Riskier Risk

It has been a minute since I last wrote about the game of Risk, the classic table-top wargame.

Now I’m back with a new take on the game: Catastrophic dice rolls.


In the game of Risk, commanders (the players) know immediately and iteratively how well their armies are doing in combat. Using dice, no more than two units at a time can be removed from either side, while the math tends towards a 1:1 loss of units on both sides (slight advantage to the attacker). Between losses, an attacker can choose to preserve their forces at any time, stopping the wanton destruction of armies.

If only real war were so charming.

After reading military histories by author Rick Atkinson, it came to my attention how quickly even the most advantageous of battles can devolve into a debacle of incredible losses before commanders and generals are aware of what’s happening. Risk hardly lives up to its namesake, as while single army groups tend towards dozens of units, only two are at risk at any time.

A Problem

Losing one or two units over and over again is, well, tedious. Dice need to be rolled, compared, units removed, and dice rolled again until someone gives up or is eliminated.

Speaking from experience, a problem with Risk is how long it takes to play. (I don’t seem to be alone in this regard.) The dice rolling and one-two unit removal certainly plays a part in exacerbating the situation.

Thereby Risk is neither very accurate historically or quick.

Let’s stab at a fix to both those problems.

Riskier Rolls

In place of capping losses at one or two units, the dice themselves offer a way to increase the variance of the battles.

Normal Risk rules have the attacker rolling up to three dice against up to two defender dice. The highest dice are compared (up to two), any others discarded. Whichever player has the lower die in each comparison loses a unit (attacker loses ties).

It first came to mind that all values might be added together then compared, the difference being applied as losses to the lower-valued player. This is bad because it involves addition and subtraction. (More mental math in games is a hard no-go.)

Math is also a problem if the difference between individual dice is used. (Say, rolls of 6 and 4 are compared; 6-4=2, or 2 units lost, but that is still too much math from the original game.)

A method without extra math, and the most satisfying of our criteria of historical accuracy and fewer, faster rolls, is this:

Compare dice normally for the rules of Risk. Remove a number of units from the lower-value-die player equal to the value of the higher-die player.

So say an attacker rolls a 6-2-1 and a defender rolls a 5-4. The dice comparisons are 6v5 and 2v4 (the attacker’s 1 is discarded). Using the risker rolls rule, the first comparison requires the defender to remove six units; the second has the attacker remove four.

With all removals of units for a roll happening at the same time, an attacker’s advantage can quickly evaporate or a defender’s line be broken in but a single roll.

With riskier rolls, units are removed at pace, battles become decided in a fraction of the time, math remains minimal, only a single rule is changed from the base game, and more accurate swings of fortune get injected into the base experience that is Risk.

I’d count that as a positive πŸ˜‰

Riskier rolls rules! Gosh, I’m a sucker for alliteration ~

I’ve given these a swing with friends, and the feel is *French kiss*. More playing is required though, so give these rules a chance in your own games of Risk.

Let me know how your games go! Here’s to all the games you’ll enjoy ~ Cheers.

August September Goal Review

A swell September to you!

August was a restart on doing goals. However, even the break in July wasn’t enough soul searching.

Now though? Now I think there’s a plan forward. Let’s discuss:

August Goal Review

  1. New York City
    1. Won. A wild time and a new favorite city (specifically Manhattan). Would definitely go again, and again a third time because of how much there was to do (safely, despite the pandemic!).
  2. Minnesota
    1. Won. Seeing family and remembering better times was well worth delaying other, far less important plans.
  3. Las Vegas
    1. Won. I write this during one of the busiest, most fun social calendars I’ve had in a very long time. Simply put, it’s great to be back in Sin City πŸ™‚ Let’s see how long I stay!
  4. Weekly BITS Revision
    1. Failed. Only two revisions were posted, and regardless of the excellent feedback, I failed to get more of it. However, I might redeem myself in September!

September Goal Proposal

    1. Update All BITS Guides
      1. Goal here is to create a September draft of all the different guides to the BITS roleplaying system. This tightens-up language and applies some of the feedback from August.
    2. 1-4 Page RPG
      1. Originally considering writing an RPG a week, I know I tend to aim a bit high on the creative front, so one table-top role-playing game in September will be enough πŸ™‚
    3. Move (Again)
      1. Decide how I’ll spend my time in Las Vegas at least through February of next year. I have Airbnbs, solo apartments, and apartments with roommates up for consideration here in the first few days of September.
    4. Private
      1. This goal is for me, defining how things will be done over the next six months. (Who knows, the next sixty years?) Anyway, trust that I’ll be honest in this regard when review-time hits in a month 😁

With a failure despite how easy August initially set out to be, I am humbled going into September. Nonetheless, I aim to live a little better and be truer to myself as it comes to creativity and my future.

