Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

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spiderwrangler
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Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

Post by spiderwrangler » Tue Nov 05, 2019 11:37 am

What is SCH?
Surviving Castle Heterodyne was a game that I ran on the forums from early 2014 through early 2017, before it stopped updating and went on hiatus. The game was a mix of character RP and home-brewed game mechanics, set within the world of the “Girl Genius” comic by Professors Foglio, with coloring by Professor Wright (current colorist for “Goblins”). The GG setting is a steampunk (or gaslamp fantasy, if you prefer) alternate history reality, with all sorts of wild characters and technology.

The basic premise of the game was that the players’ characters were sparks (brilliant, and often mildly to wildly insane science savants within the GG world), who had run afoul of the powers that be for various reasons, and as a result were detained and subjected to an experimental mind wiping procedure (as a plot device to have them start as low level folks capable of great things, if only they could remember!), before being dumped into a base of operations within Castle Heterodyne, the ancestral seat of power of the Heterodyne family. The Castle itself is sentient, to varying degrees, but suffers from a fractured psyche, and is quite homicidal.
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SCH Version 1 game mechanics:

The short summary is that anything the character’s wanted to do gained them experience in relevant skills, and as they did more projects and tasks with those skills, they would eventually level up, and be able to roll a larger and larger pool of dice for checks made with that skill. I’ve written up a post of my Dice Skill System, and it had been implemented by at least one other forum game (Synch’s Children of Ash).

While I like the sense of reward and progress that it gave, it eventually ended up being a lot of bookkeeping and rolling needed for each update, all of which I took on myself. I’m looking to capture some of that feel, but in a more manageable way.

5e Version:

To that end, I’m looking to adapt SCH to operate on a core of 5e mechanics, with a modified skill system. Wanting to go with 5e rather than trying to develop a new system, or have to learn another gaming system. I understand 5e well (have been running “The Sundered Way” here since summer 2016), and it allows a lot of flexibility.

Skill System in 5e version:

In 5e, there are typically three rolls that get made with a d20, attacks, saves, and ability checks. The core ability checks I intend to leave as is, but to split off the checks made using tool proficiencies. This is where I think I can carve out a place for the skill system to live in 5e, with a modification to how proficiency is applied. Rather than +2,+3,+4, etc that increases with character level, I’m thinking proficiency bonuses that increase with experience using those tools.

The existing Artisan’s Tools within 5e are:
Alchemist's Supplies
Brewer's Supplies
Calligrapher's Supplies
Carpenter's Tools
Cartographer's Tools
Cobbler's Tools
Cook's Utensils
Glassblower's Tools
Jeweler's Tools
Leatherworker's Tools
Mason's Tools
Painter's Supplies
Potter's Tools
Smith's Tools
Tinker's Tools
Weaver's Tools
Woodcarver's Tools

Some of these may need to be modified or removed, but more certainly will need to be added. I’d like to solicit input from any interested parties about other tools that should be included. So far I’ve thought of:

Electrician’s Tools
Clockmaker’s Tools
Clank Maker’s Tools
Plumber’s Tools

Some tools may warrant being nested within each other, with one being a prerequisite for later tool proficiencies, so that may warrant discussion as well.
Last edited by spiderwrangler on Tue Nov 05, 2019 12:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

Post by spiderwrangler » Tue Nov 05, 2019 11:38 am

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Re: Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

Post by spiderwrangler » Tue Nov 05, 2019 11:38 am

Human:
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Jägermonster (Jägerkin, Jäger):
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Constructs:
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Clanks:
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Re: Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

Post by spiderwrangler » Tue Nov 05, 2019 11:38 am

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Re: Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

Post by BadgeAddict » Tue Nov 05, 2019 12:07 pm

What about levels of tool quality.

As a system instead of or in conjunction with skills.

In such a way that, growth hits a ceiling, which can then only be advanced higher with higher quality tools

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Re: Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

Post by spiderwrangler » Tue Nov 05, 2019 12:15 pm

Ah, we did have Tool modifiers, didn't we. Tiered tools may be useful...
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Re: Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

Post by BadgeAddict » Tue Nov 05, 2019 12:27 pm

In the same way... You could have incomplete tool sets. Wich despite their tier only work at 25% or some such.

