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Cyberpunk MMO rules (first draft)

Posted by Chris Jones
On April 7th, 2006 at 21:53

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Posted in Cyberpunk MMO

Below is a first draft of GITS:SAC-inspired cyberpunk MMO rules, specifically dealing with a limited set of character attributes, how characters take damage, how armor modifies damage taken, and how characters heal.

The rules are not complete, such that we have no details on skills, equipment, cyber bodies available for rank, skill limitations or caps per rank or attribute, how skills, bodies, attributes, and equipment are purchased, what a typical reward is from a mission, how missions are accessed, etc. Do note that I have chosen an arbitrary figure of 50 ¥ to restore a single point of hits in the hospital–I would expect this figure (and the associated cost formula) to change as a result of further design iterations, play testing, and balancing.

Enjoy . . .

Basic Mechanics

One tick is six (6) seconds.
A character may perform one or more actions during a single tick, depending on his speed attribute.

Character bodies
Character bodies are either fully natural, partially cyborg, or fully cyborg.
Character brains are either fully natural or fully cyborg.

Natural bodies have physical caps which cannot be overcome–the only reason for a player to stay with a natural body after he can afford a cyber body is for role-playing or personal challenge reasons. Partially cyborg bodies can overcome some physical caps. Extensive damage from combat can force replacement of body parts with cyborg components. Player characters with natural bodies are more susceptible to damage in combat and take longer to heal. All characters start with natural bodies.

Natural brains are limited in the rate in which new skills can be learned and how many skills can be mastered. Cyber brains do not have those limitations, and are also capable of communicating without the use of subvocalization or phones. Natural brains are not subject to mental or viral attacks, while cyber brains are and must have protective software installed to prevent shutdown (unconsciousness), temporary control (charm), lockup (mesmerize), or resets (stuns). Natural brains may be knocked unconscious or stunned through physical damage.

Ranks and faction
Rank: the character’s experience and rewards for successful missions. Rank provides caps to abilities and skills.

Faction: per organization, both PC and NPC, an indication of that side’s response to the player. Faction is adjusted by actions within and outside of missions.

Rank Debt: the number of missions a character must complete successfully in order to be considered for a rank increase.

Increasing rank: rank increases will only be considered on successful missions where secondary objectives were completed and the character scores above a particular target number of points. Characters will need to have maxxed attributes and skills for their body type and current rank.

Rank can be considered analagous to level or tier. Each organization has ten ranks that a player may enter, roughly described as:

1) Recruit
2) Regular
3) Corporal
4) Sergeant
5) Lieutenant
6) Commander
7) Major
8) Colonel
9) Brigadier General
10) General

The character has several physical attributes which may be modified by training or upgrades. Natural bodies can be improved through the use of physical and mental training and the application of pharmaceuticals, which can build or reinforce bones, muscles, organs, and the character’s willpower. Cyber bodies have various ratings which may be improved somewhat after-market. All attributes can be reduced through excessive physical trauma.

Attribute ratings range from 1.00 to 100.00. Cyber bodies are capped at 10 * rank, while natural bodies are capped at 45.00.

The ability of the body to take damage; sturdiness, build, and insensitivity to pain.

Physical strength, heft, and lifting capability.

Physical stamina, performing physical activities for an extended period of time.

The ability to perform physical actions precisely and accurately; grace, physical dexterity, acrobatics.

How quickly nerves transmit signals, muscles react, and the entire body can respond. Affects combat reactions, draw time, and running speed.

How quickly and effectively the character accesses network resources or opposing cyber brains. Characters without cyber brains are capped at 10 rating and require external devices to practice abilities using this attribute.

How acute the character’s senses are, especially in regard to spotting threats, suspects, or mission targets.

Taking damage
Maximum hits (hit points) are equivalent to the character’s body rating.

For the purpose of determining damage taken, the character’s body rating may be temporarily increased by wearing armor.

