Project Update: Orchestra and Degrees

So this week I’ve been getting a lot of stuff done on Orchestra, and some of it is really figuring out how to handle certain things that would be very complex and need to be simplified in a way that can work well. As I’ve mentioned before, the combat system was originally going to calculate hits based on recoil versus bullets; this is perhaps the most realistic method of tracking this, and it’s incredibly hyperlethal, but one of the major downsides of it is that it doesn’t translate to other things very well, meaning that it’s a new mechanic to learn that means nothing in other cases.

The goal of the degree system is to allow a more ready feeling of accomplishment; rather than just having a win be a win, it allows characters to succeed above and beyond the average (the target should be for default numbers). It compliments the Action Point system well, because it allows characters to use skills and such more quickly should they receive stellar results, but it also serves to compliment the resource bidding/die rolling hybridization that I’m attempting, since a lot of the things with Dominance and (to a lesser degree) hacking involve a system that attempts to be expensive through speed as much as through difficulty; protagonist characters should be able to reliably manifest their powers and crack into target systems if they’re at all configured to do so.

Of particular interest is Dominance, which actually is one of the few ways where it’s possible to get negative Degrees on a result thanks to what is known as the Schrodinger effect (other characters who are latent or Awakened with regards to Dominance can effectively “counterspell” attempts to manifest powers, weakening them by up to two Degrees per individual and potentially negating them entirely), but obviously there will be a number of free degrees; armor and melee/firearm damage may be handled using the degree system, which in my opinion is a better measurement of the effects of body armor rather than merely saying “It reduces X damage from everything” or “turns away shots X% of the time”, since the amount of damage/degree would be an abstraction of the potential trauma of a round when it hits effectively, something which larger bullets do better at, even though these same bullets are typically much less effective against armor relative to the amount of force in the round, especially with civilian ammunition (Orchestra’s “standard round” for which baseline statistics are presented is a military-style jacketed round).

Ultimately, there’s not a whole lot to the system; every time a character rolls and gets more than five above what they needed, they add a degree; success in and of itself is not a degree. While certain things may decrease the degree, typically degrees serve to provide a bonus for highly successful players to counteract the effects of limits on the ability to stack modifiers; rather than simply making a lot of lesser attacks and meeting the threshold exactly it’s often beneficial to do things to artificially increase your limit (like sacrificing AP would do for an attack) and try to achieve an exceptional success to take advantage of degrees’ effects.

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