A bunch of ideas...challenge to some basics

General topics such as design philosophy, style, tone, and the like.

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A bunch of ideas...challenge to some basics

Postby Darl_Loh » Mon Mar 01, 2010 3:31 pm

I originally wrote much of this for a thread on the WOTC boards dealing with how to adjust Saga for the next version of the Star Wars rpg. I didn’t get a chance to post it prior to the announcement by WOTC not to renew its license. So please excuse the Star Wars specific references. I think the general concepts would lend themselves well to the e20 game. This encompasses nearly the gamut of the different systems. I apologize in advance for the length and for not breaking it up into different posts for different systems by the correct forum. I didn’t because most of these systems make sense when applied together and not as much when separated. Also, apologize that some of the pictures are a bit weird. Didn't have time to mess with them to fix it.

a. Character damage- Characters have two sets of “damage” statistics. One is a HPs, just like we are used to. Characters also have wounds. Wounds are much less numerous than HPs. How many wounds a character has is determined by the base stats, level for a PC, and a combination of stats, level, and type of NPC/enemy (minion, henchman, Elite, Solo, etc). Wounds represent real physical damage to the character, are much harder to heal and result in a penalty to all checks and saves equal to the number of wounds sustained (max penalty -3). Now, this doesn’t seem that much different from the WP/VP system. However, there are three key differences…
i. All attacks damage HPs. HP damage is rolled as normal and then other effects (such as wound damage) are resolved as well.
ii. Whether or not an attack can cause wound damage is completely situation based; that situation being a character’s “reasonable chance of defending oneself.” So in the clichéd example from RCR days, the Rebel Trooper firing at an aware Darth Vader wielding an ignited lightsaber can only ever do HP damage. However, should Darth Vader be knocked down, disoriented and disarmed by an explosion and then a hidden Rebel Trooper shoots at his back, he has the potential to do wound damage. Whether or not a character gets wound damage never relies on a lucky roll.
iii. Not everything has HPs. Having HPs at all, is based on the capacity, situation dependent, for the character (or whatever) to defend itself. So something like a door or a wall wouldn’t have HPs, only wounds. By the same token, massive, slow moving ships like Star Destroyers and creatures such as giant space slugs wouldn’t have HPs either. After all, these types of things don’t really dodge or block things, they simply absorb the damage.
iv. Healing Surges/Reserves- I like this idea of course. It doesn’t say in the FAQ, but I assume there would be talents that allow characters to spend Reserve surges to replenish HPs in fights.
b. Attack Threat Rating- Based on the situation of the attack, each attack is given a threat rating (I will use colors here because I haven’t thought of a better classification method as of yet…help welcome). The game will include multiple methods for characters to reduce an attacks threat level, but I will explain the threat levels first.
i. Green- all attacks default to Green, which means attack hits, roll HP damage, apply DR from Armor (yes Armor does DR, see below) and apply HP damage.
ii. Yellow- these attacks do HP damage and threaten a wound (or wounds in the case of more powerful attacks). When a character is threatened by a wound he makes a Wound check at DC 12 (armor bonus adds to the save roll, see below) and sustains 1 wound if he fails. An attack is a yellow threat when a character finds himself in a compromised position, such that his defensive skills have essentially no effect on whether or not he would be struck or not. Some examples of a yellow threat attacks are: blaster or slugthrower attacks against an opponent without cover (or Jedi not wielding a lightsaber), lightsaber attack against unarmed or non lightsaber proof weapon wielding character (could be mitigated with special training) and explosives attacks.
iii. Red- these attacks do HP damage, automatically do one wound, threaten a number of additional wounds based on the attack and require a death save. Minions wouldn’t get a death save, Henchmen or other important enemies would make the save at 20, Major NPCs, powerful enemies and PCs would make a save at 10. Red attacks are those where a character or NPC would be in an extremely compromised position. Examples include lightsaber to the throat, gun to the back of the head, attack against a restrained character, sniper shot, stealth kill.
iv. Black- these attacks simply kill the character/NPC. Examples include being thrown into the vacuum of space or being at ground zero of a massive explosion.
c. Ranged Threat- Semi-automatic ranged weapons (blaster and slugthrower type) threaten areas just like melee weapons. A character wielding such a weapon chooses one of four options at the end of its turn.
i. 360- threatens all adjacent squares out to point blank range (see ranges below). This method is generally not available to bipod or mounted weapons.
ii. Cone- threatens a designated cone out to assault range.
iii. Line – threatens a 3 square wide line out to maneuver range.
iv. Target- designate one and only one target out to sniper range which you threaten until the start of your next turn. Alternately choose one of the previous three options and designate it as a targeted version. At any point before the start of your next turn you may pick a target when either 1) a character in the threatened area provokes an attack of opportunity or 2) you become aware of a new character. This second method is generally not available to bipod or mounted weapons. Using this method you may only threaten one opponent (without special abilities).
d. Weapon Ranges- in RPGs the default effect of increased range on ranged attacks is increasing penalties to hit. This is a reasonable facsimile/abstraction if we were trying to represent the effect of increased range on a shooting contest where the participants are in static shoot positions, firing at fixed targets…but we’re not. We are simulating combat. Combat with modern type weaponry. In this case the range at which combat occurs has profound tactical effects that are not properly simulated by simple attack penalties.
Note: Certain weapons may not have one or more of these range categories (see table).
i. Point Blank- Attacks against opponents unable to reasonably defend themselves default to red.
ii. Assault- Attacks against opponents unable to reasonably defend themselves default to yellow.
iii. Maneuver- By default, attacks against targets at this range are green, regardless of the situation (lack of cover, etc) and take a -5 to the attack roll. However, if a character takes a QUICK AIM action prior to the attack, the attack’s effects are determined as though it was an attack at assault range, although the attack still takes a -2 to hit.
iv. Sniper- Attacks at this range have no chance of hitting without the character taking some time to aim. If the character takes a QUICK AIM action the attack is treated as a though it was a maneuver range attack (-5 to hit, always green)). If the character takes a FULL AIM action the attack is treated as a though it was an assault range attack (-2 to hit, ability to become yellow).
v. Sights- will be categorized into sights specifically for each of the ranges and effects to complement those ranges. Assault sights will aid in attacks of opportunity, Maneuver sights will increase maneuver range and/or reduce the attack penalties and Sniper sights will increase Sniper range and/or reduce attack penalties.
vi. Game maps- For simplicity sake GMs may also use maps to determine range. For instance, using a standard gameplay mat (like ones for Star Wars minis) the GM might say that everywhere within line of effect on the Map is considered assault range for rifle weapons. He may designate other maps near or affecting that map that are say, Sniper range for rifles from the main map and unreachable by pistol.

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e. New Actions- The combat action rules will be structured much like 4e. However, there will be some additional actions available to characters.
i. Tactical Advance; standard action- the character can move up to its speed. Throughout the movement the character gains all benefits of cover. This effect ends as soon as the character stops movement.
ii. Cover me; standard action- the character makes a ranged attack roll against DC 10. If successful, he grants one ally the ability to take a tactical advance as a move action.
iii. Opportunity movement; opportunity action- anything that provokes an attack of opportunity also provokes opportunity movement; which is movement up to ½ the character’s speed. Opportunity movement never provokes attacks of opportunity from the provoking opponent.
iv. Quick Aim; Move Action- effect based on the range.
v. Full Aim; Full Round- effect based on the range.