Leave it to me to overcomplicate something simple. :D

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Re: Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

Post by spiderwrangler » Tue Nov 05, 2019 1:05 pm

Yeah... the goal is to make this simpler!

Another thing I didn't mention is that WotC is putting out an Eberron sourcebook that I plan on picking up and mining for a lot of material (warforged = clanks, artificers, etc.).
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Re: Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

Post by WearsHats » Tue Nov 05, 2019 9:42 pm

Yes! I want to play this!
Mostly offline/inactive due to chronic health issues. PM me if you really need attention.

"(Asks), why do you want to shoot all of my favorite animals out of guns?" - JibJib

Some potentially informative links, should you be interested:
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Re: Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

Post by Arch Lich Burns » Wed Nov 06, 2019 8:39 pm

Here are some more potential tools! *Note some may have duplicate areas*

Paleontologist tools
Doctor tools
Chemist tools
Beekeeper/bug keeper tools
Gardner/Farmer tools
Grooming tool
Butcher tools
Rancher tools
Soldering Kit
Construction set


Vacuum chamber
Surgery table
Turning table

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Re: Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

Post by M0rtimer » Thu Nov 07, 2019 3:35 am

Yeah, A GG based world seems like it'd heavily revolve around the use of tools, and could probably use some advanced mechanics surrounding that. On a first glance a couple ideas I can think of:

-Link each tool with an associated main stat, thus creating different "tool groups" in which people are proficient depending on how they are built.
(tool group ideas:)
Str: Percussive tools
Con: Endurance tools
Dex: Finesse tools
Int: Logical tools
Wis: Insight tools
Cha: Creative tools

-As you already suggested, "proficiency" tiers for tools (each tier should likely be harder to acquire than the previous one?):
-2: inept
-1: inexperienced
0: capable
+1: experienced
+2: master
+3: revolutionary

-Add quality to tools:
-1: inferior
0: standard
+1: quality
+2: masterwork

-Add a "difficulty" to tools? Depending on how advanced they are supposed to be, this could range from determining initial proficiency to requiring prior knowledge before you can even use them.

Implementing all of these would make that you could eventually get some massive bonuses to specific tools, but that would also require a lot of investment in that particular tool rather than branching out.

I'm also thinking in a game like this it should be possible to create "custom" tools, but we should figure out how that would even work.

The last couple suggestions of Burns make me think more of "room-based" bonuses that would be required for specific actions, or give bonuses to certain kinds of actions?

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Re: Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

Post by BadgeAddict » Thu Nov 07, 2019 5:50 am

So.. I'm thinking...... We had a library before...

What if new in the box kits contained a guide book on how to use those tools, which you were forced to spend the time reading in order to unlock being able to learn a new skill.


Example.

The kitchen kit.
-everything you need to know about cooking up foodstuffs, from ordinary and barely edible to amazingly tasty. Brew strange concoctions that might kill someone and refreshing beverages.

Connected:
Brewing
Cooking
Butchery


As for grouping kits, how about the following.

Carpenter kit
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Jewelers kit
Cutting and encrusting gemstones

Mason kit
Like Carpenter but from Stone

Mechanic kit
Gears
Mechanisms
Clock parts
Clank parts

Farmer kit
Beekeeping
Gardening
Ranching
Fishing

Furnace kit
Kiln
Glass
Melting of metals

Clothing kit
Spinning thread
Weaving
Clothes making
Leather stuff

Metalsmithing kit
Same as wood but metal

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Re: Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

Post by BadgeAddict » Thu Nov 07, 2019 6:05 am

Oh.. Oh... I've got it.

Not tools
But workshops.

Let's say that tool kits were entire rooms.. Rooms that have to be found, captured, saved, and possibly put back together. And within those rooms, with tools practically chained in place, lies everything you need to create something wonderful.

Starting area might be similar to the last with a sleeping room and then immediately a hallway. Rooms off that hallway are a few different workshops that are in bad disrepair, possibly filled with enemies or just sealed shut at the start..

