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Author Topic: Hero Wars in an Alternate Setting - Session 3  (Read 7046 times)
Mike Holmes
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« on: November 15, 2002, 11:29:16 AM »

Refer to the prior session here.

Summary
This may be the last summary of the action of play at least until other issues come up. At this point all the account of the action is doing is confirming that play is, indeed, working out well.

As the party dwindles, Killian has a flashback to his sorcerer school days as he's blasted by a "Dark Abolution" feat by the priestess's daughter. She desists, and pushes Killian aside, heading for the front gate.

Killian and Jerek, his sorcerer friend, head back to the root cellar to find out what happened back there. Turns out that the Priestess isn't dead anymore! She chokes some of the life out of Jerak, until Killian knocks her down with sizzling balls of anti-essence. He takes Jerek back to the house to recover.

Meanwhile there's a commotion caused by a man who's come up to the house saying that there's a dead guard at the gate. Salani investigates, with Killian stealthfuly following behind. Salani uses her newly aquired Affinity for Death (having become an Initiate after last session) to determine that the priestess's daughter caused the problem. She also uses it to track the priestess's daughter wanting to either reconcile with her, or get her focus.

As this happens, there yet another ruckus in the house and people emerge screaming. Shortly thereafter, Jerek comes out of the house, followed by the priestess (still not dead, but looking very much the worse for the wear), having retrieved the sacred tracts that she had loaned to Salani. Brandishing these, she chases Jerek out into the street slurring something about having to finish him now that she'd tasted his essence. Everyone get's into a conflict on the street. Salani throws in yet again with the priestess, and Killlian uses a relationship roll to get Jerek to turn around and fight on his side.

In the conflict the priestess is using a ritual to try and revive herself fully using Jerek's life-force (killling him). Lot's of competing magic and rituals go back and forth, and in a cataclysmic moment Josh uses a Hero Point to raise his side's success to critical, thus matching the other side's critical success. GM get's to rule in this case. After poling the players about what they want (as opposed to their charcter's goals which were pretty clear), I decided that Jerek was knocked near death, but that the priestess didn't get any of the power.

This concluded that conflict but immediately began a new one in which the priestess, now completely mindless with need for lifeforce, turned on the only target in her field of vision: Salani. Salani does not resist much, being conflicted about the whole situation. But Killian comes to her aid (lending all his APs), slamming more negative essence into the back of the priestess (I forgot the multiple opponent penalty). In the end, the priestess just coundn't maintain the rutual with all the interferece, and completely burnt out. Killian checks on Jerek, and finding him near death fires one last Netherball at the still form of the priestess and disintigrates her.

Salani picks up the holy tracts lying nearby, and immediately spends the hero point to cement her ownership of them (and their +6 Death Affinity augmentation).

Shocked by the turn of events she helps Killian take Jerek back to the Order's Headquarters. There with the help of the headmaster, and a wise Elven sorcerer, they devise a quick sorcerous ritual to siphon some of Killian's lifeforce back into Jerek. Which revives him to a stable though pained state. Salani is put up for the night, at the inn colocated with the order's building, and the session ends.


Notes
The players commented on how the mood had gone from light to dark in the story so far. They said this was a good thing, however. Which is cool. I'm still in the process of really establishing things for the long haul. We now hav Salani established in a lot of her relationships and priorities. Now, at the Sorcerer's Order, we'll try to do some of the same for Killian.

Once this is all estalished, we'll begin the hunt in earnest for a more long term conflict. Something the characters can perhaps be proactive towards rather than just being reactive as they have so far.

I'm posting notes on mechanics in a separate post below.

As always questions, comments and observations from the players, of course, and anyone else are welcome.

Mike
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2002, 11:38:06 AM »

In extended contests I allowed two augmenting traits to be rolled prior to combat to augment throughout. I like this because it means that an opponent's overall abilities are uncertain until the conflict is engaged and the auments rolled for.

Then I allowed players to further augment as they liked, by chosing "unrelated actions" in stead of taking exchanges (as per the rules). These lasted only until the next roll. Still, one can augment with a mundane power, and as many magical ones as one likes, as long as one does not roll it in the interim.

