We're used to combining objects. Is it too cerebral to combine concepts in order to gain special abilities?
In the sci-fi RPG hybrid I'm working on you can run your own starship or get a position on a larger one run by NPCs, either in single player or multi. As a non-combat activity, one very intriguing idea that alot of great posters here have been raising is the ability to work on some sort of project.
The type of vessel you serve on determines how much spare time you get and what stimulus you get for your project. This limited spare time can be used walking around decks, using equipment to skill up, allying with NPCs, misbehaving [grin] or working on a project.
Projects would theoretically be no different than item creation. Normally, if you want to create an item you need components + resources + skill tests to put them together. Projects would instead be created by info + time + skill tests.
Here's how it might work:
General Knowledge As Points
Whenver you talk to an NPC, read a book, use equipment or scan the datanets you may get knowledge which later helps your projects. The knowledge falls into very broad categories:
- Starship Engines
- Hard Science
- Military History
- Local Culture
- Siegers (monsters)
- etc., etc.
Books and fixed data sources supply a limited number of points which you "drain" with use (visible at a glance when you roll over the item). NPCs, depending on their personality, may be an unlimited source of general info, and star-system and interstellar datanets are always unlimited.
To get General Knowledge from an NPC, you have to get the NPC to favor you. This is done over a series of interactions which range from opinion puzzles ("What do you think about our leader?") to actions you take to build their morale (give them favorite food, help them while on duty). The more the NPC likes you the more knowledge points they'll make available to you once you opt to spend time talking to them (provided they have that time).
Datanets, OTOH, offer unlimited knowledge but at a per second access charge that varies with the system. This covers the cost of FTL transmissions through the wilds of subspace and fees the empire sets which in turn reflects the society.
Your character's Intellect serves to cap General Knowledge. Adding points requires a test versus your intellect based on the points you already have. So the more you know, the harder it is to acquire more General Knowledge in any one area.
Knowledge is explained very simply, btw, by text strings: "After talking to the old pirate for an hour, you gain newfound knowledge of Starship Engines (+3)"
General knowledge unlocks your ability to perform special actions, take on certain mysteries, or win fame and fortune by advancing your faction and empire. Each project would have a General Knowledge requirement, much like tech points required for a tech tree.
Projects would cover these areas:
Leveling Up Your Project
- Tactics and Manuevers
- Combat tactics (infiltration, bombardment, fleet combat, etc.)
- Diplomatic tactics (negotiation, threat, extortion, etc)
- Engineering tactics, medical tactics, etc., for all career options
- Mysteries - Predefined or semi-randomly occuring mysteries in the game
- Unsolved Crime - Would require X pieces of evidence to be successfully skill tested in order to identify the victim, the motive, the means and / or those involved
- Explanation - Reveals why dangerous or strange things happen in certain regions of space, whose effects are normally hidden, like "Silent Poison + Insanity In 3 days" which would explain why people suddenly die 3 days after visiting a planet
- Refinement - Change the stats of a tech template, which is used to create new items
- Theory - Gather X pieces in a scavenger hunt and subject them to tests in order to advance your home empire's tech level
Once unlocked, each project requires an action, an analysis test, a simulation, or a skill test to complete.
Improving combat infiltration, for example, might require 10 successful timed combat simulations of X difficulty and 2 security analysis tests. The result might be +10% stealth when using a group smaller than, say, eight to infiltrate hostile territory.
Breaking the max interstellar jump distance, OTOH, might require 30 scans of space and 25 jumps in different regions of space, 10 analysis tests, and 5 simulations.
You may not know how many tests or actions a project requires. Solving the mystery to why people never come out of a 3000 light year region of space might be listed as: "? Scans, ? Jumps, ..."
Projects Are Scavenger Hunts
When you're acquiring General Knowledge, you either get the knowledge or get a reference of who to talk to. Bars, universities, spaceports, slums all have NPCs. Planets offer animals, plants and ruins to scan. Space offers debris, comets, stars, regions and planets.
Status, fame and fortune go with unlocking projects.
Higher projects require other lower projects to be completed first, but some can be skipped (tech tree again).
Sleeping can boost knowledge, unlock project requirements or even unlock projects early. (Sleeping is mostly optional and also serves to allow you to level up your skills via your implant).
Higher projects may require experimental equipment, facilities and computers.
You can become a target of attack, kidnap or bribery as a result of your projects, as can your facilities which hold them.
--------------------Just waiting for the mothership...