Showing posts with label OSR?. Show all posts
Showing posts with label OSR?. Show all posts

Monday, October 24, 2016

Super Crawl Classics: An Elevator Pitch

Michel Fiffe's COPRA.

Please Note: This is not an announcement of any sort or form, nor should it be construed as being indicative of any sort of game book coming from Goodman Games. It is entirely a flight of fancy. However, if any powers that be would be interested. You know where to find me.

Super Crawl Classics would be an adaptation of the rules used in the Dungeon Crawl Classics and upcoming Mutant Crawl Classics RPGs for super-hero role-playing. This is just a loose pitch, and it would undergo some serious work to make things fit best with the rules. There would likely have to be some changes to the paradigms of the rules used (Funnels, for example, wouldn't work well in making a super-hero game in my opinion).

There would be classes for different sorts of super-heroic archetypes, and there would probably be races as a separate thing built around some of the concepts often used within super-hero comics.

Super Crawl Classics wouldn't be a generic super-hero game. The idea isn't to make a universal system that would allow you to create and play any sort of comic book super-hero character. In fact, Super Crawl Classics would focus on weird heroes, making a super-hero game that has a vibe similar to the weird fantasy feel of Dungeon Crawl Classics. My elevator pitch of the concept of the game would be that it would be Fletcher Hanks meets Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol meets the early issues of Rob Liefeld's Youngblood. Add some hard men/women from Warren Ellis' comics for seasoning.

You can't not have the influences of Jack Kirby on Super Crawl Classics either. His ideas of ancient and new gods, ancient aliens seeding the cosmos with being of powers, and cosmic entities vying for superiority against the back backdrop of time and space is too important to ignore.

Thematically, Super Crawl Classics would draw upon the looseness and energy of the Golden Age of comics, with the surreality of Morrison's classic Doom Patrol run and Peter Milligan's incredible Shade The Changing Man reboot, and the insanity of Rob Liefeld's comics. Heroes and heroines would be raw and primal, powerhouses that change their worlds merely by existing in them, and the menaces that they face would be weird. These are people with great powers and abilities, who are saving the world, but they don't always have to like what they're doing, or who they're working with.

It would also draw heavily on the public domain characters of the Golden Age of comics for world building. There are are great concepts tucked away in the pages of comics from the 30s and 40s that never had copyrights or trademarks registered for them, and they can be the basis of the world within which your super-powered characters will seek out adventure.

Benjamin Marra sketchbook pages.
The art for Super Crawl Classics would be raw and powerful. I would want to get more "underground" super-hero comic artists like Benjamin Marra, Michel Fiffe and Tom Scioli to fill the book with the sort of vibrant and unusual art that fans of Dungeon Crawl Classics are already fan of. If Steve Ditko could somehow be convinced to do the endpapers for the book (drawing whatever super-heroic epics are exploding in that man's brain) that would be awesome as well. It would just be a matter of someone figuring out how to contact the man.

But, the important thing about Super Crawl Classics would be that, like with the Dungeon Crawl Classics book, the people picking up the game would know instantly that they aren't just picking up your typical super-hero role-playing game.

Obviously filling an RPG book with this sort of mind-exploding art wouldn't be cheap, which is why it would take a Kickstarter to raise this up to what it would need to be.

Now, it is a fact that I'm not a fan of the whole "Appendix N" concept, because I think that a lot of people take the books listed in them to the exclusion of the broader world of fantasy fiction. The bibliography of comics would have to be extensive and highlight some of the many strange comics and characters that have come out during the 75+ years of super-hero comics.

Tom Scioli's Super Powers backmatter for Young Animal
All in all, Super Crawl Classics would be about the dirty and dangerous, psychedelic and strange underbelly of super-hero comics. The characters would be big, modern day myths in a weird world of evil villains and strange menaces from beyond time and space. I think that the Dungeon Crawl Classics rule set would make for a good framework for this sort of game.

I would probably beef up the Luck ability into something akin to how the classic Marvel Super-Heroes RPG had Karma. Characters could earn Luck, in the same way that they earn XP, and that would go into a pool that starts out like the other abilities, but grows through heroic actions. Luck is something that super-heroes would need a lot of to survive and succeed as they go along.

A lot of the options for powers would come from the various classes (or races), but there would be some more universal powers and that characters could draw upon as well. You would have to have magic, because of the Doctors Fate and Strange. Characters would be powerful beings.

