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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 70 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Troll Slayer] The role of spell caster characters  (Read 3949 times)
ffilz
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« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2006, 09:30:10 PM »

Joe - thanks for that thought. In some sense, I was reacting to support roles that I've seen in the past where the support character really wasn't an equal contributor. When a character contributes equally, but part of that contribution is making others shine, then that can work well. That's what we saw last night, the young wife went from playing a support character who couldn't contribute much beyond her support role to one who could contribute decently, but had an additional support role.

And ultimately that plays into what I've been working out in my head all along, that casters working in a support role where they can contribute more equally, and particularly, more consistently, then they work much better. What has attracted me all along to Cold Iron, and is something I want to capture, and improve upon in Troll Slayer, is that mages were support characters. Mages don't take out enemies by themselves, or even with the fighters just being meat shields. They provide support to the fighters, who do the real work (though the mage has opportunities to make noticeable contributions that earn them high fives also).

Ramidel - on playing a support character - it is true that quite frequently there is a player willing to take this role, but when the ability of the support character to contribute is noticeably less, it can be a trap for the quiet player. Perhaps they are having fun, but would they have more fun if they weren't caught in a trap? I have also seen groups struggle over who was going to play the boring cleric. D&D 3e has done several things to get the cleric out of this trap (allowing them to convert any spell to a healing spell is a big one, the domains also add interest so not all clerics are the same).

Joshua - good thoughts on making combat specials more map based. That is an area where I want to add something to. One thing that has always been a slight annoyance with Cold Iron is that a human normally can only be engaged by 4 other humans, but there are 6 hexes surrounding each hex. The problem I have is how to make it so people aren't overwhelmed by large forces, for example, Cold Iron allows two characters fighting back to back to only be engaged by 3 opponents each, where using hex based, would allow 4 on each, or 5 on one, and 3 on the other. Of course a square grid not allowing diagonals would restrict to the 4 opponents, but that gets real clunky (and a line vs line is absolutely restricted to 1 on 1, Cold Iron allows a line on line to still get 2 on 1s (with every other opponent not being attacked). I also appreciate the benefits of not using strict facing (that gets rid of most of the problem with Metagaming's Melee).

Hmm, just did some playing around... If a character occupies 2 or even 3 hexes, and has to have 2 hexes engaging the opposition, the number of opponents that can gang up is more limited. The only problem is that if the attack has to be to the middle of the 2 hex front, then the line only allows 1 on 1s.

A quick check on http://www.uspto.gov shows that Troll Slayer does not appear to be a registered trademark (though plenty of Dragon Slayer trade marks, and even Trout Slayer...). A google search didn't turn up anything other than the Warhammer Fantasy character type.

Well, off to start bashing out a first draft.

Frank
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Frank Filz
Jack Aidley
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« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2006, 05:59:52 AM »

An observation from the world of RTS's: as far as I can tell ALL tactically interesting combat comes from paper-scissor-stone. The best way to balance melee and magic is to add a third option (say... archery) which works in a paper-scissor-stone way so, say, magic beats archery, archery beats melee and melee beats magic. That way combat becomes about leveraging your strengths in the right way. The problem in applying this to your situation, of course, is (I presume) that each player controls a single character.

One idea that comes into my head is to base magic around summoning. Spell casters would work by bringing multiple smaller units onto the battlefield under their control, while fighters would be the big hitting heroes of the piece.
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joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2006, 07:18:43 AM »

Ffilz, are you set on having each player control a single character?
What if each player controlled 1-4 (or so) characters?


That way, you could have people play a hero, and the support heroes, etc.
It would also give people more combat strategies...
Do I want to take a single brute, or a few weaker swashbucklers? (etc)
That's actually what I originally thought you were doing, before reading through a lot of this.

I think that would turn support characters into something really interesting, because you are now dealing with a small group dynamic...
That's just my thoughts.
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Troy_Costisick
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« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2006, 08:15:31 AM »

Heya,

Quote
That way, you could have people play a hero, and the support heroes, etc.
It would also give people more combat strategies...
Do I want to take a single brute, or a few weaker swashbucklers? (etc)
That's actually what I originally thought you were doing, before reading through a lot of this.

