Mechanical musings 3

If damage resolution is a (new) separate step, I can tweak it so that regular attacks (guns, fists) do more damage than exotic attacks (drains, mind powers). If I can make the initial task resolution simpler, I would feel better about adding damage resolution as a separate step.

GURPS works like this (X, Y, Z are static numbers):

  • Attacker: 3d6 vs skill X
  • Defender: 3d6 vs skill Y to avoid being hit
  • Attacker: xd6 for damage
  • Defender: subtracts defense Z
  • Defender: applies the difference as damage

Three sets of dice.

KM currently works like this:

  • Attacker: 2d6 + X vs …
  • Defender: 2d6 + Y
  • Defender: applies 1/3 difference as damage

I am contemplating making it this:

  • Attacker: 2d6 + X vs …
  • Defender: 7 + skill Y
  • Attacker: calculates the difference as Z
  • Attacker: 1d6 + Z vs …
  • Defender: subtracts defense A
  • Defender: applies the difference as damage

sigh … So much more complicated.

If I reduce the impact of Expertise (2d6, re-roll 1s, rather than 1s and 2s), and reducing the penalty of not having a skill (2d6, re-roll 6s, rather than rolling 1d6), that makes rolls less extreme all around. All else being equal, the best an attacker can roll would be 12, and the worst a defender can roll would be 2, a difference of 10.

If also I change it so that a bonus die is an additional die to roll, but you only count the two highest, that also puts a cap of 12 on rolls. But how would a penalty die be handled? Roll 3d6 and what, count one highest and one lowest? Two penalty dice would be … roll 4d6 and count the two lowest? Blarg. I don’t like that.

If I change expertise/unskilled as noted above, and change bonuses/penalties to being a flat +X/-X (2? 3?) each (stackable), then a character will always roll 2d6, and adding bonuses or subtracting penalties becomes trivial.

That would make Mind Blast a great deal less one-sided. With that, I might not need to make changes to how damage is resolved.

In the current version of Kalos Mechanism, I divide attacks into:

  • Normal attack: Combat skill (Agility or Brawn + Power Level) vs Target’s Combat skill (Agility or Brawn) plus armor, etc. (Power Level)
  • Mental attack: Mental Combat (Power Level) vs Target’s Mental Combat (Presence) plus Mental Resistance (Power Level)
  • Alteration attack: Combat skill (Power Level) vs Target’s Combat skill (Agility or Brawn) plus Alteration Resistance (Power Level)
  • Unusual attack: Combat skill (Power Level) vs Target’s Combat skill (Agility or Brawn)

I think that’s worked out pretty well in play.

So that all gives me this:

  • If unskilled, roll 2d6, re-roll 6s.
  • If has expertise, roll 2d6, re-roll 1s.
  • Each bonus is +3.
  • Each penalty is -3.
  • Normal attacks are (Agility or Brawn) + Power Level vs (Agility or Brawn) + Power Level
  • Mental attacks are Power Level vs Presence + Power Level (if has Mental Resistance)
  • Other attacks are Power Level vs (Agility or Brawn) + Power Level (if has Alteration Resistance)

If I still wanted to tinker with Mind Blast, I could modify the “margin of success” on a per-power basis, rather than it always being +1 damage for every 3 you succeed by. I’ll keep that in mind, but for now, I want to see how these changes work out in a game.

What do you think?

Mechanical musings 2

I have an idea to flatten the upper end of the dice rolls. Rather than each bonus adding another die and you add them all up, each bonus adds another die and you just count the two highest dice. So at a certain point, you are just as good as you can possibly get (12), rather than rolling 3 or even 4 dice and getting absurdly high numbers.

I am also considering making “expertise” give a flat +3 bonus, rather than having the player re-roll 1s and 2s (although that seemed like a neat idea at the time). Or maybe drop it to re-rolling 1s.