f. Classes- this is not a class like the soldier or the scout. Everything can be (and will be should game statistics be necessary) assigned a class. I am using A, B, C, D, E (again for a lack of better terminology, help wanted), with A being the highest class and E being the lowest. For the most part, everything has both an offensive class and a defensive class. Generally, a thing will primarily use one or the other when interacting with the game world. The way it works, is that when two things come into conflict, we compare the offensive class vs the defensive class of those two things. If the offensive class equals or exceeds the defensive class the attack is resolved as normal, if not, the attack has no effect (in most cases). The defensive class also determines the base Wound check DC. To explain this better let’s look at the classes:
i. E- Defensively this would include Humans, most sentient species that would be used as PCs, small semi-fragile objects such as wooden chairs or doors, most personal armors, the handle of a lightsaber or a blaster pistol. Offensively this would include human unarmed attacks (at least those of the less than kung fu master level smily), non-powered melee weapons and lower power blaster weapons such as hold out blasters. Base wound check DC 12.
ii. D- Defensively this would include creatures like a rancor, most small vehicles (speeder bikes, AT-RT, ground speeders, etc), heavy powered battle armors and the average (household) metal doors. Offensively this would include most powered melee weapons, personal sized blaster weapons and a rancor’s natural weapons (or maybe these should class C??). Base wound check DC 12.
iii. C- Defensively this would include most starfighters, small to medium sized space transports, larger walkers (AT-ST), larger ground vehicles (trade federation battle tank), fortress walls and doors. Offensively this would include starfighter blasters and lasers, some anti-vehicle weapons and some explosives. Base wound check DC 17.
iv. B- Defensively this would include small to medium sized capital ships and very small space stations. Offensively it would include blaster and laser weapons from these ships and many starfighter sized missile weapons. It should be noted that ships of this size would likely have multiple classes. For instance, the bridge or sublight drives may be the ships weak points and of a lower class. Base wound check DC 22.
v. A- Defensively this would include the largest capital ships and space stations. Offensively this would include weapons on these ships and space stations, starfighter missiles (proton torpedoes) and lightsabers. Base wound check DC 22.
g. Weapons- all weapons will have a basic damage die (dice). Most weapons will have a base of 2d damage (powered melee and blaster weapons). Actual attack damage is determined by the attack talent used. Melee basic attacks and Ranged basic attacks, as well as the majority of core attack talents will default to [B] (where [B] is the weapon’s base damage). This damage will increase like [B] + x[W] (where [W] is the weapon’s damage die size) for minor and major attack talents. Like 4e, critical hits do max damage instead of 2 x damage. Unlike 4e, all weapons do extra damage on a critical hit. Weapons will also have properties; similar to 4e but with some specific to modern weaponry. Some examples include:
i. Load (free, minor, move, standard, rounds (1,2,3, etc), 10)- So, when do you have to reload? For load free, in most cases, this has no game effect. If the weapon has a “load # action type” property, than the intent is that you actually count the shots or attacks. After the set number of shots you must spend the required action reloading prior attacking with the weapon again. For certain large weapons you may have to devote one or more full round actions to reloading. If the weapon has a “load action type” property, with no number, the weapon never “needs” to be reloaded during a fight (except for GM determined situations). However, if the character has used up all of his Reaction points (see below) then he may (once per encounter) take the required reload action and regain a Reaction point (think the hero taking a cinematic breather behind cover, slapping in a new mag, slamming the chamber forward, making a smart comment -clichéd of course, “I’m too old for this $h!t”- under his breath and then popping out to return fire).
ii. Auto- this simply allows the wielder to use attack talents with the auto key word (potentially a standard auto-fire attack option). Most auto weapons will have the property framed as “Auto #,” where the number denotes the number of auto attacks that may be used before a reload action is required. Many auto weapons, especially large (tripod, crew-served) or mounted weapons, will have the property framed as “Auto # +(1,2 or xd)” where the + xd denote additional damage done when an auto attack is used.
iii. Provoke opportunity- weapons such as grenades, handheld missile launchers and handheld grenade launchers are distracting enough that simply using them provokes opportunity actions from anyone threatening them.

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h. Explosives- there are some unique aspects to explosives.
i. Blast Radius- explosives have up to three blast radii that effects opponents differently depending on which radii they are in when the detonation occurs. The size of each radius is determined by the particular explosive. However, enclosed spaces may amplify the effects. Any explosive that has the enclosed property affects all opponents in a “reasonably sized” enclosed space. “Reasonably sized” is up to GM discretion
1. Kill- attack against opponent without cover is red
2. Maim- attack against opponent without cover is yellow
3. Shock- attack against opponent without cover is green

ii. Effects by radius- each explosive has various effects that are listed for each radius they apply to. Some common effects are:
1. Damage- just like damage for any weapon
2. Push #- the target is pushed the specified number of squares from the explosion’s originating square.
3. Prone- the target is knocked prone.
4. Blinded/Dazed/Stunned end/start- the target suffers the specified condition(s) until the end or start of their next turn.

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i. Armor- armor provides characters 2 bonuses and 2 penalties. Characters wearing armor gain DR against all attacks that damage HPs and gain a bonus to Wound checks. The DR and Wound check bonus equals the Armor Bonus. However, the wearer takes a penalty to Reflex Defense and (generally) moves at reduced speed.

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j. Vehicles
i. Systems- Each vehicle will be composed of a number of systems, each of which will have a number of wounds. A small vehicle like a speeder bike would only have a few systems; say engines, blaster cannon, stabilizers, and structure. A larger vehicle like an AT-ST would have left leg, right leg, cockpit, each weapon and structure. Destroying different systems would have effects depending on the particular system; from preventing the use of a certain weapon, to effectively disabling the vehicle (such as slicing off the leg of an AT-ST, wrapping the legs of an AT-AT in cable or destroying the stabilizers on a speeder bike). However, all vehicles have the structure system; this represents the overall resilience of the vehicle and when completely depleted destroys the vehicle.
ii. Vehicle Weapons- As the weapons get more powerful the weapon base damage may increase to 3, 4 or more damage dice (remember personal weapons are usually 2d). In any case where a character uses an attack power that does extra damage, additional damage dice are added one at a time, not in multiples of the base damage. So a character uses an encounter power (2[W] damage) with a mounted blaster cannon (base damage 3d8) rolls 4d8 damage if he hits. Many vehicle weapons will also have a damage multiplier such as x2, x3 or more. This determines the number of wounds the attack threatens should it directly hit a system as well as the multiplier to the HP damage. For example, a character uses a ranged basic attack to fire a vehicle weapon with base damage 3d8 and a damage multiple of x2. If he hits HPs, he will roll 3d8x2 damage. If he hits systems, the vehicle will check for 2 wounds (1d20 + AB, save 12). Attack powers with the keyword VEHICLE and/or MOUNTED can be used with Vehicle or mounted weapons. Attack powers with the keyword WOUND #, threaten additional wounds equal to the #. So how do we determine if the attack affects HPs, systems or both?...
iii. Attacking a Vehicle- whether the attack damages HPs, threaten systems or does both depends on whether the vehicle relies primarily on the pilot’s skill or its armor for defense.
1. Pilot’s skill- these include fast maneuverable vehicles like speeder bikes and starfighters. All such vehicles have HPs. Attackers have three options when attacking these types of vehicles:
a. Regular attack- damages to HPs. Vehicle reduces to 0 HPs is destroyed.
b. Auxiliary system- targets a system whose destruction will degrade capability but not disable the entire vehicle, such as a weapon or visible communications apparatus; such systems identified with a on the stat block, increased difficulty to hit that system). On a hit, if the number shown on the die is an even number than the attack threatens wounds on the targeted system. If the number shown on the die is odd, the attack does HP damage.
c. Special attacks- certain encounter/daily powers or situations may allow the character to target vehicle systems directly.

2. Armor- slow, ponderous vehicles such as large walkers or capital ships. These vehicles don’t get HPs; all attacks directly target systems. These vehicles survive on the battlefield because of their heavy armor and substantial structure. Attacker has one attack option:
a. Attack a system- the attacker chooses a system to attack (which can be structure). If the attack hits and the number shown on the die is an even number, the attack hits the desired system. If the attack hits and the number shown on the die is an odd number, the attack hits the vehicle’s structure (so choice of structure always damages structure on a hit).
iv. Attacking a character in a vehicle- availability of this option depends on whether the target is a pilot or passenger.

1. Pilot/Copilot- Pilot/Copilot can be targeted. However, PCs, Henchmen, and Villains (see below) can siphon vehicle HPs (if available) to “protect” themselves. They can also siphon their HPs to protect the vehicle should it be targeted. This choice and the relative amounts of HPs lost from each pool are up to the pilot/copilot.

2. Passenger/Gunner- these characters are targeted as normal and cannot exchange HPs with the vehcie
v. Shields- Shields have classes just like everything else. In order to damage a shield, the attack class must equal or exceed the shield’s class. Shields also have a shield rating which is expressed as a number. Any hit on a shield absorbs one multiple of the weapons base damage (or one wound) per shield rating and the shield rating then degrades one step. For example, a ranged basic attack dealing 3d8x2 damage against a shield 2 (weapon class = shield class), will be completely stopped by the shield. The shield will degrade to 1, so using the same attack again will deal 3d8 damage, threaten one wound, or do both, depending on the situation (and degrade the shield to 0). Certain attack powers or weapons may have the SHIELDBUSTER # keyword. After resolving such an attack the shield rating degrades additional levels equal to the # specified in the keyword. Shields also have a recharge rate expressed like 1 / 2 (meaning “increase in shield rating” “per” “# of rounds”). Like Saga, a PC or NPC must take 3 swift actions to increase the shield rating. So in the example above, if the vehicle’s shields are degraded, they pilot (or technicians) must wait at least one round before they can start spending actions to recharge the shield. If a shield is reduced to 0, it takes one additional round before the shield can be recharged.
vi. Class A and B weapons- Generally these are the massive turbolaser type weapons. In Saga terms these are the weapons that take -20 to hit anything less than colossal size. With some notable exceptions (like the lightsaber) most of these weapons will not have damage expressed in damage dice; they will simply list number of wounds threatened. GMs wishing to use these types of weapons to threaten PCs either on foot or in small vehicles are encouraged to use them as environmental hazards (attack roll against defense or PC skill checks to avoid) and pick damage values appropriate to the PC’s level. This is, of course, GM prerogative. These weapons can take the -20 to hit and fire at the PCs, but a hit automatically threatens wounds. These types of weapons generally do 8-10 wounds on a hit, so statistically speaking, using these weapons against PCs is an (deadly) all or nothing proposition.

