Saturday, March 23, 2013

Rough Cover Sketch

Jeff Dee sent me a set of rough cover sketches for concepts for the new MTDAA RPG. My favorite was this homage to Platoon, which captures the essence of everything I want people to feel from the game - a snarky but resonant image. I LOVE it... can't wait to see the next phase of the artwork.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Focus on Talents: Mysticism

While many of the Talents have easily slotted themselves in mechanically (Aim, Technology, Medic, Munitions, Aeronautics... these and about 2 dozen more all have a natural mechanical fit with the rules), others have been somewhat defiant. For today, let's focus on Mysticism.

Mysticism should be a flexible, Force-like trait... maybe think of it as 'the Force lite'. It's a great complement to your character, but should not dominate your abilities. Let's design from there... one way to view the Force is that you purchase the various sub-skills layered into the force (improved reflexes, telekinesis, jump, mind control, etc.) as independent abilities. Not a big fan of this one.

The other option is a hybrid of how I've used magic in Mythweaver, although streamlined even further due to the limited points available in character building. In fact, this becomes a hybrid of magic and resolve from Mythweaver, giving you a flexible trait that has some cool bells and whistles, and which becomes more powerful and flexible as you increase your investment.

So (spit-balling here) let's say that you get one 'built in' bonus with Mysticism, but you also unlock various options at the next rating tiers, as follows:

- Mysticism grants you the option to roll your Spirit alongside another attribute roll (even another Spirit roll), taking the better of the two results. You may do this a number of times per scene equal to your Mysticism rating. Let's say your soldier has: Body D6; Mind D6; Prowess D8; Spirit D10; Mysticism +3. Three times per scene, you may roll a D10 at the same time as any Body, Mind, Prowess or Spirit roll, taking the better of the two results. You can decide this at any time, even after you've already rolled the other die. For instance, you are attempting to leap across a chasm, and you roll a Prowess Feat, getting a natural 1 on the die. You can elect to use 1 of your 3 Mysticism points to roll a D10, taking this result in place of the 1 you just rolled. Your Mysticism rating remains +3 (this doesn't change your actual rating), but you now have 2 more opportunities this scene to replace a roll with Spirit. Later in the same scene, you fail a Spirit Feat to see if an enemy sneaks up on you. You elect to use another Mysticism point, rolling a second D10 to see if you can get a better result. You now have 1 point remaining in your pool for the rest of this scene, even though your Mysticism remains +3.

In addition, Mysticism grants you access to a number of other supernatural abilities. You may access any of the abilities you have unlocked at will, but you may only access a total number of these special abilities equal to your Mysticism rating each mission.  As a for instance...

At +1, you have access to the ability outlined above.
At +2, you have the ability to lay on hands, using 1 turn to restore Spirit + Mysticism hits to one living creature you touch.
At +3, you have the ability to stun a foe, rolling Spirit + Mysticism vs. the target's Body Feat resist. You stun the target for D4 rounds.
At +4, you have the ability to feign death, rolling Spirit + Mysticism vs. any other creature's Spirit Feat resist to realize that you are not truly dead. You can re-animate at will, acting on your next turn normally.
At +5, you have the ability to enter a state of astral projection, sending your spirit out for one scene.

I don't necessarily love all of these, or the way that they are organized... maybe I could break it up into two fundamental levels - a handful of sub-abilities that unlock at +3, and another handful that unlock at +5... or something like that. I'm using the +3 and +5 thresholds as benchmarks for other things (for example, you can receive decorations for exceptional achievement at +3 and +5 thresholds), so it feels consistent to use that here.

I could still go all first edition D+D monk here and pull out the quivering palm, breakfall, and unarmed combat bonuses. This isn't a bad idea... I just have to find my Best of Dragon Volume 3 (with the improved Monk class that I really liked) and go from there...

Friday, March 15, 2013

Troy's Take: Above the Common Stock

As background/setting material for the new edition of MTDAA, I'm including a series of short essays from an ant veteran on the things they don't teach you in boot camp that every ant should know... here's the first (apologies to Tommy over at The Most Unread Blog On The Internet for borrowing his tagline)...


Let’s face it. By virtue of surviving basic training and your first mission, you are already a cut above the common stock. You’ve shown a spark of something. That’s why you’re an Army Ant. I don’t know what you’ve got kid, but you’ve got something. They know this. They want you to use it.

