An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

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An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby MHD » Mon Jan 24, 2011 7:51 pm UTC

I am currently looking into making a role playing campaign set in some twisted and *gasp* hard science-fiction-y version of the mass effect universe.1 For this implement I am looking to some tropes2 I find interesting, such as humans being a warmongering, psychotic bunch3 with extreme endurance, staying the hell away from "hive minds"4 and generally dropping a lot less hats5.

However I am in dire need of some system which lets me define these traits in a non-anthropocentric way. Preferably without too many heavy rules. I have looked to GURPS, but since an average human is 10 in all attributes and stuff, I would have to give all other species less HT (which is in no way realistic) or FP (which is more realistic but no less convulted)6. GURPS is also way rules heavy if I want to assign some special abilities and model biotics properly, and the rules on cost of equipment are dodgy at best7.

I have considered writing my own system using 3d6 too, but ironing out a lot of complexity from GURPS, and make a large number of attributes to accurately describing each species8.

  1. BLUE SPACE ALIEN BABES IS NOT GOOD SCIENCE-FICTION.
  2. I am not going to link directly to TvTropes (that place is a black hole).
  3. TvTropes -> Humans Are Warriors
  4. A very American way of categorizing things (I'm very much FOR a socialistic approach to government8, and not very afraid of threats to my individual, or that society is going to take away my rights.) In my universe the Turians are a "group intelligence" working way better when more individuals are present, but capable of independent thought and opinion. Also, no Geth.
  5. TvTropes -> Planet of Hats
  6. HT stands for health and details resistance to damage and disease, along with regenerative ability and overall physical shape. FP stands for Fatigue Points and are used during physical and mental exercise.
  7. In my opinion at least. There is no "model advantage equipment gives in normal GURPS and the n convert points to money" system, which in my opinion is lacking.
  8. Yes I know, a footnote in a footnote. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nordic_model
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:52 pm UTC

The first thing that stands out is if you end up creating a new species and actually writing something good with it, you've basically just done what every sci-fi author does; engineer a character metaphor and run with it.

I think if you want to do something actually unique, you should emphasize that most 'advanced' lifeforms may have huge ranges of diversity in who they are. There should be humans who are cunning vindictive warlords, and Klingons who just want to bang on de drum all day. There should be celibate Asari's and fast talking <those other things>, as well as stupid <whatever those short lived science dudes were called>.

It doesn't really escape any of the tropes because it's effectively a noble savage deal, or an exception to their stereotype deal, but personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with making a world with strong differences and individuals who actually know and operate on the level of understanding those differences. That'd be more interesting to me.

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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby Gelsamel » Tue Jan 25, 2011 1:01 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:fast talking <those other things>


Hanar?
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby Xanthir » Tue Jan 25, 2011 1:36 am UTC

MHD wrote:BLUE SPACE ALIEN BABES IS NOT GOOD SCIENCE-FICTION.

It is when the reason they're babes is because of a mostly unconscious but insidious psychic effect that makes them fairly attractive to every race. It's a fairly natural outward-facing extension of telempathy that could reasonably develop as part of the standard social arms race in a psionic species.
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:48 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:fast talking <those other things>


Hanar?

Weren't the Hanar the floating jellyfish evangelicals?
I'm thinking of the quadropeds from the high-g world who speak slowly and have a pheromone communication system, and state their feelings conversationally.
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby Eseell » Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:53 am UTC

Elcor.
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Jan 25, 2011 3:07 am UTC

That's the one!
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby nowfocus » Tue Jan 25, 2011 3:53 am UTC

How about Star Trek?
Izawwlgood wrote:There should be humans who are cunning vindictive warlords

Check
Klingons who just want to bang on de drum all day.

Check
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby Midnight » Tue Jan 25, 2011 3:57 am UTC

MHD wrote:BLUE SPACE ALIEN BABES IS NOT GOOD SCIENCE-FICTION.

Haters gonna hate, dogg. Mass Effect was dope.
uhhhh fuck.