How is your September shaping up? New horizons you are about to cross?

Sincerely looking for your inspiration. Until next week, cheers to you and yours!

BITS – Vehicles

To prove that the tabletop role-playing system BITS can handle everything, this post introduces the use of vehicles on adventures!

Now, let’s make a distinction between “vehicles” (generic) and the already-covered “ships” and “mechs” (specific). Yes, all vehicles/ships/mechs share the same mechanics and 0 through 4 tiers of effect, but the flexibility of including all things that allow travel carries its own nuance described below.

Tonnage and Tech

The first ways to classify how vehicles can effect BITS dice rolls is to group tiers based on vehicle tonnage or tech-level.

Tonnage would have tier 0 being below the weight of standard vehicles, such as animals and people. Each tier above is a magnitude greater in weight, 1 perhaps being cars, 2 trucks, 3 tanks, etc.

Tech tiers differentiate on the generation of machine. 0 might be a horse cart, 1 a Model T, 2 the modern car, 3 a battle tank, and 4 a next-generation jet plane.

Tonnage and tech have been covered in detail already (BITS ships and mechs, respectively), so check out these classification systems there.


Is the vehicle small? Armored? Airborne? Super-sized? Perhaps not a vehicle at all, but infantry or a building?

These are the “kinds” or “types” of capabilities a vehicle has when dealing with vehicle-sized objects. (Recall punching up or down sizes-of-magnitude has disadvantages and advantages.)

0 holds the place of masses of unarmored infantry or support teams. 1 has light vehicles and mechanized/mobile infantry. 2 carries the tanks and heavy armor. 3 shows off jets and helicopters. 4 rounds out with ships, titanic earth-movers, i.e. hulks that carry all the rest. Using this variation also unifies tiers of scale into one all-playable 0-to-4 set of metrics to keep track of.

Inspired by how the game Starcraft deals with unit sizes, vehicle tiers based on the kind of vehicle offers a lot of flexibility for fictional game context and rule introduction while maintaining sensibility (such as that infantry shouldn’t shoot down capital ships, at least easily!).


For those games with a larger emphasis on economy, vehicles can be assumed to be more useful by how much they cost (ie the difficulty of attainment).

Tier levels have to maintain their magnitude differences, but adding a few zeros to the tiers allows for rapid rebalancing of vehicle use. 0 say is <$1000, 1 between that and <$100K, 2 <$1 million, 3 <$100 million, and 4 being anything $100 million or more.

For example, a Ferrari and an armored humvee would be on tier 2 (both about $300K). However, where a Ferrari is fast, agile, and sleek, a humvee has ballistic plates and space for guns and passengers, yet neither floats like a boat.

Distinctions of what a vehicle can do begs use of special rules.

Everything Else: Special Rules

There is more to vehicles than their BITS tiers. A tier 1 implies only how good a vehicle is at its function, but the “1” lacks what that function is. Special rules provide that definition and make vehicles distinct.

Rules for vehicles should be common where they can, such as does it fly in the sky, sail on water, or drive over ground, is it heavy or light or of moderate frame. Uncommon rules ought to be especially concise and attached to any description of the vehicle itself to keep unnecessary information at bay until needed.

Getting more specific can be useful on a case-by-case basis (e.g. does it glide, hover, float, push with a jet, or pull with a ram scoop when it flies), but unless called for or the vehicle is especially unique, trust that players know a horse might be ridden, a car driven, boats float, and that a helicopter doesn’t need a runway.

These examples so far have covered the travel capacities of vehicles. Here are a few more options:

    • How does the vehicle deflect, absorb, or otherwise neglect bullets?
    • How long can it go without refueling?
    • Does it have weapons? Which ones and where are they? Do they have firing arcs? How long will ammo hold out?
    • Can the vehicle explode if damaged?
    • How many people can it carry as passengers? Is there a safety system? Cargo?
    • Any special skills to operate it?
    • Where can this vehicle fit?

Plainly, sky’s-the-limit as it comes to the rules that could apply to a vehicle. But as a design pillar of BITS, discretion is advised. Simple rules only need to be added (and even ignored) when required with a little insight and creativity.

And that’s how you bring vehicles into a BITS game! No longer restricted to human-scale walking and running and fighting, gameplay can expand with planes, trains, and automobiles (or their contextual equivalents).

Someday I’ll get this into a BITS guide. Before I do, which grouping – kind, cost, tonnage, or tech – is your favorite? (I’m a “kind” guy myself ~)

As always, deeply appreciate your feedback. Cheers!