High Command has lifted you out of the ranks of the common grunt for a reason. They’ve allowed you to take a name for a reason. They’ve put you into a special forces squad for a reason.

And in case you don’t realize it, that’s what you are. You are part of a special forces squad. You’d think that High Command would try to formalize these special forces teams, but they don’t. Each one is unique. Some special forces operatives work alone, others in pairs, and still others in teams of 3-30. There seems to be no rhyme nor reason to how groups are put together. Personalities clash, tempers flare, and you sometimes end up with a teammate who you have no idea why you’re together.

Maybe that’s the point. As a grunt, you are expected to follow orders. Destroy the bridge? Great. Then 500 of you swarm that bridge and keep swarming until you either destroy it or die trying. As an Army Ant, you’re in a whole other world. Recover the lost plans? Fine... try to recover them. But, High Command knows that things go wrong, that intel changes, that circumstances dictate. Make the judgement call. Your orders are to go north, but something tells you to go east? Go east. Do it. Trust your gut. Do what you think is right, and explain it to your commander later.

Make no mistake, your commander is going to be miffed. He’s going to ream you a new posterior. Take it. Do the right thing. I’d rather be right and in trouble than wrong and follow the rules. I’d rather disobey orders and save lives rather than obey orders and lose lives. Wouldn’t you?

You’re an Army Ant for a reason.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Point Building and Attributes

Since I’ve pretty much decided that I have to use a point build system for traits in order to keep them from scaling in obvious ways, it looks like I need to do the same thing for attribute dice. Let’s try this:

D4 = free
D6 = 1 Character Point
D8 = +2 Character Points (3 total)
D10 = +3 Character Points (6 total)
D12 = +4 Character Points (10 total)

This means that a D10 dice rating in an attribute has the same relative value as a +4 in a trait. I’m not sure if these are equivalent, since the die seems (at least upon first view) inherently more valuable, since you’d use it more often; however, the +4 is a guaranteed 4 points, while the D10 gives you an average of 5, but is only a +1 upgrade over the previous die (on average).

Let’s try this… let's see what happens if an ant gets 6 character points per level. 2 MUST go in attribute dice, 2 MUST go in traits, and the other 2 may be distributed as desired. I’ll build three level 8 commandoes:

Dicey Jr. (Level 8; 48 Character Points divided 32 in dice, 16 in traits)
Aim +3; Medic +2; Melee +3; Moxy +2; Munitions +2; Stealth +2

Attacks at D12+2 (3-14 with average result of 8)
Damage up to D10+2 (3-12 with average result of 7)

Sir Balance A lot (Level 8; 48 Character Points divided 24 in dice, 24 in traits)
Aim +4; Medic +2; Melee +3; Moxy +3; Munitions +3; Stealth +3

Attacks at D12+4 (5-16 with average result of 10)
Damage up to D8+3 (4-11 with average result of 7)

Traitster (Level 8; 48 Character Points divided 16 in dice, 32 in traits)
Aim +5; Medic +2; Melee +3; Moxy +4; Munitions +3; Security +1; Stealth +4

Attacks at D10+5 (6-15 with average result of 10)
Damage up to D8+3 (4-11 with average result of 7)

These all end being comparable builds in terms of their average attacks and damage (Dicey being a half-step behind with attacks - but remember that all of his save rolls and his overall hits will be better). It seems as though the middle ground is the best option, with both extremes being a little heavy-handed. It you put ALL of your possible points into dice, you will end up with 40 points in dice at level 10, giving you the ability to purchase all four attributes at D12. You have dedicated your entire career to this… On the other hand, if you invest your minimum, you still end up with 20 points in dice at level 10, meaning that you will have at least one D10, and you'll have at least a few D8s to back it up.

I could see people min/maxing this like crazy, trying to max out their attacks and damage. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that this will happen. The difference between low and mid-level characters will not be their attack and damage options, but the number of ways they have diversified. At some point, you will feel compelled to drop a point in MIND or SPIRIT as an infantry (rather than putting it all in to get your PROWESS from D10 to D12) because you are sick of getting surprised or failing Mind saves all the time... and while you're at it, you may as well finally put a point in Moxy, and you could really use a +1 to Medic because it seems like you are trying to bandage wounds all the time... the system eventually prompts you to diversify because getting that +1 at the top end is so much less cost effective than getting a few useful +1s and +2s in secondary attributes/traits.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Thank You!

