*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
October 31, 2014, 10:41:06 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 71 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: Power Depth and Width  (Read 955 times)
ADGBoss
Member

Posts: 384


WWW
« on: September 12, 2002, 05:03:32 AM »

I have been working on some of the Powers for Seraphim and had written myself a pretty long list of powers, many of which were related to one another.  So I started a new list where I listed an uber power and everything under it. This looked better and seemed more organized but I was thinking what sort of mechanic can we have to make this work.

An idea struck me... when a character "improves" his or her Power, instead of improvement you get what I called an exceptional.

For example: Endurance Drain. The power drains the endurance of the target. So you have Endurance Drain: Trained (0) it means you know how to use the power. When experience (in whatever currency I finally get) is gained to send the power to Endurance Drain: Experienced (1) instead the player can broaden or widen the power.

Now here is one of the conundrums: Should Endurance Drain / Coma become essentially a new power which can be improved? As an Exceptional its really a broadening of the base power...

Here are some examples of thoughts

Endurance Drain: Trained (0) Coma (0)
or
Endurance Drain: Trained (0)
-Coma (0)
or
Endurance Drain: Trained (0) Coma

Should Coma go up in ability alongside the main Power or as a seprate Power set?

Thoughts?

Oh and to explain the Trained (0) stuff: In Seraphim (and the Devilfyre System in particular) The base level of Skill/Power ability is "0" ie you know how to use it. So while you are proficient with the skill, you are not exceptional in it yet.  

Thanks in advance

SMH
ADGBoss
Logged

jdagna
Member

Posts: 563


WWW
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2002, 05:36:09 AM »

Ultimately, it sounds like an issue that only you're going to be able to decide for yourself.  The mechanics can be made to work in any way.  However, I'll offer up my understanding of what you posted and see if it helps.

Does Endurance Drain have powers of its own, thereby needing a skill rating of its own?  If this isn't the case, then I would definitely keep the classification for the powers included under it (like Coma), but use the Endurance Drain: Coma (1) kind of method.

If Endurance Drain has some default functions and powers like Coma are just an extension of that, then one of the other notations might work better.  One thing to consider: are the powers additive?  Does improving your Endurance Drain base ability also improve Coma?  By naming them something like Endurance Drain (0) Coma (0), it implies a connection in my mind.

If there's no connection, you might just have them listed as Endurance Drain (0), Endurance Drain: Coma (0) just to make it clear that they are two different abilities, even if somewhat related in function.

And, of course, it could work fine if Coma were just a technique that added features on to Endurance Drain.  In other words, Endurance Drain has certain base powers and a skill rating.  Coma has no skill rating, and only functions to add something to Endurance Drain.  Using my limited understanding of theif function, Endurance Drain might just tire someone out, while having coma adds the ability to knock them out.

I don't think any one mechanic is better than another necessarily, but it depends on how you want things to work.  Personally, I like the last option I talked about, just because I've always liked skills/abilities/powers that are switches (you have it or you don't).  Hopefully, you have a conception of the powers that will help you decide which mechanic reflects the system best.
Logged

Justin Dagna
President, Technicraft Design.  Creator, Pax Draconis
http://www.paxdraconis.com
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2002, 06:39:16 AM »

Hello,

I have a slightly different viewpoint from Justin, mainly because the mention of things like "skill ratings" already presupposes a lot about the game design.

My view toward powers of the sorts you describe arises from a bezillion games of Champions, and the way that our group(s) tended to approach the point-system and concepts there.

Let's do an example. In game terms, a fellow might start with an electro-energy blast and a shock-field. Over time, the player "buys" an added ability, say, teleporting through electrical wires or whatever.

I eventually came to think that powers were never, or rarely, "add-ons," but rather "elaborations." The character has "electricity" as the power, and whatever he does with it, he does. No one application "is" the power; it's the "entity" or even "concept" that's the power.

(Granted, some super-characters work better for this than others; some powers are add-ons.)

POINT ONE
Conceptually, this elaboration falls into two categories: (1) the character is extending and developing and "maturing" the uses of his power, like the X-Men in their Danger Room; (2) the character is merely revealing uses of the power that he hadn't done yet, from a reader point of view. In game-world terms, he "could have," but he just didn't before now (and couldn't have, in game-mechanics terms).

In our play of Champions, neither of these had any real meaning in game-mechanics terms. That point is worth considering; I recommend letting these categories merely be Color.