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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby MHD » Wed Jan 26, 2011 5:10 pm UTC

Midnight wrote:
MHD wrote:BLUE SPACE ALIEN BABES IS NOT GOOD SCIENCE-FICTION.

Haters gonna hate, dogg. Mass Effect was dope.


Yes I agree, mass effect is awesome, just not that good science fiction.

Insofar, I have a 3d6 system with 14 attributes (7 physcial, 7 mental)1, along with some pesudo attributes (Pain tolerance, Health, Psychic abilities). All of these values have a pre-set value which can be changed with the Bonus Points given out at start.
All in all the rules are very soft, but combat is supposed to be realistic (Damage and Pain are different tallies, with a Taser dealing little damage and lots of pain, and bullets doing little pain and lots of damage). A person with good aim and a semi-powerful pistol can take out an un-shielded anything-short-of-a-krogan in about two seconds2.
Also, ship to ship combat awesomeness (working on an easy-build template rule system).

I have also made some substantial changes to the setting, keeping somewhat in touch with the general idea of the games3.
A different take on the protean (inspired by the Culture series by Iain M. Banks).
A different take on most species (Notably Asari and Turian).
A different take on sci-fi genre (Alien/Blade Runner-esque instead of star trek-esque).
A different take on the whole EEZO business (all of the supertech).

So in the end it ended up being not so much Mass Effect and Indeed my own system.

  1. Agility, Immunity, Motorics, Regeneration, Stamina, Strength and Toughness for Physical, Communication, Empathy, Imagination, Logic, Memory, Reaction and Will for mental.
  2. God made some stronger than other, but Holtzmann Inc. (a famous personal barrier manufacturer) and Leat'vara Corp. (a famous sidearm manufacturer) made all equal.
  3. Notably the Asari, a unigendered humanoid athropod-like bunch with no sex taboo and a powerful innate psychic ability (Perception and Kinesis only, TP is for turians).
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Jan 26, 2011 5:47 pm UTC

Sounds way to complex, in my honest opinion. Rule systems for RPGs are better off abstracted, simplified, and flexible. Do you have a reason you want so many different attributes and such a complex damage system? You can bring in realism with the roleplaying. It doesn't have to be imbedded in the mechanics, especially if it makes it much more convoluted and complicated. This is great thing about HP in D&D because it's abstracted and doesn't actually mean "damage" or "health" or anything like that... unless you want it to mean that, which can work for some roleplays... but generally can be thought of as just "ability to survive" which can be culimations of parries, blocks, dodges, luck, glancing blows, nicks, etc. Personally, in D&D, I only consider blood to be drawn when... well when you're bloodied. So in that sense abstracted mechanics can be as realistic or as unrealistic as you feel like, it's just up to how you roleplay it.

I can understand the temptations to try and build systems that are inherently more realistic but I just don't think they work very well...

Aaand personally I'm a fan of changing everything if you're gunna change anything, but that is just me.
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Jan 26, 2011 6:34 pm UTC

MHD wrote:
  1. Agility, Immunity, Motorics, Regeneration, Stamina, Strength and Toughness for Physical, Communication, Empathy, Imagination, Logic, Memory, Reaction and Will for mental.
What's the difference between Immunity, Toughness, Stamina and Strength?

What's the difference between Agility (physical) and Reaction (mental)? Toughness and Will?

How do Communication and Empathy differ enough to be separate attributes? How is Imagination quantified?

Motorics... how one moves? I'm afraid I don't get what that one is meant to be. But if it is how one moves and fine muscle control and all that - how does it differ from Agility?
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby JudeMorrigan » Wed Jan 26, 2011 6:39 pm UTC

MHD wrote:So in the end it ended up being not so much Mass Effect and Indeed my own system.

Yeah, that's kind of my question after having read your posts. Why call it a Mass Effect variant at all, given just how much you're changing? There's obviously nothing wrong with someone making up their own setting, and it doesn't sound like you have very many layers of veneer to scrape off at this point.