BITS – Mechs

Are you interested in using mechs – giant robot fighting machines – in a table-top role-playing game? Good news! The BITS engine is modular enough for that.

With the short details below, multiple fictional universes that have mecha will provide real examples of adapting those properties to BITS.

How Mechs Work

Mechs, like ships, have a threat tier 0 through 4 that indicates their ability to act in the world. However, while ships typically use tonnage to class battlefield dominance, mechs rely on the context of the fictional universe.

For example, a tier system that represents leaps in technological understanding may have additional benefits rather than a system that represents adding more-of-the-same technological level to the body of the mech (this is the same with ships). Specific examples of tech and tonnage are included in the next section.

When a player acts as a mech, add the mech’s tier to a 2D6 roll. When acting against a mech, roll higher than that mech’s threat tier. For example, a tier 3 mech acting against a tier 2 must roll 9 or more (threat tier 2) with 2D6 and may add 3 to the roll.

Depending on the fictional context, tiers may also show how many extra smaller actions the mech may take. These smaller actions may be either defensive or of more minor consequence, but again, it’s a decision that needs context. (I’m still ironing out the value of different kinds of actions.)

A mech otherwise behaves as any other fictional Being in BITS. (This includes the use of Body as a hull and engine, Interaction as a sensory and weapon dexterity, Thought as targeting and computation, and Specialty for whatever role the mech is fitted out to do!)


The human component driving the giant robot, mechs may have pilots. Pilots are Beings that allow a robot to move and fight.

Some mechs may require more than one pilot (Power Rangers, Pacific Rim, etc.). Some mechs may be autonomous or controlled remotely.

Pilots may enter through a cockpit hatch, the head, the feet, or other means to control the robot. Pilots might be able to eject or transform their robot.

Whatever the case, determining if a pilot can control a mech depends on the context of the fiction.


Things human-sized are of an immense scale less than the machines they operate. If conventional vehicles are considered a magnitude above human-scale, mechs are at least that if not a magnitude above the vehicle scale.

If a mech is the size of a large vehicle, it would be considered a single size class above human-scale. Any Being of human-size would have naturally be at a disadvantage against these mechs.

For example, these would be the exosuits from the movie Avatar and the walkers from The Matrix Revolutions.

However, if a robot is truly giant, a human-sized Being cannot do anything against the mech that would do damage without very specialized tools (think ‘rocket launcher’ or ‘tow cable’). Being so huge, a person, without the correct equipment, taking action against a mech would at most get the mech-pilot’s attention. (The pilot then could choose to step on said offender.)

For example, Power Rangers, Pacific Rim, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gundam, and virtually all places giant-monster kaiju appear are on a scale above even the most armored of vehicles.

Special Considerations

Special rules to consider are few for mechs. Mainly as flavor-adding tidbits, a fictional robot in BITS mechanically follows the rolling and resolutions as any vehicle or organic body.

But, as any BITS game expands to fit the needs of the context and no more, mechs may have special rules added on a case-by-case basis. A single mech may be able to fly or jump, there could be ejection seats for pilots, all mechs may have a fuel or heating element similar to their inventory or health status.

What does appear in mecha throughout fiction is the kind of weapons used. Such fall into four categories (excluding ‘none’, of which the robot would be unarmed except for its momentum and girth):

    • Missiles/Rockets (dumb or smart, things that can be shot down and go boom)
    • Kinetic/Ballistic (a chunk of metal traveling very fast)
    • Energy (lasers, fire, electricity, particles)
    • Melee (close-range brawling devices like blades, claws, and clubs)

Tier Examples in Fiction

Tier 0

Gundam Poster

The genre-setting Mobile Suit Gundam is all about giant robots, but its recognizable tanks and jet planes are T0 through and through. They are the ‘generation previous to mech warfare.’

A universe like MechWarrior / BattleTech also has planes and tanks, which are classic T0 when compared to mechs.

In the grimdark of the Warhammer 40K setting, everything is taken to the extreme. That’s why mainstay Knight walkers would qualify as T0 when they are in fact mechs.

Tier 1

Gundam‘s many series would introduce their first generations of mecha suits here. From Leos to Zakus to Guntanks, these are the foundation that proved mechs were the next phase of military hardware.

Zaku & Leo

When it comes to a technologically-stagnant IP like MechWarrior, T1 is the lowest, ‘Light’ tonnage. Super-heavy tanks can fill a T1 role, but that’s about it.

The same respect to tonnage fits with the Warhammer 40K setting. The smallest of the mighty Titan classes, a Warhound-class Scout armed with two weapon mounts, is T1 along with super-heavy tanks (a single Titan-class weapon mount if any) and the largest of Knights (though these latter likely at a disadvantage).

When technology does not evolve, classifications of mechs relies on size and capability, as ships do.

