Weird Detective Mystery Adventures

game mechanics

 electronic abridged edition


 

This section covers the actual playing the game part of playing the game. This is where we answer the questions of what you do with the dice, and the charts, and the statistics, and the characters. Relax. We have in no way rewritten the genre of role playing games. In actuality, we side with keeping things simple.

Almost everything left up to chance in this game is resolved by throwing dice and referencing the results on the Uniform Stunt Chart. You determine what the Active Level is and then reference it to a Defending Level. Then you roll two six sided dice and multiply the results together. If the result is above the number needed on the Uniform Stunt Chart, whatever your character wanted to happen happens. If the result is below the number needed, your character has failed in his action. The only thing that really changes from circumstance to circumstance is what the Active and Defending Levels are.

The Active Level is the skill or ability level that is being applied to accomplish the task. An example of this would be the character’s skill at locksmithing. He is using this skill to pick a lock. The Defending Level would be the difficulty of picking this particular lock.

All levels in the game are rated from Below Average to Omega. Levels of Below Average to Heroic represent standards that would be found in the real, regular world. The three broadest standards are Below Average, Average and Above Average. Almost everything in the normal world falls into one of those three categories. Levels of Skilled, Talented, Champion and Heroic are grades of excellence in terms of quality or difficulty. They are normal, but they are very, very rare. It’s not just good, it’s either really good or shades of great. Levels of Mutant through Omega are uncommon, supernatural and not really a part of the normal world. They are defiant, grades of the unreasonably uncommon. And everything in the universe is graded from between Below Average to Omega. This imposed fiction is what makes this something of a closed system. Things can only suck so much or be so fantastic.

To get back to our example, we need to first look at what the rating is for our intrepid adventurer’s Locksmith skill. No matter how crummy the lock is, mere possession of the Locksmith ability gives him far better of a chance to open the lock than someone who has no ability whatsoever. In this example, let us say that our hero’s ability in Locksmith is Skilled. That puts him in the upper 10% of people who even have a Locksmith skill. He’s gosh darn good at it.

Now let us take a look at the lock. It is a bicycle combination lock. It’s a great lock. It cost me $40.00 and is coated with that special stuff that only an arc welder can go through. It locks the rear wheel of my bike and anchors it to the post. My bike is an immovable, fixed and safe object.

Or is it? How difficult is that lock to pick for someone with a Skilled level in Locksmith? It should be Below Average, right? No. It would not. Objects and difficulty levels in this game are not rated on a sliding scale dependant upon the Active Level applied against them. Instead, Defending Levels are assigned in on a static scale as they compare to everything in the universe. And everything in the universe is rated at from Below Average to Omega.

So how good is my lock? For $40.00 it should be Omega, but unfortunately it is a bicycle lock and in the universe of locks it rates a solid Average. In this instance the Active Level would be our hero’s Skilled verses my soon to be stolen bike lock’s Defending Level of Average.

That doesn’t make it a bad lock, it just makes me unlucky. You would hope that someone with a locksmith skill would have something better to do than steal bikes. Let us say, by contrast, that the person attempting to steal my bike has no skill whatsoever in locksmith or ‘Bike Stealing’. He’s just wandering down the street, spots my bike and decides that he is going to pick the lock.

So what are his chances? Wouldn’t he get at least a Below Average as an Active Level? No. He would not. Giving him Below Average would be assigning him a probable shot when circumstances dictate that he has none. The way we define the chances of an improbable shot are by using the realities of time and proximity. Something is very likely to happen to my potential bike thief well before he simply chances on a method of opening my lock. He needs to roll a succession of two sixes in a row equal to the lock’s Defending Level’s ACT. In game terms, we call this an unqualified roll. Since my lock is Average, he has to roll two sixes twice. If it was Below Average, he would only have to roll two sixes once.

