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Silver Age Sentinels Tri-Stat/d20 System...any experience with it?


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I briefly owned Silver Age Sentinels (Tri-Stat) a long while ago. While a good system in its own right, the Mind/Body/Soul stat system never really clicked with me along with its power caps that would later see resurface in ICONS since it was written by the same author, Steve Kenson.

 

I would later own Silver Age Sentinels (d20) for a short time in the hopes of attracting D&D and Pathfinder players since it followed the same system for a potential crossover. I got the idea from a reading a Spider-Man/Red Sonja crossover years ago where Red Sonja magically emerged in modern day New York City and more recently, the DC Injustice crossover with the Masters of the Universe. Unfortunately, it never developed so I never really had a chance to run it to see how it played.

 

Has anyone here had any experience with Silver Age Sentinels? If so, how did it go?

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I have both books and I have no experience with either one. I started to make a character with the D20 version. It does refer to Players Handbook in generating initial stats.  At first I bought the characteristics as “normal” then it realized later that they wanted you to roll for the stats. That’s about how far I got with it myself.

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I had the d20 version for some time.  That is, I bought both versions (as I had never had any experience with the Tri-Stat system prior to that.  I rather quickly passed the Tri-Stat version on to a friend, as I was rather non-plussed with it from the get-go.  The d20 version wasn't....   I don't know what to say there: it's no secret I'm not a d20 fan, but it did allow for a much better overall experience than the Tri-Stat system allowed (at least in my own opinion), but it had a lot of problems and inconsistencies all it's own.   Still, given the choice, d20 is the one I would play.  Unfortunately, I lost it  in the move from Savannah.  Well, not that unfortunate: I regret the lost investment, but the fact is that it just didn't compare to what I could already do with 2e Champions.  Still, the lost source material and artwork were quite a blow.  

 

I tried a time or two to get players interested in trying it, but ultimately, we ended up running a short campaign using Champions running gear and SAS settings and props.  Because of the lack of directly compatible mechanics, most of the SAS stuff we converted by "the feel of the character" as opposed to anything else, but it worked.

 

 

I think the most disappointing experience I have had thus far is that all the supplemental stuff (to include the Champions crossover) are all set around Tri-Stat, which I quite specifically disliked.

 

Sorry I couldn't be more help, but I see Ninja-Bear has replied while I typed this; perhaps he has something a bit more useful for you.

 

 

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Interesting that folks are down on the Tri-Stat system.  I admit I never actually played it (or the d20 version of SAS), but reading it, it made a pretty favorable impression on me.  It seemed pretty similar to Hero System in a lot of ways.  I'm curious what Hero System fans disliked about it.  Was it a matter of the similarities being only skin-deep, while the differences ran all the way to the core?  :)

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4 hours ago, Ninja-Bear said:

I have both books and I have no experience with either one. I started to make a character with the D20 version. It does refer to Players Handbook in generating initial stats.  At first I bought the characteristics as “normal” then it realized later that they wanted you to roll for the stats. That’s about how far I got with it myself.

Yes, that's about as far as I went, also. I starting converting some of my 5th Edition write-ups using guidelines listed on Killer Shrike's website, but the desire soon fizzled out. 🙂

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2 hours ago, Derek Hiemforth said:

Interesting that folks are down on the Tri-Stat system.  I admit I never actually played it (or the d20 version of SAS), but reading it, it made a pretty favorable impression on me.  It seemed pretty similar to Hero System in a lot of ways.  I'm curious what Hero System fans disliked about it.  Was it a matter of the similarities being only skin-deep, while the differences ran all the way to the core?  :)

For me, the Tri-Stat system of Mind/Body/Soul didn't seem a good fit for the superhero genre. The Tri-Stat system was originally designed for the Big Eyes Small Mouth (BESM) system, and for that genre, it seemed like a good fit when I read through the core rules and some of the different genres I tinkered with at first (Fantasy, Sci-Fi with mecha robots). When I read through Silver Age Sentinels and did some character write-ups, it had a "square peg-round hole" vibe to it when compared to other systems like Champions, DC Heroes, or even Villains & Vigilantes that is also statistic light.