The ability score modifiers would have to be increased to handle the increased range. You would still use 3d6, but your character's ability scores would also be modified by class and race to beyond the capabilities of mere mortals.

This is just the pitch. Super Crawl Classics would be a game of goddesses and monsters, heroes and villains, all played out against the tableau of all of time and space. It would be a big, powerful game. Probably the most powerful of the * Crawl Classics RPGs. They've got fantasy with Dungeon Crawl Classics and the post-apocalypse with the upcoming Mutant Crawl Classics, and then this can be taken as bigger with the Super Crawl Classics RPG. Maybe we could get Becky Cloonan to draw the cover.

If you can make this happen, you know where to find me.



Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Before The OSR -- Talking True20


In those dark days at the end of the D&D 3.x era, I cast around looking for something simpler. My tastes in gaming were in flux, and I found myself wanting something that was a lot less complicated, but still let me have games with some robust characters in them. And along came Green Ronin's True20 game.

Based off of the D20 SRD and rules from Unearthed Arcana and Green Ronin's Witches Handbook (also by Kenson), designer Steve Kenson created a streamlined set of rules that were robust and still recognizable as being derived from the D20 rules. Originally designed for the first edition of the Blue Rose RPG, the True20 rules were like a breath of fresh air. And Blue Rose was great for more reasons than just the system. The game's setting material broke with the traditions of fantasy gaming and distanced itself from fantasy influences like Tolkien, Moorcock and Howard, and embraced the "romantic" fantasy genre exemplified by authors such as Diane Duane, Mercedes Lackey, Tamora Pierce and others.

It was a nice breath of fresh air to see other genres getting some representation in fantasy gaming. Unfortunately some gamers, those who were used to their tastes being catered to, lost their shit over the fast that someone dared make a game that didn't allow them to continue to play in their same, safe fantasy settings.

I ended up playing the hell out of Blue Rose, and then when the generic True20 came out, I was even happier because then I could take a solid ruleset and use them for other genres besides just fantasy.

Here's some of the things that True20 gets right:

  • It uses the stat modifiers instead of the ability scores to quantify your character's abilities.
  • There are only three, fairly freeform, and broadly defined classes (adapted from the open content material of WotC's Unearthed Arcana for 3.x), and modifies them with Backgrounds and Paths to give you more customization options for your characters.
  • It gets ride of the long, long, long spell lists and replaces it with an again freeform Feat-based system, derived from the magic system for Witches that Kenson created in the Witches Handbook for 3.x from Green Ronin.
  • It seriously streamlines the skill lists.
  • Magic works in the exact same way as skills, so all of the task resolution revolves around the 20-sided die. The game uses just one dice.
  • Damage uses a Saving Throw rather ran a dynamic number that comes from rolling more dice. This streamlines combat further, meaning that there is a lot less dice rolling in the game and everything does faster.
A lot of this is fairly standard practice in a number of games now, but in 2005 while all of our heads were reeling from the hundreds, if not thousands, of D&D 3.x books that came out from Wizards of the Coast and pretty much every other publisher in tabletop RPGs, this was a breath of fresh air.

The timing of all of this coming out couldn't have been more fortuitous for me, because I needed something simpler, something that was easily available for players. True20 fit that bill rather nicely.

There was also a nice level of support. Green Ronin and a variety of third party publishers produced setting material for the system, and Green Ronin had supplements expanding each of the casses (and giving examples for using them in genres outside of just fantasy).

I won't say that there wasn't anything bad about True20, for example the importance of Feats meant that there were a lot of Feats in the rules and supplements. With a Feat-based powers system, that meant needing a lot of Feats in your games. Yes, they were slightly streamlined from "standard" D20 Feats, but each one still ended up being a special case for the rules. Depending on the type of campaign that you were running, that could mean a lot of Feats, and a lot of things to remember.

That didn't bother my games at the time, since we were all still dealing with a lot less complexity than we had been used to with our D&D or D20 Modern games at the time. So, it was all a matter of scale to us.

For those wondering about the title of this post, let me make a transition.

I got into True20 for much the same reasons that I would (eventually) get into Old School Renaissance games: I was looking for a much simpler approach to gaming. A few years back, when +Ethel B+David Rollins+Josh Thompson and eventually +Stacy Dellorfano got together to start playing fantasy games, we could have just as easily been playing a True20 game. In fact, we almost did.

