Friday, March 4, 2011

Risus Trek: Starship Combat Again

One of the things I like about Risus is that it plays very fast. In many very crunchy games, combat can stretch out over an entire evening. There's nothing wrong with it if you like it that way. But since I'm going to be using Risus for my Star Trek TOS campaign, I would like to play to its strengths. This is why I will be treating starships (at least, the starship the players are on) as Tools of the Trade. There will be no cliches, no stats for starships. Nada.

"He's gone all Charlie Sheen on us", I hear you say. "Quick, somebody get the 4-siders away from him before he hurts someone."

So how will I be running combat? Pretty much like all combat in Risus, using the three standard resolution methods of the Combat System. Players will roll their Cliche dice to fight against other ships. The other ships will probably be treated as another character ("Menacing Klingon D-7 (6)) or whatever else is appropriate. Despite the numerous references to the Enterprise as being a character, it really doesn't act like one. Think back to the times when any starship has been abandoned, or nearly so ("Court-Martial", "The Paradise Syndrome", "The Omega Glory", etc.). Does the ship initiate any action on its own? Does it call for help, run to the nearest starbase, try and beam the crew up?  No, it doesn't, because it's not self-aware; it needs someone to push buttons and pull levers.  If the engines are shut down, it'll eventually spiral out of orbit.

There's a quote from the second season of the Star Trek (TOS) Writers' Guide, which seems ironic with regard to later series:

Tell your story about people, not about science
and gadgetry. Joe Friday doesn't stop to explain
the mechanics of his .38 before he uses it; Kildare
never did a monologue about the theory of anes-
thetics; Matt Dillon never identifies and dis-
cusses the breed of his horse before he rides
off on it.

(When I remember where I got it, I'll post the link.)

When it comes right down to it, ship-to-ship combat on TOS was really conflicts between characters, not ships; ships were only the tools that the people used.  Since Risus puts the emphasis on characters, not gadgets, I think I'll continue the tradition of both Star Trek and Risus.


Will Douglas said...

Sounds good to me!

Here's a like you might like:

That takes me to the writer's guide; hope it works for you as well.

And the Blogger software seems to understand that we're talking about Star Trek; the verification word is "orionia" (which would be a great name for a blog/campaign set in Orion...)

Risus Monkey said...

I think I had this discussion with myself and the Risus list when I was debating what to do for pirate ships.

I think you made the right choice (or at least the choice that I would have made).

Guy Hoyle said...

Thanks, Will and RM, for the helpful links!


Anonymous said...

So, four months on, is it working? Any second thoughts? Does it reliably produce Star Trek-like space battles?