The Kickstarter for Army Ants has now ended, and we came in at $4,216 (which I'm VERY pleased with) and 85 backers (which I'm even MORE pleased with). In the last few days, I've seen the names pop up of people who sent me an e-mail or traded letters or commented on my games a year ago, or three years ago... or a decade ago. It's been incredible to see how many people have been following my work for as long as they have. It's been incredible getting e-mails from people who have encouraged me and said kind things and generally sent positive vibes my way. I know that not everyone could or felt comfortable with supporting a Kickstarter right now, and I totally get that.

I started the Kickstarter because I really wanted to be able to justify spending the next few months working on Army Ants stuff, but I wasn't sure that anyone cared enough about my work to invest that much time and energy into it. It's safe to say that you've all answered my question.

I truly cannot express my gratitude for everything. Now, it's time to get to work! I'll keep you posted. Keep sending me feedback on the direction of the game, and on what you'd like to see for the world.

You all ROCK.

- Mike

Friday, March 8, 2013

Doing RESEARCH? Perish, forbid...

So I've been jumping around reading up on some actual facts and stuff about ants, and came across this quick primer... the most interesting thing in here as I look at it right now is that ants live for an average of 45-60 days. I had expected them to have a short life expectancy, but DANG.

In composing my background and setting material for the game, I've been considering a number of these perspective issues. One of the things that was always fun about D+D was considering how your character's life expectancy factored into his or her worldview. Sure, we can understand how humans view things (because we're human, of course), but what about a creature like an elf that can live for up to a thousand years? What can you learn in that time? How does it impact your overall perception of the world? Of time? Of patience?

The MTDAA RPG forces you to move in the total opposite direction. I'm thinking of doubling the statistical average and going with a time frame of 90 to 120 days for life expectancy of an army ant (I'll leave drones at the 45-60 average- their hard lives and poor living conditions would lead to shortened life expectancies); this makes an ant's day a rough analog for a year to us.

This means that my comic characters will only experience one season. It's been spring in the comic the whole time I've been doing it... so I guess it will stay spring! I've had ideas for a winter's tale, but I don't suppose that I'll be able to do that with this team of characters.

Of course, I could use creative license to stretch this considerably, and allow an army ant to live much longer (not much of the game is tied to the real world - I'm working on several short essays about that to include in the game... if you try to apply real-world physics to tanks and explosives at the scale they're happening in play, things totally fall apart). However, there are some things about the shorter lifespan I like. I like that the clock is always ticking. Your tour of duty as an army ant might be a month. That's your prime. If you make it beyond this, you have done something remarkable.

I've seen Sarge as being on his third tour of duty, which would put him somewhere in the neighborhood of 75+ days old. He's an old ant. I've had inklings of ideas for stories set in Sarge's first and second tours of duty (I have to explain how he lost an eye and antenna some day!), and this would allow me to do that.

The other impact falls on the overall view of time and generations. If a season is now the rough equivalent of a human century, we're looking at only 5-7 years since the ant bronze age, and only 3 years since the ant iron age. Electricity and flight were just discovered last winter. New innovations are being made DAILY, almost on an hour-by-hour basis. This makes the rate of human discovery and scientific progress dwarf by comparison.

All cool things to consider as I keep designing...

The Final Countdown

We're at 24 hours to go in the MTDAA Kickstarter, and we passed the $4K threshold this morning. I'd love to see one last push that puts over $5K and into the next stretch goal... we'll see what 24 hours brings!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Goals now EXTRA stretchy!