When drafting +Ethel B into tabletop RPGs from MMOs like World of Warcraft, I went to look for simplicity. I didn't want her to deal with learning a bunch of complex rules and then find out she wasn't interested in RPGs. I wanted to "keep it simple, stupid" and find an easy to Grok, easy to run fantasy game that I could run via video chat. The first game on my list was True20, but I started nosing around the internet and discovered the whole retroclone movement where people were rebuilding early editions of D&D using the open content from the D20 SRD (much in the same way that Steve Kenson developed the True20 rules).

I started reading about games like Swords & Wizardry and the Basic Fantasy RPG and realized that I had found what I was looking for. These games were even simpler than True20. Reading up on the varieties of rules, I ended up deciding upon Swords & Wizardry Whitebox (with a couple of tweaks so that we could have thieves in our game) and we were off and gaming for more than three years now (and +Ethel B has attended two Gen Cons with an eye on her third).

There are probably a lot of things that could have gone a lot differently if I had decided to use True20 as my ruleset back when I was starting out.

I will also remind people of the standard rules around this blog:

https://xkcd.com/1357/




Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Player-Defined Powers In Classic Marvel Super-Heroes RPG

One of the more forward thinking ideas of the Classic Marvel Super-Heroes RPG from TSR was the idea of player/GM-defined powers and talents. Ostensibly an aid for adapting characters from the comics into the game, there's nothing saying that you can't have this as a regular option for your games, if you so desire.

We will be using the little known Revised Basic Rules as the basic for our upcoming Classic Marvel campaign, so any page references that I make will be to that book.

In the character creation section (pg. 47) there is a Power Categories Table that is used to determine the types of powers that your character can have. Instead of using that table, substitute this one instead:

Dice Roll
Power Category
01-05
Resistances
06-10
Sensory Powers
11-15
Movement Powers
16-25
Matter Control Powers
26-40
Energy Control Powers
41-55
Body Control Powers
56-70
Ranged Attack Powers
71-75
Mental Powers
76-85
Body Alterations/Offense
86-99
Body Alterations/Defense
00
Player-Defined

The change is fairly minor (adding one line at the end for Player-Defined Powers. The idea is that this is for the rare and exotic powers in your world, the ones that aren't as "generic" as some of the other powers may be. Obviously this will entail an added level of oversight because you will end up with players who want to create an "I DESTROY EVERYONE" power, or something similar.

One of the built-in controls for these player-defined powers is that fact that all powers in the Classic Marvel game have a ranking that controls what they can do. Even if you allow the I DESTROY EVERYONE power in a game, when the character's rank in it is only Good that will act as its own limitation on the power.

However, for those who want to think outside of the box, player-defined powers can help with that. Imagine wanting a character like Kay Challis, Crazy Jane of DC Comic's Doom Patrol revamp of the 80s. Mapping out 64 power sets would be a lot of work, and it would probably be beyond the scope of the Marvel game's character creation rules. She is, however, obviously a starting character. Really, we never see her entire power set demonstrated during the run of the comic...and we don't actually see many of the powers manifest in the beginning. Would a player-defined power be a way to go with this character? Maybe.

With apologies to Jay Z, you could name this power "I Have 64 Personalities And All Of Them Have Powers." Yes, there will be a little book keeping involved in this.

One thing that we can build into a player-defined power now is the idea of spending Karma, one of the game's character resources, for player-defined powers. While this is a common idea nowadays in systems like Fate or Icons, the idea wasn't as commonplace back when this system was created.

The idea being that, particularly with a power like that of Crazy Jane's Crazy-Janeness, having less defined up front costs you a little bit more when you go to actually utilize a power. This idea does fit in with the idea of "pay now or pay later" with the Karma system for the Classic Marvel game. As a GM, if someone in our campaign were to suggest creating this character using a player-defined power, this is a way that we could do it.

