Alternity 2018 at GenCon , Some Thoughts on the New System in Alternity 2.0 by Sasquatch Games
dblade Aug 26 2018, 23:11 Group: Heroes, Sancrotari Fanboy Quote Post
This GenCon 2018 I had the special treat of playing the new Alternity game system with Rich Baker himself. I actually missed my Friday morning session of the Tartarus Station adventure due to a slight illness, but happily I was able to get in to the Sunday morning game. The game started at 8:00am and I was pleased to have a good group of players consisting of four people who were all friends and myself, the Lone Wolf/Lonely Ronin/Only Guy in My Group Who Would Wake Up at 8 in the Morning to Play Alternity. The players all had a good sense of humor and fun, while GM Baker kept everything moving along and seemed to know the rules pretty well. ? So the gaming environment was pleasant but what about the game itself? Here are my thoughts (and inevitable tinkering).

Skill Checks: With the three-tier results — renamed as Average, Excellent, and Stellar — and the step penalties/bonuses, the skill resolution is almost identical to Alternity Original. The major difference is the roll high mechanic. It felt like Alternity so I can report my satisfaction of this aspect of the game. My one concern with the system is the range of the skill results doesn’t allow for the possibility of an Excellent or Stellar result unless your skill score is high enough or you get some step bonuses. For instance if you have a skill score of 16 (Average target number) then your Excellent target number would be 21 (add 5 to Average) and your Stellar target number would be 26 (add 10 to Average). This may not be a problem if you feel untrained or poorly trained characters shouldn’t be able to achieve more than an Average result but I did find this at odds with my general sense of Alternity. Grognard Syndrome? Maybe. I just like the idea of any hero getting a shot at an Amazing/Stellar result no matter the low probability. I may have to homerule this and make a Natural 20 an automatic Stellar result. Or maybe take the Average result and make the halfway point to 20 the Excellent result (round up), and the halfway point from the Excellent result to 20 the Stellar result (round up). Up until Skill Score 9 this home rule seems to work pretty good for Alternity 2018, then the advantage begins to shift toward the published system. I am okay with this though, since my home rule brings it closer to the probabilities of Alternity Original.

So…
Home Rule Alternity 2018
19/20/- 19/24/29
18/19/20 18/23/28
17/19/20 17/22/27
16/18/19 16/21/26
15/18/19 15/20/25
14/17/19 14/19/24
13/17/19 13/18/23
12/16/18 12/17/22
11/16/18 11/16/21
10/15/18 10/15/20
9/15/18 9/14/19
8/14/17 8/13/18
7/14/17 7/12/17
6/13/17 6/11/16
5/13/17 5/10/15
4/12/16 4/9/14
3/12/16 3/8/13
2/11/16 2/7/12
1/11/16 1/6/11
0/10/15 0/5/10

This is off the top of my head so feel free to critique. I need to look at the benchmarks and how the system converts from Alternity Original to Alternity 2018. Look at Average hero and Maxed-out hero and such. For instance Ability 14 in AO is either the equivalent of 5 or 6 in ALT18. And Skill Rank 12 in AO is the equivalent of Skill Rank 10 in ALT18. So a maxed out hero with Ability 14 and Skill 12 in AO would have 26/13/6 (-5/8/15 for roll high) skill score and a maxed out hero with ability 6 and Skill 10 in ALT18 would have a 4/9/14 skill score. The AO hero has a better chance of success overall (almost guaranteed), but the ALT18 hero has a slightly better chance at a Stellar/Amazing result.

