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Ghostlander
05-06-2014, 01:44 PM
So. I recently switched up how I was building the battle system and am preparing for a play test once I get my ducks in order.

I was wondering how well a tweak-able modular ability system would work. Like. There are a set roster of types of abilities, that the player can modify for their personal character. This way, even though there is a "set powers" feel like D&D and lots of others, you get to personalize it like some more open supers type games.

Example like,

[X] Bolt: Deals d(6,8,12) Damage of type [X] + Special Effect Lvl 1.

Then you have a list of Special Effects with their values per level, such as:

Damage Dice Bump
Damage over time % of initial dmg over 4 rounds
Stun target for 1 round
-2 Defense for 2 rounds
etc.

and thats the most basic. That ability could techincally be anything from an arrow to an ice beam to a dubstep sound wave gun blast.

Im also testing other ideas. But input would be welcomed

DMMike
05-07-2014, 12:29 AM
You'll have to be very careful to check the different interactions between your systems. Damage and hit points are a very important interaction. Damage types are a tertiary interaction. Special Effects sound like a can of worms (barrel of monkeys?).

For example, a spell that can do d12 damage can be overpowered in a system where characters have only 1 to 6 hit points.

Can modular special abilities work? Yeah, sure. They can be cool too. But I suspect that if you pull the reins tight enough to keep the game from breaking, you'll also end up with some pretty boring/generic spells.

My RPG is doing something similar. But instead of modular spells, I'm just using ambiguous spells. So, I've got a fire spell that deals 1d8 damage to one target. How it deals the damage, what it looks like, and what the caster must do to cast the spell are all up to the player. But the mechanics are set in stone: the caster makes a contest to see how likely it is that the spell works. The defender can use an action to try avoiding all the damage. The defender rolls protection to reduce the spell's damage, but a successful spell deals at least one damage.

This could mean:
The sorceror blows the dust from his hand, which coalesces into a fireball, striking the target.
The witch doctor swings his wand at the white devil, where a puff of hot smoke appears.
The psion closes his eyes for an instant, and the victim's skin (or armor) starts to burn.

Ghostlander
05-07-2014, 01:22 AM
That's pretty much was I was doing, except u can attach whatever single damage type u want to it instead of having a ton of the same spell with different damage types. and then maybe get one thats aoe, or adds an effect like stun, etc.

The flavour of how they do it is ambiguous.

jpatterson
05-08-2014, 07:28 PM
i invented a spell creation kit for warhammer fantasy roleplay once that i was able to recreate most wfrp spells with, which might be of interest to you, as i put it into spreadsheet format so you can easily see the tabs for the options. let me see if i can find it online still.

Hopefully this link works: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1llKf6adHABJqh0nmbxyxDWTD_IWJ91E74Q7Qv4tGAkI/edit?usp=sharing

It is in Open/Libreoffice format but may load in MS Office too.

nijineko
05-08-2014, 11:35 PM
sounds like champions and gurps. mechanics are well defined, fluff is up to the player's imagination within a few limits.

Ghostlander
05-09-2014, 03:57 PM
sounds like champions and gurps. mechanics are well defined, fluff is up to the player's imagination within a few limits.

What are you trying to say? lol

jpatterson
05-09-2014, 07:43 PM
Seems to be a summary and comparison of your stated goals and current implementation for your game, and I agree with it for the most part though I think yours seems a little more narrative, those are pretty strict on exactly what details you use.

Ghostlander
05-10-2014, 01:29 AM
Seems to be a summary and comparison of your stated goals and current implementation for your game, and I agree with it for the most part though I think yours seems a little more narrative, those are pretty strict on exactly what details you use.

Yeah It's a little more narrative. Especially with character backgrounds and stuff.

Also, I've read through gurps 2003 and I gotta say. There's lots of stuff I don't like in it. The stats and rolls are a bit more simple than what I'm working with, and there are things in it I find trivial. Like. "I dont care about this in a game". A lot of the checks and actions don't appeal to me at all. I'd say looking at my own stuff and gurps, it's a lot different in goal and concept. I know I didn't give many details on mine though. Gonna check out hero again and see the comparison.

[Edit] I browsed Hero system and the power building section. It's a lot more crunchy and less streamline than I'd like, and it's not what I have going.

I'll admit the special effects thing and the implementation seems interesting. But overall, yeah. Too much going on.

jpatterson
05-10-2014, 05:10 AM
I understand, being someone who has worked on making game stuff myself since I was a young teenager (now being 40), you approach various aspects of a system in game design, sometimes getting to a certain point and then suspending that and moving to another. While this is often necessary to keep interest, from my own experiences (including current day), I do suggest you be very thoughtful when approaching different aspects of your system (such as abilities here, your combat system in another), and know that you need to try to keep all other aspects in mind when working on one, so when and if you do come to a solution you like on one, you need to have an idea from THIS angle, how it will affect the others, and if it will mean those need changed. If this happens consistently enough, you'll just be effectively moving from one aspect of a system to another, tucking something here or pulling something there, and always undoing the last thing you "decided on".