I would suggest an activation cost to the power. If you look back at the comics (which I did recently, when I got the Doom Patrol Omnibus for Christmas), you'll see that the character's powers are unreliable and can cut out at times. It would probably cost 10 or 20 Karma to activate the power. It is important to make the cost enough to have some weight (i.e. charging 1 or 5 points really isn't going to give much difficulty to the power), but not so much of a charge that the power becomes useless. The idea is to turn the power into a resource that has an impact on the play of the game. When the player uses Crazy Jane's powers, big stuff happens and bad guys can get taken out. You don't want to make this something that happens to easily, or that can't happen enough. An expenditure of 20 Karma can make a big deal, if it means that those 20 Karma cannot be used later in a game for influencing a dice roll.

Randomness can be your friend. Another option for making a power like that of Crazy Jane's would be to add a random element to it. Using powers that the character has previously used is no problem, and just has the activation cost, but when you go to use a new power you roll for it randomly. Once the power is rolled, it is fixed. This gives you 64 "slots" for Crazy Jane to fill up through play, and each time the player decides that it is time for a new personality with a new power to surface they roll on the Power Categories Table and roll through the sub-tables to determine the power. This roll uses the Power Categories Table from the book, however, because nesting player-defined powers could turn into a headache for everyone involved.

Yes, this does make for a bit of work on the part of the player who wanted this power for their character, but this extra work can be considered to be a part of the checks and balances of the system. Rolling on a couple of tables won't take up that much table time, and it gives an opportunity for group-wide fun as you get to mock the "Matter-Eater Lad" rolls.

Now, creating a character like Crazy Jane is obviously extreme, but it is always a possibility in a super-hero game. Super-hero games are often, by their nature, very gonzo and player-defined powers can feed into that gonzo-ness. You can also have less extreme versions of this power. My Matter-Eater Lad example in the previous paragraph could be a player-defined power. Write it like "Alien Physiology Allows Him To Eat And Digest Anything." The ranking for the power could determine how long it takes the character to digest things, or to chew them. It can be as simple as that.

Yes, Matter-Eater Lad was a real super-hero.

Another good use for player-defined powers can also be in the use of creating alien/extradimensional species. When alien species have powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal beings, like a Kryptonian, you can turn those into a super-power. Does your Kryptonian have a low rank in their "nature"? Perhaps this means that there is some interspecies breeding in their past ("Oh, your grandmother was from Earth?") which means that the powers aren't quite as potent in your character. When doing this you have to predetermine what exactly the "power set" for the alien species would be. Are they tougher than usual? The power rank can be used as an armor against damage. Are they smarter than usual? Substitute the power rank for their Reason in certain situations. There are a lot of ways that you can use this as a power for your character, it just requires thinking creatively.

Player-defined Talents can be even simpler. There are always "talents" that characters can have that are outside of those listed. Computers, Technology and Media have changed dramatically since the Classic Marvel RPG was published. Now, talents like "Twitter Muck-Raker," "Blogger" and "Social Media Guru" are just as viable media talents as Journalist was in the original game. Try to not think of the list of talents available in the original game as the be all of what is available to your character. There are always skills and occupations that game designers won't think about when making a game.

Any of these player-defined parts to a character can have an impact upon both the viability of the character, and their impact upon a campaign. You really want to try to curtail characters that take too much of the spotlight away from other characters. GMs shouldn't just say no to an element that a player wants to add to a campaign through their powers, but everyone should talk it out in order to come to a player-defined power that does what the player wants without bending things for the rest of the group.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Here Comes The Twister -- Detail In Setting Up Your New Campaign

There is a fine line to walk when starting up a new campaign. You want to give the players the idea of the world to come, without overloading on the details in such a way that you don't take all of the potential fun out of the game. Much like with players who come up with overly detailed backstories for their characters that have more awesomenss than the combination of five action movies, putting too much detail into your campaign world before you play can kill the world just as dead.

With the new year, our group is starting a new game. This is all my fault, I didn't really have fun with the last game. At the heart of things, I am probably a bad gamer because I really don't like playing D&D. So, that means that we needed something that would be as much fun for me as the GM as it was for the players (hopefully). This means that we going to stretch back to a different kind of old school for our next game: classic Marvel Super-Heroes (the original TSR game).

We aren't playing in any version of the Marvel Universe, however. All new, all original, all fun. I am taking a page from +Ross Payton's excellent Fate-based Base Raiders RPG and wiping the slate clean on the setting. You know those big events that plague comics? The last time one of those things happened in our world almost all of the heroes and villains disappeared. Poof. I also like the idea of hidden bases of the disappeared heroes and villains being left behind as a spark for new generations of heroes and villains. A super-hero dungeon crawl RPG. Who would have thought? Even if you don't use Fate in your games, there is plenty of good stuff to find in Payton's game. It sparked the basic ideas for our game in my head, so it should be able to give you plenty of good ideas too. It is good to look beyond the same old when looking for inspirations.