That doesn’t address the “I added 6 and you added 12” issue. In THEORY, it is supposed to work like this:

1) Unless one of us has some kind of advantage, or one of us doesn’t have that particular skill, we both roll 2d6. Level playing field, as it were.

2) We both add our relevant attribute. You might have 8 and I might have 2, which really sucks for me, but in that case you are an Olympic medalist and I’m, well, me, so you really ought to have the edge over me in that case. But in general, I assume that we’ll both be in the ballpark. Still a (mostly) level playing field.

3) We each add the PL of our equipment (gun vs armor, knife vs armor) or our Power Level if we have the appropriate power (Blast vs Damage Resistance, Mind Blast vs Mental Resistance).

On paper, that all looks reasonable to me. And I think it works for attacks that have relatively common weapons and defenses. It’s the weird shit that breaks it. If the character with Mind Blast has even relatively modest 5 Presence and 5 Power Level, that would be 2d6 + 10 vs a typical target’s 1d6 + 5 (no Mental Combat skill and no Mental Resistance). My worst roll is better than your best roll.

And this is where I start to vapour lock, because on the one hand, I think mental powers should wipe up the floor with a normal person. But on the other hand, I think a person with Agility 5, Power Level 5, and Blast should be more or less on par with a person who has Presence 5, Power Level 5, and Mind Blast.

Champions used to balance that by making Ego Attack (or whatever it was called) do half of the damage of the same cost Energy Blast.

I am open to splitting “to hit” and “damage”. That would allow me to stick the normal attributes on the “to hit”, and stick the Power Level on the “damage”. That would drop the “to hit” of the hypothetical mental attack above to 2d6 + 5 vs 1d6 + 5, which is not quite so grievous. Then damage and defenses would be… I’m not sure what, but something based on [equipment or Power Level].

Maybe damage/defenses could be … 2d6 + PL? No, the swing of that is way too high (you shoot me with a Derringer, I roll 2, you roll 12, and I have a hole in my chest the size of a grapefruit). 1d6 + PL?

Mechanical musings

I think I have the Bulletproof Blues game system, aka “Kalos Mechanism” (I like that name, but I doubt anyone else does), as refined as I can get it, in its current incarnation.

For the most part, Kalos Mechanism works the way I want a game system to work, but there are some edge cases that still annoy me. A big one is plain-vanilla mental attacks (and to a lesser extent, other attacks with rare defenses). Mind Blast is probably the best example.

Here are the steps for attacking someone with a Mind Blast, with my notes.

1) Attacker purchases “Mind Blast” for 1 point.

Note: I really want powers to cost a flat 1 point. I am currently balancing that a bit by some powers having prerequisites. For example, Mass Mind Blast has a prerequisite of having bought Mind Blast. Should Mind Blast have a prerequisite? Mental Resistance, for example? But I think most people with mental powers will buy Mental Resistance anyway, so why bother with a superfluous requirement? I am conflicted…

2) Attacker rolls 2d6 (1d6 if they don’t have the Mental Combat skill — but they probably will).

Note: I like rolling 2d6. It’s enough dice to be satisfying, but not so many that it’s tedious. And it works well with a 1-10 attribute range

3) Attacker adds their Power Level.

Note: Power Level is what it says on the tin: how potent the character’s powers are. Power Level should be relevant. But it seems wrong to me that the Presence of the attacker isn’t relevant. But if I add Presence to the attack roll, that makes the attack even more powerful, especially since…

4) Defender rolls 2d6 (1d6 if they don’t have the Mental Combat skill — which they probably won’t).

Note 1: I am not averse to setting the target number to be static, but in play, having the defender also roll has worked out well (and it makes some very difficult rolls possible, whereas they wouldn’t be if the target number were static). But…

Note 2: Mind Blast ignores conventional armor, and most people don’t have the Mental Combat skill, meaning they will only roll 1d6 to defend on top of their armor not being applied. Is that how it should be? It strikes me as overpowered, especially since ordinary Blast and Mind Blast have the exact same cost. Which again has me thinking about the 1 pt cost, and potential prerequisite(s).

