Tales From Space

OR wall of text crits you for 9 million

Character Creation Common Equipment the "sim"
Skills Thoughts on Aliens Psionics
Technology Rules 1 An example play through
Robots and You Flora and Fauna The Galactic CyberNet

Extended info that really doesn't have a category
Written and compiled over several years. 1987-2012

Please note, that I sometimes get confused when I'm trying to explain something. It's always straight in my head, but by the time it gets to my fingers things get a little crossed. If you would like to make grammar/flare/style/definition corrections feel free to do so. Also, anything in RED, like what you're reading right now, are my thoughts, not the thoughts of Athlon and should be seen differently than everything else, for lack of a better explanation.

The GCN Customer Service Daemon would like to remind it's users that old data isn't always deleted in a timely manner and may sometimes conflict with new data. Illegal alteration of any data may result in a flatline.

     Throughout several parts of this you're going to see references and excerpts from various books by a character named "Athlon M. Topia II". That's a storyteller my son thought up, a way of getting across what it's like in the Patrolled Sectors from an insider perspective. Mr. Topia the Second is a renowned Machie'Na historian and scholar currently #1 on the Terrain's most wanted list for doing nothing more than telling everyone about life, history, and the who's and whats of the galaxy.
     The name is actually derived from the AMD computer chip "Athlon", and from my sons favorite game "Startopia". The "M" is from AMD as well. The "II" came from the fact that he (Athlon) actually took the name of a famous Terran explorer who was #1 on the most wanted list as well, for doing the exact same thing that Athlon II is doing.

     This is going to be long, basically this is going to be about some of the more technical, non-technical, and reasons behind some of the thinking processes in the game.

     Armor Rating, or AR = How much damage must be done to something before the item is actually damaged. Commonly used on Armor and Force Fields.

     Hit points = The reason I've deliberately kept hit points in the low numbers is simple, less math. There is no reason to have 6000 hp when 600 would suffice, or 60 for that matter. Weapons that do 5000 damage to a body, why? Why use such large numbers for anything? You could argue that it allows you to get more exacting damage. But again, I ask why? Why have a weapon that does 3087 damage to a person with 6000 hp, when you could just have a weapon that does 31 damage to a person with 60 hp. I've deliberately designed the game with low HP numbers for ease of tracking and keeping in line with the PnP roots. There is no logical reason for the high numbers that you see in all other games. If you're going to argue over just a few points being the make or break in a fight, then that game was designed wrong. A few points here or there should never be the make or break, a character/players decisions and skills should be the make or break.

     Armor = I've designed armor levels to be low as well. A piece of standard bullet proof armor with todays technology I consider to be AR 10, which means it will stop any weapon that does less than 10 points of damage. Any damage that goes over that 10 points ablates the armor 1 point. Example, you get hit by a 9mm pistol burst. 3 rounds pound into your chest, the bullets don't really pierce the vest, but the impacts of the bullets equal 15 damage, the vest stops 10 damage, your body takes 5, the armor is weakened and can only stop 9 points of damage on the next shot. In TFS, average Human HP will be about 60 or so. So just like any other game, it will take several attacks to kill the person, only difference is, smaller and more rounded numbers. Also different grades and technologies have different effects. Better tech may mean the armor doesn't ablate when damage exceeds the AR, also some armor may act as a second skin and absorb the damage. Meaning instead of stopping 10 points of damage, the armor takes the 10 points of damage, plus the extra 5, and now only has a certain amount left to protect you with. Basically that's how cheap force shields work in TFS.

     Incoming damage = As illustrated in the above example, weapon damage will use smaller numbers as well. Again, there's no reason for the insane high damage numbers on items. Damage can be augmented in several ways though. Higher skill levels grant more damage and/or bigger crits. Aimed shots, crippling attacks and things that can be tactically used, tactics over raw damage.

     No levels in TFS, not exactly. There won't be character levels, but there will be skill levels. Some skills can only be acquired through taking certain "jobs" during character creation. These types of skills are considered "educated" skills. They may be purchased later on, but only at great expense and time consumption. Educated skills are things that would technically require a person to go through some sort of schooling. Like being a doctor etc. As a person uses a skill, they acquire exp in that particular skill, once they get enough exp, they get to make a check on the skill to see if they can increase it. Increasing a skill is NOT always guaranteed. Certain things play into this, like the type of skill it is, whether it's being raised higher than it's base statistic ETC. It is possible to fail that one last skill check, and have to start all over acquiring exp for that skill level again. I've done this to imitate real life to some extent. Example, You spend 6 months taking classes in programming, the day of the final test comes around, you bomb the test. 'nuff said. Part of TFS design is that a character can technically learn every skill, and raise every skill to infinite levels given enough time.
However the more skills you have, the slower you learn. It's kinda like pouring water on a potted planet. The more you pour in, the longer it takes to drain. Play tests show that a character can be effective with 8 base skills. So 8 skills will raise at a normal speed. Each skill beyond 8 slows the skill gain process down on all skills by 5%. Now this we always argued about. I wanted 10%, but my son said that was to much, he said 2%. My wife said 5%, then threatened us both, so we said fine, 5%.- Past 12 skills, the gain is further slowed by an additional 5%. After that it's an additional 10% for every 5 skills.
The skill list contained herein is only a fraction of the size of the original. I'll add to it as I can remember what we had and why we had it.