Characters gain attribute points through the expenditure of cash. Each point becomes increasingly expensive to purchase, such that the first points are relatively inexpensive compared to the points required to complete a character.

Hits are distributed through the character’s body in the following ratios. Damage done to those body parts (as described below, from excessive wounds and critical hits) may result in attribute losses randomly assigned to any of the attributes associated with the body part.

15% head – affects any attribute
45% torso – affects body, endurance
10% arm (each) – affects agility, strength
10% leg (each) – affects endurance, agility

When each body section is damaged, it loses its portion of hits. Characters who take more than 25% of the body section’s hits in damage from any single hit and those who have suffered more than 85% damage to a body section will have the chance to lose attribute points:
– critical hits (25% or more of body in one hit): 20% chance to lose a point per critical hit on that part of the body
– damage above 85% to a body part: 10% chance to lose a point per subsequent hit on that part of the body

Armor reduces the damage done by weapons, assuming it protects against that type of weapon (kevlar prevents bullets from penetrating, but won’t protect against knives). Armor damage reduction effectiveness is inversely proportional to the damage it has taken:

reduction % = ( 1.00 - ( damage taken / rating * 2 ) ) * ( rating * 0.01)

Armor absorbs damage that would have been transferred to the character’s hits. Armor becomes ineffective after it has absorbed 200% of its rating. Armor absorbtion effectiveness is inversely proportional to the damage it has taken:

absorbtion % = 1.00 - ( damage taken / rating * 2 )

In combat, characters may attempt to hit a particular body section (which will penalize the attack roll but, if successful, increase the likelihood of a critical hit).

When a section of a body is destroyed (reduced to zero hits), the character stops losing attribute points due to damage. However, depending on what was damaged, the character may now be unable to fire a weapon from one hand, walk, or crawl. Destroyed torsos result in unconsciosness (from blood loss, trauma, and shock). Destroyed heads result in unconsciousness.

In the field, characters may attempt first aid on other characters or themselves. To do this, they need First Aid skill. A medical kit (of various ratings and expense, indicating how sophisticated it is) can improve both the chance of successful application of First Aid, but also the amount of damage healed. When applying first aid, characters must choose a damaged body section on which to work.

Unconscious characters in group missions will be unable to move or communicate until first aid is applied and the destroyed torso and head are restored to at least one hit. Characters left untreated and unconscious for 60 seconds in a group mission may choose to be medevaced to an organization treatment facility where they can choose the level of treatment as a function of monetary cost versus speed of recovery (downtime). Characters left untreated and unconscious for 15 seconds in a solo mission or no mission may choose to be medevaced.

In the following formulas, current hits refers to the hit points the character possessed when admitted to the hospital or when first aid is begun. Base hits are the maximum hit points of the character. Hits are restored proportionally to all body parts through healing.

First aid may restore up to 75% of a damaged body section. First aid may be repeated, but will not restore points above 75% of the damaged body section. First aid takes 12 seconds (two ticks) to begin and continues healing 5% of the base hits per tick until interrupted or until the body section is up to 75% hits.

healing per tick = ( base hits * 0.05 )
amount healed = (ticks - 2 ) * healing per tick
ticks to full = ( base hits - current hits ) / healing per tick

Hospital healing downtime can be calculated through the following formula. Note that the cost to full is the cost to minimize downtime–characters can pay a lower amount and will take proportionally longer to heal.

cost to full = ( base hits - current hits ) * ( rank ^ 1.15 ) * 50
downtime in seconds = 345 - ( cost paid / cost to full * 300 )

Characters have a minimum of 45 seconds downtime. During this downtime, the character’s health is being restored at the rate of:

tick = 6 seconds
hits healed per second = ( base hits - current hits ) / downtime
hits healed per tick = hits healed per second * 6

Cyber bodies never heal themselves–they must heal through first aid or hospital downtime. After a mission, characters with damaged cyber bodies will need to go to the organization hospital for healing and hospital downtime.