5) Defender adds their Presence (and their Power Level, if they have Mental Resistance).

Note: This, at least, I am happy with.

6) If the attacker’s roll meets or exceeds the target number, the defender loses 1 Endurance (or 1 Endurance for every 3 the attacker rolled over the target number, if using “margin of success”).

Note: In principle, I like this. I like not having to roll yet more dice. I like that being more skilled with your weapon means your shots are more damaging.


Step 3 and Step 4 Note 2 are really what’s hanging me up. What to do about it, if anything?

On the one hand, I could separate the mechanics for “does the attack hit the target?” and “what is the effect of the attack?” (i.e., roll to hit, and then roll damage), which is what most games do. That would allow me to use Presence (or Agility, etc.) for the “to hit” step, and Power Level for the “damage” step. But I really like the “roll once and be done” aspect of Kalos Mechanism. But do I like it more than I dislike edge cases like Mind Blast?


Am I close to starting another new game system project?

If (if) I do start a new game system project, in which I make combat task resolution more complicated, I think I would want to streamline the power structure. Bulletproof Blues has always been more complicated than I really wanted it to be. But do I really want to do that? I thought I was about done with this sort of thing…

Errata: Danger Sense

As we tinker and fine-tune Bulletproof Blues (and the other Kalos Mechanism games), from time to time we run across a rule that could be improved. This is one of those times. Does this mean that a Bulletproof Blues 4th edition is on the horizon? I doubt it, but who knows. For now, here is some errata for Danger Sense. This replaces the first paragraph of the definition of the Danger Sense power:

Danger Sense is a self-only power which permits the character to sense danger and avoid being surprised, even if there is no way for the character to see the attack coming. A character with Danger Sense never rolls less than two dice on hand-to-hand or ranged defense rolls, even if they would ordinarily have a penalty, or don’t have the skill at all.

Additionally, if an attack is imminent, the GM will ask the player to attempt a moderately difficult (DV 3) Perception (Reason + Power Level) roll. If the Danger Sense roll is successful, the character knows that an attack is imminent, and may warn other characters.

Happy gaming!

Skill Synchronization

We’ve taken a break from our next Character Pack to work on a project that has been percolating for a while: synchronizing the skills between the various Kalos Mechanism games.

The modern skill list (as seen in Bulletproof Blues and Rough Magic) and the futuristic skill list (as seen in ZeroSpace) were easy enough to sync. That required only a few adjustments in the skill examples. The archaic skill list (as seen in Warlords Of Kruhl) required a little more work. Some skills (such as Computing) have no counterpart in an archaic game, while other skills (such as Piloting and Science) are different enough that a name change was unavoidable.

Another issue with archaic games is the heavy emphasis on religion: unlike modern and futuristic games, gods are often real in archaic games, so a new skill, Religion, was needed. (In modern games, religion falls under the umbrella of the Culture skill.)

Hand-to-hand CombatHand-to-hand CombatHand-to-hand Combat
Mental CombatMental CombatMental Combat
Ranged CombatRanged CombatRanged Combat

Errata for second printing of BB3

Here is a list of the (mostly minor) changes in the second printing of the third edition of Bulletproof Blues. The second printing will be made available on DriveThruRPG in a week or so. All of these changes other than the updated characters is already available at the RPG Library site: Bulletproof Blues 3e.


  • “Close Combat” skill changed to “Hand-to-hand Combat” skill.


  • “Close Combat” skill changed to “Hand-to-hand Combat” skill.


  • “Close Combat” skill changed to “Hand-to-hand Combat” skill.
  • Descriptions of “area” and “ranged” powers added to Power Level section.
  • “Area” and “Range” columns added Power Level table.


  • “Close Combat” skill changed to “Hand-to-hand Combat” skill.


  • “Close Combat” skill changed to “Hand-to-hand Combat” skill.
  • “Sharpshooter” gift grants a bonus die against cover and prone characters.