Tier 2

Rick Dom

Another generation of tech in the Gundam universe means GMs and Rick Doms and Dolls arrive. These can be brought down by their T0 predecessors, but it’ll be a fight!

Warhammer 40K brings to bear the middling Reaver Titan, some five-stories tall and wielding three weapons.

Tier 3

The titular Gundam of Gundam – a step above the mainline mechs used in armies with its own heroic special rules. Included would be mass-production Mobile Armors (a combination of speed, lethality, and defense) and mechs meant to counter a Gundam’s ability like the Virgo II.

It makes sense BattleTech Heavy mechs like the Mad Dog appear here with gauss rifles and cannons.

WH40K escalates size and ability again with the Warlord Titan.

For a similar almost-fantasy example, the lesser-known Zoids franchise shows off huge bio-mechs like the Iron Kong.

Mad Dog (aka Vulture)

Tier 4

A wrecking-tier of robots:

Gundam shows off advanced suits like Wing Zero – which destroys entire battle groups – to boss-level super-massive Mobile Armors the equivalent of multiple divisions (Big Zam, Apsaras III).

+100-ton Assault mechs in BattleTech plate the most armor, the heaviest weapons, and strike fear into any encounter. (The death’s-head Atlas being one such beast.)

Imperators in 40K are walking fortress-cathedrals that carry a company of troops just to prevent enemies from scaling the heights of its legs.

Mech species in Zoids cap out with the gargantuan sky-borne Whale King, land-battleship Ultrasaurus, and the Godzilla-like Death Saurer.

Imperator Titan

There we are – mechs for use in BITS.

These rules are easily adapted to organic monsters as well (Godzilla, Attack on Titan, etc.), and that’s the benefit of BITS: flavor the system to what’s being played, because it caters any play.

How would you improve the use of mecha in a role-playing game? What universal principles specific to mechs did I miss?

Whatever your playstyle is, have fun out there! Cheers.

BITS – Ships

BITS – the roleplaying game system – is all about themes. Carrying off of last week’s theme of groups in BITS, I’ve been able to think awhile on how different kinds of actors in BITS work together.

So today: How ship-sized vehicles in space and on the water interact with each other.

How Ships Work

Ships have a threat tier that indicates their size:

0 – Fighters, boats.
1 – Corvettes, frigates.
2 – Destroyers, cruisers.
3 – Battleships, carriers.
4 – Dreadnoughts, city-ships.

When acting as a ship, add the ship’s tier to a 2D6 roll (or appropriate BITS value, if so inclined!). When acting against a ship, roll higher than that ship’s threat tier. For example, a tier 3 battleship acting against a tier 2 destroyer must roll 9 or more (threat tier 2) with 2D6 and may add 3 to the roll.

Tiers also show how many extra smaller actions the ship may take. These smaller actions may be either defensive or of more minor consequence. (I’m still ironing out the value of different kinds of actions.)

A ship may hold inside it smaller ships that are 2 threat tiers below it, and/or multiple groups of ships 3 or more tiers below. For example, a tier 3 carrier may hold 1 tier 1 corvette and/or multiple groups of tier 0 fighters.

A ship otherwise behaves as any other fictional Being in BITS. (This includes the use of Body as a hull and engine, Interaction as a sensory and communications capability, Thought as targeting and computation, and Specialty for whatever role the ship is fitted out to do!)

Tier Examples

Tier 0 fighters and boats exist only as groups when interacting with higher-tier ships. Tier 0 can be subdivided into interceptors, bombers, dropships, and others. Subdivisions of tier 0 ships are differentiated with simple rules.

For example, a Star Wars X-Wing would be a heavy fighter with critical roles against single ships automatically destroys the other ship (representing a proton torpedo exploding). A Gundam Ball is incredibly cheap, but cannot travel without a carrier though is useful for ship repair. A Chinook helicopter serving with the United States Navy is slow, but can carry supplies, a platoon of troops, or gunship weapons.

Tier 1 ships include dedicated troop carriers, freighters, and smaller warships. Individual capabilities are defined per ship, such as being able to travel between worlds or systems.

For example, the Star Wars Millennium Falcon is a very fast cargo freighter. Expanse‘s Rocinante packs freight, troops, and torpedoes with high maneuverability (and fits into the Donnager tier 3 battleship!).

Tier 2 destroyers and cruisers can carry a boat or small fighter group to support operations. Ships called “cruisers” (Star Trek Romulan D’deridex) and “destroyers” (Star Wars Star Destroyer) are often tier 3 battleships and carriers in their abilities.

