Dispensing with weapon damage ratings in Vivid has both given me a lot of freedom and at the same time removed an easy mechanic for scaling effects. To compensate, and hopefully make a GM’s life easier, I’m introducing new scale mechanics, taking inspiration from WEG’s Star Wars RPG.
First off, the bedrock of the Vivid damage mechanic: the Save Cost. The default assumption is that every hit is a battle-ender – we don’t bother recording grazes and bruises. You only survive to fight some more if you have an excuse to stay up.
The Save Cost is a narrative way of letting everyone else know why you’re still alive. You can either pay the Save Cost by Soaking the damage – you tap Assets indicating strength, toughness, size, or having armor/a shield; or you can Save by Escaping the damage – you tap Assets indicating agility, perceptiveness (you saw the attack coming and reacted in time), or blind luck, in the form of your Fate Dice.
Scale has a very simple effect: it restricts the manner in which you can Save yourself from a defeat.
Thus the very simple Scaling rule: Creatures, characters and vehicles (etc. etc.) cannot Soak damage from attacks of greater Scale than themselves. This means surviving a greater-scale attack requires Escaping it.
If a Star Destroyer fires its turbolasers at your puny little X-wing, there’s no way it’ll survive a direct hit. But you can spend a die from your X-wing’s Maneuverability or Speed to have been somewhere else just when that turbolaser beam hit.
If a hungry T-rex chomps down on your character, he’s steak. Or maybe hamburger. But you can spend a die from your Fate to say you fell into a hole at the last moment so those teeth closed on thin air.
You can quash a mouse underfoot – if it doesn’t get away.
I think this increases the verisimilitude – no longer will my mind boggle at the thought of me surviving the bite of a multi-ton carnivore – at the same time I’ll be challenged to narrate just what happened. More cinematic, more fun.
The flip side of this is smaller scale vs. bigger scale. A creature or machine cannot effectively hurt a target of greater Scale – unless it has a weapon that can do so, or scores a Crit.
A single mouse will only annoy you at most. A swarm of mice, biting all over, is life-threatening.
A man firing an ordinary rifle at a dinosaur will not wound it badly enough to kill it – unless he hits a vital spot.
But the same man firing an elephant gun at a dinosaur will damage it normally – the elephant gun is considered a Monstrous scale weapon.
I was originally going for a numerical scale, but a verbal one is just much more evocative and less crunchy-feeling. It’s just me – I don’t like numbers too much. Unless they happen to be sets of zeroes separated by commas in my bank account … hah, I wish!
So here are the categories:
|Monstrous||dinosaur, dragon, giant|
|Titanic||a modern battleship|
|Colossal||the Death Star|
We can easily note what Scale creatures or items are by writing the first letter of the Scale category next to their Trait ratings.
For example, a Dragon 5M is a Monstrous creature – it can easily quash a Human scale creature, no Soak.