Initiative: The Impulse System is hands down my favorite new game mechanic of ALT18. I was skeptical at first but when I saw it in action I realized how great it was for tracking movement, accounting for weaponry that takes longer to use, reload time, aiming, evading, and tracking effects such as stun. And unlike other initiative systems it felt organic and elegant in its operation. Once the Initiative was set in motion, the impulse cost of actions determined when events happened rather than a repetitive order like D&D or a hard reboot like Alternity Original. Even when I run AO I will be incorporating this mechanic into the mix. There is a change I would like to try though. Instead of all successes starting in Impulse 1 and the failures in Impulse 2, I want to have the degree of success determine a specific starting Impulse: Stellar starts in Impulse 1, Excellent in Impulse 2, Average in Impulse 3, and Failures in Impulse 4. Also I want to make a slight adjustment to the Movement rules within this system. Right now you spend a 2 Impulse action to move up to 20 meters (or whatever your base movement). I want to break this down to a 1 Impulse action where you can move up to 10 meters (or half your base movement). It really doesn’t change anything about Movement and seems like a logical extension of the system.

Durability: Alternity 2018 made a pretty significant change to the durability system while maintaining a similar feel to the actual effects of damage on a target. The system worked really well in the game and I didn’t see any problems with it for a straight scifi game. This will be the hardest part to come to terms with when I consider ALT18 for my supers games. Alternity Original’s different degrees of Toughness (Ordinary, Good, Amazing, etc.) made it really easy to model supers with higher durability and bulletproof skin, as well as different damage intensities. I’ve already started working on this for ALT18 using the Objects sections as a guide, but I will probably have to wait for the expanded starship rules to get a better feel for how ALT18 handles objects with greater toughness and weapons with more destructive power.

These are the main concepts that I encountered when playing in the GenCon session. Since these were pre-made characters my thoughts on Character Creation will have to wait until I dig into the contents of the book.

This post has been edited by dblade on Aug 27 2018, 01:44
DrShocter Aug 31 2018, 13:03 Group: Heroes, Level 7 Quote Post
That was an excellent summary! I think I will play around with your house rule for skills and see what my group thinks.
JSM3050 Aug 31 2018, 14:33 Group: Heroes, Beyond Level 20 Quote Post
Thanks for sharing your experiences and insight, dblade! alienthumbsup.gif
Landroid Aug 31 2018, 19:29 Group: Heroes, Level 3 Quote Post
I love hearing about actual play experience, and I would have loved to have been able to play with Rich!

As far as getting closer to the original system while maintaining roll high, the closest way is as follows:


Average: 21 - skill score (ability score + skill ranks)

Excellent: 21 - half (rounded down) skill score

Stellar: 21 - quarter (rounded down) skill score


This makes a Stellar success more likely when you're lower level when compared to default ALT18, but less likely once your skill score hits 12 and above. This system makes it so that anyone with a skills score of 4 or more always has a chance of a Stellar success on an unmodified roll. If you choose to round up when determining Excellent and Stellar scores, then an unmodified 20 will always be a Stellar result for everyone (as well as making everyone a but more likely to score Excellent and Stellar overall).
dblade Sep 1 2018, 17:40 Group: Heroes, Sancrotari Fanboy Quote Post
I actually considered the 21 number since this is also how I came up with converting the original rules to roll high. I was concerned that I would be getting too far from the ALT18 rules as written. But really when have I ever concerned myself with "as written"!
dblade Sep 1 2018, 18:19 Group: Heroes, Sancrotari Fanboy Quote Post
Landroid just reminded me I should just copy myself to explore this rules issue. Those formulas are exactly what I created to convert Alternity Original into a roll high system. Why not try it for ALT18 as well? Here is how it would break down...

20/-/-
19/20/-
18/20/-
17/19/20
16/19/20
15/18/20
14/18/20
13/17/19
12/17/19
11/16/19
10/16/19
9/15/18
8/15/18
7/14/18
6/14/18
5/13/17
4/13/17
3/12/17
2/12/17
1/11/16

The big problem is that by trying to satisfy the need for every skill level to have a chance to achieve an Excellent or Stellar score, players with higher scores would find themselves penalized compared to ALT18 as written. A hero who maxes out an ability (6) and a skill (10) would have a 4/9/14 in ALT18 while they would have a 5/13/17 with this new system. Which score would you rather have?

