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Context

I am developing house rules to use Solar system for hardcore dungeoncrawling. I've thus far run one session of the game and combat represented some problems.

Rules-wise

The characters can act independently, in which case their actions are either parallel or opposing, as normal. I might make a ruling that only defensive actions can defend against several opponents, supposing the character does not have suitable equipment (large shield or serious armour, say) to credibly fight against several opponents.

The characters can form a team (if their intentions agree), in which case they create a support chain, deal damage as one character and can divide damage among them as they see fit. This creates ridiculously long support chains, as one player opined, and hardly fits with the description of the brawling-skill (fighting in rage, fairly uncoordinated and undisciplined). Further, in fiction the characters do not always support each other.

My inclination is to go with independent actions and have some crunch that makes building a team possible. Are there any problems with this approach, in particular when it comes to speed of play or keeping track of what everyone is doing? If yes, how to deal with them?

Free and clear

In the free and clear stage players state what their characters are doing and can change their actions freely in response to declarations made by others.

In play everyone started reacting to whoever stated their actions first. Does this create any problems and should I go as far as to use some sort of initiative-like mechanic for declaring actions or even resolving them?

Sometimes I may want to keep the actions of an opponent secret; suppose the opponent is invisible, for example. I do not want to place the players in position of having to avoid using out-of-game knowledge, as forcing that on the players in this sort of game would amount to bad design. One option would be to not tell the players what the invisible for is about to do, but this breaks the free and clear stage.

If I break the free and clear stage in this way, then I could also break it in other cases: Have those who do not what is happening declare their actions first, and so on, with the most aware declaring them last. Would this be workable in play, or should I relegate it to specific crunch?

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1 Answer 1

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I have used Solar System for dungeon crawling. To use the RAW, you really have to think differently. A perfect example of this is Danger Sense, when the player using Danger Sense declares the stakes of the roll, they are essentially adding content to the game.

But, that is not how you are playing, so I'll get back on track. The trick to your invisibility question revolves around Passive Skills. This is the exact use for Passive Skills. They are used when the characters intent can only be, "No that doesn't happen to me!" the best part is, the Passive skill names are so vague that even asking for a React Roll tells the players nothing except that they don't know what is going on yet...

As far as the Free and Clear stage, just remember that the main purpose of it is to negotiate Stakes. It is cool that your group is collaborating and coming up with good teamwork, but the intent of the rule is best summed up in the following example:

Player: I use my Skullduggery Skill to break open the safe
SG: OK, what are you trying to accomplish?
Player: Oh, I want to know the BBEG's secret plans
SG: OK, well, if you make the roll, you will know the BBEG's secret plans, but if you lose, you will be killed by a poison trap in the safe
Player, hmmm... Well, I really want to know, but not that bad.
GM, OK, then if you lose, near by monsters will be alerted to your presence
Player, OK (rolls)

Now, I know you aren't playing exactly like that, but however you are drifting it can probably benefit from this knowledge. So, like the Bad guys can change gears to what the players are doing as well. Since there is no initiative, the free and clear has to be an area where the players can negotiate what is happening and the players and SG can make a cohesive scene.

Oh, and the Team thing is only supposed to be invoked when the characters are all coordinating and cooperating.

Finally, if you want to keep a foe secret, maybe you can do a vs. roll, explain the consequences of failure and if they fail, and after the roll you can do a big reveal as part of the description of the consequences.

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