One of the biggest innovations (yes, I’m gonna toot our own horn here) in Planet Mercenary: The Roleplaying Game, is what we have titled: “The Ablative Meat Shield” rule. The idea revolves around one that, while your characters are the title characters in a show, the real star is the mercenary charter as a whole. It’s not just you, or your friends in the command staff, but the grunts, the support team, the mechanics. It’s everyone. This rule helps you tell their stories.
The rule reads as follows:
“When you are hit by an attack, you may spend a RiPP (Role Play Point) to have the damage be dealt to a grunt near you. This can take the effect of you ducking behind the grunt, pulling them in the way, the grunt leaping heroically to take the blow, or plain old bad luck. The grunt absorbs ALL the damage from the hit and you take none. Now, the Game Chief (GM) will hand you a 3×5 note card (or similar thing). On this note card, write the grunt’s name. Next, write down three things about the grunt. Make ‘em personal and real. Talk about family, or past experiences, or dreams, or likes, dislikes, and more.
Hand that card back to the Game Chief. Excellent. Now, you know that RiPP token you spent? The Game Chief is gonna flip it. Good luck.”
It’s pretty cool, and it really helps the players fill out their NPCS and members of their charter during play.
The addition to the rule in the Game Chief section reads as follows:
“Ok, so you know that RiPP you’re flipping for the Ablative Meat Shield rule? Heads, the grunt lives. Give their card some sort of marking (a check, whatever) and then save their card. They’ll come up again. Tails? The grunt dies. Tear the card in half in front of the player, and gruesomely describe how their actions killed that grunt. Ooh. Mean.
As the grunts survive, players can use already existing grunts to take the hits for them. No reason not to.
In addition, if a player character dies, they can choose to play an existing grunt as their new character. Follow the normal character creation rules, but for each time the grunt has survived the ablative meat shield rule, the new characters gets +10 character creation points. That means, if they survive 5 times, they DOUBLE their starting points. And you, the Game Chief get the benefit of a character with some sort of backstory with the charter, probably a few grudges, and some real scars.
Many of you have played Traveller or something similar , where character creation involves detailing your whole life story. That’s a lot of fun, and playing that level of detailed character is fun. However, it’s time consuming. This rule allows us to tell the story of the grunts and others in snapshots, brief moments of heroism, life or death terror, and some laughs. It leads to great stories, real attachment to some of the NPCS.
If you see me at a con, show me your PM:RPG challenge coin. I’ll buy you a drink (or you can buy me a drink too, I won’t complain), and if you ask, I’ll tell you the story of Rodrigo, the luckiest grunt to ever brave the hell of deep space, who went on to become the captain of Rod’s Rogues.