-The fact that you want to use minatures in-game would support this.  I like that idea.

Peace,

-Troy
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ffilz
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« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2006, 09:22:50 AM »

I agree with the rock-scissors-paper analogy to a point. What is important is that no strategic choice is clearly superior (character type is a strategic choice). In that sense, I don't think it has to be a triumvirate. Rock-scissors-paper needs to be a triumvirate to work because of it's simplicity.

Another way to get tactical interest is to make the game so complex it's virtually unsolveable. This is much of what makes chess interesting (though with computers becoming more and more powerfull, eventually not be remotely fun to play a computer, and it's remotely possible that the computer will discover a winning strategy).

In general, I don't want the game to rely on multiple characters. With a small group of players, it may require multiple characters, but I've generally seen resistance to that from players, unless the individual characters are very simple, which I think makes a long term role playing game less attractive (I know it can work for a short term role playing game because that's just what Evil Stevie's Pirate Game does when played in campaign/role playing mode).

Of course animal companions are one way to hav e multiple characters. Summoning is another way.

Frank
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Frank Filz
joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #20 on: February 09, 2006, 10:00:02 AM »

Quote
but I've generally seen resistance to that from players, unless the individual characters are very simple

Really?

In general, I would disagree with this.

I loved playing skirmish battles in Warhammer...
I know that other games involve small warbands, and they function great.



I think that with 2-3 characters, you can still get as in-depth as with 1 per player.
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ffilz
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« Reply #21 on: February 09, 2006, 10:18:40 AM »

Yea, I really have seen the resistance. Part of the resistance may be irrational because players do seem happy running animal companions and such. The workability of it may depend on whether the game is party oriented, or player vs player oriented. I know as a GM, I would be worried about how much harder it would be to prep for a larger party, and how much more complex the combats would be.

On the other hand, the warband idea may provide a solution to another issue with tactical combat games - how does the player continue to make contributions when his character is out of action? With a warband, the player is less likely to have all his characters out of action (and if he does, another player may be quite happy to let him control some of her secondary characters).

I'll have to give the idea some thought. This thread is being very helpful to me in making me challenge assumptions.

Frank
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Frank Filz
joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 569

Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #22 on: February 09, 2006, 10:28:07 AM »

Quote
how does the player continue to make contributions when his character is out of action? With a warband, the player is less likely to have all his characters out of action (and if he does, another player may be quite happy to let him control some of her secondary characters).


Also, think about this:
Maybe Tom decides that he will play a local hero, clad in armour. He spends his "points" (or however it is worked) all on this one hero, and this guy will own in combat.

And Jim decides that he is going to field a local militia squad. He divides his "points" between 4 guys, armed with pitchforks and crossbows. These guys will fall hard if they enter combat alone, but have strength in numbers.

And Mark decides to field a travelling duo: The holy warrior (smashy paladin who carries a giant hammer) and the friar who accompanies him (a less powerful character who has tracking skills, and healing skills, and can perform minor "prayers"... or however the system works...)

You have:
A.) The solo character
B.) The small band
C.) The primary and support

In the end, any of these groups can function together. They are all townsfolk - the town hero is sent in with the militia to back him, and the church believes it is in their interest to help...

Or, these groups can function against each other. Maybe the militia has started a revolt, and the hero is the Mayor's personal champion.
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Josh Roby
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Category Three Forgite


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« Reply #23 on: February 09, 2006, 10:48:15 AM »

On the other hand, the warband idea may provide a solution to another issue with tactical combat games - how does the player continue to make contributions when his character is out of action? With a warband, the player is less likely to have all his characters out of action (and if he does, another player may be quite happy to let him control some of her secondary characters).

Or yank a page from Matt Wilson's Galactic, and have each player have a primary character and then play the other players' support characters.