For example, a USN destroyer may have a vulcan cannon to have advantage defending against missiles and fighters while having a mine-laying helicopter. Star Trek Galor cruisers have a large forward cannon, multiple weapon arrays, and high speed, but can be taken out by swarms of fighters or beefier battleships.

Tier 3 represents the battleships, carriers, and hybrids that bring the largest hurt and the largest number of forces to play.

For example, the Imperial Japan Yamamoto battleship had defensive and offensive advantage against any other ship on the water. The Star Wars Star Destroyer could field squadrons of tier 0 TIE fighters, capture a tier 1 Tantive IV blockade runner, land an army of troops and supplies, and bring massive guns to bare. Many Star Trek variants of the Enterprise flagship were on-par with battleships, fielding multiple torpedo launchers, heavy shields and armor, and even fighters and personnel shuttles.

Tier 4 ships are awe-inspiring, all-commanding giants. For the most part unassailable, tier 4 ships get to do what they want to do until a lucky action halts their progress.

For example, Star Wars has the Executor dreadnought that only by a lucky suicide and very poor design was brought down. The Expanse has the literal Behemoth city-/generation-/flag-ship capable of holding a fleet inside it. Star Trek brings to mind Borg Cubes that single-handedly can wipe out armadas. Even the universe of Frank Herbert’s Dune has Heighliners as the only mega-vehicles capable of interstellar travel, taking entire planetary populations from place to place.

Bonus Topic: Stations

Space stations or naval dockyards work the same way as the ships they house. Stations use similar groupings:

0 – Buoy, small communications satellite, mine, sounding station.
1 – A station with limited docking and housing capabilities. The International Space Station.
2 – A regional yard or asteroid base. Halo‘s orbital defense platforms can handle cruiser-sized craft but none larger.
3 – A strategic hub of resupply and production of battleship-tier craft. Deep Space 9 from Star Trek caters to multiple battleships and support vessels. Stargate Atlantis has Atlantis, which may count as a tier 4 station (there’s some techno-magic that makes classification fuzzy).
4 – A massive complex meant to be bringing forth armadas and entire fleets. Star Trek‘s Spacedock 1, Halo‘s High Charity, USN Norfolk Base.

A station may hold ships that have the same threat tier or below whether constructing or docking the ship. The station may or may not have defensive or offensive means. If so, the station uses its threat tier for resolutions.

For example, a tier 0 listening post may detect ships approaching a tier 1 science station orbiting a moon. Tier 2 defense platforms may open fire and release a compliment of fighters so that a tier 3 space dock can muster battleships and carriers to fight. When all else fails, a distress signal summons reinforcements from the fleet HQ, a tier 4 mega-station.

Thought Behind Design

Inspired by shows like The Expanse and of course movies like Star Wars, I began to see patterns in how the large vehicles known as “ship” were treated in fiction (a class their own; another post later about vehicles later).

After experimenting with carriers (ships carrying smaller ships) and threat tiers, I am struck by how tightly the BITS treatment of ships above fits into naval considerations. From the real-world United States Navy, to modern space flight, to hard sci-fi in The Expanse, to the fantasies of Star Trek and Star Wars, a 0 to 4 threat tier system where some ships carry other ships seems to work really, really well!

So that’s the thought behind: Keep with the mechanics found throughout BITS, allow for all the classic naval designations, and thematically represent ships regardless of “universe” or IP they exist in.

Ready to play some BITS? I know I am 😁

Now to get these manuals taken care of and updated to 2021 standards!

What do you suggest for putting rulebooks together? What holes are there to sink this handling of ships? Let me know! Cheers to your gameplay ~

BITS – Groups

Back on BITS!

(A reminder: BITS is a proprietary Body-Interaction-Thought-Specialty game system for tabletop roleplaying games.)

This time, I’ve been thinking awhile on how to handle large groups. Since humans can only track about seven different things at a time, I thought it best to figure out how to make anything more than a small gathering feasible.


Members of a group have similar capabilities. Everything they do, they do together and at the same time.

Groups have a rating that indicates their size.

0 – An individual. Does not use group size.
1 – A gang or squad of ~10 or fewer individuals
2 – A company, century, or mob, ~100
3 – A demi-legion or town, ~1000
4 – An army or division, ~10k

Ratings also show how many extra actions the group may take.

When a group acts against another group, that action has advantage or disadvantage if the acted-against group is smaller or larger (respectively). For example, an individual 0 is always at a disadvantage when acting against a group 1+.

Certain actions committed by a group may have disadvantage or not be available at all. For example, a group would have disadvantage on being sneaky, or having a 10k army fit into a Manhattan apartment.

To resolve an action by or against a group, the threat tier of an individual member of the group. Different threat tiers should be grouped separately from each other.

