Hypertellurians: Some thoughts

30 Nov, 2020, updated 31 Jan, 2021 hypertellurians

Hypertellurians is beautiful. It’s a lovely book, with wonderful evocative art, and a bunch of really interesting “features” to stack on top of “archetypes” (like classes but more thematic and less capability-based). I won’t go through the book because other people have done it better.

Having prepped and run a single game, though, how was it?

Well, I loved the theme (🚀), and I quite like the relatively simple combat. No rolling for initiative:

  1. fast players get an action
  2. fast hostiles get an action
  3. slow players get two actions
  4. slow hostiles get two actions

Rolling to hit and to do damage is pretty straightforward as well. Movement is within zones although you could add tactical maps on top if you wanted, I guess. I think I’d rather just show a scene if I were using a VTT and say “sort of like this” but not actually have any grids up. This isn’t a game for strategic movement, so it might just make things confusing.

Where I start to struggle is, well, making something a struggle for the players. But a surmountable one. I could have done with some hints on “what’s a hard check” and “a level N creature is about right for three players of level M”.

I’m sure the answer is “don’t try to balance the encounters”, though.

Nevertheless, it’s good to be able to at least telegraph to players “don’t mess with this thing” and therefore knowing what that level is (as a GM) is helpful. So far, I can say level 1 creatures rarely hurt. And considering armour in this game absorbs damage, small amounts of damage can be lost entirely.

I tried creating mobs for the game, and it’s not too hard, although I tried to have them punch soft. See the point above, the light tazing ability I gave the robots didn’t do much.

On the other hand, I had to pull some punches with my Big Bad as one punch very near killed one player entirely. That’s pretty standard GMing for me though! 😃

The last problem is creating loot. I’m pretty bad at this in D&D where there’s a whole book of stuff to pick from. There’s none of that here. The author has started a (to-be-announced, see his Discord) bestiary and item generator, but it’s not finished yet.

To be honest, I think the way I will consider that is to pick MacGuffins from favourite sci-fi episodes and nerf/promote them until they do something amazing once, or something cool once per story/session.

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