The Aurora RPG Engine – Part 11

 

Postscript – Breaking the Core Mechanic (In a Good Way)

Sometimes, hooking a sub-system onto the core isn’t quite enough to model the intricacies of a particular genre.  Sometimes you just gotta directly hack the core.  Here’s one example of how this can work well when carefully applied, centering around the fixed target number.

Friction.  This concept is borrowed from the Top Secret/NWO game and models how something as touchy and fraught as spy-type (or detective noir, or covert military operations, or similar) action can be, as every little complication during a mission adds up, compounding and threatening to spiral everything out of control.  This is represented by the addition of a Tension Track to the game.  For every failed task, and as an option when buying additional dice from the GM, the tension track is increased by one.  For every 3 ticks upward on the track, the base target number also clicks up by one:  16, 17, 18.  With this, not only does it model the characters having a tougher time to succeed due both to the complications as well as their mounting psychological stress, but the players themselves also notice the higher base value and thus begin to feel under pressure.  As the mission progresses, the tension mounts…

But not forever.  MoS can be used to click back the Tension Track, offering a new choice to the gameplay:  should I succeed greatly here, or buy an advantage, or should I use this MoS to click back how pear-shaped the mission has far being going thus far?

Why this works.  After so many words describing how the fixed target number is a great feature of Aurora’s core mechanic, the adjustment of the target number works in this context because it is an across-the-board sliding of the target number and not an individual test-by-test adjustment.  Therefore most of the benefits of a fixed target number remain, and if the uncertainty of one’s chances of success get a little wonky because it no longer fits the standard values that’s actually a bonus and not a bug, for it fits the genre perfectly to intentionally add uncertainty and tension.

 

Additional and Common Subsystems and Considerations | Index

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