D&D 4E: Chronosbane Krackens!!

It began as a silly forum thread (“Some krackens just want to kill time”), but it soon became an awesome set of D&D monsters: the Chronosbane Kracken Lords.

Found in the Astral Seas between planes by unfortunate adventurers. If they come from a work with clockwork. They will first notice the effect of Timeslip Aura before the Kracken reveals itself. They are intelligent, but cannot be reasoned with; they have an innate hatred for all things occupying a one-directional position in the timeline, which would be all creatures.

Chronosbane Kracken Lord
Chronosbane Kracken High Lord Time Eater
Chronosbane Kraken Probabilistic Tentacle

Best of all: a glimpse of the beast itself. (Great artwork by Anna.)

Spacerpunk: Which mechanical direction?

I have a cute resolution system for the current iteration of Spacerpunk, but prior to having more playtests for the game, I’m questioning the system I have. In brief, I’m wondering if something more “vanilla” would be appropriate.

What I have right now: you have a single core trait that you use to overcome obstacles, and you roll a single d6 to find your outcome:

Trait: Maverick
5-6: Resolve
3-4: Complicate
1-2: Backfire

You use Resolve to remove an Obstacle, Complicate to add a new Obstacle (or make your current one worse), and Backfire to basically blow up the Obstacle you were working on or make it terminally more problematic. (An Obstacle is basically anything that’s challenging you.) When you’re work within your role (your niche on the crew), you get a +1 to the roll (skewing your results for the better). There are several different Traits, each with different sets of possible outcomes.

So far in play: this kind of mechanic focuses on generating new fictional twists and turns and keeps play going forward, but doesn’t push too hard playing within the fictional events and trying to win through fictional positioning. To some extent: what exactly you’re doing might not matter so much (so long as it’s justifiably something that a Maverick Mechanic would do or whatever).

Maybe treating the character’s outcomes to a sort of Obstacle/Resoution oracle is neat, but maybe it’s only confining. On the flipside, it would be trivially easy to port the Traits and Roles to a more standard story-driven system.

For example, I could hack Shadow of Yesterday / Solar System. Given its Secrets/Keys (powers/XP-triggers), I could turn Traits into a combination Secret + Key, and Roles as a combination Secret + package of standard skills. Then “doing stuff” goes back to fictional positioning and using your skills in a more traditional way, with the powers of Traits/Roles shifting in a more subtle way.

Perhaps different groups have different ideal “centers”. My SGBoston playtesters loved going over-the-edge with the improv from the oracles, but I imagine some of my other friends would prefer something slightly less arbitrary. Too much separation from the fictional consequence might cause a lack of character development / association with character.

Thoughts? Basically, should I make this a hack of a vanilla system? Continue with this kind of resolution system? Keep looking?

(I’d love to have a new version of this ready to go for pickup play at GPNW. Hopefully.)