Consider not only, in your example of abilities here, not only just the idea of "effects based" ideas, meaning "what is the full, ultimate thing I want players to be able to do", but also your own goal as a designer, and as yourself as a player, and the goals YOU want to see in a game and why you're making one, and this aspect (abilities here) - what is it the other things do that I don't like, that I'm trying to rise above here? You can make games for others, and try to account for your audience, but again, you MUST make it for yourself too, more importantly, because if you don't LIKE what you're working on, even if you publish it, you won't be satisfied with it if you can't read through it and say "I would want to play this tomorrow".

Ghostlander
05-10-2014, 04:39 PM
I understand, being someone who has worked on making game stuff myself since I was a young teenager (now being 40), you approach various aspects of a system in game design, sometimes getting to a certain point and then suspending that and moving to another. While this is often necessary to keep interest, from my own experiences (including current day), I do suggest you be very thoughtful when approaching different aspects of your system (such as abilities here, your combat system in another), and know that you need to try to keep all other aspects in mind when working on one, so when and if you do come to a solution you like on one, you need to have an idea from THIS angle, how it will affect the others, and if it will mean those need changed. If this happens consistently enough, you'll just be effectively moving from one aspect of a system to another, tucking something here or pulling something there, and always undoing the last thing you "decided on".

Consider not only, in your example of abilities here, not only just the idea of "effects based" ideas, meaning "what is the full, ultimate thing I want players to be able to do", but also your own goal as a designer, and as yourself as a player, and the goals YOU want to see in a game and why you're making one, and this aspect (abilities here) - what is it the other things do that I don't like, that I'm trying to rise above here? You can make games for others, and try to account for your audience, but again, you MUST make it for yourself too, more importantly, because if you don't LIKE what you're working on, even if you publish it, you won't be satisfied with it if you can't read through it and say "I would want to play this tomorrow".


Oh I very much agree on needing to be invested in the idea. I am attempting a system that I would personally enjoy playing over others. My goal is to allow players to build a character they want within the setting ( system is gonna work with fantasy/scifi/etc) that can take on conflicts in the style they want to. This, while giving a structured base to start from without a lengthy document to research just to chose their abilities, and then being able to add touches to the abilities to make it fit the character they envision. Like naming the ability, and how it goes about doing what it does.

If they wanna be a classic necro/pyro/cryomancer, they can do that. freeze enemies, make em burn, summon undead.

If they want to be a super sentai styled dubstep wielding hero with a bass blasting gun dealing sound damage, they can do that too.

Gravity master? Poisonous stealth assassin? Blood magic using dark knight? Future sniper that somehow opens portals to other worlds to dispell enemies?

Pretty much all options and styles are viable, while keeping selecting types of abilities fairly streamlined and simple.

Imagine your hero, grab the abilities you want, play. My main goals I guess.

jpatterson
05-11-2014, 01:56 AM
Your very last line seems like a fine thesis and it looks consistent throughout all your posts, so I am confident you have established your dream for planning, what reality you want to make available to your players, to seize and personalize this world through their characters.

How then is the best way to allow this, while retaining useful but non-invasive structure which serves to accompany as a subtle, contributing guide, acknowledging the heroism and greatness of the characters but also the players themselves, and which provides an opportunity for players to push their characters from already accomplished and satisfactory heroes as envisioned by players, and rise to new levels not even considered by the players, to excel in a way only possible through in-play decisions and significant choices pregnant with potential.

Narratives, step dice, ladder structures of values, linked attributes, freeform details and embellishments all are possible, and can be made to form themselves int a vision, if only interpreted and fixed with finesse and grace by the designer. Only you can know your vision for the basic complexity, and you say you want to provide freedom to players without needing a lengthy document, so considering the various existing short approaches known to you and available to study, as well as related or derived similar methods, and also the very real possibility of completely new ideas of operation, would seem to be the step you're at, and having started on it, now you face the challenge of imparting this easily and making this approach to play appealing to players - what will make them WANT to do it, to learn and play by your framework - what can you offer to them, what is important to them, what will make not just the characters but the players *great*?

Ghostlander
05-11-2014, 02:28 AM
As always, Thought provoking questions and good insight. I appreciate your reply. I will definitely keep these close as I start writing this out. If I could I would like to get your input on any significant progress I make on the near future.

jpatterson
05-11-2014, 10:58 AM
I'd be happy to try, and hopefully some other people will jump in here too and add their thoughts, though you are of course the one with the real quality-control credentials to know what is acceptable. I'd like to suggest two other links to you which you might find helpful:

Extra Credits - Fail Faster: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDjrOaoHz9s
Story Games Forums - http://www.story-games.com/forums/