The other inspiration would be +Zak Smith's A Red & Pleasant Land. Yes, the D&D supplement/setting. If you haven't heard about this yet, well...I don't know what to tell you. I've already talked about this a little bit in my previous post converting Smith's Alice class from that book into a new Marvel Super-Heroes origin called The Fool. I know that +solange simondsen, one of the players in our group, is already excited about the opportunity to play Alice as a super-hero. So many other fictional characters have become super-heroes or villains, so it is probably Alice's turn.

Unintentionally, both of these posts about our upcoming campaign have referenced Talking Heads songs in their titles. Hopefully I will remember that for future posts.

Now, you're probably wondering why I would be referencing tornadoes in the name of a post about a game set in a alternate version of Wonderland. As I have said over on G+, as much as I have been a fan of Carrol's Alice stories, I was always a much bigger fan of L. Frank Baum's Oz stuff. So, because of that I want to bring an Oz into our world. Much like Smith's Voivodja is a twisted version of Wonderland, our Oz will be twisted like taffy in a cyclone.

Where Voivodja is in the thrall of vampires, Oz finds itself under the domination of the witches. Whether you're a good witch or a bad one, ultimately the seductive pull of dark magic get to you and warp you in chaotic ways. No matter how much you think that you are using magic, it will ultimately use you instead. There are great shadows that reach across the worlds, a conflict that grinds everything beneath its heel.

These worlds were once much more innocent, even in their evils, but now the lights are a little less bright, and the shadows seem to be even heavier.

If you've never seen Susperia you should be ashamed of yourself. Luckily, someone has solved that on YouTube for you.

From the Susperia Wikipedia page:
Suspiria (Latin for "sighs") is a 1977 Italian horror film directed by Dario Argento, co-written by Argento and Daria Nicolodi, and co-produced by Claudio and Salvatore Argento. The film stars Jessica Harper as an American ballet student who transfers to a prestigious dance academy in Germany. Later, she would realize that the academy is a front for something far more sinister and supernatural amidst a series of murders. The film also features Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci, Miguel Bosè, Alida Valli, Udo Kier, and Joan Bennett in her final film role. 


I like the classic Italian horror movies of the 70s because of the psychedelic, hallucinatory way in which they were made. I think that the tone of Satanic witchcraft would fit well into the outlines of the world that I am envisioning.

I really wanted to embed a link to Jess Franco's psychedelic vampire movie, Vampyros Lesbos, because I want to use that to inform my take on the vampires in our campaign. Based (very loosely) on the Bram Stoker short story "Dracula's Guest," this movie does for vampires what Suspiria does for witches. However, the one thing that sets Vampyros Lesbos apart really is the incredible soundtrack.


It should probably go without saying that neither or these videos are work safe.

None of this is sounding like your standard super-hero game, is it? That's intentional. Magic and the supernatural have been part of comic book super-heroes since the beginning. In fact, historically, the first costumed hero was Siegel and Shuster's Doctor Occult (breaking from trenchcoat to ritual garb just a couple of months before Superman would debut). With the heroes and villains gone, this means that older, darker menaces are rising up again. The old safeguards have deteriorated with the disappearance of all the heroes and the veils between the dimensions have thinned. The tornadoes which once abducted children from Earth have been popping up again and the vampires from Voivodja have been slowly sliding into our world, with their intrigues and wars.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The Secrets Behind The Naming Of The Fantasy Trip RPG


One of the cool things about being a blogger is that you get to take part in interesting conversations, and when you ask odd questions of people they take you seriously. Yesterday, over at Google+ James Maliszewski asked if anyone knew how the early Steve Jackson game The Fantasy Trip got named (I would link to the discussion, but it was a private one, so you'll have to settle for this). The conversation ensued, and no one really knew, but there was a lot of speculation about it having to do with drugs. I figured the easy thing to do was ask the man himself. A few emails and hours later, and a response from Steve Jackson was in my email inbox.
You know how hard it is to come up with an interesting and original fantasy game name now? It was hard even back then.
I don't know whose idea that name was; all I remember of the discussion was that everyone agreed that it would not be two alliterative words separated by "and."  I'm sure it was not intended as a drug reference.
[W]hile I have always been good with the name, I'm pretty sure it was not my own idea - it just doesn't "sound" like me.
So there we have it. The complete answer is unfortunately lost, but enough is still remembered to be useful. Will that stop some from still asserting that the title was a drug reference? Probably not.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Apocalypse May Be Rescheduled