But what if the bike thief is really lucky, as in he has a high LUCK BASESTAT? The LUCK BASESTAT in this game is not a power in and of itself. It does not bend the odds in the character’s favor throughout the universe. It is instead a precondition of his existence: the reason he was born a mutant or survived having chemicals dumped on his head. It nets out HTK points and skill points. Unless it’s plugged into a power, it doesn’t really do anything. If my lucky thief really wants to suddenly manifest a skill at picking off my bike, he needs to invest in the ability Bag of Tricks.

Similarly, if my lucky thief gets bored with picking my lock and instead decides to simply stand on the street corner and will money into his pocket, he has less than a Below Average chance of being successful. In fact, he has no chance of it happening at all no matter how long he tries it since he does not have the ability to make it happen and it is not remotely probable that it just will happen on its own. Even with an Omega luck.

These are the basic principles of this game. The rest of this is nuance.


Game Charts

Following are all of the charts commonly used in the running of this game. Certain abilities use other charts which are included in the Ability Arsenal with the listing of the power. The charts we are dealing with here are the ones universal to the game.

Our first chart is the Universal Stunt Chart. As explained previously, you roll two six sided dice and multiply their results. If the result is above the number stated, your character has succeeded in his task. The user is also successful if he rolls doubles, UNLESS the roll is two ones. Two ones are a FUMBLE, which has its own chart. Should the person making the roll score two sixes, not only is the action successful, but the user has scored a CRITICAL HIT. Critical hits are considered better than hitting Omega. You have been improbably good. A CRITICAL hit also has its own rules.

Our next chart is the Minor Damage Chart. In this game damage is rated in points, dice and either Minor or Major Damage. All damage effectively results in points of damage which is subtracted from a target’s HTK Score. This damage is generated several ways. On rare occasions, some attacks are rated in points of damage. When this is the case, the number of points of damage are fixed. It always does that much damage. Most damage is rated in a variable, usually in numbers of dice of damage.

Many conventional weapons are rated at Minor Damage, which is effectively six dice of damage. Use the following chart to determine the result of Minor Damage.

The Major Damage chart is used for real world weapons of mass destruction. It uses the results of the Minor Damage chart multiplied by a variable of from one to six. To use this chart, first roll up Minor Damage and then an additional six sided dice. Take the result of the Minor Damage and reference it to the roll of the third dice on the Major Damage Chart. This is how many points of damage a power or weapon rated at Major Damage does.

Major and Minor Damage are good ways of rating your character against the Modern Thrills universe. Minor Damage is good enough to kill normal people. Major Damage is good enough to wipe out the average armored military vehicle.

Major and Minor Damage reflects what the normal people with normal weapons can deal out to your character. Chances are that if your opponent is a fellow extranormal, his damage will be rated in dice of damage. For generating the results of this damage, the Quick Fast Damage allocation system is both legal and recommended.

Quick Fast Damage:There is nothing to this system. You simply multiply the dice roll result by the number of dice and then record all six possible results on your character sheet. For example, if an attack does 23 dice of damage, the Quick Fast Results would be recorded as 1=23, 2=46, 3=69, 4=92, 5=115 and 6=138. The obvious advantages of this system are that it is quick and that it gives you a one in six chance to do maximum damage. Players are free to roll dice individually if they so like.

Fumbles: Once it has been determined that a fumble has been scored, have the player or the judge roll two additional dice. In this game to fumble is not simply to fail, but rather to have done something quite different than what it is you intended. It means that as a result of your failed action, you may never try to do this trick on that target ever again. It halts any further combat or movement actions your character has to take for the action. You have oopsed. You broke the key off in the lock. You threw the lit stick of TNT in the wrong direction—and it went off. Not merely failure, a fumble is failure with consequences.

Our Fumble chart covers only combat situations—and even then it isn’t perfect for every situation. The Judge or the player rolls two six sided dice. This generates two digits which the judge then compares to the below chart. It is then up to the judge to determine how the results would best translate to the given situation. Since the two numbers are interchangeable, he will usually have the ability to choose from two interpretations.