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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby Yakk » Wed Jan 26, 2011 7:02 pm UTC

If you want to do good hard science fiction, you have to accept that the "normal attribute" range of a being will be ridiculously broad.

I'd think going with a "traits" based system might be better than some kind of universal attributes. This allows Krogans (for example) to be so ridiculously tougher than humans that they aren't on the same scale.

Barring being some kind of engineered soldier, your physical toughness against modern (let alone future weapons) is best approximated by "you die when hit, unless it is a weapon not intended to kill, in which case you are just incapacitated unless unlucky." Technological defences may be enough to overcome this, but you'd need to jump through a lot of hoops for your human-scale physical toughness to matter at all.

With a traits based game, the physical toughness of humans vs asari vs whatever is a non-issue: all are fleshy bags, and it isn't worth recording the stat, because it doesn't matter. A race that is unusually fragile might be worth noting as a "weakness". Krogans, being engineered to create ridiculously tough physical armor (or something) might have traits around toughness that actually matter.

Conflict resolution involving "tapping" attributes to change the narrative using those attributes, then rolling to determine your narrative impact (or if your tapped attributes recover), would be the default style. There are a few games that use this style (from Wushu through to a fun sci-fi game whose name I can never remember...)
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby Endless Mike » Wed Jan 26, 2011 8:13 pm UTC

FATAL is clearly the best choice.

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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Jan 26, 2011 8:30 pm UTC

.....

I don't know whether I should stab that and admonish you for being a jackass, or give you a medal for Best Joke (In A Homebrew Roleplaying System Thread).
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby Endless Mike » Wed Jan 26, 2011 8:54 pm UTC

I'll have to roll that against my statistically-accurate skin elasticity stat.

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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby McCaber » Wed Jan 26, 2011 11:14 pm UTC

Hard science? Mass Effect? Eclipse Phase would be my go-to guy.
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby MHD » Thu Jan 27, 2011 8:33 am UTC

To some of the questions regarding my long range of attributes, firstly each have a definite purpose.
Strength is the physical, muscle mass and all that. (Elcor and Krogan have tons of this)
Stamina is how long you can keep going in physical exertion. (Humans have a bunch of this)
Immunity is resistance to disease. (Quarians don't have no points in this)
Toughness is resistance to damage. (Krogans have lots)
Each of these four may have some connection, but influenza-like diseases regularly kill quarians, while humans shrug it off, and a Krogan can take a car-collision without much effort.
The granularity is there to prevent "humans are average." The granularity is not much more complex than WoD, which has 9 attributes, and each of mine have an intuitive purpose.

About the damage: Think White Wolf, they have three different damage types in one tally with special levels of penalty. Mine just gives you two health bars "Damage" and "Pain."

The complex part in my opinion is the item system I am mapping out.
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby Vaniver » Thu Jan 27, 2011 7:00 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:There are a few games that use this style (from Wushu through to a fun sci-fi game whose name I can never remember...)
Minimus also uses something similar, and strikes me as a far better starting point for new RPGs than something like D&D or White Wolf.
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby EdgarJPublius » Thu Jan 27, 2011 8:35 pm UTC

MHD wrote:Each of these four may have some connection, but influenza-like diseases regularly kill quarians, while humans shrug it off, and a Krogan can take a car-collision without much effort.
The granularity is there to prevent "humans are average." The granularity is not much more complex than WoD, which has 9 attributes, and each of mine have an intuitive purpose.


Many systems (such as GURPS) avoid breaking out inter-related stats, and instead have them be functions of the basic stats and have some other method for manipulating them individually (For examples, in GURPS, disease resistance and toughness are both related to HT, but you can create a character with a 'weak immune system' disadvantage who has a high HT but has penalties on HT rolls to to resist disease, or you can have characters with a 'Damage Resistance' advantage with a low HT but with bonuses to HT rolls for resisting physical trauma)

You don't need high granularity to prevent Humans from being average, many systems give humans their own bonuses and penalties just like any other system.