2. Basic Statistics-

a. The new ability scores- average human is 4 (minimum MASS for medium sized humanoid is 4). Ability score and ability score max increases with level to a max of 11 (although special situations may allow characters to exceed this limit). All abilities have an ability bonus which = ability score -4.
i. PHYSIQUE - Physique is a measure of a character’s overall physical conditioning. Not simply dexterity or physical strength, it is a reflection of the whole package.
ii. MASS- Mass is the primary indicator of overall physical presence. High mass could be either a lot of fat, or mounds of honed muscle, depending upon the Physique of the character.
iii. INTELLIGENCE- A description of pure intellectual processing power; how thorough, deep, and complex the thought of any individual is.
iv. ACUITY- The speed at which thought occurs, and how quickly an individual processes information; commonly referred to as instinct, common sense, or cunning.
v. PRESENCE- The character’s force of personality combined with their mental and emotional toughness; a mix of willpower and charisma.
vi. Why new ability scores?- Intelligence, Acuity and Presence are really just Int, Wis and Cha. I just think the words, Acuity and Presence better describe what we are talking about when we say Wis and Cha. Might be helpful to new gamers, as I have seen a lot of confusion about this in the past. Take it or leave it. As for physique and mass, I like the dynamic nature of these two. The character has to choose between the benefits of increased Mass (more HPs, more wounds, more hand to hand damage) vs the reduced REACTION BONUS and reduced Reaction points. Purely from a simulationist POV it is much better than the Str, Dex and Con because those tend to be so closely related. Honestly, the character with the 20 Dex and 8 Str makes almost no sense. That is exactly the character that has the outrageous tumble check but can barely support their own weight. How exactly does someone with an 8 Str flip over an opponent’s head or do a handspring or any other acrobatic maneuver. They couldn’t. Physique is much better in that regard. The physique mass interaction is the same interaction that any athlete has to go through when training. What is better, size, or pound for pound athletic ability? Same choice players now have to make.

b. Derived Scores
EDIT: ChangeD the REACTION formula
i. REACTION = (PHYSIQUE + best 2 out of 3 - INTELLIGENCE + ACUITY + PRESENCE)/3; Combat effectiveness.
a. REACTION BONUS = REACTION – MASS. This is also the number of Reaction Points (see below) the character gets.
ii. FORTITUDE = (PHYSIQUE + MASS + PRESENCE)/3; Overall toughness and resolve to fight.
iii. WILL= (INTELLIGENCE + ACUITY + PRESENCE)/3; Mental and emotional agility and toughness.

c. Defenses
i. Reflex Defense = 10 + REACTION; Ability to react to and ward off physical attacks.
ii. Fortitude Defense = 10 + FORTITUDE; A character’s ability to shrug off physically debilitating conditions and continue in the face of physical adversity.
iii. Will Defense = 10 + WILL; A character’s ability to resist mental subversion and attack.
iv. Base HPs = PHYSIQUE + PRESENCE + MASS + MASS

3. Task Resolution Basics- Reaction or Ability score + Skill Bonus + 1d20 vs DC. In the case of attacks the vast majority of physical attacks will use Reaction + skill vs relevant defense + relevant skill. For example, a blaster rifle on lightsaber attack would be Reaction + rifles (Attacker) vs Reaction + Lightsaber (defender). Bonus damage depends on the attack power used; ranged and melee basic attacks use the REACTION bonus as the damage bonus. In addition, all melee attacks gain a damage bonus equal to the MASS bonus. The skill bonus and ability scores increase as the character levels.

4. Character construction- PCs will have four main elements: Talents, Skills, Feats and Aspects; and 3 types of points: Fate (or maybe Force, help for name needed again) Points, Reaction points and Action points.
a. Talents- as described in the FAQ
b. Feats- very similar to 4e in that feats generally improve a current capability, not grant a new one. That is the purview of talents.
c. Aspects- these are very similar to the aspects used in the free game, Spirit of the Century (SotC; http://www.faterpg.com/dl/sotc-srd.html). All characters start with 10 Aspect points. Each Aspect can be used just like in SotC; spend one Fate point to compel the Aspect at an appropriate time and get a +2 to the roll. The character can also compel the Aspect to alter the game in an appropriate way. The GM can compel the Aspect to get a player to do something by offering the player a “carrot” (Fate point or other bonus) if he does it and a stick (must pay a Fate point) if he doesn’t. However there are some important differences:

i. Types of Aspects- SotC uses Aspects as all encompassing of the character’s traits. Aspects are meant to define the “intangibles”; personality, relationships, status in organizations, etc. For example, “Big as an Ox, (and half as dumb),” is an appropriate (and humorous) Aspect for SotC. However, if you want a big, not so smart character for e20 give him a high MASS and average INTELLIGENCE. Basically, Aspects cannot cover physical attributes, mental attributes or particular talent in any area.

ii. Aspect Categories- All characters have seven required Aspect categories they must satisfy; all characters choose 2 x personality Aspects, 2 x relationship Aspects, 2 x organization Aspects and 1 x resources Aspect. Each Aspect costs 1 Aspect point. A clever character may be able to satisfy more than one of these requirements with a single Aspect. For instance, Han Solo’s player might use “Afraid I was gonna leave without giving you a goodbye kiss?” to satisfy his relationship Aspect with Princess Leia as well as a personality Aspect signifying his cockiness. After the character has satisfied the requirements, he should have 3 Aspect points left over. He can use these to upgrade current Aspects or buy more. What do I mean by upgrade?

1. Upgrades- This depends on the tone of the game. For instance, if the campaign is based around the characters as members of Rogue Squadron then it is appropriate for the characters to pick an aspect where they are members of Rogue Squadron and of similar rank. Should one of the characters want to outrank his fellow party members (in a significant way, such as two ranks higher or being an officer among enlisted) that would require an upgrade, although GM approval would be almost assured as this upgrade is fairly inconsequential. On the other hand, should one of the characters want to play Rogue Leader, then it would require 2 x upgrades and GM approval would be unlikely because it has much more important effects on the campaign structure. For another example, let’s take resources. If the campaign concept is a Serenity or Cowboy Bebop style crew that is basically scraping by, job to job without even the guarantee of enough food, then a character taking an Aspect such as “Trust fund baby,” or “Bestselling Free Lance writer,” would be subject to GM approval and require one or more upgrades. However, those same Aspects might be the norm if the characters are playing a group of young Coruscani socialites that become embroiled in the rebellion. By the same token the character can take a downgrade, by being generally worse off than the tone of the game. Although this gives characters no bonus in creation, it will give the character extra roleplay opportunities and time in the spotlight as his character deals with his shortcomings. It should also be noted, that throughout play, Aspects will likely up- and down- grade quite often and they may even morph considerably. For instance, a character’s relationship Aspect for the love of his life, may morph into a personality Aspect about his desire for revenge against the Empire that killed her, to a personality aspect of greater moral understanding that killing only begets more killing and doesn’t end the hurt.

2. Destiny- this is an optional type of Aspect. Unlike Saga, the destiny can be much less grand or galaxy shaking and may be used as a character goal. For instance a character might have the Destiny to become the best Podracer in system X or to become an Admiral in the Imperial Navy. I see these types of Destiny’s as great tools to guide the GM to in building adventures, events and rewards (enhancements) to satisfy the player’s goals for their character. Alternatively (or in addition) the GM can give the party a secret Destiny that they fulfill through playing the story and thereby gain some new reward.

iii. Example of Aspect choices (Format = Aspect type Aspect #- specific object of Aspect: “Aspect name”)
Han Solo: Personality 1: “Never tell me the odds”; Relationship 1, Personality 2- Princess Leia: “Afraid I was gonna leave without giving you a goodbye kiss?”; Relationship 2- Chewbacca: “The life debt is greater than any one life”; Organization 1: “Imperial Academy dropout”; Organization 2: “Reluctant rebel”; Resources: “Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs”; Equipment- Millennium Falcon: “Fast ship? You've never heard of the Millennium Falcon?”; Destiny: “Hero of the Rebellion”; Relationship 3-connections: “Friends in low places.”; Relationship 4- Jaaba: “You may have been a good smuggler, but now you're Bantha fodder. “

d. Fate (Force) Points- See table for effects. Characters get one Fate point for each aspect they have. Characters renew these at the start of each game session or story; depending on the specifics of the campaign. For instance, if during a game session the characters complete 3-4 encounters and advance the current plotline, it is probably appropriate to refresh their fate points at the start of the next game session. On the other hand, if the group has only a short game session and only play through one minor encounter, then a refresh of fate points is probably not warranted. A refresh may even be warranted mid way through a game session depending on its length and how far the story advances.
e. Reaction points- These are an encounter resource and refresh just like minor talents after a short rest. For their effects, see the table.
f. Action points- Exactly like 4e. Characters start with 1 and gain 1 more for each milestone (completion of 2 encounters) they reach. One action point can be spent per encounter and can be used to gain an extra action (standard, move or swift).