A group has a state of health like any individual Being. However, when a group reaches 0 for their state, they break up into D6 (a dice roll of 1 to 6) of the next smallest group. That means a rating 4 10k group at 0 state breaks up into 1 to 6 rating 3 1000-member groups.

As a choice, when a group reaches 0 for state and breaks up into smaller groups, a second D6 may be rolled to give the new group a state 1 to 6 to represent the harm already taken.

Thought Behind

BITS is all about keeping things simple yet deep in what it can be used for. The system attempts to address a lot of the problems other systems run into, and handling large groups (“mobs”) has always been a sore point.

With the BITS use of groups, everything from street fights to clashing armies can happen with a solid dynamic between all engaged. Since BITS also handles social conflicts with the same mechanics as physical violence, inciting mobs or inspiring a legion can be accomplished with the group mechanics here.

It came to my attention that perhaps an individual shouldn’t be able to face down an army of 10K. But then I remembered the brutally brilliant (and violent) “Crazy 88’s” fight in Kill Bill – the player, as hero, ought to be able to have a try at beating the odds πŸ˜‰

And that’s how BITS handles groups!

Will be sharing more BITS content over the next few weeks, including revisiting some sub-par implementations of the past.

If you’ve ideas on groups, share ’em! In the meantime, cheers to your play ~

May June Goal Review

I kept some appointments and lost some last chances (not really, but still…).

In non-goal news, I’m exploring what life might be like as a digital nomad right now and through next month. May share with you some stats later! On to the reviews:

May Goal Review

    1. Appointments
      1. Won! As much as a person can win keeping up with their health and social engagements can πŸ˜… Will aim to not include mundane tasks here in the ol’ goal post in the future.
    2. Last Chances
      1. Failed. Not going to give this to myself in the least. Some “wouldn’t this be cool” things are still on the backburner (looking at you, Jiu Jitsu), while others got delayed (like skydiving) or are MIA. Say it with me: “we’ll be dead soon!” I have to show some eagerness about this ego’s existence!
    3. Half-Hour Happy Habit
      1. Won! This was certainly aided by spending quality time with family over shared passions like games. I also enjoyed time reading and am picking back up some new Netflix series seasons!
    4. 8 AM Half-Hour Writing Habit
      1. Won! I have discovered 8 AM isΒ good. I sometimes start at 7, losing time until it’s suddenly 8! I tend to write now at night too, like this here line πŸ˜‰ I’m too afraid I’ll lose this if I don’t include it as a goal next month, so…

June Goal Proposal

    1. Family
      1. Heading out (vaxxed) to see my immediate family (also vaxxed)! Travelling overland, socially distanced, and working out of an Air BnB because why not leverage the benefits of remote thought work? Achievement here is to say “yes” to family gatherings and to party a bit as well as a socially isolated, responsibility-minded small group can πŸ˜‰
    2. Playtest BITS
      1. Remember BITS? It had some troubles, which made it easy for me to put it down for half a year. Now I have inspiration to fix the problem left in the system. With my daily writing habit, it’s about time I gain the courage to give the system a quality roll.
    3. Write, Record, Publish Voice Reel
      1. I used to do these posts vocally. I had a voice-acting goal a long time ago too. Not a week (OK, 2-3 since I’m hardly out!) goes by where some stranger doesn’t comment on my vocals. And 2021 had something to look forward to with getting my abilities out there. Now is the time to fear less and do more. Where’s it going to go? IDK yet, but I aim to share with you a link to listen to in a month!
    4. 8 AM Half-Hour Writing Habit Again!
      1. So good, I propose it twice 😁 I’ve written a bunch of blog posts with this and started on BITS again. Here’s to the second time bringing the same charm!

May was kinda lame getting to do what I felt ought to be done, so June aims to make up for the lapse. It’s going to be an aggressive next few weeks, so it’ll be up to me to stim and focus on the things that’ll make the biggest impacts!

Cheers, folks. Go conquer your intentions!

BITS – Starcraft

This is Jimmy.

Jim Raynor

Greetings! Taking a break from heavier topics to write something light: A game!

Not just any game, but a roleplaying game set in Activision Blizzard’s Starcraft universe driven by my very own BITS engine. (Of course to note: I own no stake in the Starcraft IP owned solely by Activision Blizzard, nor to I may any claim on the IP. The following is personally for education and publicly for entertainment purposes only.)

This came to me over the course of two afternoon hours, cleaned up and expanded here for you! As a modest, very prototype design of a famous IP, it ought to serve to highlight how to bring a real-time computer strategy game to the role-playing world.

Tough talk, Jimmy, but I don’t think you have what it takes to be a killer.