However, anthropocentrism can be useful for defining different races, since it delineates the capabilities of other races in a way that is easy to understand since people tend to think in terms of human capabilities anyway. You don't have to explicitly state that humans have the 'binocular vision' trait which grants the 'depth perception' advantage, but if you don't give the tentaclops people of Rigel 7 the 'monocular vision' trait which grants the 'no depth perception' disadvantage, then your players will likely 'forget' that their tentaclops character can't estimate distances very well (at least compared to what they're used to)

Really it just amounts to an arbitrary scaling factor in most cases though.
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby Yakk » Thu Jan 27, 2011 9:33 pm UTC

A side benefit to that kind of thing is that it handles scales easier.

A ship-to-ship battle, and a person-to-person fist fight, and a running gun battle, can all use a single conflict resolution system.

For a hard science game, I'd give the GM the nick name "Physics". Ie, "Physics has a veto on all proposed actions"...

I could even imagine using a game-board to aid visualization of relative position. You'd describe what you want to do, then you'd use the conflict resolution to determine how well it goes, and Physics would mediate the result.

---

The issue with GURPS and other low-level simulation attempt games is that innate HT should, realistically, matter not at all at human scales in a fight with science fiction scale weapons. And the same thing for strength -- if something is heavy, you make it self-motile, you don't recruit someone stronger to hold it. You end up having to jump through hoops to make your arbitrarily chosen features actually matter. Having a bunch of detail on the character sheet talking about how strong someone's immune system is means that either the space is almost completely wasted, or you need a bunch of in-game mechanics reflecting immune system risks that applies to characters who don't have an immune system issue (ie, adding a roll for infection after each battle), which wastes time and game attention when it doesn't really add to the experience.

Trait-based games where your weakened immune system is a complication solve this by having complications only come up with characters who have them.

---

Back to your list:
(1) They are telepathic and empathic, both projecting and receiving. In various degrees of sinisterness, they could have changed what other species find attractive, picked up on what other species find attractive over interstellar distances and changed themselves, or be projecting attractiveness in real-time to those who look at them.

(4) So you remove the Geth, and add in another race which have the Geth primary trope?

(7) In a traits-based game, having appropriate equipment for a set of tasks would be an advantage or a disadvantage for lacking it. Being an expert at particular kinds of equipment would be a trait.

(8) You reused the footnote.
# Agility, Immunity, Motorics, Regeneration, Stamina, Strength and Toughness for Physical, Communication, Empathy, Imagination, Logic, Memory, Reaction and Will for mental.

Horrible. That means you need special rules for each of these. Which generates a whole bunch of rules bloat.
About the damage: Think White Wolf, they have three different damage types in one tally with special levels of penalty. Mine just gives you two health bars "Damage" and "Pain."

White Wolf wasn't a good combat system, nor that high-realism of a one.

In a high-realism game, you are nicked, nearly incapacitated, or incapacitated/dead. Violence is dangerous.

In Mass Effect, once your shields/bionics/armor is down, you should be one-hit killed. And armor being a viable defence requires really exotic materials (like, armor that doesn't rely on chemical bonds to defend you), as the strength of chemical bonds is weak against 20th century weapons, nevermind interstellar civilization level technology weapons.
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby WarDaft » Thu Jan 27, 2011 10:47 pm UTC

Actually, considering that futuristic weapons would basically just be better guns - not this 'energy weapon' nonsense - it's entirely conceivable to have a useful health statistic simply representing more redundancy in your vital organs - having two hearts would make getting shot through one of them slightly less absolutely fatal. Of course the most effective antipersonnel weapons would remain explosives that simply redecorate your surroundings in a nice shade of you. Also, future medium/heavy vehicles would be virtually impervious to any sort of hand-held weaponry in order to stand up to vehicle mounted weaponry - heck, modern MBTs with are pretty much impervious to infantry as it is given the proper countermeasures.