Reaction Points.
Reaction Points______________________Effect
2 +1 per subsequent use in encounter____Reduce an attacks threat level by one step
1__________________________________Take an additional immediate reaction this round
2___________________________________Regain the use of an immediate reaction minor talent as a free action
3___________________________________Regain the use of an opportunity action minor talent as a free action
Variable_____________________________Activate certain class features, talents, feats or enhancements

Fate Points.
Fate Points______________________Effect
2 _________________________________Reduce an attacks threat level by one step
1-3__________________________________Inconsequential story manipulation
4-6___________________________________Minor story manipulation
7-10___________________________________Significant story manipulation
11+___________________________________Major story manipulation

Regarding systems presented in the FAQ
Max Damage Threshold- In cinematic combat situations we generally see heroes and villains sustain 4 types of damage.

1. HP damage- the really abstract; the near misses, small cuts, scrapes bruises. All of the stuff that with a little grit and adrenaline are no problem for a while.
2. Short term affects- these are affects like stunned, dazed, slowed, etc that we see in 4e. A hit that puts the affected character at a disadvantage for a short time but that is recoverable within the same fight.
3. Wounds- actual long term (relatively speaking) physical damage. A bullet hole or sword cut. Heroes of course generally seem to continue to fight beyond what we could realistically expect and recover sooner.
4. Grievous Wound- limb loss or other such permanent/semi-permanent wounds.

My understanding, is that the intent of the Max Damage Theshold is to represent some amalgam of damage types 2 and 3, leaning towards damage type 2. I agree that these damage types should be represented, but…when we are talking about this I think it is important to define exactly what effects we want the system to have. I think we want noticeable effects on the character that affect the tactical situation by causing the character, its allies and its enemies to consider the effect when choosing actions during a round. A simple check penalty doesn’t accomplish this. Rarely would it change what die roll was made, only the ultimate outcome of such a roll. For instance, a character with a -3 fatigue penalty can still take a full suite of actions. However, a dazed character must choose only one action. A check penalty really doesn’t change tactics. The guy with a -3 fatigue penalty can still make attacks of opportunity. However, a character with a talent that can be used to daze an opponent can strategically use such a talent to put an enemy at a disadvantage and allow allies to maneuver past the dazed opponent.

Let’s say you agree with my above points…so why then do we not want to use a Max Damage threshold that produces effects instead of simple check penalties. Well, a Max Damage threshold presents some problems in and of itself. First of all, it gives an added bonus to one particular niche combat build. The one hit wonder. High damage is a benefit in and of itself. It shouldn’t come with additional benefits…unless we want to give a benefit to every type of combat build.

1. High Defense- attack roll misses by a certain amount then the attacker takes a minus on future attacks.
2. Multiple attacks- the character hits with multiple attacks then the defender takes a minus to actions and defenses.
3. High Attack- hit by certain amount gives penalties to the defender.

I don’t think this is a road we want to go down. I think the best way to handle damage type #2 (above) is to give the choice to the player (or GM). Put those short term recoverable affects as part of certain attacks/talents. As for damage type #3, I think it should be situation based, like I explain above with my wounds system. A hero/villain should only take a wound if they are either near defeat or their opponent outmaneuvers them into a compromised position. And really, the system you proposed doesn’t explicitly account for damage type 3. I guess once a character is out of HP reserves and starts to take HP damage, you could consider that real wounds may be occurring. However, that just doesn’t jive with how we see cinematic events play out in movies and other media. Sometimes the hero or villain get outmaneuvered a take a serious hit early on, and then have to deal with the handicap while trying to accomplish their goals.. As for damage type#4, that is best left at GM discretion/GM-player collaboration or produced from the effects of Fate point use.

Classes: The FAQ is very generic on what the classes will be like, but here is what I would propose. Characters build their own class through a combination of choosing a ROLE, TEMPLATE and POWER SOURCE. The 4 ROLES are the 4 combat roles like 4e. So there is a Guardian ROLE, Striker ROLE, Leader ROLE and Controller ROLE. Each ROLE would have two ROLE features that all members that ROLE would gain. Then…
Each ROLE would have several (probably 4 for the base game) TEMPLATES. Each TEMPLATE would give a unique TEMPLATE feature that adds to the two class features the character already gained from his ROLE. For instance, the Guardian ROLE might have the following TEMPLATES:

Steadfast- this guardian excels at absorbing, deflecting or avoiding damage to the character.

Protecting- this guardian excels at preventing damage to its allies.

Deadly- this guardian is better than most guardians at dishing out damage.

Disruptive- this guardian is better than most guardians at preventing enemies from maneuvering and attacking allies.

Then the character chooses a POWER SOURCE, which would also be very broad and could be genre specific. The character would gain a 4th POWER SOURCE feature which would be unique to the ROLE-POWER SOURCE combo. For instance, generically we might have the following POWER SOURCES Martial, Natural, Mystical, Tech.

Martial- through dedication and training the character learns extraordinary abilities

Natural- this character taps into their natural talents. The quintessential fly-by-the-seat of the pants “smooth operator.”

Mystical- the character taps into inner reserves of energy/power. In a modern type campaign this would be the chi powered kung fu master.

Tech- this character relies on outfitting themselves with the best gear, custom fitted and rehearsed so that the right bit of “kit” is always available for the right situation.

So instead of a character choosing Strong Hero or Fast Hero, the character chooses Deadly Martial Guardian or Dexterous Natural Striker, etc. So, how does this all fit into talent trees?

In the FAQ you mention that Talent Trees will be divided along thematic lines. I would suggest that the division should be along game effect as well as thematic lines. The general division being those talents that provide new capabilities in skirmish combat (SC) vs those that provide capabilities in anything outside of skirmish combat (non-skirmish combat, NSC). NSC is an umbrella term for capabilities in social situations, technical stuff (hacking, slicing, repairing, modifying), long term medical care, investigation, research, etc. However, it also includes things that we might normally consider to be under the umbrella of “combat,” but are generally only applicable in special combat situations. Here I am talking about talents for things such as sniping, demolitions, pilot/drive, riding (mounts), athletics (climbing/movement over special terrain) and mass combat tactics. The reason that these are not consider SC is because they can generally only be employed if the GM designs an encounter (or the PCs force one) where these types of skills would be useful. So if we look at a sample breakdown of talent trees we might see something like this (#s are not exact, they are just there to demonstrate relative #s):

Image

In terms of Talent selection every character would have access to the 10 generic NSC Talent Trees, 2 ROLE specific NSC Talent Trees, 1 TEMPLATE specific NSC Talent tree and 1 SOURCE specific NSC Talent Tree for a total of 14 NSC Talent Trees to choose from whenever the character gains a NSC Talent . Then each character would have access to 5 ROLE specific SC Talent Trees, 3 TEMPLATE specific SC Talent Trees and 1 SOURCE specific SC Talent Trees for a total of 9 SC Talent Trees to choose from whenever the character gains a SC Talent.

On the level chart characters would receive roughly twice the number of Talents and feats you have currently allotted. Each time a character receives a new talent that talent would be chosen from either a NSC or SC Talent Tree. The relative total number of SC vs NSC talents a character receives over its career would be determined by the choice of one of four “play styles”: normal (50% SC, 50% NSC), combat heavy (75% SC, 25% NSC) and combat light (25% SC, 75% NSC), free form (player’s choice). Depending on the group, campaign style, etc. all PCs/NPCs could be built with the same “play style” or the “play style” could vary greatly. The obvious benefit of all PCs being built with the same “play style” is that you end up with a party where all characters can contribute roughly equally in most combat encounters. This is a desired state, since regardless of the play style, the combat system is invariably the most detailed game subsystem, requiring the most die rolls and the most amount of real time to resolve. Thus having a party with some characters that do well or even great in combat, while other characters lag behind, leads to an undesirable play environment. A campaign where all PCs have the same “play style” wouldn’t necessarily prevent certain PCs from being combat heavy. They just can’t get too far ahead of other PCs in the SC realm. A combat heavy character in such a campaign would likely choose those combat themed Talents from under the umbrella of NSC Talents (such as sniping or demolitions Talents).

Note: Obviously character builds using roles like Guardian and Striker are going to be “tougher” (hit more often and harder, and defend better with more HPs), but the “weaker” roles such as leader and controller are still able to contribute equally to the combat by hampering enemies maneuver and bolstering allies.
So what about multiclassing? Two points:

1. FME, characters usually tend to be defined in game by 1) personality (which is mostly player driven and shouldn’t be too rules heavy), 2) whether they are considered more “combat” or “skill” focused and 3) what sort of additional capabilities they bring to the party. Of course the players might know that one particular combat heavy character does more damage and another particular combat heavy character has a better defense and more HPs, but it doesn’t really define the character. My breakdown (above) has 10 Talent Trees devoted to NSC Talents that all characters, regardless of ROLE, TEMPLATE or POWER SOURCE can choose from. This gives characters great versatility to begin with. There is a reason we want to keep most of a characters SC Talents under the umbrella of its specific ROLE. Why? So that it can fulfill that ROLE. Which again, FME, isn’t particularly important in defining the character. It simply defines how that character interacts in combat.