Non Combat Fumbles: Although the provided chart only applies to combat situations, the fumble concept applies to any stunt roll in which double ones are rolled. At the very least, a fumble means that he can’t try the stunt again—and that his activities for the action are over. If doubles are rolled as a result of the fumble roll, the user has really screwed up. A roll of double ones or double sixes are absolutely catastrophic. Any other double roll results in something both improbable and bad happening. If the fumble roll is not doubles, then it is just a standard issue total and complete screw up. Yes, you broke the lock and alerted the authorities to your presence, but at least nothing exploded.

Combat Critical:Once it has been determined that a Critical has been scored, have the judge or the player roll two additional dice. A Critical is the exact opposite of a fumble. You have not merely succeeded, you have done far better than you could have reasonably expected. You get bonus bells and whistles. In combat, at the very least, you have scored maximum damage. An additional roll of two ones or two sixes is particularly spectacular. A roll of two ones nets double maximum damage, plus inflicts Shock of Impact and Major Damage. A roll of two sixes reduces the target to zero HTK and inflicts shock of impact.* (See Double Six Critical Rule.)Any other roll of doubles inflicts Maximum Damage plus Major Damage and inflicts Shock of Impact. Any roll that is not doubles inflicts Maximum Damage and either Shock of Impact or Major Damage, whichever is to the greatest advantage to the attacker or most appropriate to the situation.

*Double Six Critical Rule:

If bullets are bouncing off the guy’s chest, doing a really good job of throwing the gun at his head is not going to help.

Or

If you have brought a knife to a gun fight, it doesn’t really matter how good you are with the knife.

Or

You cannot shoot down an F-16 with a pea shooter, no matter how prodigious your aim may be.

Which means…

Scoring a Double Six Critical hit does not grant you any defense against the target’s defenses. In short, you cannot reduce a target to zero hit points with a weapon which has no “improbable potential” of inflicting enough damage to get through the target’s DEFL score. The way we measure improbable potential is to multiply the attacker’s Maximum Damage by three. If that number is less than the target’s DEFL score, then he cannot effect the target no matter what he rolls. (One wonders what the attacker is doing in this situation in the first place, but some people are slow learners.) Conversely, if the attacker’s Maximum Damage multiplied by three can score even one point of damage in excess of the target’s DEFL score, he can, on a Double Six Critical, instantly reduce the target to zero HTK.

Unless…

You can score more points with triple Maximum Damage than you can by simply reducing the target to zero HTK. In this case, you score triple Maximum Damage plus inflict Shock of Impact.

Targets who have Invulnerability, Damage Reserve or Leech (Attack Battery) are nearly impossible to one punch, no matter what you do. That is part of their power. In the case of a character with Damage Reserve or Leech, a Double Six Critical scores three times Maximum Damage plus inflicts shock of impact. In the case of an Invulnerable character, his entire HTK Total should be treated as his DEFL score. If triple maximum damage isn’t good enough to get through, you are fighting the wrong guy. If you want to have a shot of going after these jokers, you need the powers Bomb, Big Zap or Inflictor. Or go after them through some other means.

Non Combat Critical Success: As with the combat critical, the player or the judge rolls an additional two dice. At the very least, the user has been successful enough to gain more than what he was after. A roll of doubles indicates that the success of this stunt cascades into other stunts involved in the same situation. In short, he gets to skip steps. He hasn’t just hacked through computer security well enough to turn off the alarm system; he has the controls for the entire building and can turn off the security cameras, motion detectors and phones. Double ones or double sixes make the results much better. As with anything in this game, it is up to the judge to determine the scope of a critical success. Obviously, a limited stunt can only net a limited result: if there is only one fish in the pond, you can only catch one fish no matter how well you have rolled.


THE WORLD IS MADE OUT OF CARDBOARD

This is the real world. With the exception of some weird people and their weird works, this is the ordinary universe. The weird imposes itself on the ordinary. Heroes are people who show up to protect the ordinary. They swoop in, beat back the weird, and go back to their places living amongst the ordinary. Unlike a fantasy setting, nothing has replaced the conventions of normal life. People here have average lives. There isn't some dragon or collection of deities out there who somehow keep the world in line. The world is at the Extranormal's mercy.They are the dragons and deities. It is set up to keep the normal person in check. To the Extranormal, the world might as well be made out of cardboard--or perhaps something even flimsier.