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2 hours ago, Derek Hiemforth said:

Interesting that folks are down on the Tri-Stat system.  I admit I never actually played it (or the d20 version of SAS), but reading it, it made a pretty favorable impression on me.  It seemed pretty similar to Hero System in a lot of ways.  I'm curious what Hero System fans disliked about it.  Was it a matter of the similarities being only skin-deep, while the differences ran all the way to the core?  :)

 

 

That is, in my limited experience with it, probably the best summation I could offer you, Sir.  To put it in broad terms: while it was a quick-and-easy play system for the most part, it just wasn't as...  I hate to say "universal," but that was also an issue-- as it thought it was.  It was a pretty slick "action movie" feel: there were broad sweeping options to do broad sweeping things, but it didn't really impart a unique feel to either very-low-end (like the newly-printed Western HERO, for example) or a particularly powerful or grandiose feel to the high end...

 

Even that's not really expressing what I want to express....  :(

 

It had a distinct sweet spot: one of those "let's take a break" game nights where you want to break out something quick and dirty and light and bash your way through some bad guys without too much regard for detail; quite literally "action movie" style.  You could do acrobatic Kung Fu across rooftops, or any over-the-top Last Action HERO or True Lies kind of thing, and it was just _right_ for that.   Go in any other direction, and it just didnt--- no; it could _do_ it.  It could do it, but it couldn't make it _feeL_ right.

 

I hope that makes more sense than I think it does.  :(

 

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13 minutes ago, fdw3773 said:

For me, the Tri-Stat system of Mind/Body/Soul didn't seem a good fit for the superhero genre.  [snip ] it had a "square peg-round hole" vibe to it when compared to other systems like Champions, DC Heroes, or even Villains & Vigilantes that is also statistic light.

 

(added emphasis mine).  I love DC Heroes for supers, and that's actually one of the things I liked about Tri-Stat.  Their Body/Mind/Soul stats reminded me very much of how DC Heroes categorizes stats into Physical, Mental, and Mystical.  Granted though, Tri-Stat collapses them all down into only three stats (instead of just using those concepts to categorize stats), and I can see how that might be not granular enough.  I actually have that issue with using GURPS for supers; the stats don't seem granular enough to me.

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Well @Derek Hiemforth I’ve been looking for a simpler system for my boys. (I’ve gotten them to play Hero). Tri Stat seemed similar to GURPS. The thing is once I saw how they broke everything down, it seemed more complex than it was worth. Granted I never completed character generation nor have I ran even a mock battle to see its value.

 

@Duke Bushido, were you supposed to roll for stats to begin with in the D20 version? It kept referring to Player handbook and I was thinking “ wasn’t this self contained?”. Then it hit me that the Max human is 24 -the max you could roll on a 4D6. They could’ve been clearer on how to determine initial stats.

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46 minutes ago, Ninja-Bear said:

Tri Stat seemed similar to GURPS. The thing is once I saw how they broke everything down, it seemed more complex than it was worth. Granted I never completed character generation nor have I ran even a mock battle to see its value.

 

I think the biggest issues with GURPS are lack of granularity in its 4-stat core characteristics, and that it generally doesn't scale up as well as I'd like (which is why I think Hero is a better universal system).  Hero has a bit of the opposite problem (not scaling down), but to a much lesser degree than I think GURPS has scaling up.

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N-B: if you were _supposed_ to, I don't remember it that way.  As I said, I lost my copy in the move (and every attempt to replace it has resulted in turning up the Tri-Stat version   :( ), so I can't confirm this, but I remember the couple of times we tried making characters with it, we went with just buying stats (probably a few decades of Champions keyed us directly to that option).  I recall the second (and last time) we made characters, we did "roll up characters" then used points to up them to where we wanted.  Truthfully, it didn't seem to make much difference either way: with points, you skewed things the way you wanted anyhow.  All rolling did was let guys who wanted to play non-super gadget types spend more points elsewhere.

 

As I said, though: in the end, we just pulled out what we wanted to play with in the setting and put on Champions gear. Perhaps it's because it was just more familiar or more comfortable to us, but we had a much better time with it that way.

 

 

 

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12 hours ago, Ninja-Bear said:

Also the other reason why I picked SAS was that they did that joint adventure with Hero games. 