     Character creation- Character creation is so in depth because it's more realistic. Basically starting from 4 generations back you roll to see what kind of family you come from. 4 generations ago your family was farmers, it adds strength to your gene pool, but then for the next 3 generations your family was bums, so you loose that 1 point of strength, , then you lose 2 more points of strength, but gain 2 points of endurance from being bums. +1 strength farming for 1 generation, -1 STR, +1 endurance for being a bum 2 generation, -1 str +1 end for 3 generation, etc etc. On your final generation, starting from when you were born, you roll for the kind of life you had. You roll for siblings and whether you get along with them or if they died. This all effects the game with bonuses and possible randomly generated quests. One being losing a sibling during an explosion or something during character creation. Later on in the game the computer or ref generates you an optional quest that you may take and suddenly you find your bro ain't dead after all, and he's the one that's been griefing you from the shadows for all these years.

     I hate magic, but in every game I've ever played where I've actually tried to play a mage (except WoW, mages just aren't designed right in WoW ((keep in mind this was written and updated hundreds of times and this part was done when WoW first came out)) ) I've always been over the top psycho powerful. So there is no magic in TFS, but there are Psionics. Every race has latent abilities, and are predisposed towards certain areas than others. Also, the Mon'Za are naturals and can train a psion from the beginning. All the other races have to either get lucky during the game and unlock, or have to get "Tapped". A "Tap" is basically a cybernetic implant implanted into your brain that draws out the natural psionic abilities of a person. You trade psionics for a bit of agility and endurance. A Tap will give you up to 3 points of psionic skill before you have to have an upgraded Tap installed to go further. Natural psionics raise just like skills. Please note, like skills the more you have, the slower they raise. Psionic skills are much tougher, so one natural psionic skill counts as 3 regular skills and can learn a second psion provided you meet the requirements. A Tapped psionic only counts as 2 skills and can only ever learn one, and can never be a natural now.

     My daughter says this is kind of confusing, and I also need to better explain Taps. A tap gives you 3 points of psionic ability, instantly. No training like being a natural. So if you have a Tap for Pyrokinesis, you automatically get a skill lvl of 3 in pyro, and you can use all the lvl 3 pyro psions. Now heres where Taps get messy. If you want stronger psions, it requires having a more potent Tap installed, then you get psions of skill lvl 4-6, plus you get the negative effects added on to the previous ones as well.
     So we have naturals which require no outside expense, and can raise their psionic skills as high as they want and learn more than 1 psion, but eventually raises slower, also you're limited by your races predisposition--or, you can get "Tapped" which costs money, and can weaken you physically, BUT you get instant psionics, they're slightly easier to raise, you can learn any ONE psion with a tap regardless of your races predisposition.

It should be noted, even though I intended perma-death to be in the PVE side of the game as well, I've since changed my mind. It might be reintroduced later on. As is now, despite what it says below, you can only perma-die in PVP, with the base chance starting at 1% instead of .6, and is still modifiable via weapons, armor, etc. updated 9-21-12

I've really been giving it some thought lately, thanks to a reader named Catherine that perma-death should be a part of the pve side of the game as well. When I was originally mulling over perma-death the "sim" aspect of the game hadn't even been thought of, so with the addition of the "Sim" perma-death most likely needs to be in the game. However, I truly need more feedback. If your idea of feedback is "it sucks" your opinion will be outright disregarded. 12-06-12

     Perma-death- Yep, you can die permanently in TFS. One of the first programs I wrote while in college was a random number generator that I could assign certain variables to and then read the results while it churned away. Here's the details. Every character has a potential to die permanently each time they die. Basically it's .6% chance to perma-die. That is further increased in PvP up to 2%, which is further enhanced by certain types of weapons and how you died. Example, you're on the fringe, basically thats the areas outside the "Patrolled Sectors". Everything on the fringe is considered open season. You're currently sitting at 2.6% chance of permanently dieing. Ok, you get attacked, a lucky shot hits your shit cheap nuclear reactor which goes critical,and detonates in a bright fireball. Another 2% chance was tacked onto the 2.6 you already have. You've now got a 4.6% chance that the GCN tracking beacon implanted into everyone in the Patrolled Sectors doesn't transmit your death, so you don't get cloned. Obviously from some of the clues I put in the above, using a better reactor will not have a 2% additional chance of a perma-death. Not engaging in PvP is another way. Want more ways to permanently kill someone? Basically, any weapon used in PvP that can technically destroy a body, disintegration, whatever, if you think it could prevent that beacon from transmitting, then it will add additional percents to perma-death.