Unfortunately, in the real world:

An average person with a weapon that does Minor Damage can kill the average person in about two seconds.

Maniacs with even conventional weapons can kill masses of people. Stuff that took thousands of hours to build in can be destroyed seconds.

The normal person has BASESTATS of between Below Average and Heroic in all of their categories, with the exception of the POWER BASESTAT. The average person has a Below Average POWER BASESTAT. (The POWER BASESTAT is only for extranormal characters.)This is what the completely average face in the crowd comes out to

A person with Above Average to Heroic in one or more BASESTATS is also normal, although they are exceptional. This is the realm of athletes, geniuses, show girls, politicians and the obese. A high BASESTAT may make them stand out from the crowd a little, but these are essentially still the type of people that you meet when you're walking down the street. Or at least you get to see them on TV. Like Average People, they have a Below Average POWER BASESTAT. A completely maxed out Normal Person, one who has Heroic levels in all BASESTATS, would come out to

This guy is a college football coach's dream come true. He's 7'5 and muscular. He runs the 40 in five seconds flat and can bench press a dumpster. Besides being a straight 'A' student, he's President of the Senior Class. During the off season he discovered a diamond mine and invented cold fusion.

Frankly, and perhaps thankfully, this person doesn't exist. He is all he can be, but he isn't Extranormal. You will note that his point value is 360, which is 90 points above a starting character’s point total. (He also has 78 background points, hence the diamond mine and discovery of cold fusion.) He is the best completely normal person he can possibly be.

The person on the street is more likely to be closer to our completely average person than he is the maxed out version. Depending on the person’s age, a normal adult is likely to have about 40 more Background Points than the strictly average person, but this is basically the range as far as BASESTATS are concerned for normal people.

They ain’t all that tough. Even our football star goes down in a heap after a few seconds of being shot at. The other difference between a normal person and a player character is that a normal person stops recovering at all once they hit zero HTK. We will cover this in greater depth in the COMBAT 204. DEATH section of this unit.

If you take a look at the vehicles in the EQUIPMENT section of the Abilities Arsenal, you will see that most of them are fairly flimsy also. Two well placed shotgun blasts (which does Minor Damage) and the Average Car is pretty much kaput. Tanks and planes fare a little bit better, as does anything that is designed to be in combat.

But most of the world and the people in it are not designed to be in combat.

The simple rule is that a 1 inch square chunk of concrete takes 1 point of damage to destroy.When a character wants to destroy something, measure its general toughness in 1 square inch chunks of concrete. Remember that this is a measure of the object's ability to withstand damage. A cola can may have more mass than a 1 square inch chunk of concrete, but it is far easier to destroy.

It takes less than 40 points of damage to destroy the average car. About 50 points of damage destroys a truck. 100 points totals the average house or one story of the average building.

These are all concepts that your heroes should be made aware of. Their characters would know it innately. Heroes are going to have to be continually on their guard against simply trashing the neighborhood. The bad guys they are likely to run into are not so vigilant on this score and often use the flimsiness of people and the universe in general to their advantage.

Now that we have dealt with people and things, its time to handle the forth dimension of reality…

Time in Game terms: Game rounds are measured in actions. An action is about one second of real time. For purposes of determining duration and distance traveled, it is exactly one second. For purposes of talking during combat, time is more or less suspended. You can pretty much talk yourselves a blue streak back and forth if you must. This concept is very much in keeping with the genre of literature. Time magically extends when combat meets dialog.

In the previous edition of this game we had a phased combat system. Although this may have given fast characters some deserved advantage, it resulted in having a lot of players sitting on their hands, waiting while other characters were allowed to act. In this edition, every character can act on each action. And boy, can they act…

Maximum Average Potential

This is what is recorded on the character sheet. It is everything the character is and can do. This includes the character's BASESTATS, Skills, Powers, Weapons and Equipment.