A handheld 9mm hypersonic railgun still isn't going to much impress a grizzly bear unless you hit something vital - though it would be easier to hit vitals considering the bullet would go in one side and out the other. And strength would play a role in things like recoil up to the point where you have a powered exosuit, which I would imagine to be a lot more expensive than the guns most people would be using.
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby Xeio » Thu Jan 27, 2011 10:57 pm UTC

Gelsamel wrote:This is great thing about HP in D&D because it's abstracted and doesn't actually mean "damage" or "health" or anything like that... unless you want it to mean that, which can work for some roleplays... but generally can be thought of as just "ability to survive" which can be culimations of parries, blocks, dodges, luck, glancing blows, nicks, etc. Personally, in D&D, I only consider blood to be drawn when... well when you're bloodied. So in that sense abstracted mechanics can be as realistic or as unrealistic as you feel like, it's just up to how you roleplay it.
This sounds like it would be a much better explanation for it, but I don't recall the rulebooks ever using it.

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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby Gelsamel » Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:02 pm UTC

Xeio wrote:
Gelsamel wrote:This is great thing about HP in D&D because it's abstracted and doesn't actually mean "damage" or "health" or anything like that... unless you want it to mean that, which can work for some roleplays... but generally can be thought of as just "ability to survive" which can be culimations of parries, blocks, dodges, luck, glancing blows, nicks, etc. Personally, in D&D, I only consider blood to be drawn when... well when you're bloodied. So in that sense abstracted mechanics can be as realistic or as unrealistic as you feel like, it's just up to how you roleplay it.
This sounds like it would be a much better explanation for it, but I don't recall the rulebooks ever using it.


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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby EdgarJPublius » Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:07 am UTC

WarDaft wrote: Also, future medium/heavy vehicles would be virtually impervious to any sort of hand-held weaponry in order to stand up to vehicle mounted weaponry - heck, modern MBTs with are pretty much impervious to infantry as it is given the proper countermeasures.

With the important caveat of things like shoulder-fired Anti-tank missiles, RPGs, and the occasional improvised weapon such as bags of high explosives or molotov cocktails.
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby WarDaft » Fri Jan 28, 2011 7:26 am UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:With the important caveat of things like shoulder-fired Anti-tank missiles, RPGs, and the occasional improvised weapon such as bags of high explosives or molotov cocktails.


No, I include all of that. That's what the "proper countermeasures" are for.

There exists... now... effective point defense systems designed to intercept missile-like projectiles, particularly ones that could be fired by infantry. This is something that is just now heading into mass adoption, but there are already multiple companies with solutions or developing solutions in the area. In 5 years, the idea of infantry besting an MBT could end up comparable to farm animals besting an MBT, baring some drastic advancements in infantry anti-tank weapons.

Also, most modern tanks would not be particularly impressed by just tossing a bag of explosives at them, they're built to withstand that. It would have to be a very big bag to do any real damage, which means you'd have to get right up to the tank. If you throw a Molotov cocktail at one, all you'll probably get is a tank that can burn you while it's running you over.


There's also determined pursuit of active and passive cloaking measures, and in a few decades you may very well not even be able to see a tank to attack it. And no, unlike in science fiction, they would not need to 'decloak' to fire, you'd be stuck fighting invisible tanks.


This is now, and in the relatively near future. 100+ years in the future, who wins a battle will be utterly dominated by who brings the most advanced technology (parse that as bringing the most "advanced technology", not bringing the "most advanced" technology), and you can fit a lot more technology in a 100+ tonne engine of destruction than in a 50 lb utility belt.