2. Of course players will want to branch out and create unique combinations. To do this they simply take a feat (similar to 4e multiclass feats) that gives them a once per encounter use of a feature from another ROLE, TEMPLATE or POWER SOURCE and allows the character to swap one current SC or NSC Core or Minor Talent for one from a Talent Tree associated with the same ROLE, TEMPLATE or POWER SOURCE they received the feature from. There would be higher level versions of this feat that allow characters to gain permanent use of a ROLE, TEMPLATE or POWER SOURCE feature and also allows them to swap out a Major Talent.

With this system I just described characters have a choice between 64 unique combinations of ROLE, TEMPLATE and POWER SOURCE with a total of 23 Talent Trees to choose from, 10 of which (or ~43% since those numbers are not exact) are not specific to any ROLE, TEMPLATE and/or POWER SOURCE. I think this would make for very diverse characters, whose capabilities in SC are neatly organized by ROLE to enhance playability. It also provides an easy control (play style), that equalizes all characters ability to contribute in SC encounters; should the GM and players want to use it.

Later specialization: I would recommend using a concept similar to the prestige class or prestige path, called a PRESTIGE TEMPLATE. Characters would automatically gain 1-2 of these as the character levels. Each PRESTIGE TEMPLATE would provide the character a series of three features that are gained at specific levels. It would also give the character 1 unique SC Talent Tree and 1 unique NSC Talent Tree to choose from. The prerequisites for these could be widely varied (from none to a specific ROLE, TEMPLATE, POWER SOURCE combo + specific feats and Talents) as the intent is for them to be mostly setting specific.

For those games where particularly high-powered characters are appropriate you could have an EPIC TEMPLATE. These would be similar to a PRESTIGE TEMPLATE, only they would be more powerful.

So let’s talk levels and numbers. My recommendation would be that the numbers (attack and defense bonuses) scale slightly slower than your sample table (see my table).

Image

Some clarifications:
NRD- no reasonable defense. This is for those situations when the character can’t mount an effective defense based on any skill. So he gets whatever his baseline ability scores give him…plus maybe an enhancement. Whether or not enhancements would apply depends on specifics of the enhancement and the genre/level of realism the game is being played at. For instance, steel physique +1 , might apply to defense against all attacks, or maybe only unarmed and bludgeoning attacks. Also, some enhancements would not apply simply because the skill they are based on doesn’t apply. So, lighting parry +2, would easily apply as a defensive enhancement in Star Wars for a Jedi using a lightsaber vs a blaster attack, but wouldn’t apply in a modern setting to a swordsman facing a gunslinger.

Characters fill up their available talent slots by 16-18th level. Thereafter they replace talents with increasing more powerful talents.

The basic idea is that minions (1 HP guys) are from levels 1-5. Heroes generally start at level 6. Heroes/villains and henchmen are 6-25th level. 26 and beyond are those exceptional greats of the game world such as Yoda and Sidious. Doing this gives players a solid 20 levels to play through where they are the "heroes." They aren't first level and crappy, nor do they start to become one of the few really powerful entities in the game world 4 to 5 levels before they reach max level.

The rapid increase in numbers (attack bonus, defense bonus, etc) typical to the d20 system just doesn’t describe most heroic genres as well as slower increase in base numbers with a faster increase in additional capabilities. The numbers are all relative. In a system like D&D it makes sense for the high level beings to be untouchable by low level beings because the high level beings are literally more powerful (stronger, faster, more durable, have magic, invulnerable, etc). Not to mention that it is relatively easy for a GM to drum up a plausible explanation as to where the hoards of increasingly powerful monsters keep coming from. However, in many genres the heroes and villains are simply exceptional versions of regular people (sometimes with some super powers thrown in). A flatter numbers curve and more rapid increase in additional capabilities lets the denizens of a game world interact more freely with each other while giving players more “toys” for their character. The only time I have ever seen a player really excited about an increase in attack or defense was when they multiclassed into multiple low BAB classes and finally got an attack increase. Every time I tell a player he/she gets a new feat/talent/etc it produces one of two effects: 1) either I get a proud proclamation of the feat/talent the character had carefully picked in advance or 2) the player starts feverishly scouring the game books for his latest goody. That says it all to me. Its about capabilities, not numbers. Numbers need to change, but it is better if they are reasonable, especially in a game meant for broad genres. It is too easy to give characters numbers bonuses if the genre calls for it.
Last edited by Darl_Loh on Mon Mar 15, 2010 12:59 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: A bunch of ideas...challenge to some basics

Postby fodigg » Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:17 pm

7,974 words? Oh my.
- fo diggity
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Re: A bunch of ideas...challenge to some basics

Postby GMSarli » Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:02 pm

fodigg wrote:7,974 words? Oh my.


LOL

Yeah, that was my first reaction, too. I'll read through this as soon as I get a chance, though -- I promise. :)
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Re: A bunch of ideas...challenge to some basics

Postby JaredGaume » Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:33 pm

Quick notes:

1. Hit Point / Wound Point system. Hit points are abstract, wounds are deffinate.

2. Varying degrees of damage.
"Green" damage only attacks HP.
"Yellow" damage attacks HP and threatens WP.
"Red" damage only attacks WP.
"Black" damage is insta-death.

3. Only "creatures" have HP, vehicles and objects only have WP.

4. Weapons have a utility for point blank, assault, maneuver, and sniper ranges.

5. Formal scale classes (A, B, C, D, and E) describing the size and scope of objects from the largest space stations down to humans. Includes the kind of weapons and armor that can be used.

6. When attacking vehicles, you are attacking systems, so as you damage a vehicle you are taking out its systems (engines, weapons, navigation, etc...)

7. Relies on targeted and situational attacks.

8. Uses 5 ability scores (Physique, Mass, Intelligence, Acuity, and Presence).

9. Uses formula to derrive scores that are then applied to defenses and other elements (Reaction, Reaction Bonus, Fortitude, and Will).

10. Math and computationally heavy to figure out where you are getting and applying bonuses (see number 9 for example).

11. Aspect system, a role-playing system that allows you to compel actions in others by spending "Fate" points.

12. You have Fate, Reaction, and Action points, they do different things.
Fate controls story elements.
Reaction lets you adjust situations.
Action lets you get an extra action.

13. A classless system with templates.

14. A unified level system.
Ordinary (mook) characters are level 1-5 characters.
Player Characters and the equivalent are level 6 to 25 characters.
Super NPC Characters are level 26 to 30 characters.

This is what I got out of the OP.
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Re: A bunch of ideas...challenge to some basics

Postby Darl_Loh » Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:51 am

Thanks for the quick notes. Probably should have done this myself. Just want to add a couple of clarifications.

JaredGaume wrote:2. Varying degrees of damage.
"Red" damage only attacks WP.


Red damages HPs, automatically does at least 1 WP, then threatens additional wounds, and requires a death save (varying difficulty based on character place in story, minion, henchman, hero). Needless to say, Red and Black threat attacks should be a rarity in game (with the exception of special missions such as sniping or stealthy infiltration).

JaredGaume wrote:3. Only "creatures" have HP, vehicles and objects only have WP.


Some creatures would have only WPs (such as big slow moving ones). Some vehicles have HPs, such as fast moving agile ones.

JaredGaume wrote:4. Weapons have a utility for point blank, assault, maneuver, and sniper ranges.


Not sure your definition of utility (haven't heard that term used before, my ignorance). I think the important point is that range (when we are dealing with modern weaponry) is not an afterthought statistical calculation. It is a factor that changes the tactics of a given situation (using modern weaponry).

JaredGaume wrote:7. Relies on targeted and situational attacks.


Sort of. Relies is strong word. Given that most d20 games don't use it all (at least not the way I suggest) it probably seems like a big change. Of note, this statement is much more acccurate when we are talking ranged combat with modern weaponry. The situational aspect would be much less prevalent in melee situations.

JaredGaume wrote:10. Math and computationally heavy to figure out where you are getting and applying bonuses (see number 9 for example).


I think its important to note that while this is technically correct, the computation wouldn't change in actual play. It is pre-done. And as for determining ability bonuses, ability - 4 to determine bonus is no more computationally heavy than converting a score of 18 to a bonus of +4. From a practical standpoint rolling the average of 3 ability scores into the major combat statistic does 2 things. 1) it reduces the tendency for a min maxer to throw all their eggs in one basket and 2) it encourages characters to build a character based on a concept rather than stats because simply increasing one ability's score won't significantly increase the characters combat potential.

JaredGaume wrote:13. A classless system with templates.


This may be getting into semantics, but I think it is closer to a "choose your own class" kind of thing. Each character builds their class, but it is still a class in that it determines HPs, talents and feats available, skill list, etc.

JaredGaume wrote:14. A unified level system.
Ordinary (mook) characters are level 1-5 characters.
Player Characters and the equivalent are level 6 to 25 characters.
Super NPC Characters are level 26 to 30 characters.