So I play Harthath the Barbarian Champion.  You play Sonoma the Wine Mage.  I also play Sonoma's bodyguard, and you play Harthath's sidekick.
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dindenver
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« Reply #24 on: February 09, 2006, 12:51:51 PM »

Hi!
  I thik what you need to do is come up with different mechanics for generating DPS (Damage Per Second/Round). Make sure that they are all equal and then assign one to each class (casters included).
Example:
Accuracy
DMG/Hit
ROF
Reload time
Area of effect
Armor Piercing

  And balance out defensive techniques so that all chars are equal this way too:
Example:
HP Total
DMG Reduction
Defensive Rating
DMG Reflection
Attack Avoidance
Detection Avoidance (Inability to be targetted)

  Again, make sure they are mechanically balanced and assign one to each class. Of course, each class will have elements of the other Offenses and Defenses, but to a much lesser extent.
  Just an idea, I think something like this might help. PM me if you want some elaboration.
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Dave M
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Ramidel
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« Reply #25 on: February 09, 2006, 05:57:26 PM »


Ramidel, it sounds like you pictured someone who can probably hold their own... but who excels in strengthening those around them. This person boosts the whole team to success, and does so selflessly.
The best examples of what you seem to be picturing are the commanders, the leaders, and the "buff"ers.

Exactly. I'd envisioned more of a D&D (3e) cleric than anything...one who can stand on the field and hack (not like a fighter of course) and who also acts as buffer/commander.

So, we have two ideas on the table, warband or "cleric." (Or both.) I have to say I like the warband idea. Get 5 players each with 1-5 characters and you have anywhere from 5-25 characters of differing power, with some being support magi, some being a ton of iron, muscle and destruction, and some being there to surround the enemy and mob them to death.

Problem with this would of course be to make the 5-weakling band balanced against Fighter and Fighter With Support.
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joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #26 on: February 09, 2006, 06:17:26 PM »

Quote
Problem with this would of course be to make the 5-weakling band balanced against Fighter and Fighter With Support.

If he was going to go this route (warbands) there are several ways to balance this out.
If you don't want to do warbands, this probably won't be of much help.

First of all, the smaller the window for how many characters you can have is... the easier it will be to balance.
Having a cap of 3 or 4 characters would be easier to balance than having a cap of 5.
Personally, I favour a cap of 4.

In small warband games I have played, with miniatures... (warhammer skirmish, Inquisitor, a few others...)
the key to balancing characters/units is balancing effectiveness with stability.

The single character has to have the edge when it comes to cleaving through enemies. For it to balance out, he needs to be able to plow through several enemies, unsupported, before collapsing.
He is given the higher effectiveness - higher stats and a wicked arsenal.

However, the lone ranger lacks stability in comparison to the warband of 4 runts. Maybe he has twice as many hitpoints as one of those dudes. However, that means that he only has 20 HP to their collective 40.
Also, the runts can use swarm tactics, can shield each other, and if a devastating hero-killer fireball hits, only 1/4 of your force will be lost (instead of all of it.)
However, as stated above, these runts won't be the walking butcher shop that a lone hero will be.

So, a single hero is a lot like a glass cannon.
A hero and supporter gives you a heavy hitting force and a bit more stability to him...
2-3 heroes are often one of the best balances, giving you good stability with a fair offense.
And 4 runts will keep you in the game longer, but won't bring the pain.


Anyways, that's my personal suggestion as to how you would balance warbands.
But... that's assuming you want them at all, ffilz?
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ffilz
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« Reply #27 on: February 09, 2006, 07:15:52 PM »

I'm pretty much thinking I don't want warbands. A 2nd backup character might be more reasonable.

One other issue with warbands, I do like to do the odd dungeon type adventure (though I don't go for the multi-level monstrosities of D&D). Warbands become very problematical in such a situation.

It is helpful to think about the warband idea though, because it opens the possibility of balancing some character choices with a 2nd character.

Frank
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Frank Filz
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