View Full Version : [PDQ] PDQ for Science Fiction

07-16-2009, 09:07 AM
So far I've seen PDQ used for superheroes, various flavors of fantasy, and arguably horror (Dead Inside). Has anyone adapted PDQ for science fiction gaming? Some specific issues:

Gadgets: Depending on the rubber physics in operation, SF gear allows characters float/fly with antigravity, detect life/energy/n-rays, communicate across interstellar distances, stomp across the landscape in a mecha, command hordes of robot soldiers, and so forth. Huge abilities might require a Quality, but in an age when anyone can pick up a blast pistol, tricorder, or sonic screwdriver, a GM needs a catalogue of future "tools" and what each enables a character to do. Unfortunately, this is the kind of nitpicking and complication that PDQ attempts to do away with.

Aliens and Augmented Humans: Theoretically, alien abilities, bio/cyber modifications and genetic augments are simply a different type of Quality. Truth and Justice solves this problem with an overarching Quality for an alien's species or a super's multipurpose technology. As with gadgets, though, a character needs to enumerate how he differs from baseline humanity.

Guns: PDQ glosses over the lethality of guns compared to fists or medieval weapons, but, especially in the future, a bullet or beam would put a person in a world of hurt. Unfortunately "BANG you're dead, make another character" isn't a lot of fun, especially in a more space-opera-ish setting. I can see a few solutions:

As suggested in Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies, a GM could make guns more lethal by adding damage ranks when they hit. That drops NPCs (and PCs!) faster, which may or may not be good. However, it doesn't represent how lethal a gun battle is compared to a barroom brawl.

Taking an idea from Warhammer roleplaying, characters lose damage ranks more or less as usual, but once they're "out", the excess damage ranks and the type of weapon determine whether a character is simply dazed, unconscious, bleeding to death, or rent asunder. Damage ranks, here, represent luck, experience, and narrative causality, much like D&D HP; PCs would tend to survive with grazes and non-lethal wounds while NPCs (with fewer and lower Qualities) might take only a hit or two before death.

At one point, in a "weird west" game, I cobbled together a hit location system, complete with hit points for particular body parts. That proved unwieldy -- I couldn't remember my own system in a playtest -- and somewhat against PDQ's "rules-light" principles. Still, a hit location system, or adapting Aces & Eights: Showdown for PDQ, might make gun battles more "real" and yet more survivable.

Of course, I'd also need a system for starships, but there I have Traveller, GURPS, or the ever-popular GM fiat to help me.

07-18-2009, 01:34 AM
My current PDQ genre has been future tech, VR interaction, gadgets, cyberware, DNA downloads, body mods, and AI's. There was a small of amount of supernatural, but I have kept it to a minimum for this part of the game.

Last night's session had a laser shot that was fried upon an NPC. I approached damage with the PDQ perspective, via degree of narrative. In this particular case the first shot missed against this minor NPC, but the second shot took him out. Characters that were of more importance would have use of their story values to buffer such attacks. The "hit" was treated as a degree of influence upon the target and not damage in the way we traditionally think of damage to hitpoints.

On gun battles verses fist fights. PDQ's approach is fairly simple. If a character can narratively keep from getting hit by bullets, but gets hit anyway, the hit would be considered lethal because it's a bullet shot. The Qualities chosen by the Target player would be reduced as usual. Of course, Drop any Quality below -2 with a gun shot, and the character could just as easily be considered dead based upon the intent of the GM/Player (not necessarily based on the intent of the character), since dropping out of a scene is not always the same as dropping dead.

Hit locations could be tied to the Quality lost, forcing the player/GM to rationalize how the Quality loss relates to the hit location, affecting character actions not only by bonus loss, but by limited actions. You can't walk without functional legs, rendering a Running Quality impossible to use but still able to soak "damage".

What were those hit locations? I might want to use them in my next PDQ genre (PDQulhu).

In PDQ healing during a scene can present some unusual problems, since healing, regeneration, stim-patches, and first aid effectively regains lost ranks, one solution is to have the healing mechanic produce health-tokens. Those tokens represent the character's next actions and are automatically "spent" whenever a character wishes to act using their damaged Quality higher that its current rank. Each token represents a rank and can be applied to whatever lost Quality the player wishes to attribute it to. If the character had been knocked out of the scene, then every action would cost a minimum of 1 token for each Quality that went below -2.