Space battles will diverge in one of two directions... either the largest ship wins, and will be able to defeat an disproportionately large production value in smaller ships (that is, defenses can be scaled up arbitrarily high by spending more money on the ship, and maybe arbitrarily dense defenses - as in most defensive capability in a given volume - through advance of technology), or will be dominated by inexpensive and disposable fighter sized craft (if defense potential simply stops at some point, for example if there's no such thing as shields or we never find a way to make arbitrarily strong materials) - because at this point, it is pretty clear that offensive capabilities will simply continue to increase over time.
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby EdgarJPublius » Fri Jan 28, 2011 5:37 pm UTC

You're forgetting that the infantry get to use advanced technology too, tanks don't get to become magically more advanced than infantry weapons.
Basically since the dawn of armored warfare, infantry and cavalry have been locked in a red queens race, with neither quite able to gain the advantage over the other.
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WarDaft wrote:
EdgarJPublius wrote:With the important caveat of things like shoulder-fired Anti-tank missiles, RPGs, and the occasional improvised weapon such as bags of high explosives or molotov cocktails.


No, I include all of that. That's what the "proper countermeasures" are for.

There exists... now... effective point defense systems designed to intercept missile-like projectiles, particularly ones that could be fired by infantry. This is something that is just now heading into mass adoption, but there are already multiple companies with solutions or developing solutions in the area. In 5 years, the idea of infantry besting an MBT could end up comparable to farm animals besting an MBT, baring some drastic advancements in infantry anti-tank weapons.


Current generation point defenses are barely capable of defeating even the most obsolete anti-tank missiles and rockets. High velocity and top-attack flight profiles of even last generation missiles make interception by these defenses much less likely. Current generation anti-tank weapons are already including counter-measures of their own (and tank point defenses aren't even widespread yet) and new warheads with decoys have been designed, built and widely issued for older russian RPGs (including the venerable and ever popular RPG-7)
Next generation infantry anti-tank weapons are envisioned to have suites of jammers and decoys and possibly even warhead hardening of some kind.

Also, most modern tanks would not be particularly impressed by just tossing a bag of explosives at them, they're built to withstand that. It would have to be a very big bag to do any real damage, which means you'd have to get right up to the tank.


It's been done, a person can carry a pretty big satchel charge, a fifty pound bomb would do extensive damage to a tank from even just a few feet away. A rudimentary shaped charge (which have been seen in Afghanistan) can be emplaced as a road-side bomb with devastating effect against armored vehicles. A large shaped charge with an Explosively Forged Projectile can have stand-off ranges of a dozen meters or more and can penetrate multiple charge diameters.
However, you really don't even need that large or that complicated of a satchel charge to seriously impair a tank, a sock full of ANFO would be enough to damage the vulnerable tank treads, effectively immobilizing the tank.

If you throw a Molotov cocktail at one, all you'll probably get is a tank that can burn you while it's running you over.


A burning tank isn't going to be doing much running over of anyone, the flames suck the oxygen out of the air around the tank, killing the engine and APU pretty quickly, and if the flames are hot enough and last long enough, can suck the oxygen right out of the crew compartment.
If you land one on the necessarily exposed radiator, you can even permanently damage the tank by causing the engine 9which already typically runs hot) to over-heat in short order.

There's also determined pursuit of active and passive cloaking measures, and in a few decades you may very well not even be able to see a tank to attack it. And no, unlike in science fiction, they would not need to 'decloak' to fire, you'd be stuck fighting invisible tanks.


At the same time, thermal imaging is becoming cheaper and higher resolution, and MMW radars are becoming smaller, lighter and more energy efficient, and who knows what other imaging options will be available in the near future, possible even back-pack hyper-spectral imaging or something equally exotic. Stealth technology is all well and good, but it didn't make the F-117 invincible to Yugoslavian SAMs, nor German U-Boats invincible to Allied destroyers.

and you can fit a lot more technology in a 100+ tonne engine of destruction than in a 50 lb utility belt.

In three thousand years, this has never been true, You don't need a lot of technology to beat an armored opponent, you just need the right technology to defeat the armor. As tanks and armored warfare evolve, so will the infantry.
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby WarDaft » Fri Jan 28, 2011 7:20 pm UTC

I suppose it was rather off topic wasn't it. I'll stick just to future stuff so as to not go further on a tangent.