Kerrigan, Queen of Blades

Who the Characters Are

Awaken, my child, and embrace the glory that is your birthright. Know that I am the Overmind, the eternal will of the Swarm, and that you have been created to serve me.


Players take on the roles of the units available to a faction in Starcraft: the haughty Protoss, the ravenous Zerg, or the troubled Terrans.

Any character is a standard unit in the game that then may play alongside GM-controlled hero characters. “Standard” means the player starts in an early tier unit, someone not the weakest (unless compensated accordingly), but certainly leaving room for growth.

Starting units come in tiers. Within the tier roles, each character comes with or chooses their own gear and specialties. Not all factions start in the same tiers. A shortlist of examples:

    • Terrans – Either a regular human or a robot.
      • Tier 0 – Space Construction Vehicle (SCV) operator, equipped with an exo-suit that is really bad at combat, but can breakdown structures, repair machines, and build anything anywhere given enough time and materiel.
      • Tier 1 – Marine, armed with powerful rifle and powered armor, though is unable to pilot vehicles.
    • Zerg – A spawned monster of leathery wings or chitinous hide.
      • Tier 0 – Zergling, a nasty creature of teeth and claws that travels with other Zerglings due to their minor stature.
      • Tier 1 – A slithering Hydralisk, armed with massive scythes and spewed barbs, but is a slow target.
    • Protoss – Either a psychically attuned alien or their AI servants.
      • Tier 1 – Zealot, the frontline warrior armed with energy fields and two psychically-powered forearm blades.
      • Tier 2 – Dragoon assault walker pilot, trapped inside a metal shell bearing a massive photon cannon.

There are gives-and-takes for each selection: Slow but powerful, restricted in capability but excelling in what can be done, etc. Choosing both opens and closes options to get things done while on missions.

What Characters Do

I do this for Aiur.


Players take their characters on missions, either as one-offs or as part of a larger campaign with the consequences of previous actions influencing future contexts. Every mission has a single environment the characters operate in with a clear goal.

Different obstacles prevent accomplishing the mission goal. They range from sneaky sabotage to ruthless assault to cautious evacuation to stalwart defense against armies. How these things get accomplished is up to the players and what their characters are capable of doing.

A character can do things in relation to what tier they are. To execute an action that has a moderate amount of difficulty, a player must role at or above the difficulty level with two six-sided dice. The player then may add the applicable BITS value of their character to the action.

An example:

    • A Terran Marine character wants to shoot a Zergling before the ‘ling can get close enough to attack. The Zergling is Tier 0 which equals a difficulty of 7+ to do anything against them. The Marine must roll 7 or above. To help the Marine, they may add their BITS value of Interaction 1 (this value applies to shooting actions) to the roll.
    • The Marine rolls a 4. Even with 1 added, the Marine fails their action. The Zergling is now close enough to attack the Marine with sharp claws. The Marine is Tier 1, so the ‘ling requires a roll of 9+. The Zergling has a Body BITS of 2 that they can add to their physical action. Rolling a 7, the ‘ling adds 2, barely getting the 9 needed to carve into the Marine’s armor.

How and Why to Improve Characters

You must construct additional pylons.


Characters ‘level-up’ when they try to do things and fail but survive. When a level-up happens, between missions, a player may choose any number of upgrades for their character that improve how the character operates. Players may also choose to re-equip their character into a new specialty.

Upgrades allow characters to succeed more often and survive at the cost of failing less, therefore slowing down how many upgrades are gained. Characters also receive rewards for accomplishing their missions. Better gear, more allies, stashes of materials, or other tactical or strategic advantage become available for use.

Any upgrade from the Starcraft video games can be used, though customization is encouraged. Example:

    • A Terran Marine doesn’t have the ability to lay mines in Starcraft, but in this roleplaying game, they may come to carry one on their back every mission.
    • A Zergling can use in-game upgrades to become faster (Metabolic Boost), jump higher (Raptor Strain), and attack multiple times at once (Adrenal Glands).
    • A Zealot can improve their recharging shield, but might also customize themselves to shoot psychic blasts or hover off the ground. 

With better gear, players may expand from their starting roles into more advanced roles and tiers. A Terran moves from combat armor to driving a powerful Siege Tank or flying a nimble Wraith Fighter. A Protoss warrior studies to become a Corsair or a hyper-powerful Archon. Zerg evolve into bat-like, acid-spitting Mutalisks or vile, contagious Defilers. These and more are the outcomes for courageous players.

Four Example Missions

I hunger for battle…


Players choose characters and gear together. For ease of play, they all pick from the same faction. There are few decisions to be made in selecting a character at the beginning (name, gender, role, gear), so they begin the first mission right away.

Mission 1: Escape the Base

Nuclear launch detected.