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Re: Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

Post by spiderwrangler » Thu Nov 07, 2019 10:58 am

Thanks everyone! I'll ponder on some of the things you've suggested, and have started building out races. So far I've got human, Jäger, other constructs and clanks. Don't think I'm missing anyone major, constructs are kind of a catch-all, but due to that requires a bit more design on my end before I post it here. Humans are unchanged from 5e, but Jäger is custom built. The HD mechanic is really strong, but I think it captures the hard to kill nature of them in the comic. They also won't have access to some of the custom classes (Jäger-Spark would likely break things...).
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Re: Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

Post by Quarg » Thu Nov 07, 2019 11:55 am

I am tagging this for tracking purposes at the moment....

But aren't there some specific human variants in the story line?
Really...why are you reading this?

Eileen Ap'Fyretorr

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Re: Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

Post by spiderwrangler » Thu Nov 07, 2019 12:13 pm

Possibly, though many may be 'constructs'.
I need to dip back into the comic, I'm a couple years out of date at the moment, but this is getting me fired up to do a reread.
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Re: Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

Post by Arch Lich Burns » Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:29 am

For races, the sparks could have experimented on tjemselves or had an accident?

Elves/Half elves/dwarves and halflings would be easiest to explain since they do not look that far from human.

Orcs/half orcs might be the equivilant to hulk, onlythe green is permanent.

Lizardfolk and dragonborn would have a harder time explaining. But maybe they implanted some scales into thier body or modified genes. maybe for the dragonborn they have to consume something to get dragonbreath back like alchol for firebreathing, small bit of acid for acid breathing, shocked a bit for electricity, ect.

Tengu is an experiment on oneself gone horribly wrong, where they cannot fly nor cannot speak in the same manner as one used to and must mimic others.

Tiefling and other ‘magical’ races would be harder to explain, where their magical abilities are more innate.


(Also I have two words what my character is going to try to create. Cyborg dinosaurs.)

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Re: Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

Post by spiderwrangler » Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:36 am

All of those would likely be considered "constructs" in GG.
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Re: Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

Post by Dusk9 » Fri Nov 08, 2019 11:46 am


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Re: Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

Post by spiderwrangler » Fri Nov 08, 2019 12:14 pm

Ooo, forgot about the Ravnica stuff they put out, yeah, will have to mine that a bit. As far as the other basic DnD races, while they'd probably be considered 'constructs' in GG, it could just be a flavor change and use them pretty much straight 1:1. Ones with innate magic might be a sticky bit, but can be worked around. Simic Hybrids might give a nice in to making some of the weirder stuff.
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Re: Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

Post by spiderwrangler » Tue Nov 26, 2019 6:45 pm

Haven't forgotten this thread, over the past week or so, I've reread all of Girl Genius, I'd fallen off around 2015 when I was finishing up my degree, so a good part of it was new! Have some ideas percolating, need to make sure I take care of current games, but will get some more stuff posted in the inital few posts here with thoughts on other "races" as well as some class stuff, and my general idea as far as skinning spells into science.
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Re: Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

Post by BadgeAddict » Wed Jan 08, 2020 10:13 am

How's this coming along spider?

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Re: Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

Post by spiderwrangler » Thu Jan 09, 2020 7:32 am

Have a bunch of half-formulated stuff to get finalized and posted for input, but haven't picked up the new 5e Eberron book yet, which I think will inform a fair bit of design. Notably, it introduces an artificer class and war forged, that should be fairly adaptable to SCH.
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Re: Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

Post by BadgeAddict » Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:10 am

Here's a random thought. Instead of going through the effort to create actual classes, what if those of us who would want to play started describing the kind of character that we wanted and then wee just scrabbled together a bunch of one-offs..

Kind of like how you made zokk

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Re: Surviving Castle Heterodyne: 5e redesign

Post by spiderwrangler » Thu Jan 09, 2020 10:38 am

The only class I am designing from scratch (or nearly so) is the Spark, other classes available will be the non-caster classes.

So looking at:
Barbarian
Fighter
Monk
Rogue
Spark

Considering having Spark be akin to a Prestige class in older additions, and it being a prerequisite for some archetypes and/or other classes, as being a Spark allows for flavoring of magic as science.

Still pondering balance and need to not make it too much hoop jumping.
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