The only problem with this that I saw was that you could rarely augment with more than one trait at a time. Theoretically, you could do one mundane, and as many magical augments as you like. But as soon as you have one of any sort, the opponent usually calls for an exchange (instead of taking an unrelated action themselves) which then uses up your augment. So, in practice with this rule, the only way to get more than one augment in play is if the other player takes more than one unrelated action. Meaning he's probably also augmenting similarly.

This makes the multiple augment thing mostly unavailable in extended contests. There are a couple of solutions I can see for this:

1. Make augments made during a contest last for the duration. If I did this, I'd drop the free augment rule. This makes some sense, and is simple, but it means that some augment's that would only seem appropriate for one roll would be extended to many. I kinda like the one-shot augment concept.

2. Allow aument's to be saved and not used. This is a little weird, but, essemtially, I can save my +3 for a later roll if I don't want to use it on this one. Works, but seems strange.

3. Allow some augments to be defined as long-term, and others as one-shot. The question is how to balance these so that only the appropriate one will be used. I was thinking that the long term ones might be twice as difficult.

4. Allow players to roll the same augments after each roll to see if they "remain". This is a lot of rolling potentially, however, and does not match the feel that there are some things tht only augment short term, and some that only affect long-term.

This is not a huge issue, just somethig that I'm struggling with getting "just right".

Another thing I noted is that edges seem like a sort of moot thing to roll for in an extended conflict. Mechanically they make sense, but the fact that edges cancel means that as soon as one player takes an edge, another player may take another and cancel it out. As opposed to augmentations which will have some effects on ocasion even if opposed by similar augments (the comparison chart changes, especially if masteries are achieved by augments).

Mike
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contracycle
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« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2002, 01:07:30 PM »

I was going to add this to the other thread but lost it.

The other significant mechanical option for extended conflicts is allies, and they have some interesting aspects.  An ally is ability like any other, but it adds AP to the character in an extended conflict rather than altering the size of the TN.  This is distinct from augmentation in that the TN does not rise, so a high enough TN could still overcome a low TN with bags of AP.

Anyway, you could establish your early augments as constituting an ally and adding AP's.  It's highly likely in any exchange that they will finish it with fewer AP than they started, and so when they refresh to full TN, implicit in the next test, the bonus will no longer exist.  If they win AP and end the extended contest with more AP than they started, you could go either way.  Or you could ask for different rolls for such allies; perhaps an extended contest as a ritual to create such an ally.  Different conditions could be imposed for long term and short term allies.

It bears noting that the AP are derived from the ability used to start the contest; the TN actually rolled depends on the ability cited for an action.  After the initiation of the conflict, AP and TN are distinct.  This has the interesting consequence that you can start a fatal fight with a non-combat skill, as long as the final action plausibly describes violent death as the terms of the defeat (and thus is rolled with a combat ability TN).  This can be used for both movement and subterfuge.

I used this approach to resolve the issue of missile weapons to my satisfaction, and there is a post about that in the HW forum below.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2002, 02:07:50 PM »

Quote from: contracycle
The other significant mechanical option for extended conflicts is allies, and they have some interesting aspects.  An ally is ability like any other, but it adds AP to the character in an extended conflict rather than altering the size of the TN.  This is distinct from augmentation in that the TN does not rise, so a high enough TN could still overcome a low TN with bags of AP.
Right...we did a lot of AP lending...

Quote
Anyway, you could establish your early augments as constituting an ally and adding AP's.  It's highly likely in any exchange that they will finish it with fewer AP than they started, and so when they refresh to full TN, implicit in the next test, the bonus will no longer exist.
 
OK lets stop and look at what we have so far. It seems that you are suggesting that a character have the ability to lend himself AP. Or even just assume that he automatically gets them just like as if he were a group conflict. I'm with you so far, mechanically. But this would, of course end up with huge amounts of AP. I can see this potentially if we put a cap on the number of Traits that can augment.

As for staring new contests I waoud assume that the number would reset as per normal.

Quote
If they win AP and end the extended contest with more AP than they started, you could go either way.  Or you could ask for different rolls for such allies; perhaps an extended contest as a ritual to create such an ally.  Different conditions could be imposed for long term and short term allies.
Here's where you're starting to lose me. Are we talking about allies in a metaphoriocal sense still, or not?