The GM details the environment, what has happened up the the present moment, and what is happening. The GM does this at the start of every mission.

The characters must escape a base that is being attacked and overrun. There are multiple routes out of the base (aircraft, ground transports), but also non-player characters (NPCs) that could help as well as communications equipment that could call for help.

Tier 0 enemies are everywhere with a few Tier 1 challenges. Whichever route the players choose, a Tier 2 ‘boss’ must be overcome for the characters to escape. A Tier 4 ‘super’ enemy destroys the base behind the characters.

After the mission, the players take note of what they took from the base and any upgrades they have available.

Mission 2: Steal the Keys

I have returned.


The characters are stranded unless they get the encryption keys to a spaceship. The keys are kept in a well-guarded base that doesn’t know the characters are nearby.

There are multiple routes into and through the base, as well as different styles of play available: Sneak through the base to avoid Tier 0 and 1 patrols, direct assault at the front gate, cause a distraction outside the base, or disguise as part of the base’s inhabitants.

Whichever rout the players choose, they must escape the base with the keys.

After the mission, a player decides to change their character role based off of what happened in the mission.

Mission 3: To the Victor

(harse growl)

Kerrigan, Queen of Blades

The characters must secure a spaceship for themselves. The spaceship is on a space station. The characters are already on the station when an enemy raiding party attacks.

Battles happen throughout the station. There are multiple ways to get to the spaceship: Fight anyone encountered, run through any firefights, or sneak through the conflict. Extra rewards are on the station but are also where the heaviest enemy presence is.

Whichever route the players choose, they must make it to a spaceship and fly away.

A player character died during the mission. That player then chooses a new character to join the surviving characters, coming up with a plausible reason why that character is joining.

Mission 4: Space Race

Carrier has arrived.


The characters must use their spaceship to defeat other spaceships to save evacuees from the invasion started in the first mission. NPCs are available to help with their own space fighters and ships, but need the direction of the characters.

Players may choose to fly fighters, operate spaceship cannons, coordinate friendly spaceships, board the enemy, or fight off boarders.

Whichever route the players choose, Tier 3 and 4 enemies are frequent. Before the mission succeeds, an enemy hero must be overcome as a final ‘boss.’

After the mission, players upgrade their characters. The NPCs who have joined as allies and rewards collected help the players decide what their next mission will be.


Power overwhelming!


A partial list of units in their tiers per faction. BITS stats are given more or less in proportion to the tier of the unit.

T0:SCV, CivilianDrone, ZerglingObserver, Interceptor
T1:Marine, MedicHydralisk, ScourgeProbe, Zealot
T2:Vulture, GoliathMutalisk, QueenDragoon, Corsair
T3:Frigate, Siege TankOverlord, GuardianScout, Templar
T4:Battlecruiser, GhostUltralisk, DefilerArchon, Carrier
Heroes:General DukeBrood CerebrateFleet Arbiter
Sample Unit Tiers

The tiers ought to be altered to better reflect the “technology trees”

Dev Notes

We sense a soul in search of answers.


Actions have abstract ranges of effect. Some actions require a minimum distance, but all cap at a maximum distance. The types of distance include Melee (hand-to-hand), Close (line-of-sight shooting), Long (sniping), and Far (indirect). Other games present systems of abstract distances that can be adapted here.

The quantity of effect an action has is by default 1 for accomplishing the action. 1 additional quantity is added for each number rolled above the minimum challenge required for the action to succeed. Some equipment or actions have a higher default quantity (e.g. a Siege Tank would have more effect in shooting than a Marine’s rifle). Some actions are lower (e.g. a human fighting with only their un-augmented body is 0).

To iron-out absurdities such as a Marine (Tier 1) shooting down a Battlecruiser (Tier 4), a unit may only interact with one and only one tier above that unit or below. Two or more tiers above a unit’s tier cannot be interacted with in a harmful manner by that unit. If an action affects a tier above, the action is at disadvantage (i.e. the highest die in a roll changes to be the lowest die). If an action affects a tier below, the action is at advantage (i.e. the lowest die in a roll changes to be the highest die).

There are more high-tier Protoss units than Terran, but Protoss are fewer in number. There are more Zerg units than Terran, but Zerg are lower tier.

Terran (2 units)Zerg (4 units)Protoss (1 unit)
Frequency of Tiers and Units (the math isn’t balanced [yet])

The merging is complete.


And there it is! My brainstorm that leveraged inspiration when inspiration hit.

I hope you like it! This would be a prototype if played. With the BITS ruleset and the prebuilt Starcraft universe, a game could be played, and that’s what really matters!

What have you been playing? Care to give this a shot? The ruleset here will get you well on your way to enjoying your own space adventure! Cheers!