Colony Ship: A Post-Earth Role-playing Game Update - The Stealth System

Iron Tower Studio’s upcoming Colony Ship RPG will feature a prominent stealth system that seems to be shaping up as a viable alternative to both direct confrontation and the more diplomatic approach. This development update introduces us to the system, tells us how it works, and shares a number of sample screenshots.

Here are the text bits:

Role-playing means different things to different people. To us, it means handling quests and obstacles in a manner fitting your character. You can solve all your problems with violence, you can talk your way through the game, 'making friends and influencing people', or you can rely on stealth (and science) and have a lot of fun in the process.

One of the early quests tasks you with recruiting Lord's Mercy and her gang for Braxton (more on the conflict here link, written by Primordia's Mark Yohalem himself).

The (relatively) easy way is to convince Mercy to switch sides, but it requires skills like Persuasion and Streetwise. If you fail, you'd have to kill her to weaken Jonas, which will be a very hard fight as you'd have to fight the entire gang in their 'fort', where the negotiations take place. Obviously, if Mercy and her gang are a valuable ally in the upcoming fight for the control of the Pit, they need to be appropriately tough.

Alternatively, you can sneak inside, assassinate Mercy and leave before anyone realizes what happened.


An overview of the mechanics:

1) Tiles - when you enter the stealth mode, all tiles around guards are automatically assigned detection values. If your sneaking ability (the skill and modifiers) is greater than the detection value, you remain undetected. Thus, green tiles are safe to walk on, red tiles means instant detection and combat, yellow means higher chance of detection (if you end your turn there, you'll be instantly detected at the beginning of the guard's turn).

The detection values are determined by the distance from the guards, which way they're facing, their Perception, and thermal vision gear, if any. High sneaking ability turns more tiles green and opens up more options.

2) Noise - each step and action (lockpicking, climbing, using computers, killing guards in stealth mode, etc) generates noise. Not a whole lot of noise to instantly alert the guards the moment you do something but enough to add up over time and raise the guards' suspicions. The higher the guards' Perception, the faster the alert bar is filled:

0-24: Unaware
25-49: Suspicious (a warning to the player)
50-74: Alerted
75-100: Searching

When a guard is alerted, he turns around towards the last noise generated, so if you are close he'll see you (meaning a lot of green tiles will instantly turn red). When a guard decides that it's time to investigate, he moves towards the last noise generated on his turn. If the meter reaches 100, he "interrupts" your turn and turns around immediately.

Each state past Unaware raises the difficulty of killing in stealth mode.

3) The higher your sneaking ability (skill, feats, gear) the longer you can stay undetected and the more you can do. To put it simply, if your quest goal is to steal an item from a chest nearby but there's another chest in a room down the hall, it will be relatively easy to get to the 'quest chest' but much harder to get to the optional chest (without starting a fight you may or may not be able to win). So specialization will definitely pay off.

You can reduce the noise you generate (Sneaking and feats like Ghost: -1 noise per tile, actions generate half the noise). Heavy boots and armor will increase the noise, so dress light and not get caught in your underwear.

4) Takedown aka instant killing – if your takedown value is equal to or higher than the guard's defensive rating (Con, Evasion, Alert level), you kill the guard. If it's lower, you do X points of damage (modified by different factors) as a consolation prize.

You can only use knifes and daggers for takedowns. If your favor clubs and axes, you can start a combat with the element of surprise on your side (think Sneak Attack).

That's about it for now. Thoughts?