weather while running on auxiliary power only.
Difficulties continue to increase by 3 as things get harder and harder. At 12, less than 3% of unmodified 2d6 rolls will make it. - landing in bad weather with aux power only and 6 ships shooting at you.
A failure on a roll doesn't mean the end though. It just means there are some consequences to the action - in the landing example, maybe the ship is damaged and needs repair before it can fly again. While you need a bit of danger to keep things tense enough, I wanted the players to be willing to try goofy stuff and experiment with the world knowing they wouldn't die at the first bad roll.
Things went well with some fun role-plays from my players, some of which I'll try to get to another post about soon, as well as some of the background I gave them. I'm looking forward to our next Star Wars session, but I also hope we get to return to the Black Ocean some time soon.
Questions about the game? Let me know in the comments.