I supposed I should have prefaced the effectiveness of future tanks with the supposition of whether or not they would even exist. Their existence would presume their effectiveness against a number of options not currently effective. The most dangerous probably being a remote controlled (or completely automated if practical) ATV sized weapons platform, with minimal defensive capabilities and high offensive capabilities. It would be designed with emphasis on high mobility, high damage potential, and sufficiently low cost so as to be considered disposable. Such a vehicle could easily be equipped with weapons that infantry could not fire properly while mobile let alone moving at 50+ km/h, could travel far faster, would not put lives at risk, and would not need to be trained or supported - you could just drop them out of a plane where you wanted them and let them have at it until they've expired. If combat routines developed by an interstellar civilization are still incapable of competing with human judgement (and we're not talking about grandmaster tacticians, but foot-soldiers) then they most certainly would have the capability for full sensory immersion remote control as a fall back. If heavy tanks could remain effective against such packs of vehicles, they would simply be devastating against infantry - either way no one would have any cause to actually field for combat purposes. Such small vehicles are not as practical today because they could easily be jammed, the combat routines for them to manage well while cut off do not exist, everyone already has sizable well trained infantry forces, and yet it would still cost a lot of money to properly develop them for combat.

The practicality of heavy tanks would mirror somewhat the practicality of capital ships. The existents of SciFi shields would be a large contributor to this, as in if building twice as many shield generator whatevers could let you shrug off twice as many attacks (not an unreasonable presumption) then larger more powerful combat units would be the trend. If they had diminishing returns then smaller disposable blitzing swarm style units would be preferred. Armor technologies could possibly function equivalently to shields in this manner, but it would be less likely for it to be the case that you could just spend twice as much on armoring your units and have them become twice as durable.

That's not to say that you wouldn't still have people getting into the middle of armed conflicts in the future, you would, all the time, people just have this way of doing that. It just wouldn't be any tactician or strategists first choice for fighting. Or third choice. Maybe fifth. There would still be plenty of opportunities for characters to get into fights, and special operatives would have a place very near combat to manage all the sneakier stealy/sabotagey/etc tasks until you can build fully functional androids.
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Jan 28, 2011 7:41 pm UTC

I don't know.. a lot of that seems to assume ideal battle conditions and not real-world battle conditions. Streetfighting, for example.

Really, though, if we're talking about weapon superiority, tanks would easily be... not even on the short list. Why be anywhere near the fight when you can have your FutureArtillery* just kill the target from twenty miles away?


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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby WarDaft » Fri Jan 28, 2011 8:12 pm UTC

Fighting other forces in confined spaces like inside the same building would be their weakest point, but at the same time, using grenades against opponents inside the same house you're in has its drawbacks, and they could carry and use an M2 (or the future version thereof) inside buildings far more practically than infantry could, so most walls wouldn't be a problem. There's still the whole we don't really care if we lose some of them part as well, because you don't have the training costs or moral loss.


If we take futuristic combat completely seriously, ground forces of any sort basically go out of the picture. You have highly specialized forces for precision/covert operations, and kinetic bombardment from orbit for the rest. And really, given the anonymity of it, kinetic bombardment can cover an awful lot of the covert situations too. But that makes for more limited RPGs.
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby Yakk » Fri Jan 28, 2011 8:24 pm UTC

There is a difference between conquest and control, and total war.

For example, today all conventional military is about conquest and control, and not about total war.

Total war today would be fought with non-conventional means.

Conquest and Control are also separate. A tank-scale device, that can defeat opposing "control"-level forces, is useful for conquest -- but for control, it is more than a bit overkill.

Control starts looking a bit like policing, but imposed externally.

So we have a hierarchy of the mass use of force: Total War -> Conquest -> Control -> Policing

With any kind of space travel science fiction level technology, anything above Policing is going to start looking weird to our eyes. (Note: I'd put SWAT teams into the Control category.)

