An actual question

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A shout-out to the first person to ask a question (who wasn’t a spammer!) Thanks!

The question boiled down to: “what is SaSS:R?” and given that I first posted about it (and discussed generally what it was) back in September, I thought it a fair question! I thought a post summing up what SaSS:R is and what it is trying to be would be worthwhile, if only to give myself some time to think about the project as a whole, rather than as a collection of parts.

SaSS:R is a steam/diesel-punk mech/roleplaying game with elements of the supernatural (such as demons and fae.) It uses a homemade game system I have been using on and off for a few years, called SaSS, for a setting I am calling “Worlds of Rozal” or “the Rozaline Worlds.”

The Setting

In the Rozaline Worlds, 17th century Poland discovered a way to walk between this Earth and other empty Earths. Among all the other enormous resources that were at the disposal of these early explorers were some new minerals that enabled Poland, and later the other empires of the world, to do great feats never before imagined. Automatite enabled men to use specially-made machines as if they were extensions of their own bodies, eventually giving birth to metal monstrosities of industry and war called mechs. Sylphite enabled heavily armed and armored craft to take to the skies, drastically altering the shape of of commerce and conflicts. And ilyasium helped power both, as well as enabling new heat-based weapons of war.

In these new worlds, Man ran into Fae with a frequency that only increased as he traveled further down each of the world-chains. Creatures of great cunning tricked the unwary, while monsters of even greater size threatened even heavily-armed mechs. Only the desperate or the incredibly well-prepared dared to take to the worlds wherein Fae truly ruled, but the call of riches even greater than what had already been found drove empires to build settlements there all the same.

On Earth Prime, the Nineteen Powers rule basically unchallenged except by nefarious (but infrequent) anarchists bent on social destruction. Divided into four tiers, the various world powers have allied and rivaled one another, but except for a few border conflicts open warfare has been relegated to the ‘downstream’ worlds under their control. More often than not, mercenaries are the primary proxies through which conflicts are settled, if only because few care if such men live or die.

The System

SaSS:R fundamentally started as a d20-morphed Unisystem with a heavier emphasis on Skills and a deemphasis on Attributes. Since then I have made it more like Mongoose Traveller or Dungeon Crawl Classics in terms of character creation, with Professions giving access to Skills, but dice rolls actually providing which particular Skills your character gets.

The game has diverged from its original roots in almost every area of play, even if the inspiration is still sometimes evident. Combat between larger units is completely different from how it is handled in AFMBE (the Unisystem game that inspired SaSS), if only because in that game it ISN’T discussed. Mech and aerial combat use an Action Pool system rather than the initiative and more-rigid-Turn system that individuals on foot or mounted use, mostly because it seems that it gives more of a feeling of being in a large, fast moving weapons platform. Vehicles still have a Maneuver value, just like in All Flesh Must Be Eaten, but it does something very different–rather than modifying the roll to accomplish actions involving the vehicle, it is a measure of how many Action Pool points it takes to do certain types of things.

Even in Weapons damage, a completely different approach has been taken to this basic part of most roleplaying games–the only real similarity is that in both games you can take the ‘average’ of the damage value listed any time before rolling for damage. This average is rounded, so over time it will statistically be prone to dealing less total damage, but it is a way to deal a consistent amount of damage. I just loved this in the AFMBE games I’ve run, because it means if the monster has three HP left you don’t experience a total party kill just because that one time he rolled a ‘1’ on his damage with his shotgun or greatsword. In general I’ve leaned toward the less ‘story-driven’ side of gaming, but in this one way I lean the other direction.

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I hope the idea of heat-sword samurai mounted on bears sounds appealing, especially if they happen to be death-charging an 21-foot-tall mech, because that is what I am trying to provide.

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