Masaac Ratmov – Maze Rats in space

There are plenty of Maze Rats reviews out there, and just one play report actually using the game – MINE!

But today I won’t be posting another play report, although I do have enough material for another post.

In this post I all about putting out my notes for a Foundation inspired game, using Maze Rats (because apparently I play it more than Ben Milton himself).

Maze Rats is simple enough to adapt to my game with minimal changes, and I’m not going to rewrite all the random tables – I don’t really need 30 random futuristic items.

As such, I’m keeping the three stats, 4 hit points per character and 2d6 system. I’ve been using variable Danger Rolls on a range from 7 to 10 for a while now, instead of the base 10, that should be used only in extremely hard situations (I mean, the average roll is 7!).

The main changes are the “classes”, the damage system in the combat and the “spells”.

Starting Features

The +1 attack bonus stays – even in an Asimov setting a certain amount of asskicking is necessary.

The four paths are diplomacy, psychohistory, technology and space navigation. Regarding psychohistory, no character is a trained top-notch psychohistorian, but a succesful roll (usually a 10 or best Danger Roll) allows the character to glimpse into a “Seldon Crisis” and take the appropriate course of action.

Finally, instead of a spell slot, the character is a Trader, and he has the appropriate nucleonic gadget needed to produce the effect described in the rules booklet. Alternatively, the character has a choice of one of these gadgets:

  1. Small matter transmuter;
  2. Nucleonic saw/drill;
  3. Anti-gravity disc – one passenger;
  4. Long-range communicator and Galactic Positioning System;
  5. Communication and mental probe blocker;
  6. 10,000 credits.

Other 21st century items, like night vision googles, space-suits, kevlar vests and handheld computers are widely available, unless the planet where the action is taking place has regressed a lot. Then it should be closer to 1950’s Earth, without nuclear power and spacefaring.

Combat

Combat stays as standard Maze Rats, if the combatants are slugging it out. If they are using firearms, as inhabitants from a backwater planet will, then a sucessful attack roll deals the weapon damage.

Firearms, even in barbaric planets, are more advanced than our own, and I encourage DM’s to use the trope they seem fit. To me, it’s caseless rifles with 150 rounds to a clip, very light and accurate. These weapons deal 1d6+1 damage, and may hit more than one target. Portable flamers, RPGs and nerve gas are also available.

However, only barbarians fight with those weapons. Foundation personnel pack disintegrators and personal force fields.

A disintegrator hit obliterates the enemy, unless the operator adjusts to a lower setting, no save allowed – however draws first and scores a hit win.

A personal force field blocks all damage from regular weapons, violently repelling melee attacks. However, repeated hits from a disintegrator may cause energy instability (roll 1d6 after the first hit, on a 1 it flickers and shuts down for 1d6 minutes).

Spacefaring

Most ships are capable of hyperspace jumps, taking days, or sometimes hours, to travel great distances between systems. Foundation ships are also faster in normal space.

Space combat doesn’t really happen. Combat ships are equipped with very accurate laser weapons, and in case of particle clouds diffusing the lasers, electromagnetic accelerators propel tungsten rods at incredible speeds, tearing whatever they find into pieces. By the time the sensors detect an attack, it may be too late.

Spacecraft sized shield generators also exist. They are responsible for ensuring ships are not immediately destroyed, and work like personal force fields (roll 1d6 after the first hit, on a 1 it flickers and shuts down for 1d6x10 minutes).

Atmosferic aircraft vary greatly depending on where they were built. On a very civilized planet, they may employ anti-gravitational controls and glide through the air. Less civilized worlds should have jets and VTOL aircraft armed with guided missiles.

A word on nuclear weapons

A modern spacecraft has enough sensors to read it’s targets from great distances and perform surgical attacks – heavy lasers or kinectic bombardments with suitably large rods are more than enough to breach hardened bunkers.

However, backwater planets still hoarding ancient tech, or very ruthless attackers may employ such weapons, even in space. The problem is the delivery method – missiles. Against a fully functional ship or a planet with up-to-date fortifications, laser defence systems would strike down even the fastest missiles. Older vessels may be lacking the necessary tracking systems and laser weapons to deal with these threats.

Final considerations

These notes are very focused on a “Foundation” style setting, and thus may not work for your flavour of sci-fi. Star Trek fans will include teleportation and aliens, and in a Babylon 5 scenario, psykers are likely to appear. I will not bother with Star Wars, since it already has half a dozen RPGs dedicated to it.

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