I've upgraded the stretch goals on the MTDAA Kickstarter. With 3 days to go, I'm feeling good about that 5K reward, and I moved that 10K reward to 7K...
  • $5,000 (LOCKED) – Holy Snot! The comic now pushes over 450 pages with the original covers from the comic series reprinted as well. The game hits 200+ pages, as I include more art, more adventures, and more thorough profiles of the various allied and enemy forces the ants may face. In addition to all previous stretch goal rewards, all backers at $50+ will receive a 12"x18" glossy map of the Back Yard campaign setting. Also, the ants will march on. I will launch a MTDAA webcomic (with weekly updates) and a free MTDAA newsletter (with bi-weekly updates). Both will launch in June, 2013.
  • $7,000 (LOCKED) - we go totally crazy. One random backer at $50 or more will get THE ORIGINAL ART that Jeff Dee created. That’s right. I am loathe to give it away, but if the community gives me this much support, I will absolutely do it. If we hit this stretch goal, I will also re-publish both the 2nd and 3rd editions of the MTDAA RPG as FREE downloads, and I will publish conversions as appendices to the new game that will allow you to adapt material from this edition to either 2E or 3E. This way, you’ll be able to use the dice pool systems of 2E or 3E (each with a different approach to dice pools) or the progressive die system of the newest Legacy Edition.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Excellent Post on Creativity and Comics

If you are at all interested in creativity, comics, crowd sourcing, or simply the relationship between artists and their audiences (so basically, you probably qualify), you should check out this post...

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Truth In Advertising

Let me tell you what I want (what I really really want) yo I'll tell you what I want (what I really really want).

No. But seriously.

My true goal from the launch of this campaign has been two numbers: 200 backers, and $10,000. This represents the threshold to me of the real world- of bargaining power. It means that I can go to Diamond Comics Distributors (and Alliance Distributing) and say 'hey, look... you NEED to stock these books'. It means that I've got some street cred. It means swag.

Army Ants is my Lord of the Rings. It's my lifetime creative project. I've meditated on this for some time, and this is it. It's the thing that, win lose or draw, I'm going to hitch my sail to. I've taken a decent hiatus from it, and when I came back to it, it was as if I'd never been away. Mythweaver has always been my effort to be D+D. Resolute has always been my effort to be the Marvel Superheroes Game. Army Ants is just me.

I think that creators, if they are smart, know this thing when they find it, and they ride it. They hold on and don't let go. The world of Army Ants is big enough, and the characters in it interesting enough, for me to spend the rest of my creative energies here.

200 backers.
The Army Ants march on.

That's where we're going.

If you aren't already on board, I'd love to have you join us.

- Mike

Tweaking the Specialties

The adjustments that I’ve made to the core mechanics and to some of the ways in which traits are purchased also has considerable impact on specialties- and in the best possible way. The intention with commando (for instance) is that a commando is innately superior in regards to stealth compared to any other specialty. The +1 cap adjustment didn’t really reflect this in a substantive way. If you don’t elect to take your Stealth at level +1, you have no discernible benefit from being a commando.

By having traits increase in cost as they increase in value, I can take the concept of shifts from Mythweaver/Resolute and apply that here. Now, if you are a commando, you get an automatic +1 shift to Stealth. Sure, at +1 this is only worth 1 point – but you’re a commando, and you took that to get Stealth. That’s the big selling point of being a commando, so you’re going to invest a few points into Stealth. Now, a +2 or +3 rating nets you 2 free character points on your investment, because that +1 shift is worth more. At the top end, when you have a +6 Stealth rating and it shifts to +7, you are getting a bonus valued at 5 character points because of your specialty. It’s a benefit that increases in value as you increase your investment into the trait.

Here are some of the specialties that I’m considering for the Core rules, along with their linked trait (granting the +1 shift). I think that the list should include between 8 and 12 Specialties. I definitely liked specialties from 2E (more military-based) over 3E (more ant-based). However, I want to avoid the overlap/redundancy that hit some of the 2E specialties. For example, Recon ended up being this hybrid specialty that had layers of other things but nothing to call its own. On the list that follows, I particularly like several of these, although I don’t know about the link between Engineer and Explosives (you are the best at building things, so you get rewarded by being good at blowing things up too) and Sniper (this is more of a designation/certification on top of another specialty rather than a spec unto itself).

Armor                          Driving
Artillery                       Tactical Weapons
Aviation                      Aircraft
Commando                 Stealth
Covert Operations       Intelligence
Engineer                      Explosives
Infantry                       Munitions
Ranger                         Nature
Sniper                          Aim

I suppose that I could see taking Infantry out of the mix, and saying that Infantry is a ‘catch all’ specialty – you are in the infantry unless you make it a point to select something else. It would be the only specialty with no minimum attribute buy-in, but then what trait to link it to (maybe Moxy? That fits). Then, I could create a ‘weapons specialist’ specialty that gets the +1 munitions shift… or the +1 aim shift…

Hrm, I should mention while I’m at it that artillery/tactical weapons will likely be linked to Mind instead of Prowess, in order to increase the value of that attribute. Also, I’ve always considered firing a mortar or LAWS rocket a function more of your ability to visualize the math rather than to point and click.

