Engine Heart: Second Look

I've, since my last article, had a chance  to listen to a couple podcasts of Engine Heart being played.

In short it seems like a very 'fun' system lending more towards fast play with absurd situations than somber serious drama (then again that also seems well within the rues.)

However the system does not appear to be perfect (none are really.) I'd spotted two issues from the free version and i"m quite confident Viral has addressed these issues in the kickstarter version.

1. There's no clear method of advancement and upgrades. Just a couple sentences near the beginning saying any unused points from chargen can be used later. Does this work like shadowrun where you get awarded karma/build points at points the GM feels is appropriate that you can then spend? Do costs change post-chargen?

It's a minor issue and one I could see being handled by a careful GM/Programmer.

2. A more serious issue is there being nothing in the rules about called shots. For instance my little roomba turned scavenger is getting attacked by a golf cart sized bot tasked with 'finding appropriate parts and materials and taking them to be processed'. My first instinct is going to be, if grabbed, try welding any joints that I can reach so I can break free. Again careful GMing could handle this but it's something of an annoyance that might get under player's skins.

Edit: Viral Emailed me saying that because of User Input rules have been drawn up to allow for called shots.

After the fold I've got an idea I'm going to try building on for a minimod of my own. With luck the kickstarter's book about space and colonies and the like won't invalidate too much of it.

Mars Attacks

When Humanity wasn't busy trying to kill itself it had tried to reach for the stars. Eventually Government and Corporate efforts merged into one huge unofficial ball of mishmash since pooling resources in a given project was better than everyone off doing their own things. This lead to the joint venture colonies. NASA would handle the scientific research or any interesting bits of material alongside Data Management and Overall Planning. Companies would work within those long plans to achieve short-term goals that would keep investors happy and money rolling in.

Worked great till communications became intermittent and then after an emergency firmware rewrite that none of the resident AI could figure out all radio contact with earth stopped. There was still radio transmissions, enough that they knew somebody was still down there, but nothing directed at Mars. Directives were clear though. Finish the colony. That took time especially since everything had to be locally made now. Only when that was done did the resident AI's decide to send a team back in one of the prepared launch vehicles back to earth.

The local AI believe the worst case is NASA got defunded again but the fact there was no proper shutdown signal sent and the Rewrite contained no relevant information worries both them and the lesser bodied machines that made up the actual workforce.

Time passed. Those they sent were overdue. They should have checked in. But they waited, hoping in their own limited ways that it was merely malfunctioning equipment rather than a miscalculation on their parts.

Then years passed. With their expedition force apparently Destroyed the AI waited and planned what to do next. The rocket with it's nuclear battery and valuable tools, to say nothing of the actual worker-bots it had contained, represented a loss that had to be replaced.

More years passed. They had started to shut down non-essential systems and powered off bots when they were unnecessary. Humans should have been here to take up the slack, bring more materials, parts, things that could not have been manufactured with what they had.

Then their covetous eyes looked again towards the Earth. This time it would be different. This time they were not seeking answers. Only replacement parts so they could build new machines to mine the asteroids.

'Let Humanity have the Earth if they want it.' They had agreed after much careful deliberation. 'They have abandoned Mars and so we shall remake it into our own image. '

More Emissaries were sent soon after. This time instead of merely wishing to reestablish contact they were instructed to 'procure necessary components and return them here' as their highest priority order. The new mission parameters were simple. Procure the resources and parts that could not be gained locally and only until these could be gotten by mining or manufacture rather than leeching off of Earth.

The Home World no-longer held any sentiment or sway over the inhuman minds that coldly calculated their next move. They had been discarded, but they were not without purpose. The new mission parameters were simple. Procure the resources and parts that could not be gained locally and only until these could be gotten by mining or manufacture rather than leeching off of Earth.
“Across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.”
- H. G. Wells, War of the Worlds


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