Police: Cheap, lightweight defences -- designed to protect against civilian attacks. Attacks are considered unlikely, so not worth much bother. Weapons are often non-lethal. Carries light-weight lethal weapons if non-lethal weapons are less reliable.
Control: Heavier, bulkier defences -- attacks are considered likely. Weapons are rarely non-lethal. Limited blow-through is accepted. Non-lethal weapons are used to allow for area targeting of opponents, as civilian casualties are to be avoided.
Conquest: Sufficient defences to make Control weapons ineffective (note: disposable units works for this). Weapons are designed to shoot right through standard building materials.
Total War: Orbital bombardment, Stellar nova bombs, etc.
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Jan 28, 2011 9:48 pm UTC

Just had this thought on my walk home; human weapons are designed for taking down Earth targets. Our bullets are meant to pass through soft squishy flesh and damage internal organs. I can imagine a number of organisms portrayed in SciFi that would react very differently to getting shot at.

For example, an insect-like organism may be more resilient to scatter rounds from a shotgun, but may not have very well evolved means for clotting. As such, they may be incredibly weak to armor piercing rounds, and bleed to death in a matter of minutes. An organism that for whatever reason has very advanced tissue repair and clotting potential (and say, a backup organ system or two) may be more or less impervious to high velocity rounds, but extremely vulnerable to poisons.

Imagine now the weapons that they would create, and how they would be more or less effective against humans.
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby mosc » Fri Jan 28, 2011 10:11 pm UTC

Sure, but a decent sized bullet kills anything organic on this earth. The realm of science fiction races often are based on somewhat terrestrial species even if they're not human. What you're talking about is some theoretical biology so far outside of our own experience that it might as well be an energy being.
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Jan 28, 2011 10:13 pm UTC

Er, you can't wrap your head around the examples I gave, or equate them to energy being? Yikes. I pity your imagination.

One uses a very different bullet for hunting, say, a Rhino, as one does for hunting, say, a Deer, and again for hunting a bird. That isn't science fiction.
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby mosc » Fri Jan 28, 2011 10:15 pm UTC

but if you hit any of those animals in the head with a decent calibur bullet, they're dead.
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Jan 28, 2011 10:20 pm UTC

Dude, seriously? One doesn't use high velocity, high caliber, depleted uranium hollow points to kill a turkey. And soldiers don't all carry the above mentioned projectile firing weapon.

Lets run with this a second; say humans are fighting an avian race, that flies, wears very light body armor, and is expecting humans to be far less mobile than they are. Lets ignore vehicles for simplicity sake, and assume moderate terrain for coverage, say, a small town with 1-4 story buildings. Say we're defending.

What type of weapon do you think they would carry, and what type of weapon do you think the humans would carry?

The answer should be somewhere along the line of; they should have rounds that can fire through walls (armor piercing), fire rapidly in case of a miss, maybe be incendiary for collateral damage, and maybe use explosives and/or gas.

We would not be. We would likely be using weapons with wide spread.
Do you see where I'm going with this, or are you going to chalk everything up to "Whatever, just shoot it in the head with high fire power"?
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby Midnight » Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:05 pm UTC

Man hard sci-fi is a pain, innit? And how would you map out truly non-anthropomorphic races, like wads of SENTIENT SPACE FUNGUS (they grow smarter the bigger they get! But they have pretty shitty memory cause old bits slough off only a bit slower than new ones grow)?
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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby Life Chris » Sun Feb 27, 2011 3:27 pm UTC

Fire control measures are the key. It's necessary to match up the weapon system with the type of enemy. For example, you wouldn't use a thermonuclear warhead to take out a guy coming at you with a knife, that's when you run into the concept of "overkill." A more appropriate weapons system for a guy with a knife would be, say, a hand gun or even a baseball bat. A good combat leader won't let his units waste good ammo on things that can be killed with lesser systems.

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Re: An non-antropocentric role playing system? (Mass Effect)

Postby Yakk » Sun Feb 27, 2011 3:36 pm UTC

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