Of note is the numbers (att/def bonus) scale is slightly lower. Instead of +1 per level it is approximately +1 per 2 levels. Also, the base hit % is 50% instead of 75%. The reason being that by using situation/tactics, opponents can maneuver into situations where their target can't "reasonably defend" themself. In these situations the hit % goes up significantly. The idea being that this balances out the lower general hit %.
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Re: A bunch of ideas...challenge to some basics

Postby Darl_Loh » Tue Mar 02, 2010 1:17 am

A couple of other quick points/additions.

The talent system includes a mechanic (play style) that makes it easy for players to control their level of combat focus (should they desire). Also it allows a gaming group to control the level of combat focus an entire campaign has with the same simple mechanic. Using it has the nice side effect of giving all characters ability to equally contribute in combat via a defined role a la 4e.

Some additional combat notes.

1. Use combat advantage just like 4e (avoid heinous stacking of attack bonuses).

2. In melee characters can get "double flanked." Basically this means that whenever a character grants combat advantage to 4 or mor enemies, the fourth enemy and every subsequent enemy are considered threat yellow when attacking the character (feats and talents could modify this). Player choice which enemies get the yellow threat.

On minions:

1. They have 1 HP. However this is only when attacked by heroes. Attacks by anything else (environment, attacks by other minions/henchmen, etc.) instead directly target wounds (so save to avoid damage). Most minions will only have 1 WP, so they are not much more durable but it prevents the minions from being killed by just silly stuff and makes them a little more durable when facing other minions (so the characters sidekick minions and henchmen aren't quite as good at killing minions).

2. Minions can be organized into squads (a la Saga). The only difference being that instead of getting more HPs, each successful attack simply kills one minion. Hereos can also kill multiple minions (in a squad) in one shot by voluntarily taking a -5 to hit. +1 minion killed per -5, probably max penalty -10 as a base with talents and feats that can modify this.
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Re: A bunch of ideas...challenge to some basics

Postby Stacie_GmrGrl » Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:18 am

Wow, that's amazing stuff...my favorite part is how you changed Ability Scores from the traditional Six into Five that "MAKE SENSE" :) I like a lot of your ideas, especially how you did different "colors" of damage, which makes it a lot easier to understand by switching to a color scheme like that. I so like it.
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Re: A bunch of ideas...challenge to some basics

Postby astralcataclysm » Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:25 pm

Wow this is substantial. I'll have to read it a few more times for it to sink in.

One thing I did notice on first read, is that you class "templates", at least the examples you provide, are basically secondary roles. So in effect, of the basic 4 roles, you are choosing a primary and a secondary role. So there ought to be some way of cleverly consolidating some information to simplify things, by having you just choose 2 roles. Perhaps specify one as primary and one as secondary and give different access for each, or perhaps just give identical access to each and give some small benefit for choosing the same role twice.

That said, while I conceptually like your class system, I'm not sure how feasible it would be to put it into practice. For example, compare an Arcane/Striker/Controller to a Martial/Striker/Controller; the methods by which the characters deal damage and control the battlefield will be completely different. Generic role-based talents don't make a lot of sense, or become way too generic, like "+1 base attack damage" or "add knockback 1 to base attacks". I think that for interesting talent trees, every tree has to be tied to some power source.
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Re: A bunch of ideas...challenge to some basics

Postby Darl_Loh » Tue Mar 02, 2010 4:15 pm

Stacie_GmrGrl- Glad you like the ability score change. I didn’t know if anyone would be open to this idea, so I am glad to see that at least someone is. Also, it’s good to hear that the damage colors come off as intuitive. That was my intent with them.

astralcataclysm- Some excellent points. So how about this. The character chooses a role and a secondary role like you suggest. The character gains most class features, HPs, skill, etc. from the primary role and gains 1 class feature from the secondary role. Just for clarification, when I say the character gains a feature from the secondary role, that doesn't mean they steal a feature from another class. So the P: Striker/S: Controller would get a different feature for the S: Controller than a P: Leader/S: Controller would get. Another idea…maybe the character gets to choose a freebie class feature from a list of freebies, just to give the character a little unique flair.

Talking SC Talent trees, let’s assume 8 per role; each defined by a role, theme and power source (so 2 talent trees per power source). When the character gains a SC talent it chooses a talent from any of these talent trees or a talent from its secondary role’s talent trees (another classes talents). But here is the catch. When a character chooses its secondary role it also chooses a power source to go with it. So it can only choose talents from its secondary role that are from the chosen power source. For characters that choose a secondary role that is the same as their primary (P: guardian/S: guardian), there will be a unique Talent Tree they can choose from. Although this gives them less total talents than other builds they get the unique talent tree.

Multiclass would work pretty much the same as I originally describe. The only difference is the Multiclass feat allows characters to swap for a Talent from a third role or from the same secondary role and a new power source.

As for NSC Talent trees, I would stick with the baseline generic Talent trees (as described above) and then have four (example #) of NSC talent trees for each role, each of which is tied to a particular power source. Same as for SC talents, the character can choose freely for the primary role and must choose from the talent tree tied to the chosen power source for the secondary role.
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Re: A bunch of ideas...challenge to some basics

Postby Darl_Loh » Tue Mar 02, 2010 4:26 pm

One other point. Certain genres might have talent trees restricted by power source. The easiest example (and in keeping with my theme) is Star Wars. So the Force would be a power source restricted to those that were Force Sensitive (howerever you want to handle that designation in game). Regardless each class could have 2 Force power source SC talent trees, 1 Force power source NSC talent tree and then their would likely be several generic NSC Force power source talent trees with common foce powers abilities; maybe even a few generic Force power source SC talent trees with really common combat force powers. This method could be used for genres with things like magic, psionics, cybernetics, super powers, mutations, etc. You could even use it to give access to talent trees for characters with certain backgrounds or training. For instance, in the swashbuckling genre, training in a swordsman school could be considered giving a character access to that swordsman school as a power source. Come to think of it, that might be a good way to handle the Prestige Template thing. Instead of gaining the template, the character through circumstance or training gains access to a new, unique power source. The power source gives them some new features and a unique talent tree.
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Re: A bunch of ideas...challenge to some basics

Postby Stacie_GmrGrl » Wed Mar 03, 2010 5:12 pm

Just going along with this...why not you pick your Primary as your "Role"...ugh I hate that word, but I'll go with it for now...and this sets up your possible options...then have templates of Power sources, and your secondary choice, being the template, be the actual Power Source... So you can pick your "Role" and your "Power Source", and each can have their own Talent trees to pick from...

Or, you have your Primary and Secondary "Roles" then your "Power Source" can be an added Template with its own Talent Trees...and different Power Sources can be from different Modules...

Disclaimer: Of course, I write this not having read everything posted above.
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Re: A bunch of ideas...challenge to some basics

Postby Stacie_GmrGrl » Wed Mar 03, 2010 5:18 pm

Darl_Loh wrote:Stacie_GmrGrl- Glad you like the ability score change. I didn’t know if anyone would be open to this idea, so I am glad to see that at least someone is. Also, it’s good to hear that the damage colors come off as intuitive. That was my intent with them.


Well, I absolutely detest the current Six Ability Scores for many, many reasons, amongst those is that they just don't make any freaking sense whatsoever, but I live with it. For the same reason I detest hit points (as they have been used in the past), but I live with it, use it, and I still enjoy these games for what they are :)

I'm sure we will be keeping these Sacred Cows till the end of time, and I'll still do my best to contribute to this game to make it the best d20 game we can possibly make.

Your Ability Scores are, one, refreshing...two, they make real sense...three, i like how you used them to Derive your other Attributes, which also make more sense.

So, I like you, your cool, and I hope a lot of your ideas get considered because you put a whole lot of work and time into this, and I think what you have here is great stuff.
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Re: A bunch of ideas...challenge to some basics

Postby Darl_Loh » Thu Mar 04, 2010 12:42 pm

Stacie_GmrGrl wrote:Or, you have your Primary and Secondary "Roles" then your "Power Source" can be an added Template with its own Talent Trees...and different Power Sources can be from different Modules...


Unless I am misunderstanding, I think this is pretty much what I initially suggested. I called the secondary Role a template, but like astralcataclysm pointed out, the templates basically amounted to a secondary Role.

Stacie_GmrGrl wrote:Just going along with this...why not you pick your Primary as your "Role"...ugh I hate that word, but I'll go with it for now...and this sets up your possible options...then have templates of Power sources, and your secondary choice, being the template, be the actual Power Source... So you can pick your "Role" and your "Power Source", and each can have their own Talent trees to pick from...


I think the point astralcataclysm was getting at is that it is very hard to make up talents that aren't tied to some kind of power source without the talent being completely generic and boring. The reason being is that the line between a power source and a theme is almost nonexistent. For instance, what would a generic guardian talent tree for melee attacks look like?...and what would be the difference between that and a power source: martial guardian talent tree for melee attacks. I think the power source: martial talent tree is relatively easy to envision. However, I can't think of a guardian talent tree that doesn't end up based on some sort of theme, which for all intents and purposes ends up being a power source.