 

Yep.

 

I was pretty stoked about that, hoping to pick up some conversion pointers.

 

All I can find (and all that may be the only way it published; I dont really know) was for Tri-Stat.

 

I've got it, but it's not as much good to me as I had hoped.

 

If anyone knows where a d20 version might be found, I would greatly appreciate a point in thw right direction.  ;)

 

 

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I liked Tri-Stat when it debuted as Big Eyes, Small Mouth but it grew increasingly clumsy as they tried to apply it to wider genres. In particular, it was a d6 roll under system, but they came up with the peculiar idea of having higher power characters use larger dice (d10 for typical supers, d12 for the likes of The Authority ). Obviously that makes it harder, not easier, to roll under a given number. There was a fudge I don't recall which made it work, but it always felt like a fudge, as if they'd forced the idea to fit. 

 

And then they went and called the book of female characters Country Matters … 

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5 hours ago, BigJackBrass said:

I liked Tri-Stat when it debuted as Big Eyes, Small Mouth but it grew increasingly clumsy as they tried to apply it to wider genres. In particular, it was a d6 roll under system, but they came up with the peculiar idea of having higher power characters use larger dice (d10 for typical supers, d12 for the likes of The Authority ). Obviously that makes it harder, not easier, to roll under a given number. There was a fudge I don't recall which made it work, but it always felt like a fudge, as if they'd forced the idea to fit. 

 

And then they went and called the book of female characters Country Matters … 

 I nearly forgot about the difference between Big Eyes, Small Mouth that used a D6 system for the Tri-Stat while Silver Age Sentinels used D10 until you reminded me. That was extremely frustrating since at one point I had Silver Age Sentinels (Tri-Stat) with a digital copy of the BESM Bestiary to incorporate some of the monsters as possible foes and two different dice scales were maddening. 🤪

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On 4/18/2021 at 5:47 PM, fdw3773 said:

For me, the Tri-Stat system of Mind/Body/Soul didn't seem a good fit for the superhero genre. The Tri-Stat system was originally designed for the Big Eyes Small Mouth (BESM) system, and for that genre, it seemed like a good fit when I read through the core rules and some of the different genres I tinkered with at first (Fantasy, Sci-Fi with mecha robots). When I read through Silver Age Sentinels and did some character write-ups, it had a "square peg-round hole" vibe to it when compared to other systems like Champions, DC Heroes, or even Villains & Vigilantes that is also statistic light.

 

I enjoyed BESM and was very disappointed when they ended right upon release of their 3rd Edition.  I liked and played 2nd but never had a chance to actually play 3rd.  We were heavy into Champions and so I never really tried Silver Age Sentinals.   They released BESM 4e a few years ago, but I have not actually tried it either. 

 

I always considered Tri-Stat as a rules light system.  About as light as I can enjoy. 

 

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On 4/19/2021 at 4:49 AM, Ninja-Bear said:

I remember seeing some basic NPCs like Police and Thugs written up (at least for the  D20 version). Perhaps a thug might get a radiation accident and the Police might take him down. I.e. simple character creation and combat!

I noticed that under generic they have a Haud soldier. A naga like alien. So perhaps I might just have that battle with the Haud and an thug.

 

FWIW I ran across a character I was creating in Tri Stat. 

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Skimming through the D20 version on combat I saw their concept which is slightly semantics BUT I really like. What it is is that when to roll your Attack Dice and are successful, you have successfully targeted the opponent. If the target doesn’t successfully defend or won’t defend then it becomes a hit. I find that interesting in that it isn’t I hit then you cancelled my hit.

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I like the Tri-stat system, but I use it for other genres rather than superheroes. I think it's more suited for cinematic-style play, where the heroes are on a par with action heroes, but not superheroes.

 

Not being a fan of the d20 system, I hated how everything was being adapted to it. I could understand why, but it never sat well with me.

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2 minutes ago, Ninja-Bear said:

I’m sure SAS D20 was an attempt to cash in on the D20 explosion.

 

I understood that much. Ditto making a d20 version of Big Eyes, Small Mouth. But after spending time trying and failing to like d20 made me avoid those products. The attitude of a lot of d20 fans toward other systems and even older D&D editions didn't help.

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