  • “Close Combat” skill changed to “Hand-to-hand Combat” skill.
  • Descriptions of “area” and “ranged” powers added to chapter introduction.
  • “Reaction” action type absorbed into “free action”.
  • The range and target of all powers is made explicit.
  • “Blast, Explosive” changed to “Blast, Area”.
  • “Blast, Selective Area” added.
  • “Damaging Aura, Explosive” changed to “Damaging Aura, Area”.
  • “Great Darkness” and “Vast Darkness” are removed (see “Increased Area”, below”.)
  • “Dazzle, Selective Mass” added.
  • “Emotion Control, Selective Mass” added.
  • “Mass Hysteria” is changed to “Mass Emotion Control”.
  • “Great Environmental Control” and “Vast Environmental Control” are removed (see “Increased Area”, below”.
  • “Mind Blast, Mass” and “Mind Blast, Selective Mass” added.
  • “Mind Control, Selective Mass” added.
  • “Personal Immunity” is moved to the “Power Modifiers” section.
  • “Strike” and “Explosive Strike” are clarified to indicate that Damage Resistance and Force Field are effective against them.
  • “Strike, Explosive” changed to “Strike, Area”.
  • “Strike, Selective Area” added.
  • Phrasing of “Ultra-power” is clarified.
  • New section, “Power Modifiers”, is added.
  • “Increased Area” is added to “Power Modifiers” section.
  • Added a new optional rule, “Spreading An Attack”.
  • “Increased Range” is added to “Power Modifiers” section.
  • “New Follow Through Powers” section is made much shorter, owing to “Increased Area” and “Increased Range” are now power modifiers.
  • “Area (or Mass)”, “Selective Area (or Selective Mass)”, and “Ranged” are added to “New Follow Through Powers” section.
  • Phrasing of various “New Powers” is clarified.
  • “Blast, Explosive Continuous” changed to “Blast, Continuous Area”


  • “Close Combat” weapons changed to “Hand-to-hand” weapons.


  • “Reaction” action type absorbed into “free action”.
  • “Close Combat” skill changed to “Hand-to-hand Combat” skill.
  • “Close range (1 m)” changed to “hand-to-hand (1 m)”.
  • “Exploding” attacks changed from “within short range (10 m)” to “within the affected area”.

GM Resources

  • “Area” and “Range” columns added Power Level table.


  • All characters updated.

Bulletproof Blues Third Edition

Bulletproof Blues Third Edition is here! This third edition of Bulletproof Blues makes character creation simpler and combat even faster.

Get ready to play in the world-famous universe of Kalos Comics — creators of Paragon, Rook, Antiope, Doctor Arcane, and the rest of the Justifiers. Your character will face sinister organizations like Aegis and GORGON, and interact with mysterious entities like Chthyra and Master Sin. From the ancient ruins of Lemuria to the far reaches of the Hausdorff Dimension, the Kalos Universe is yours to explore.

Bulletproof Blues Third Edition is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 License.

New power: Bulletproof!

A while back, we removed “bullets” from the Environmental Immunity power, because that was just too powerful.

But it’s been bugging me ever since. Ordinary bullets and knives simply bounce off some supers, and I really want a way to represent that. It’s in the name of the game, for pete’s sake.

So here is a new power: Bulletproof!


Prerequisite: Damage Resistance or Force Field

A character with the Bulletproof power ignores most attacks from ordinary bullets and knives. The character might have thick armor or impenetrable skin, or they might simply move out of the way of such mundane attacks. An attack roll against the character fails if the weapon being used causes normal damage, if it is an ordinary piece of equipment (a piece of equipment purchased with money rather than as a power, p. XXX), and if it has a PL rating lower than the bulletproof character’s current Power Level.

Bulletproof Force Field: A character’s Bulletproof power might be dependent on their Force Field power. If this is the case, the character’s Bulletproof power is only active while the character’s Force Field is active, and it may be extended to another person (or person-sized object) by touching them.