On Sinless Combat!

 Sinless combat is so cool!

I remember, once, during a game of 4e Dungeons and Dragons, I had enough time between rounds to calculate every one's average basic attack damage (since all our encounter/utility cards were burned) and determine with statistical accuracy that we had 14 more rounds to go until we killed the boss. Sure enough, 14 rounds later, he was dead. 

Can we conceptualize how many failures in that experience there are? 

Sinless is not like that. Sinless combat is violent and terrifying. 

The truth is, the weapons we have today, even toned down for a tabletop role-playing game, are ridiculous. A Vulcan Cannon fires 7200 rounds per minute. That's 120 bullets per second.  The main limiting factor in its use is that the ammo weighs so much it can only fire for a few minutes. They were worried about the bullets hitting the ground, so they program them to explode in 4 seconds after a mile. 

Full auto is a thing. It is very hard to survive if you are caught in the open, and someone shoots 30 bullets at you. Sinless is not a game about slowly removing opponents' hit points while they retain their full effectiveness. In an extended conflict, the Sinless are sure to lose. 

Which is why they don't do that. 

They prepare ahead of time and know the location and general power of the opposition. They develop a plan to obviate challenges like Vulcan cannons, accomplish their objective and plan an escape. And five out of six times, things go as planned. 

That other time though, they miss something in the dossier, and there's an unexpected threat they didn't prepare for. Do you decide as a referee when this happens? My advice would be no. There are always more threats on a site than it's possible for players to prepare for. Sometimes they don't check for magical critters, and there aren't any magical critters there. That one time, they miss that and have a hydra pop up to cock their run.

I use operations to introduce characters, conflicts, and background information and later use that information to design future runs and create a changing campaign world. I'm designing a run generator and referee tools that allow you to do this with low overhead. 

And after every operation, there's always fallout. Maybe someone got snapped by a camera. Maybe someone is seeking revenge. 

Combat is about solving problems that you've prepared for. And the design of missions leaves plenty of room for surprises. What about people that are organized and plan well? Well, maybe they are ready to move up to the professional tier of missions. Like all classic play styles, players can choose their level of danger. 

It can be a shift from people who are used to encounters designed to be fought and won. A well-run and planned operation isn't one that exposes the players to return fire. That said, characters in Sinless are quite competent and powerful, which means they have the ability to address "surprises" in the run.  There's very much a fun dynamic in my playtests where the players are like:

It's a great time. :-)

If this sounds like something that you might like to have at your table, be sure to back the Kickstarter now to avoid missing out on exclusive Kickstarter content!

Hack & Slash 

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On a Sinless update and the gameplay loop.


Honestly, I'm so chuffed.

I isolated and read a lot as a child, and when I imagined the future as someone who made these rpg books it seemed like a fantasy. It's amazing every day I wake up. And it's because of you, so thanks! I am grateful daily.

What's really cool though, is the Sinless gameplay loop.

Focus on the Gameplay Loop

In the tactical mercenary team game, there are two phases. The tactical mission, and the base/character building.  You get new toys, you go on the next mission to play with the toys, and you get more toys.

But in an role-playing game?

It's not limited like those spaces. It's not the Argo or the Avenger.  How to increase the scope without chaos?

Enter sectors and resources. Each sector is a conceptual downtown space, laid over a map like a point-crawl, rather than a consistent physical measure of distance. And each space has a variety of resources which are things like "apartments", "casinos", "power stations", "media outlets," et. al. The full list is in the rules document available to backers.

These resources are general categories (e.g. factories) that turned into specific resources in a sector. (e.g. Westfork Chemical Processing). Players can take over resources from their owners using sector actions. Players can blow up and demolish resources from their owners. Players can build new resources in empty spots.

But it's even better than that.

One of the sector actions available is "Do Crime". And while crime generates revenue, it also raises heat. In my Monday session, players raised the heat in their sector to 2 by doing crime, which gives a bonus to the amount of money all vice resources produce, meaning the bar they own made more money! (conversely, having no heat is a boon to business resources.)

You can do enough crime in a sector to cause a crackdown. This causes a heavy enforcement presence and shuts down all resources in the sector. This is also a way to solve problems.

The actions in the sector turn affect the operational turns (the uh, tactical crime operation). The actions during the operational turn affect the sector turns. This is explicit mechanically. e.g.

"After the session, the players and Agonarch agree on a level of destruction (none, some, lots, total) and a level of influence exerted on a resource (none, minor, major, exceptional). Some destruction does 1d3 damage, lots of destruction does 1d6, and total destruction does 2d6 damage to the resource condition track. Minor influence grants 1 point, major grants 2, and exceptional grants 3. Heat is raised by 1 for minor changes, 2 for major ones, and 3 for exceptional/total changes."

So at the end of every job, they get paid, and can use sector turns to raise more money, buy rare gear, purchase additional assets, build up their resources and take over new resources. Then they get a new job which is an opportunity to use all their new tools! Both assets and resources can provide bonuses during operations. One asset might allow you to plant bombs or guns in the operation site, others might affect all the guards or shut down digital defenses.

So it's this nice loop during play. They finish a mission, get money and kismet to level up. They level up, and turn to the sector turn to invest/spend their money. They get a lot of new stuff (assets, gear, abilities) and progress during the sector turn. Then leveled up they look for a new job.

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