Feeling a little flipflopish here. Maybe a simple roll 20 rule is the answer after all. I might revise it to be 20=Excellent until the hero is actually capable of rolling Excellent on their own, then it switches to 20=Stellar.
dblade Sep 2 2018, 02:59 Group: Heroes, Sancrotari Fanboy Quote Post
Other ALT18 Thoughts (Spoilers for the Tartarus Station adventure):

Minion Rules: Formalized minion rules with one successful shot taking out a minion. This was put to good use in our game when we were confronted with hostile workers intent on taking over our ship when we landed. One of the heroes had a weapon with autofire that he used to mow through the antagonists. Unfortunately it turned out these workers were just desperate to escape some evil corporate engineers and they thought we were agents of that corporation with bad intentions. We all felt bad afterwards but at it was a good demonstration of how the minion rules could work in Alternity. I actually was doing something like this for my own games where any mook/minion was taken out of action with a Good hit or better, so I personally liked this addition.

Talents: This really adds the flavor to the heroes and was something I was actually trying to achieve with optional rank benefits in Alternity Original. My character had the Talent to get a second strike on melee attacks when he achieved an Excellent or Stellar success on the first strike and it was quite satisfying to rip into some targets when this happened. During the battle with the final boss (an alien slug thing the size of an SUV) I managed to get two Stellars in a row. This was thanks in part to one of the other heroes using a leadership Talent that gave us all +2 bonuses on our attacks that round, a size bonus of +2 for the Huge alien, my own bonus of +1 for melee attacks, and a +1 for aiming, for a total of +6. I rolled a total of 48 for one attack (three rolls of the d20 dice), which I was told by Rich Baker was the record roll for that GenCon so far. Yes, a truly lofty achievement.

Stun Effects: I wanted to point out this specific rule that I thought was quite effective in relation to the Impulse initiative system. One of the heroes had a weapon with a secondary effect that could Stun a target on a failed Resilience check. The target was moved back 3 impulses on the Initiative circle, allowing many, but not all of our heroes to get in another action before the target could act again. This was basically a lose-an-action effect with a more elegant mechanic than just skipping a turn. Some heroes could take advantage of the delayed action while others saw no immediate benefit.
Thomas5251212 Sep 5 2018, 16:26 Group: Heroes, Level 9 Quote Post
There were some problems with the Stun rule in the playtest, but they at least seem to have cleaned up some of it.

My only complaint with the Talents is that they're still so overwhelmingly combat-centric; if I end up running it down the line, you can bet I'm adding research-related, outdoorsy, vehicle operational and possibly some other constellations.
Landroid Sep 5 2018, 18:45 Group: Heroes, Level 3 Quote Post
I'm glad they added a couple more non-combat talents after the playtest, but yeah, they could still use a handful more centered on some of the things you pointed out. I would like to seea couple new ones more in some of the forthcoming books. Maybe a few relating to starships in The Shipyard, and some sort of setting specific/inspired stuff in the Mission Guides. Fingers crossed anyway.

Whether they release more or not, I can see homebrewing a slew of them, as there aren't a multitude of moving parts in this system that make their design wrought with peril.
dblade Sep 6 2018, 01:55 Group: Heroes, Sancrotari Fanboy Quote Post
Author (Landroid @ Sep 5 2018, 12:45)
I'm glad they added a couple more non-combat talents after the playtest, but yeah, they could still use a handful more centered on some of the things you pointed out. I would like to seea couple new ones more in some of the forthcoming books. Maybe a few relating to starships in The Shipyard, and some sort of setting specific/inspired stuff in the Mission Guides. Fingers crossed anyway.

Whether they release more or not, I can see homebrewing a slew of them, as there aren't a multitude of moving parts in this system that make their design wrought with peril.

Agreed. New Talent Constellations would really strengthen the character creation rules. And as long as they are comparable to the existing Talents they wouldn't cause any issues with the game mechanics. Yes. This was a ditto post.
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