You'll notice also that Heavy Weapons as a spec is gone (at least for now). That's a function of Infantry... although you could say the same about Sniper... clearly, I still have some thinking to do on how these all fit together.

Army Ants Interview

Fitz over at Game Knight Reviews posted an interview he did with me last week. Even though he was battling the flu and other commitments, he still found time to get this done and posted! Swing by and check it out.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Ladybugs and Psionics

Ladybugs have been at the cutting edge of research into mentalism and the power of mind over matter. Although such matters remain highly classified, word has spread that a small number of ladybug operatives have developed psionic powers that have allowed them to experiment in such fields as telekinesis, mind control, cellular regeneration, and possibly even ethereal projection.

Game Notes:

I know that psionics are going to be tied to Mind, both for using and resisting such powers. I haven’t rolled these out yet to play testing, but the idea here is that many of these plug-ins to your character (psionics, mysticism, cybernetics) are going to be perks (another concept I haven’t rolled out – I’ll get there) that you purchase at a fixed cost, and which are tied to your attributes. For instance, mind control may be a 1-point Perk that you tie to Mind and your Psionics Trait. Once per scene, you can attempt to take control of the Mind of another insect within range (your Psionics trait rating in centimeters). You roll Mind + Psionics vs. the target’s Mind Save. If successful, you can get the target to view you as a friend and ally. With a critical success (a roll of 10+ beyond the target’s save), you make the target into your mindless puppet for the rest of the scene. Although you only get to use this once per scene, you can use a Moxy point to re-use a trait or perk you’ve already used, so you could potentially get to use this multiple times. You’re going to have to make a considerable investment to get this ability (the Mind dice, Psionics trait, the mind control perk) but you’ll have a formidable ability as a result.

Instead of the once per scene option (as above) it might make more sense (and allow for more resource allocation choices in play) if you got a number of times per mission to use this, equal to your Psionics trait rating; with Psionics +3, you get to try to control minds 3 times per mission. In this case, I might drop the option of using Moxy to refresh this, since you already have a pool to draw from. If you burn it all up in the first scene, then you do.  

Things That Go Bump In The Night

One of the most intimidating threats the ants know of is the awakened vampire bat called the Dark One. Rumors hold that this horrific creature of terrible power dwells within the rotten oak tree at the southern edge of the back yard, where it borders the cemetery. From here, the Dark One undertakes midnight forays into the Back Yard in search of prey.

While other bats consume insects, most believe that the Dark One secrets prey away to its dark lair, forcing victims to dwell in a permanent twilight. Only the blood of living insects will sate the bottomless thirst of this terrible foe. The Dark One’s reach has grown, as cults paying homage to this nightmarish foe have grown in communities across the backyard, with some insects now offering blood sacrifices to this monstrosity, leaders claiming to have harnessed mystical powers by paying homage to the Dark One.

Two other threats that many attribute to the Dark One are the rise of ghoul and zombie insects. Ghouls are those insects that have partaken of untoward blood rituals, having been both empowered and transformed by these rituals into bloodthirsty dwellers in shadow. Servitors of the Dark One have also unlocked secrets for re-animating the carapaces of dead insects, and have begun to build armies of zombie insects for some dark purpose yet unknown.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Design Class Is Officially In Session...

It’s safe to say we’re still tweaking the core mechanics here.

Let’s port over some Resolute/Mythweaver system stuff. I had intentionally dropped this in the name of simplicity, but I see now the wisdom of including ability scaling in the core rules for those games. Resource allocation only matters if you have genuine choices to make. As of now, every character will be maxed out in every one of his four most important abilities, with a point or two in some other areas: not at all what I want from a design perspective.

So, we borrow the rating progression from Resolute:

Rating    1              2              3              4              5              6
Cost       1              2              4              6              9              12

This allows me to get rid of artificial ‘level caps’ on trait ratings. At level 1, you have 6 trait points; you can have six traits at +1, you can have three traits at +2, you can have a few at +2 and a few at +1, you can have one at +3 and one at +2 (or two at +1) –or- you can go all in and have one at +4. You can make your character the greatest ever with Stealth at level 1, but you won’t be good (or even decent) at anything else.

