Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Silhouette vs Encumbrance

I'm struggling with the mechanics behind Silhouette and Encumbrance. I am aware of the narrative nature of EotE and the fact that it is designed to encourage a narrative role play experience. For the life of me though, I just can't get over how absurd some things seem when you try to make sense of their 'abstract' rules.
Specifically in the case of Silhouette and Encumbrance. Combining the weight or size of something with its ease of use (as is the case for encumbrance) seems ok at first. Deciding that size is relative and assigning a Silhouette number seems elegant.
But these systems break down faster than Lando under Vaders stare.

a cubic foot ( ≈ 30cm^2) of aluminum weighs ≈ 168 lbs (≈ 76kg).
ok a cubic foot isn't big..  but that's pretty heavy.. maybe an encumbrance of say 12.
lets load those bad boys on my YT-1300. suddenly my ship has a whopping cargo capacity of 13.75 cubit feet! that's barely the size of my bedroom. Maybe that explains why my big old spaceship can only carry 55 neatly stacked Vibro-axes. 
if you reverse things and say you have an empty box that weighs a measly 2 lbs but its a 6'x6' cube. it's super awkward to carry so it still has that 12 encumbrance rating but now my YT-1300 has magically gained a cargo capacity of  ≈78 cubic feet?!? Thats 70% of the entire length of my ship and certainly a lot thicker..

These oddities make less and less sense as you scale up.

Similar issues arise with Silhouette when you consider the rules regarding hanger bays on ships.
I've modded out my 300m long Star Galleon (Silhouette 6) with a retrofitted hanger bay. My Star Galleon has a Silhouette capacity of 20 and the maximum it can carry is a Silhouette 4 ship. ok.
you realize that means that my Star Galleon can hold FIVE YT-300 ships at 34m long each... where?

better yet, same attachment and math is possible on the Nebulon-B since it's a silhouette 6 ship as well (coincidentally also 300m long). Except that the Nebulon-B also COMES WITH a bay holding 24 starfighters ( 72 Silhouette total at 3 each).

Take a look at the pictures of those two ships... tell me how ANY of that makes ANY sense...

don't even get me started on the fact that ships are not assigned an 'encumbrance' value at all, and the issues that can bring up..  "how many speeder bikes can i cram in the hold of my YT-1300 again?"

I guess the point of this little rant is as follows.
Narrative play and designing rules that encourage it is all well and good.
It is dangerous to combine certain kinds of variables in order to simplify a system.
NEVER go abstract when it comes to Time or Space. Doing so is always more trouble than it's worth.

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