POINT TWO
We took this notion to a pretty far extreme, given a certain twist in the rules that showed up in the mid-80s. We'd found that not even the Champions techniques of "multipowers" and "elemental controls" organized these changes to our liking.

Instead, we made use of the vari-pool concept, a rules-idea that crept into Champions via a supplement and (in my opinion) was never recognized for its amazing potential. In this case, the character owned a "pool" of points that the player divvied up into whatever powers he wanted at the moment, as long as they were explained in "electrical" terms, in the case of this example.

Best,
Ron
Logged
wyrdlyng
Member

Posts: 193


WWW
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2002, 08:10:06 AM »

What you're talking about is what the old Marvel Superheroes game referred to as Power Stunts. Power stunts were trick you learned to do with your power which expanded a power as you described rather than increasing the power's intensity. This is hella common in many comics and while I'm not familiar with Seraphim if you're doing something like comics this should work.

Example, Storm of the X-Men. Base power for her would be Weather Control. Stunts she developed over time: flight using the winds, projecting lightning from her body in addition to calling it down from above, lowering the temperature around a specific target to freeze them, create mini-monsoons, flash flood a room, and many many more(tm). Another good example would be almost any speedster developing numerous "speed" and "wind" effects.

Addressing your second point, I would think to leave the skill rating to the base power and let it apply to these extended power uses as well.
Logged

Alex Hunter
Email | Web
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2002, 09:03:04 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Instead, we made use of the vari-pool concept, a rules-idea that crept into Champions via a supplement and (in my opinion) was never recognized for its amazing potential. In this case, the character owned a "pool" of points that the player divvied up into whatever powers he wanted at the moment, as long as they were explained in "electrical" terms, in the case of this example.


I have to jump in here because the Variable Power Pool as it appeared in Hero System 4th edition (and continues to in 5th) is perhaps my favorite mechanic in any game anywhere. This one is really worth studying if you haven't. The best magic systems that I've ever seen were acomplished with this mechanic, and any design can benefit from the implications of this design.

I think that it works strongly into what Walt calls Congruence. People can view the mechanic from all sorts of rationales, but they all seem very satisfactory.

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
Le Joueur
Member

Posts: 1367


WWW
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2002, 09:29:07 AM »

Hey SMH!

Welcome to the fray.

While I appreciate all the advice given so far (and I'm a nuts and bolts, system junkie too), I think a couple of really core questions need to be asked.  Not so much from a 'how do I design it' frame of reference, but from a 'how is it supposed to look' point of view.

Quote from: For example, Ron Edwards
My view toward powers of the sorts you describe arises from a bezillion games of Champions, and the way that our group(s) tended to approach the point-system and concepts there.

Let's do an example. In game terms, a fellow might start with an electro-energy blast and a shock-field. Over time, the player "buys" an added ability, say, teleporting through electrical wires or whatever.

I eventually came to think that powers were never, or rarely, "add-ons," but rather "elaborations." The character has "electricity" as the power, and whatever he does with it, he does. No one application "is" the power; it's the "entity" or even "concept" that's the power.

...Instead, we made use of the vari-pool concept, a rules-idea that crept into Champions via a supplement and (in my opinion) was never recognized for its amazing potential. In this case, the character owned a "pool" of points that the player divvied up into whatever powers he wanted at the moment, as long as they were explained in "electrical" terms, in the case of this example.

What this talks about is point-based "elaborations" to the earlier powers.  And that works.

Quote from: wyrdlyng
What you're talking about is what the old Marvel Superheroes game referred to as Power Stunts. Power stunts were trick you learned to do with your power which expanded a power as you described rather than increasing the power's intensity. This is hella common in many comics and while I'm not familiar with Seraphim if you're doing something like comics this should work.

...Addressing your second point, I would think to leave the skill rating to the base power and let it apply to these extended power uses as well.

And what this talks about is "stunt"-based "elaborations."  That works too.

What hasn't been asked is what exactly you're trying to do.  Or rather maybe, what you're trying to 'prevent.'  Both of the above systems use their reward schemes to create a fair amount of limitation on these kinds of "elaboration."  The usual text is that it prevents 'godlike' characters from evolving.  (Granted that the Champions 'patch' went around this, it is hard to find anymore, so I won't go into it.)

What has to be asked is, what's wrong with 'godlike' characters?  I hate to say it, but in the mainstream American comics these examples are based on, such "elaborations" were largely driven by the needs of the plot at hand.  It wasn't as though the characters had these potentials or were expected to develop at all.  The plot puts them in dire straits and the writer invents a plot device (the "elaborations") to get them out.  And that's part of the problem.  Very frequently these "elaborations" were subsequently abandoned.