Stacie_GmrGrl wrote:Your Ability Scores are, one, refreshing...two, they make real sense...three, i like how you used them to Derive your other Attributes, which also make more sense.


Yeah, I wanted to go with the derived scores for combat stats (attack and defense) for three reasons:
1) It makes characters assign scores based more on their character concept rather than their desired combat effect. For instance a physically dominating character with Phy 9, Int 6, Acu 6, Ma 8, Pre 6 has a Reaction of 7 and a Reflex Defense of 17. A mentally dominating character with Phy 5, Ma 4, Int 8, Acu 8, Pre 7 has Reaction 7 and Reflex Defense 17. Same as the physically dominating one. Even 4e which paired up mental/social stats with a physical stat still encourages characters to max out 2-3 ability scores for combat effect. Not build a character concept. Having a system where different ability score builds average out to the same effect in combat is just a good thing IMO.
2) It elegantly (IMO) allows for special attacks to have a better chance of success without having to add additional bonuses. For instance the swordsman that focuses on feints and other deceptive techniques will likely have a higher Pre than his Reaction. If he takes talents that use Pre + Skill + Level than he will be at a slight advantage in his special attack over a regular reaction based attack. The same thing could be said of a swordsman that prefers acrobatic style attacks as he might get talents that use Phy + Skill + Level to determine the attack bonus.
3) Like you say, it just makes sense intuitively. I think skills are fine to assign to one specific ability score (in most cases) but for combat stats there are so many variables that I think an average describes it much better than a simply assigning a specific ability or the best one out of two abilities to a particular combat attribute.

Stacie_GmrGrl wrote:If I had to choose one, my ability scores or using the derived scores for the basic attack and defense numbers, I can't decide which I would rather see. So, I like you, your cool, and I hope a lot of your ideas get considered because you put a whole lot of work and time into this, and I think what you have here is great stuff.


Thanks, your not so bad yourself :D ...and I hope they get due consideration as well.
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Re: A bunch of ideas...challenge to some basics

Postby Stacie_GmrGrl » Sun Mar 07, 2010 2:06 pm

Awww thank you Darl_Loh ... your sweet.

What I meant by Power Source is things like, and of course these are examples:

Super Powers
Magic
Psionics
Elemental
Chi
etc, etc...

Basically, those alternate power sources that would probably also be a part of different module genre's... That add to the character but are still seperate enough to have their own "Role" or "Template" consideration.
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Re: A bunch of ideas...challenge to some basics

Postby Imagist » Sun Mar 07, 2010 2:28 pm

Stacie_GmrGrl wrote:Awww thank you Darl_Loh ... your sweet.

What I meant by Power Source is things like, and of course these are examples:

Super Powers
Magic
Psionics
Elemental
Chi
etc, etc...

Basically, those alternate power sources that would probably also be a part of different module genre's... That add to the character but are still seperate enough to have their own "Role" or "Template" consideration.


The thing about balancing different modules which has eluded me thusfar has been power sources. In 4e D&D I think they did it right when they allowed a character to draw power from a single source that sort of transended yet unified all of the character's abilities. The issue I foresee with mixing different power sources is adding places on the character sheet to denote which of a character's abilities are drawn from Heroics, Magic, Psionics, or Super Heroics. Some talents could potentially be powered by multiple power sources (such as Clairvoyance or Telekinesis, both falling into Magic and Psionics). Mechanically there is nothing different between Magic Telekinesis and Psionic Telekinesis except maybe verbal/stomatic components, yet the two mechanics would more then likely be printed seperately in two different modules. I see this as a waste of space in the final book.

One way to resolve this is to allow each character to choose a power source during character creation (most likely Heroics) that could change later if the character gained access to a different power source from a module (such as magic or psionics). In such a case, a character's Heroic traits and talents would become powered by their new power source (enhanced strength or agility due to magically infusing energy into ones own body or mental discipline). A listing of FX talents, that is talents outside the normal reach of Heroic power sources (or those that are simply Super Heroic) become available to players whose characters qualify for such talent trees. In this way, the mechanics are printed once, and inherently balanced with one another, and are inherently built to be customizable and "flavored" by the player or GM to meet the specific themes of a player's character.

Going along these lines, I would suggest an FX section for the core book using "Super Heroics" as the main avenue for accessing these new talent trees. Magic and Psionic modules would allow access to these FX talent trees in a similar fashion along with maybe a Martial Arts (Chi) source. Just an idea.
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Re: A bunch of ideas...challenge to some basics

Postby Stacie_GmrGrl » Mon Mar 08, 2010 3:05 am

Imagist wrote:
Stacie_GmrGrl wrote:Awww thank you Darl_Loh ... your sweet.

What I meant by Power Source is things like, and of course these are examples:

Super Powers
Magic
Psionics
Elemental
Chi
etc, etc...

Basically, those alternate power sources that would probably also be a part of different module genre's... That add to the character but are still seperate enough to have their own "Role" or "Template" consideration.


The thing about balancing different modules which has eluded me thusfar has been power sources. In 4e D&D I think they did it right when they allowed a character to draw power from a single source that sort of transended yet unified all of the character's abilities. The issue I foresee with mixing different power sources is adding places on the character sheet to denote which of a character's abilities are drawn from Heroics, Magic, Psionics, or Super Heroics. Some talents could potentially be powered by multiple power sources (such as Clairvoyance or Telekinesis, both falling into Magic and Psionics). Mechanically there is nothing different between Magic Telekinesis and Psionic Telekinesis except maybe verbal/stomatic components, yet the two mechanics would more then likely be printed seperately in two different modules. I see this as a waste of space in the final book.

One way to resolve this is to allow each character to choose a power source during character creation (most likely Heroics) that could change later if the character gained access to a different power source from a module (such as magic or psionics). In such a case, a character's Heroic traits and talents would become powered by their new power source (enhanced strength or agility due to magically infusing energy into ones own body or mental discipline). A listing of FX talents, that is talents outside the normal reach of Heroic power sources (or those that are simply Super Heroic) become available to players whose characters qualify for such talent trees. In this way, the mechanics are printed once, and inherently balanced with one another, and are inherently built to be customizable and "flavored" by the player or GM to meet the specific themes of a player's character.

Going along these lines, I would suggest an FX section for the core book using "Super Heroics" as the main avenue for accessing these new talent trees. Magic and Psionic modules would allow access to these FX talent trees in a similar fashion along with maybe a Martial Arts (Chi) source. Just an idea.


Well, this was one of the reasons I have spoken of creating a universal power system that would work for all power sources, and you give the modularity to the gamemaster for her to set up so she can determine if the powers in her game are magic and spells, or super powers, or psionics, and then give the modularity inn design so the power system can be skill based, energy/mana/magic point based, talent based, chi based or supers based or whatever it is she describes as what it is for her campaign.

To have a universal role playing game means that the whole system has to be universal and capable of handling just about any genre, and really only a universal power system can do that. We don't call it Magic, or Supers, or Psionics, we just call it Powers, and then through the Powers System we provide the tools to allow for full modularity so the players can define it as Magic/Supers/Chi/Psionics/Whatever it is they want to call it. I don't think it will be as hard as some people will believe it to be.
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Re: A bunch of ideas...challenge to some basics

Postby Stacie_GmrGrl » Mon Mar 08, 2010 3:26 am

I don't know about everybody else, but I would really like for e20 to take some real chances with the system and be different than other d20 games, while of course being similar enough for everybody to recognize it...but definately some chances and liberties with how d20 has been the last few years.

One are that I think should really be addressed and considered for some real possible changes is Attributes. Now, I know that they are familiar, and people recognize them, but they are old. LIke, 30 years plus old (I am right on that, 30 years plus old part...at least 25 years) and roleplaying games have come a long way since then. Our own interpretations of them have changed, and it might be a good time, and a great idea, to change them as well. Be it name changes, or even a further redefinition of them, like in Darl_Loh's post. Maybe we can be the one d20 game that does do this different than the rest, be the one d20 game that break away from the rest...just changing the names alone will make e20 more of a unique d20 game. And anything that gets this game noticed will only be a good thing.

Going with combat skills is amazing, unfortunately sticking with static defenses is just my personal beef with the game, but opposed rolls lead to more dynamic, cinematic experiences, well, from my experiences. Players like to roll dice, as you've all stated, and I think all players would like the opportunity to choose their own defense against an incoming attack and make the roll to succeed against the attack.

Having attack/damage roll system is cool, but we need to add something to that to diversify e20 from the rest of the pack.

There are other things, but its late and I'm getting sleeeppyy.
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Re: A bunch of ideas...challenge to some basics

Postby fodigg » Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:58 am

I'm with you, Stacie_GmrGrl, but I think we'll be getting a system very similar to SWSE. Which I'm ok with although that wouldn't be what I prefer.
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Re: A bunch of ideas...challenge to some basics

Postby Darl_Loh » Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:24 pm

Stacie_GmrGrl wrote:Awww thank you Darl_Loh ... your sweet.