This I like.

This also keeps Saves in line, allowing that to progress automatically every other level, as per the current play test rules. Here’s a revision for Troy (from my play testing thread), using this…

He gets to keep his attribute dice ratings, since these do not change: Body D8; Mind D6; Prowess D10; Spirit D8

However, I’m going to play test a few new things.
- First, Attack is breaking up into Aim (for all ranged attacks, including thrown weapons) and Melee (for all hand-to-hand encounters). This will differentiate characters a little bit.
- I’m dropping Munitions as an attribute altogether. You will be issued a standard issue basic weapon (probably an AM-15). You can upgrade your weapon through clout. Each weapon will have minimum requirements for BODY (you have to be strong enough to wield this weapon effectively) and maybe MIND (you need to be smart enough to operate it well). This also means that Heavy Weapons as a unique specialty is on the way out, since that specialty’s only purpose was to get the better starting Munitions rating, and that attribute has been dropped.
- Armor is no longer a trait. Anyone can purchase armor with clout.
- Arms is no longer a trait, but Munitions will be (I like the name, so it's taking the place of Arms). Munitions will reflect how well you maintain and tinker with your weapon once it’s been issued to you; I loved the old weapon tinkering rules from 2E and 3E (that you mess with your weapon to make it better), and at least for now Munitions reflects this. If you take great care of your rifle, it’s going to be more effective. You will get to add your Munitions rating to damage with the weapon; however, each weapon will have a built-in modifier to its base damage that Munitions will stack with. For instance, a common AM-15 deals D8+1 damage. However, an AM-16B may deal a base D10+2 damage (I’m spit balling here). If you have Munitions +2, you get to deal D10+4 with an AM-16B. This allows me to build greater gradations into the differences between comparable weapons (one weapon deals D10+2 with range 5, while another deals D10+3 with range 4, yet they are comparable weapons with comparable clout costs).

At level 5, Troy has 18 trait points. He can purchase one +4 trait (6 points), two +3 traits (6 points total), two +2 traits (4 points) and two +1 traits (2 points).

I decide on: Aim +4; Medic +1; Melee +2; Moxy +3; Munitions +2; Security +1; Stealth +3

Wow! This is MUCH tougher. I went back and forth several times trying to find the right distribution for points, and I still feel like I’m left wanting. I’d love to have some more points. Now, my +4 attack bonus is not so awesome against a comparable foe’s +3 Save bonus to dodge. Holy snap but this solved several problems at once.

Troy Revised (150 XP; 29 Hits)
Commando 5; Staff Sergeant (A-6); Save +3
Body D8; Mind D6; Prowess D10; Spirit D8
Aim +4; Medic +1; Melee +2; Moxy +3; Munitions +2; Security +1; Stealth +3
Weapons: AM-16 (Attack D10+4; Damage D10+4; Range 6); AM-45 Sidearm (Attack D10+4; Damage D8+4; Range 3); Survival Knife (Attack D10+2; Damage D8+3)

Here are some weapons of the ant army, as of my thinking right now:

Knives deal damage based on your BODY + a modifier.

Boot Knife = +2 (standard issue)
Survival Knife = +3 (10 Clout)
Machete = +4 (20 Clout)


Cost: 10 Clout
Damage: D8+1
Range: 5
Requirement: BODY D6

AM-45 Pistol
Cost: 10 Clout
Damage: D8+2
Range: 3
Requirement: None

AM-16 Assault Rifle
Cost: 25 Clout
Damage: D10+2
Range: 6
Requirement: BODY D8

AM-60 Machine Gun
Cost: 40 Clout
Damage: D12+2
Range: 7
Requirement: BODY D10

AM-203 Grenade Launcher
Cost: 40 Clout
Damage: D10+2 (each round affects all targets in a 1 cm square)
Range: 5
Requirement: BODY D6; MIND D6

AM-F1 Flamethrower
Cost: 50 Clout
Damage: D10+1
Range: 3 (affects all targets in a line 1 cm wide and 3 cm long; cannot extend range beyond this)
Requirements: BODY D10; MIND D6

Already I like this better, because the differences between weapons are more pronounced, and I can build a wide range of medium-grade assault rifles that all have minor mechanical tweaks to differentiate them.