Back in December I started noodling around with the idea of an Interlock retroclone, called RetroLock. This quickly spiralled out of control, ganking concepts I like from Silhouette, Blue Planet’s Synergy system, and even newer, Communist swine narrative games. It also involves lining up concepts or implementations in those systems that I’ve never quite liked as targets and knocking them over.

Character-wise, it has 10 Primary Abilities and 5 Composite Abilities that cover about everything you’d expect from a medium to high crunch system. The abilities are rated 0-10, but in a break with most implementations of Interlock 0 and 10 don’t represent the absolute floor or ceiling of human ability – a character with Strength 10 is really strong, but not the strongest human on the planet.

There are about 40 Skills, which I’ve tried to make general enough to not require a separate skill for tying each shoe, but not so broad as to bleed over into other skills. To allow specialization the skills are tiered – Generalist, Specialist, and Polymath. Specialists can get a bonus when using the skill within their chosen specialty, while Polymaths can get a bonus from being able to tie other skills into the action they’re attempting. I also have some wordage around performing everyday tasks. Basically, unless there’s a good reason why a character shouldn’t know how to drive; or use a computer; or whatever you would expect the average person to know how to do, they don’t need the skill to do it. It only becomes important when they’re attempting something risky. The skeletal character creation system is rounded out by an Aspect-like optional system called Facets for tacking descriptors onto abilities or skills – albeit more limited in scope than say how Aspects are implemented in Fate Core.

I have yet to decide if I’m going to plug in some kind of archetype or role system.

Actions use the tried and true base resolution of roll a d10 and add Ability and Skill. There are some instances (being unskilled, having a tiered skill) where more dice may be rolled, generally to the tune of picking the highest or lowest result. That’s my little nod to Silhouette and Synergy. From there the roll is compared to broad levels in increments of 5 (basically CP2020’s difficulty levels). There is room for more finely grained adjustments to the Risk Factor, but the dice are always read as rolled and compared to that number and not adjusted themselves.  Conflicts are going to use a Condition-like injury system but (at least for physical conflicts) paired with random hit locations. I discovered that the area percentage of various parts of the human body map nearly perfectly to a 2d10 roll.

Oh yeah…the Risk Factor. I really need to kick the tires on this idea, but basically it’s that actions aren’t evaluated based on difficulty like in Interlock and other systems. The idea is to bring in a more “fiction first” approach where the player and GM decide what is going on and how it is going to happen; how risky it is; and what happens if it succeeds, fails or goes really badly. One thing I’ve come to feel is very important is that give and take between the players and GM, and having well-defined goals and results for rolls.

My goal this year is to actually turn this into a thing – whether that be just a freebie on Google Drive or something that I actually try to turn into a product, I don’t know yet. As I continue to develop it, I’ll post updates and thoughts.

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