While I’m waiting for the first playtesting of the SAGE system to start I’ve had some ideas for a new system and game. Or possibly SAGE 2, with a different setting. I’ve been looking into investigation games and trying to think of a way I could use the system to make investigation more fun. So far the only thoughts I’ve had are things the GM can do to make it more fun. I’m still a bit stuck on how the system could help, other than just not getting in the way.

The setting I’ve been thinking about is inspired greatly by one of Peter Hamilton’s ongoing space opera series (the 6th book of which just came out last week while I was on vacation). Play would focus on far-future investigation, infiltration, and, of course, combat, with the characters being government operatives. Thinking about it I realized it would have some post-humanist stuff too, with biotechnology, nanotechnology, and so on. Ghost in the Shell and a couple of Neal Asher’s books are also giving me ideas for where to go with it.

System-wise, there are a few things from the SAGE system that I may keep. I like the damage system, with its dramatic focus rather than hit points or health levels. If playtesting shows it to work, I’ll probably use it in this system as well. The complications setup, which ended up working similarly to Smallville’s system, I will be using as well, though there will be a couple changes. I’m thinking that in addition to the player being able to trigger their complication’s effect to get a story point, the GM will also be able to trigger the complication, at a cost of giving one of the GM’s story points to that player. I also may get rid of the list of complications and make it free-form. To come up with a complication you name it, describe what the -1 or -2 penalty (whichever I end up using) for the scene applies to, and that’s it. It doesn’t really matter what you pick for when the complication applies, since it’s internally balanced. To get the story point, you have to accept the penalty at a time where it’s actually going to penalize the character. If you make it ‘not really a disadvantage’ then you’ll have a hard time triggering it to get the story point. It would be more useful to actually make it a broader disadvantage so you will be more likely to be in a situation where you can trigger it if you want to. That, of course, leaves it more open to being triggered by the GM, if they remember it and have a story point to give the player.

Benefits probably will remain a specific list, though. I’ll probably go back to giving benefits point values (complications will have them too) that are paid for with character points, rather than SAGE’s method of balancing benefits and complications. Unless it works out that there’s little variation in point values.

I’m thinking as well of removing stats as a separate thing. There will be skills, benefits, and complications. If your character is strong, you take the benefit Strong (+1) which gives you +1 on strength rolls and +1 damage. If your character is very strong, there’ll be a +2 version. Poor stats would be a complication. If your character is weak, you make a complication called Weak. It gives a penalty in any situation where your character is making willpower checks and gives a story point the first time each scene that it comes up. It’s as easy as that.

Dice-wise, I want to keep strictly to regular old D6s. They’re easy to find and roll nicely. I like the way the Fudge dice work, but they’re not nearly as easy to find. Not around here, at least. The system will probably involve rolling a number of dice equal to your character’s skill, plus any modifiers. Even results give a success, odd results give nothing. Total up the successes and compare it to the opposing roll. All rolls would be opposed, either by an opposing character’s skill roll, or by the GM rolling a number of dice equal to the difficulty against the player. Subtract the lower result from the higher one. If you have successes left, you win. If the other player does, they win. If it was a tie and there are no successes left, then you get a partial success. A grazing hit in combat, or your skill use was successful in one way, but a failure for everything else you were trying to do.

That’s about all I’ve gotten so far. I’ll continue to work on it as playtesting on SAGE goes ahead.