In games of this sort, it is the Judge's quest to impose some reason on the character's activities. This task has something of a hopeless side to it, since none of the character's actions are in any way based on reality. They are, instead, based on fiction. In all cases, we side with the way an event works in fiction and not necessarily reality.

As part of the character's Maximum Average Potential, he always has the ability to move his full MOVE score (or use a power to move) and then take some action. On every action the character may: move his full Move and then attack; or attack and then move up to his full MOVE; or move part of his MOVE, attack, and then move the rest of his MOVE. He may also move, attack, move and attack. Each character has the right to hit and run in any combination, up to his Maximum Average Potential. The target has no right to get an attack in when he is being attacked or when he is being moved to or away from. The target(s) may only attack back when it is their turn to move.

The other component of the character's Maximum Average Potential is his Ability Arsenal. Whatever trick or tricks he has chosen may be deployed during a single action. The character should be able to use any /all of his powers on a single action, unless the use of one power precludes the use of another power.

The limitations on this, if any, come from the character concept. Let us take the example of a character who typically wields a machinegun.He really can’t fire the machinegun and then launch a HTH Attack.An action is only a second, and during that second he probably, reasonably, can’t do both—even in fiction.

Being a character based on fiction does grant certain at will abilities. It would be reasonable to say that a character should have some penalty assessed against him for turning around, drawing a weapon, aiming the weapon at several moving targets and firing--all in the course of a single action. It would also be wrong to assess a penalty. The character isn't you or me or his player--He's a fantasy character. His character record (Maximum Average Potential) says he can move X number of meters and normally walks around with a loaded Machine Pistol stuffed into his bullet-proof vest. The act of turning around, drawing a weapon and firing might be difficult for a real person, but not for the character--He's a stud. He came ready to play. He doesn’t lose an action for drawing a gun. He doesn’t net a penalty for shooting at multiple moving targets while he is himself moving. All of that has already been factored in to his Maximum Average Potential. In all cases, avoid limits on the character's potential. Maximum Average Potential means he's always this good. He's never any better, but he's always this good. And he's ready for action at any moment. Danger isn't abnormal for him--Danger is his business.

Similarly, unless the player has gone out of his way to make a character’s abilities defective (see the General Power Modificationssection of the Abilities Arsenal) he can use his powers and abilities as often and as long as he likes. (Each power is usually limited to being able to only do one thing during a given action, however.) As long as there is no opposition to his activities, no stunt roll is required. A character who can fly may fly as long as he likes and at will. There are no endurance points or energy allocation involved. (Heroes who seem winded in this genre of fiction are usually only pausing to deliver a bit of pithy dialog.)There are no firing arcs, being caught flat footed, being flanked or advantages or disadvantages for close or far range. All hit locations are treated equally. There is no moving in or out of threat ranges or free attacks. All has been mystically, magically accounted for by the awe inspiring mechanism of the Maximum Average Potential. Free your mind!

What about partial cover?

You have ruined my Zen moment!

The D20 combat system is based on miniatures rules set up for Napoleonic type battles. This assumes that most actors are on a flat plane. WDMA has based its combat system more or less upon air to air combat, wherein the most important factors are range, damage, accuracy, dodge and deflection. Yes, stuff like walls do get in the way.

But I ask you, how much cover is a desk to hide behind, even fully, when your attacker has X-Ray vision and is hurling a ball of atomic plasma? The world is made out of cardboard and you use it as a shield at your own risk! In this game, using distance and getting out of your attacker’s range, is the best defense. If cover is truthfully a factor, the Defending Level on the attack can be raised.

Actions as a measure of time are useful in combat, but they don’t always apply to stunt rolls. Some stunts, such as using a computer to hack through a security system, take more than one action. The stunt roll is for one attempt, no matter how long that attempt may take. When in combat, however, actions are a second and most actions are measured in straight time. Which leads us to…