    (Oh, occasionally a future writer might take interest in one and 'bring it back,' but largely they 'disappear.'  Heck, the reverse is also true; take Marvel's Wolverine for example.  At first he was written as a scrappy, short guy with special gloves; over time it was 'revealed' that he had an adamantium skeleton, arm-receptacles for the claws, a healing factor, and et cetera.  Each of these "elaborations" were usually instituted to explain how the character had been doing things all along and getting away with it; that makes them retroactive plot devices.)[/list:u]The point is these game systems are creating strict
system limitations on the institution of (what turn out to be) fairly common story plot devices, each with it's own way of limiting them.  Is that how you want your game to play?  Players 'working up to' adding these "elaborations" permanently?  I mean, there's nothing wrong with that; if it's a goal you'd like the players to have for their characters, then go for it.

But what if that isn't what you want?

In Scattershot we wrestled with this one for a long time; we wanted character development Mechanix that were smooth and quick and weren't disruptive when the group's play style warranted frequent use.  Eventually we took our rewards system, which already allowed for the creation of plot devices, and merged it to our character development Mechanix.  (It worked out exceptionally well for 'Soap Opera' style play were character background elements are almost always revealed incredibly after the fact and expected to be permanent and this is done very frequently.)

What does that mean in superheroics?  Well, if your bacon is in the fire and you need an "elaboration" to get you out, you just use a little of your rewards and create a temporary "elaboration."  This is so easy that you can do this with the same one again and again.  If you find that you like the "elaboration," you can add it to your character at any time, even that first time (although permanency is tiny bit more expensive).  We go even a little farther, because if you find you have one that you hardly use, you can 'lose it' and recover some of the 'costs.'

How does that play?  If your group's play style is more in the looser '80s style of comic, you can pop out with just about any "elaboration" you want.  If your more rooted in the '70s, then they can be used as careful 'growth' for the character.  (I'm generalizing here, let's not argue about comic book history, I'm not sure I have it right.)  It's really connected with the frequency of the rewards.  (More rewards allow and suggest more 'plot devices;' fewer go for the 'save it up for permanent' style.)  Rewards frequency is a function of group playing style and should probably be mentioned before gaming together.  (One neat feature of Scattershot is that 'when the chips are down' according to a concept each game is built upon, its Genre Expectations, your character gets an extra 'boost' to help them out with meeting the Genre Expectations, just because "that's how those stories go.")

You've gotta ask yourself if you want a game with slow incremental increases in "elaborations" and then how you might limit that or if you want a different 'feel.'  (Like a raucous, 'anything in a pinch' flexible game and whether there needs to be mechanical limitations at all.)

Fang Langford
Logged

Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!
ADGBoss
Member

Posts: 384


WWW
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2002, 03:49:23 AM »

As usual all of this good advice is heartedly appreciated.

Alot of my thinking has been influenced over time by Marvel AND HEro systems as well as BRP when it comes to powers and magic etc.

The last post however, asked What am I looking to do or prevent? A good question and I will try and answer it as best I can

The Exceptionals serve a number of functions. The first being to offer some variety to the character, instead of linear progression one can broaden the power much like the old Power Stunts from the afore mentioned Marvel. This prevents a cookie cutter effect that all characters who take Power A essentially do the same thing.

The second is a design decision, to better organize the plethora of possible powers available under sub-sets. Purely organization and really secondary to the above mechanic.

The third is that they offer a way to keep characters from rapidly maxing out their control (I will explain this in a second) on a given power or buying a bunch of low level powers and not being great at any one of them. Now I have no problem with a player doing the above, but many systems offer only that duality: get better ie deeper at one power or just get a bunch of powers.  Essentially Reason 1 and Reason 3 are linked.

Now some (hopefully) clarifications:
Power Levels: Trained (0) Experienced (1) Expert (2) etc... as a Seraphim gains insight and trains their control of Power X becomes greater...
Exceptionals: Instead of seeking greater control... the Seraphim seeks a broader knowledge of the Power

For example, Flight. A Seraph with a Fly (3) is an exceptional flyer who can probably go just about anywhere an dperform minor aerial moves. However, Seraph has Flight (1) Wind Shield. She can fly better then average BUT she can also create a force barrier with the afterwash of her flying.

I think I have decided to keep the Exceptionals the same control / training level of base Power btw

I invite more commentary though, peoples thoughts and any suggestions are always welcome.

SMH
ADGBoss
Logged

Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!