Friday, September 21, 2012

Nova Praxis Intermezzo

Just above, you can see the trailer for the Nova Praxis RPG. It explains the logic behind the setting - particularly the material basis for the emergence of the setting's human-machine intelligence civilizational singularity (please don't blame author Mike McConnell for this particular phrase; it is an emergent entity of the FATE SF singularity).

I'll be back on Monday with the final part of our review of Nova Praxis, covering characters and gear. I'll also present a couple of character designs next week. Today I just wanted to share a couple of reflections on the game. The first relates to the core mechanics, and the second to other potential uses of the transhumanist technologies presented in the game.

The evolution of FATE mechanics used by Strands of Fate and now by Nova Praxis creates a system where the players can make ALL the dice rolls. This works because when the GM is running NPCs, s/he can assume that the NPC just rolled a 0 on their test and use the sum of the NPCs skill + modifiers as the Effort resulting from their action. This speeds up the game by reducing the number of dice rolls. It also makes the game a bit more player-facing. Of course, the GM can still roll 1d6-1d6 + skill + modifiers if they want to, especially if they want to make a scene featuring a particularly important NPC more unpredictable. I know some people already use this approach when GMing Diaspora as well.

Nova Praxis art by Andree Wallin
The transhumanist technologies as depicted in the mechanics of Nova Praxis are also perfect for emulating some other SF settings dealing with transhuman themes. I am thinking specifically about the near future worlds presented in the anime Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and the TV series Caprica and Battlestar Galactica (the remake).

For example, you can use Nova Praxis to model both kinds of Cylons:
  • The human-seeming models are essentially massively forked SIMs inhabiting distinct gene lines of biosleeves. Cylons seem pretty resistant to the trauma associated with being forked, but it is hard to argue that resurrection/resleeving for them is non-traumatic (even if sometimes that trauma manifests as  ecstasy or even as resurrection-addiction - both good Consequences, and the latter a Persistent one).
  • The mech and fighter models are massively forked SIMS inhabiting standardized cybersleeves.
I am very tempted to try this out, and add a few of the old Cylon administrator types like Lucifer as meddlesome SIMs still lurking on ancient Cylon mainframes.

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