What I meant by Power Source is things like, and of course these are examples:

Super Powers
Magic
Psionics
Elemental
Chi
etc, etc...

Basically, those alternate power sources that would probably also be a part of different module genre's... That add to the character but are still seperate enough to have their own "Role" or "Template" consideration.


Ahhh...I think I see what you mean. If I am right, I really like your idea. Let me give you an example to be sure.

Let’s say we are playing a supers genre. I am making my character. So first I choose my Role. My character is a pretty tough and a trained MMA fighter so I choose Defender. I can now choose talents from the defender talent trees.

Now I choose my super “Power Source.” So I choose Telekinesis. But within Telekinesis I can choose to focus my Telekinesis to do one of the 4 roles; Striker- hit people with telekinetic force, Defender- telekinetic shields and the like, Controller- move or stop opponents on the battlefield, Leader- buff my allies with telekinetic stuff. And if we really want to get crazy within each Power Source/Role combo I could have 2 different templates. Such as Telekinetic Controller: Multitasker- +1 to hit bonus on talents which target multiple opponents, Enduring- any effect produced by a telekinetic talent that a save can end lasts one additional round after a successful save.

Did I get it right this time?

On the universal power thing: I was going off the assumption that the core book would be just core and would probably only include stuff for a “realistic setting.” I.E. all capabilities are at the movie action hero level. Nothing supernatural. I assumed anything like that would come in a specific genre book. Not that I am against a universal, Power Source- less group of abilities. But when I say Power Source I am generally thinking in terms of effects not literally the source of Power. Like I would say “Super Physique” as the Power Source for super strength regardless of whether said strength was gained from radiation, mutation or a bite by a radiated spider. The only time I think the underlying Power Source might become important is in certain genres. For instance, the Force in Star Wars. Essentially it is magic but it has very defined uses according to the setting. So if we just applied a generic set of telepathy talents to Force Users in Star Wars you would probably end up with characters being able to do stuff that didn’t fit Star Wars. By the same token, the clairvoyance, enhanced reflexes and enhanced physiques capabilities that Force Users display allow them to do some very specific stuff in regard to Lightsaber combat/Lightsaber Forms. So I think a generic system covering those Power Sources (clairvoyance, enhanced reflexes and enhanced physique) wouldn’t cover certain Jedi capabilities correctly. And that is something I think we will have to accept. The system simply can’t do everything 100%. You will need to modify to get certain genres correctly. Which I think you could definitely do given what we are talking about here.
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Re: A bunch of ideas...challenge to some basics

Postby Stacie_GmrGrl » Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:41 am

Darl_Loh wrote:
Stacie_GmrGrl wrote:Awww thank you Darl_Loh ... your sweet.

What I meant by Power Source is things like, and of course these are examples:

Super Powers
Magic
Psionics
Elemental
Chi
etc, etc...

Basically, those alternate power sources that would probably also be a part of different module genre's... That add to the character but are still seperate enough to have their own "Role" or "Template" consideration.


Ahhh...I think I see what you mean. If I am right, I really like your idea. Let me give you an example to be sure.

Let’s say we are playing a supers genre. I am making my character. So first I choose my Role. My character is a pretty tough and a trained MMA fighter so I choose Defender. I can now choose talents from the defender talent trees.

Now I choose my super “Power Source.” So I choose Telekinesis. But within Telekinesis I can choose to focus my Telekinesis to do one of the 4 roles; Striker- hit people with telekinetic force, Defender- telekinetic shields and the like, Controller- move or stop opponents on the battlefield, Leader- buff my allies with telekinetic stuff. And if we really want to get crazy within each Power Source/Role combo I could have 2 different templates. Such as Telekinetic Controller: Multitasker- +1 to hit bonus on talents which target multiple opponents, Enduring- any effect produced by a telekinetic talent that a save can end lasts one additional round after a successful save.

Did I get it right this time?


Sort of, but yea :)

On the universal power thing: I was going off the assumption that the core book would be just core and would probably only include stuff for a “realistic setting.” I.E. all capabilities are at the movie action hero level. Nothing supernatural. I assumed anything like that would come in a specific genre book. Not that I am against a universal, Power Source- less group of abilities. But when I say Power Source I am generally thinking in terms of effects not literally the source of Power. Like I would say “Super Physique” as the Power Source for super strength regardless of whether said strength was gained from radiation, mutation or a bite by a radiated spider. The only time I think the underlying Power Source might become important is in certain genres. For instance, the Force in Star Wars. Essentially it is magic but it has very defined uses according to the setting. So if we just applied a generic set of telepathy talents to Force Users in Star Wars you would probably end up with characters being able to do stuff that didn’t fit Star Wars. By the same token, the clairvoyance, enhanced reflexes and enhanced physiques capabilities that Force Users display allow them to do some very specific stuff in regard to Lightsaber combat/Lightsaber Forms. So I think a generic system covering those Power Sources (clairvoyance, enhanced reflexes and enhanced physique) wouldn’t cover certain Jedi capabilities correctly. And that is something I think we will have to accept. The system simply can’t do everything 100%. You will need to modify to get certain genres correctly. Which I think you could definitely do given what we are talking about here.


The core book has to provide all the necessary tools in one shot. That, from what I'm reading on what Gary is Advertising, is Absolute. There is no way around this. If we do not provide the tools to represent multiple genres and multiple power levels, than we have failed and we failed to give players what we advertised as the purpose of this entire project. And we would have made a game that did not live up to expectations, and in my heart and mind we would have lied to them.

I mean, if you were told that you were buying a game that is "UNIVERSAL" and "GENRELESS" and then you bought the core book and that book then told you: This game is universal, but if you want the magic rules (or Power System rules) wait for "Other e20 Book," wouldn't you be a bit peeved? I'd be freaking pissed off and I would write that company off my list from who to buy games from.

A Generic Powers System, IMO, is best as an Effects based system, like BASH, HERO, M&M, etc, where we have a Power called Telekinesis, but then the Players can pick Telekinesis, and with a simple limitation like "Only with Fire" and it becomes Pyrokinesis, wa la... Simple. Or, within Telekinesis, have multiple elements of Force Push, Lift Object, Pick up Person and Strangle Him :) type of power effects all be part of Telekinesis.

BASH has a really simple Effects based system that is amazing. I just found it and it is so neat and simple, way more simple than M&M and HERO System. Savage Worlds is another good example of having a list of powers that are universal, but different types of Sources take them and customize them some with different trappings (descriptions effectively) and different ways of using them.

The other reason to consider it is that, in an Effects based system, the gamemaster can set the limits on what is allowed and not allowed much easier... if its The Force, than the gamemater can set the guidelines for the powers that the players can come up with and it gives the gamemaster more veto power if a player comes up with a power that really contradicts The Force as we've come to know it.
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Re: A bunch of ideas...challenge to some basics

Postby Darl_Loh » Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:05 pm

I see your point. I guess how much I would be angry would be what I actually expected to be in the book. Obviously the two of us had different perceptions about what was going to be in the core rulebook. Regardless, I think the system you are talking would work great. I haven't seen the BASH system but being able to apply certain restrictions (no Fire) seems like a good idea. The only thing problem I would see with GM veto is in some cases the the GM might have to veto almost everything from certain stuff. For instance, if I recall correctly even great Force using telepaths could still only send extremely short messages or emotions (for great distances). So a character choosing the telepathy Power Source gets screwed because their is like one talent he can get. And more appropriately, the base telepathy shouldn't even really be a talent. It should just be something the character can do because it is Force Sensitive. The point being, that we can't possibly cover accurately every affect from every specific potential game world. That is not to say we can't have a very broad universal talents/powers list that can cover almost every generic genre. I.E. you can pick up the core rulebook and play a superhero game, a modern game, a heroic fantasy game or any other genre with a little imagination. I am just saying that specific franchises would likely still need to make some modifications. That was something else I understand the point of the rules system to be; that it would allow third party publishers to take the baseline game and modify it for a specific genre or game world. For instance, I wouldn't expect the core rulebook to tell me everything I need to know to play a swashbuckling campaign. Sure, I should expect to be able to create a pretty good one with the rules that I have. But it would still be great to have specific book for that genre with swordfight schools, ship battle rules, etc.
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Re: A bunch of ideas...challenge to some basics

Postby Stacie_GmrGrl » Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:56 pm

Well of course other publishers are going to add their own twists and tweaks to fit their own settings :) That's the nature of who we are as people.

But I believe thet e20 can provide most, if not all, of the possible options for different genre's and campaign possibilities... Maybe e20 describes the Swashbuckling genre and in that desription we provide a few examples of taking the basic e20 system and how it applies to the Swashbuckling genre, and then later down the line somebody else decides to write Swashbuckling e20 and takes what the base system provides and expands upon it to fit that specific genre.

This is something I see happening.
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Re: A bunch of ideas...challenge to some basics

Postby Darl_Loh » Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:20 am

Agreed. I think that would be best.
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