By Stephane Gaudry (Flickr: Demolition of the ECVB power plant) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
People who know me know that I like post-apocalyptic things. I loved Jack Kirby's Kamandi and OMAC (if you don't think that OMAC was post-apocalyptic you need to reread the comics), and as a kid I watched Thundarr every week. I even run Rifts every week (even though I would argue that setting is more like a post-post-apocalypse, sort of like Unhallowed Metropolis).

You're probably all wondering why I'm saying this. It is only because I've been working on the Swords & Wizardry Field Guide for City of Clocks, and I have a couple of other projects in the queue. Having all of this to keep me busy, of course, means that my brains keeps telling me that I need to write an RPG in homage to the first edition of Gamma World. Not a retro clone, we have plenty of those. More like a game that starts from the point of being the old Gamma World game, but adding some bits and pieces to it. Obviously there would have to be magic, because there's a magic-user in Thundarr. I would use the various D20 SRDs as the starting point for the work, and reconstruct the parts of the old Gamma World game that I like under the OGL.

I like the fact that the game was classless, for example. It was pretty ballsy of TSR at the time to not just rebuild D&D and slap a "science fantasy" label onto the game. But it also has that old school sensibility that I like, where the rules are the starting point and characters develop through play, and the actions of their players.

How long will I be able to hold this off? I don't know, but I'm planning on being strong.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Machinations of the Space Princess: Some Talk From Our New Game And A Rule Variant

As you may (or may not) have noticed last night, we started a new Machinations of the Space Princess game last night via G+ Hangouts on the Air. Now, if you've read my previous review of our playtests of Machinations using an earlier version of the rules, you'll know that we have a sort of love/hate relationship with the game (although hate is probably too strong of a word, really). Now, we have the really final copy of the game from the IndieGoGo campaign that a couple of us pledged on and we're taking another swing at the game. As fans of pulpy, sexy stuff and science fiction, we should be in the target demographic of this game. We're trying to like it.

One of the main problems that we ran into last night was the fact that the organization of the game made it difficult on us at times. Important pieces of information that should have been together wasn't, and the general information organization could have been better. It also would have help to better explain things like which attributes the Saving Rolls are derived from (hint: you have to look at the character sheet in the back of the book to find this information rather than the text). The section on racial/cultural traits is cool, and offers some great options for character customization, but how you pick traits for your characters could (still) stand to be better explained. You know that you get three traits for a character (before you start to take penalties) but the rules are kind of vague on how you take those traits. Rather than picking three of the traits listed, when you get your options for the characters you instead pick from the list under each trait. For example, the Chiropteran trait (which is what you would use for bat-like creatures) has the Acute Hearing, Echo-Location and Flight traits listed off of it. When you pick your character's three traits, you pick from those (I guess we could call them) sub-traits. We had problems with this in our first playtest, and in the final rules things aren't really that much clearer.

Now, the real reason for this post was to put out a rule variant that we will be using for the game. It isn't a secret that I am not a big fan of the skill system for Lamentations of the Flame Princess. That is one of the things that I've hacked around for our own games, but I never found something that I liked. However, with the larger number of Saving Rolls in Machinations of the Space Princess, I find that it is easier to implement a variation of Akrasia's Saving Throws As Task Resolution variant for Swords & Wizardry. Actually, I am not a fan of that variant for Swords & Wizardry itself, I'm not sure why exactly, but I think that the single save just isn't granular enough for me.

This is how it will work for use. If you look at pg. 13 of Machinations of the Space Princess you will see the initial writeup for Saving Rolls. There is the boxed text about rolling high. We use that, where the saving roll becomes a modifier to the d20 roll. Add the rank that the character has in the skill and get a total over 20. Simple enough. For our purposes, skills will likely default off of Dexterity or Intelligence.

I will bring up variant rules and our approaches to the game through blog posts as things come up.