     Keep in mind, if you're not pvp then you only have a .6% chance of perma-death. And certain other things can lower your chances of not dieing in and out of PvP, having a trained doc on hand, not being blasted to shit, and being so fully hardwired with cybernetics and bionics that your basic persona is no more than a program which you back up on the GCN itself. There are pro's and con's to this. Pros being obvious, no chance of perma-death, cybernetics and bionics offer various enhancements, BUT backing your persona up and going through such extensive augmentation makes you less than you, and you lose a lot of charisma and comprehension skills that way. You're basically no longer really alive anymore.
     Back to the program I wrote, Rolling random numbers from 1-100, with 1 making the program roll a number from 1-10, with anything 6 and under kicking out being a death. It took 800 counts before the first death was kicked out. 263 the second time, and 1689 the third time. Also I figure that flagging a character for the first 10 or 20 hours of game play as no perma-death is fair. With all my WoW characters, all my CoH, my SWG toon, EnB, EQ2, Hostile Space, Dark Seas of Space, - basically all my MMORPG characters I've had over the years, I seriously doubt I've died more than 150 times combined, and that's a lot of freakin' characters and play time. Using the numbers I got from running my program 3 times, I'll never die perma death. I did actually run it several dozen times, only once did I ever drop below 100 rolls to get a death. But it was random, and just like flipping a quarter, technically it's a 50/50 chance, but you could possibly flip it 100 times and get heads every time. So it is possible you could die on the very first death.

     My reasoning for perma-death, it makes the pvp griefers think twice about what they're doing first and foremost. It keeps people grouped up in pvp. You may think that will just put griefers in roving packs and you'd be right, but when they've lost tons of play time once or twice they will stop. It's more realistic also, and it makes you care about your character. In every PnP game I've ever played in, I always made it clear that it was going to be possible for your characters to permanently die. Some whined and cried about it, but after a while it wasn't so bad because of all the other things I threw in to counter it and make the pros as good on the opposite side as the cons are bad.

     Where does it all take place? The game takes place in an area of space called the "Patrolled Sectors", or PS for short. Basically it's an area that is frequent patrolled by military and/or private organizations and kept relatively safe from pirate attacks and folks misbehaving. The PS is roughly 100 x 100 sectors, 3 sectors is a parsec of space also. I think I've got that backwards, don't matter though. The Terran home world of Prime is at about 1,4. The only inhabited planet in the core. That's the way the Terrans like it.
     How do you get around? Spaceships and transports obviously. Faster than Light travel, or FTL is kind of dangerous. Only the Humans and the Mon'Za have any true FTL capabilities. The Terrans do have things they call "Ramps" which basically hurl you into hyperspace. Basically, it takes 2 ramps to function correctly, think of them as gates in a way. You build up speed and aim at a ramp. Hit it just right and it hurls you into hyperspace aimed in the direction of another ramp which acts as a locater beacon. When the beacon signals you, you hit the breaks and you drop out of hyperspace hopefully in one piece and within a few sectors of your intended target. Ramps are dangerous though, if you don't hit them just right you could literally hit them and blow up yourself and the Ramp, then you piss everyone off and they hunt your clone down and do nasty things to you. If for some reason you can't slow down fast enough on the other end of the jump you could overshoot your target by many many sectors. Or one of my favorite things, you do everything right, but the entrance ramp malfunctions and closes the hyperspace door to quickly and your ship gets cut in half.

Initially players will have to rely on "public transportation" for long range travel. I've done this mainly because I want players to research FTL travel. There will eventually be a way individual players and/or guilds will be able to tackle research projects that will give them advantages over others, as in real life. The most common form of FTL travel will be hyperspace corridors. Initially it will be like Humans trying to break the sound barrier, there were some hiccups in the road long before they figured it out.

     The Bentrine and Cerians worked together a few years back to create what they call "Nexus way points". They're insanely expensive to build and operate, but far safer than Terran Ramps. They work by teleporting you from place to place. However there must be a receiver where you want to go. With the expense of the NW system, building, maintenance, and the fact it really spooks people out for some reason, the "NWs" system is only used in Cerian and Bentrine space.
     Saurians use a brute force approach. If they want to get from point A to B, they just get bigger engines and kick them to full. Their engine and ship designs allow them to fly fast enough to almost break through to hyperspace. The turbulence however at the threshold of hyperspace usually tears their ships apart. They're still working on a way to breach hyperspace and will probably figure it out before the rest of the PS does. If they do that than no place will be safe from the Saurian Clans.
     Humans stumbled upon a fold space drive on one of the outer planets of their home system. Being industrious and ever suicidal. They reverse engineered it, and jumped to parts unknown landing blindly in the Patrolled Sectors. They've decided since it's kind of dangerous and hard to control, to tune the system to home in on Terran Ramps, so now it will jump them to any Terran ramp that they've previously been to and gotten the codes for. This pisses the Terrans off, but hell everything that horns in on potential Terran money making pisses them off.
     The Mon'Za have a completely controllable jump drive. It allows them to cover extremely large distances in seconds. However the one drawback to the drive is charge time. The farther the distance, the longer the charge time. If they could hold enough energy and wait for the several years it would take to charge, they could theoretically jump to an entirely different galaxy beyond the Milky Way.
     The Machie'Na just use whatever is available.
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