Natural bodies heal themselves at a rate of 1% of total hits per tick, except during hospital downtime. Natural bodies no longer heal when a body section is destroyed. A natural body will go from a minimum 6% hits to 100% hits in 564 seconds (9.4 minutes).

4 Responses to “Cyberpunk MMO rules (first draft)”

  1. alaph Says:

    I absolutly love cyberpunk and would absolutly love a GOOD MMO for the genra(brain fart on how to spell that). Now I dont know much but I knows what I likes so I gotta ask:

    Are you invisioning a skill based or level based system? Or have you gotten that far?

    I realy think that GURPS/EvE model is superiour for non-DnD settings.
    TBH if I was planning an MMO I would be looking to convert GURPS rules from pen and paper to computer.

    but hey, I couldn’t program myself out of a goto loop 😀

  2. Chris Says:

    I’m looking toward a hybrid skill/levels system. Levels are few and are called ranks, and serve to limit access to some equipment and cap maximum skills. Skills are obtained through gifting (as a new character), purchase, loot as part of a mission, and rewards from a successful mission, and are improved through use.

    Skill success is based on the curve described by the equation:

    y = SQRT(4 * a * x) * s


    • y is the chance of success,
    • x is the current skill rating,
    • a is the focus of the parabola (which should be 6), and
    • s is the scaling factor (which should be 1.85).

    With constants substituted and simplified, the equation becomes

    y = SQRT(24 * x) * 1.85

    such that at a skill rating of 1, a character has a 9% chance to complete a skill test successfully, but by a skill rating of 5, a character has a 20% chance to complete a skill test successfully, and by 45 (natural human maximum in this system), a character has a 61% chance to complete a skill test successfully. A character will reach skill rating 10 (the maximum for rank 1) quickly, conceivably in as few as nine skill tests.

    To convert GURPS rules to a MMO would require licensing, and since I’m not part of or starting an MMO development company at this time, it’s not worth the time, effort, and expense of licensing the system. I’ve written these design notes without reference to my 1990 copies of the GURPS Basic Set or Lloyd Blankenship’s GURPS Cyberpunk supplements. Because I’m not basing this on well-playtested materials, the rules would have to be tested, revised, and can’t be regarded as complete or final.

  3. alaph Says:

    Oh yeah I understand, just saying.

    On limiting gear. I think that has to be done naturally. I realy hate the ole a mage can’t use a sword or a level 13 warrior can’t use this level 30 axe design. The limits here attached to the arbitrary class and level system and the inherant hit point system that follows.

    If I read what you are syaing about ranks right then perhaps this won’t be a problem.

    I understand why I can’t do certain things in EvE, I need the skill to ‘know’ how to do something. WoW, on the other hand, seems completely illoligcal to me. I know how to use a sword but I can’t use THAT sword. Why? I would accept that I might suck at using THAT sword but I don’t believe for one second that I don’t know how to.
    This kind of thing breaks the immersion for me.

    No game will ever be 100% logical, however blatantly taking away from immersion annoys me. I’m liking your ideas though….

  4. Mischiefblog » Blog Archive » A little horn-tootin’ about PvP Says:

    […] WoW, EQ, SB, and AC depend entirely upon PvE for advancement. EQ2 and DAOC allow experience and advancement through PvP, but that is a pathological play style for levelling. Arguably, removing the PvE content and replacing it with purchaseable items, ala Guild Wars, is an alternative that could work for EQ2 and DAOC. Guild Wars is a special case, with both PvE and PvP playstyles, where an exclusively PvP playstyle lives in arenas, while a PvE character can participate in both games. I would hope that my partial design for a cyber-punk GITS:SAC-influenced MMO (GITS:SAC MMO design (revised), Cyberpunk MMO rules (first draft)) would provide a game that lets both PvP and PvE players participate and advance on an equal footing. In particular: […]