Thursday, October 14, 2010

Extreme Range

The Gumshoe game I just mentioned is actually a hybrid. It uses the Continuum time-travel setting, but with most of the Continuum rules replaced with Gumshoe rules. Which meant I had to convert certain elements. In the post below is an example of a sub-system I converted to be Gumshoe compatible.


When we say Range, we're not talking about how far a gun can shoot. Range (and it's always capitalized) means how far Up or Down you can Span. It works a lot like a Skill, in that you can Use or Spend it.

A Use of your Range is a trivial hop. Each Span Level indicates what sort of jumps are trivial. For a Span One PC, that includes any teleport of less than an hour Up or Down, and less than a mile in distance. If you're going further than that (in any direction or dimension), it's going to have to Spend a point of Range.

All characters have 50 points of Range, and can spend from 0 to all 50 of them in a single jump.
For a Span One, a point of Range will let you Span to any place on Earth, or up to one Week futureward or pastward. You can span more than 1 week, by spending multiple points - you can get just under a year by spending all your Range at once.

The Second, Third and Fourth Maxims dictate that you should only span to places that are safe, and known to you. As a Span One, this is your greatest limitation. Later, when you know more Spanners, it will become easier to find a safe harbor.

The limitations of spanning (by Span Rank) are summarized on this chart.

Span Rating Range Pool Trivial Span 1 Range point Spans Mass Limit
Span One 50 1 Hour, 1 Mile 1 Week, Anywhere on Earth Self + 10 lbs
Span Two 50 1 Day, 10 Miles 3 Months, Anywhere on Earth Self + 100 lbs
Span Three 50 1 Month, 100 Miles 2 Years, Anywhere on Earth Self + 1,000 lbs
Span Four 50 1 Year, 1,000 Miles 20 Years, Anywhere on Earth Self + 10,000 lbs (5 tons)
Span Five 50 10 Years, Anywhere on Earth 200 Years, To The Moon Self + 100,000 lbs (50 tons!)

  • A character spans one hour into the past, but stays in the same place. It's trivial, and costs no Range.
  • A Span One PC spans Up one hour, then realizes they'd really wanted to go Down. So, now they span Down 2 hours to get when they'd wanted. The first (1 hour) span costs no points. The second (2 hour) span costs 1 Range. Had they been a Span Two (or higher rank) both jumps would have been free.
  • A character spans Level, from New York to Tokyo. If they are Span Four or lower, it costs 1 Range. If they are a Span Five, it's considered a Trivial Use, and costs no Range.
  • A Span Two in Dallas jumps 1 year into the future at Prague. It costs them 4 points of Range, plus 1 point of Range for exceeding 10 miles. They spend a total of 5 points of Range.
  • An Exalted Span Five leaves Atlantis in October 12969 BCE. They spend all 50 range points, and arrive at some friendly corner around 3,000 BCE. If they invoke their Second Wind, they'll be able to get Up to the hour of Inheritance for another 26 points or so.
For self-destructive ways around those limitations, see Exceeding your Range.

Thie above came right off the website we set up for the game - we have a big wiki we use as campaign log and rules database.

How the above is functionally different than the default Continuum Rules:
  • Less paper-work and bean counting. Vanilla Continuum expects that if a PC were to span back and forth repeatedly between two events, each time they would meticulously calculate how many days, hours, and minutes they were crossing and keep a running tally to the second if need be. It's kinda anal, and involves way more math than you want to be doing in the middle of a tense scene. In my Range system, they'd use less precise numbers to gauge how many points it takes to travel between the two events, and not worry about whether some jumps were a few minutes longer than the others.
  • Span Ones get shafted just a tiny bit. Instead of going 1 year, they can only go 50 weeks. I was worried this was going to be a big deal when the campaign started, but in practice it only came up once or twice before the PCs reached Span Two. It's fairly rare that anyone burns through all 50 Range points in a three-hour session, and doesn't have a Second Wind or Mentor around to help them out.
  • Span Twos, by contrast, get a small boost. 3 months per Range point equals 150 months, which is nearly 3 years further than they'd be able to travel under the default Continuum setting. Not so much extra as to break the game, but a nice bonus to the "level" that characters will probably spend the most Age at.
  • Range points refresh at the start of each session, and when invoking the Second Wind rules. The later is a bit like in default Continuum, where a good night's rest will replenish you, but in general you'll be spanning a much shorter overall distance per session in this system. This further constrains the PCs, but at the same time it eliminates the weird logic flaw where the original game rules demand that Span is not regained during a Time Combat. In this system, Time Combat does not exist within it's own bizarre bubble of arbitrary physics for the sake of plot. Suspension of disbelief is thus a little easier.
  • Trivial spans are a way around the restriction of only refreshing per session. If you really need to get somewhere this session, you can do it with baby steps. Yeah, you can get there "faster" by making a single large jump, but slow and steady will eventually win the race. This is a good compromise to cover the faster depletion of Range. It can also lead to some good role-playing as exhausted, fatigued PCs are restricted to shorter teleports. When the PCs are pushed to their limits in this system, they really feel it.
  • Less math and paper-work. Did I mention that already? I'll do so again to stress how important this is. It's huge. I think it was key to making the game playable this past year (and still going strong).

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