Although I have a background in IT, as well as other things, I have never really taken a look at Github, nor had any idea how it works. Since starting Bare Metal Edition (BME) as a Github project I can see some of the advantages.
Right now, I am still in the ‘stripping down to the bare metal’ stage. I want to leave just the basic game mechanics, with an explanation of how they are implimented.
Where Github comes in is that provides two features. The first isn’t too exceptional, you could do the same thing with Google Drive, but you can have multiple people working on the shared project at the same time. My fellow developer, Alfred Reibenschuh, is a coding expert, and his programming skills are coming to bear on creating all the tables and stats for the game.
Alfred also has a coders analytical mind, questioning everything how it works, is it necessary and challenging the implementation. The result is a really robust core to the game engine.
The exciting part, for me, is that Github supports forks in a project. This means that if you wanted to create a 1930s pulp action game from BME, you could just fork off from the core. Any improvements made in the core would cascade through to your fork, giving you the choice to adopt the change or reject it (in case your fork has changed a core rule).
I think this freedom to ‘take and make your own’ is really exciting.
So what does BME give you?
BME walks a tightrope in trying to be both simulationist and rules light at the same time.
BME has a fairly deadly combat system with location specific woulds. Those wounds make logical sense, pointy weapons cause bleeding, blades cut muscles and tendons or bits off, blunt weapons stun and stagger foes. The damage and the attack roll are related, if you only just hit you are only going to do a glancing blow. A great attack roll does a lot more damage.
BME has a life path character generation system. You get benefits from your genetic makeup, from the culture you grew up in and basic skills from your profession. This gives many options and combinations, but mechanically it is simply additive. You pick a species, add the culture skills, add the basic training and you are most of the way there.
You get to customise your character by specifying aptitudes towards certain skills and by point buying a few starting skills that are unique to you. Chargen is a matter of minutes but the characters are detailed and unique.
BME is rules light in so much as it has pared down the rules to a minimum and it was designed to be played in an OSR style. I would much rather you roleplayed your solutions than just roll your skill and expect things to just work for you. I read something today that said “Come up with a solution that is so perfect that there is no need to roll.” That is how OSR should be played!
Being a framework, BME is capable of being expanded with an unlimited number of skills. For example Music is a default skill, but the rules allow you to split that into Music: Singing, Music: Play Guitar and even Music: Dance. You could go into as much detail as you like. There is Engineering but you can explode that down to any level of detail.
My logic was that in a generic scifi or fantasy setting broad skills are just fine. If you wanted to run a procedural police crime investigation game, then the details become much more important. You would want to be skilled in forensics or interrogation techniques and many other things.
The structure is there, it is up to you to craft it into the framework to support your game setting.
It would be extremely easy to go all out for detailed simulation or all out OSR rules light. It is the middle ground that is the hard path.
Are We There Yet?
As of tonight, character generation is done, and the combat system is in place. The combat is a work of art. Alfred’s combat engine can detail individual weapons and pieces of armour or go the other way and just bulk all swords into one generic weapon. It can deal with simply unarmoured/armoured or fantastically detailed model of different armour types.
What isn’t done is resolving a few questions, like, do we include a magic system? or psionics? Are these part of a bare metal system? Are the so setting specific that we should leave them to the writers creating actual games?
Right now, we don’t have the answers, but we do have some ideas we can suggest.
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