Quote
It bears noting that the AP are derived from the ability used to start the contest; the TN actually rolled depends on the ability cited for an action.  After the initiation of the conflict, AP and TN are distinct.  This has the interesting consequence that you can start a fatal fight with a non-combat skill, as long as the final action plausibly describes violent death as the terms of the defeat (and thus is rolled with a combat ability TN).  This can be used for both movement and subterfuge.
This is how the rules work now. I'm not sure how lending yourself APs changes this.

Quote
I used this approach to resolve the issue of missile weapons to my satisfaction, and there is a post about that in the HW forum below.
I'll have to read that. But could you clarify here?

Mike
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contracycle
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« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2002, 06:45:27 PM »

My argument is: being an ally is in invisible switch inherent to any ability.  Or at least, that abilities designated as allies behave differently, but are mechanically indistinguishable.  The logic behind this is that the ally is an active entity, an actor in the contest.  But thats a concept that can be bent.

What gave me the idea was something I'd always found interesting in the DragonPass bopardgame - magicians had "Physical Agents" which were their own counter.  Other magicians had spirits; in both cases they were like a unit that acted on behalf of the magician in the stack combat resolution, they were a projection of the magicians power.  HW is very flexible, and the way it encourages vary opportunist interpretations of keywords suggests to me that on the basis of the physical agent model I can argue that in HW terms Arrows are the Physical Agent of an Archer.

What happens is this: the archers combat value is taken as the AP of a notional Ally which is projected into somebody elses contest.  The ally takes sides, being aimed at the enemy, and can be exploited by the friendly character in the contest - they gain the benfit of the AP [equal to the Archers Shoot Bow TN].  Thus the archer is effectively acting as an ally contributing to the contest - but by proxy.  For the archer, at this time, the stakes are not death because they are not themselves physically threatened.  Both the friendly and the enemy are at death-stakes.  So what happens if the archers proxy is destroyed in the battle?  According to HW, allies die off when the AP level drops below the lead characters TN; allies are cannonfodder and die in heaps before their glorious leader.  If we had a character with 20 TN and AP, who gained the benefit of a 10-point ally called "Hail of Arrows" [by proxy from another character], but who through attrition had gone from total 30 AP to 15 AP, this would imply that Hail of Arrows had been killed.  After all, Hail of Arrows is engaged in the same "melee" contest at death stakes as the friendly and the enemy.  As it happens, in DragonPass, Physical Agents could indeed be killed.  Bingo, whe Hail of Arrows is killed, the Archer has run out of ammo.  

All in all, I see no reason that I cannot claim a keyword like Hail of Arrows as an ally, it seems perfectly HW to me.  And its conceptually very useful; the Hail of Arrows model contains time, distance, and finite supplies.  From this I draw a broader principle, which IMO could be played out into a skirmish scale mechanic (I have already sketched out a card-based idea on this basis).  The implication of the hail of arrows model is that there is an important factor in determing the AP fielded in a given contest, and that is who is In and who is Out.  Furthermore, the stakes for all involved are not necessarily the same.  And, a contest could conceivably  "float" free of any given participants, relying instead on "churn" of allies and leaders.

Being a member of contest is a binary condition; you either are or are not contributing AP to the conflict.  The AP level which you contribute to is equal to the TN of the ability with which you enter the contest, i.e. take an action toward its resolution.  However, your goals in the contest and the methods you use may change.  According to HW, the TN you roll is determined by the skill you use, while the AP of the conflict come from the ability you FIRST used.  If you defeat an opponent, you can declare your goal to be to kill them as long as the action you take is able to do so; conventionally, is a combat skill, or strength, or similar.

So, here is a nimble dagger-man.  He enters combat by declaring the stakes are death; his nominated ability is Duck And Dive.  He engages in a number of exchanges and wins AP, narrating ducking and diving.  When he has an overwhelming advantage, he narrates stabbing with his much lower Knife ability.  Perfectly legit.  

Another interesting case - the pursuer and pursued.  The quarry has the goal "get away", so the hunter may well not be at death stakes.  But the quarry is certainly at death stakes if they lose the contest, all that is needed is that the hunter narrate a potential fatal exchange and roll a suitable ability.  The exchange overall, however, was resolved by movement abilities.

If an ally has an ability the leader may use it.  Thus, cavalry.  If movement abilities can be used in combat contests, then a horses move 5w can be cited as an allies combat ability.  A cavalry man with combat TN 5w with a Horse ally with Speed 2w has an effective combat AP of 47.
But they still roll at 5w.

Hmm.  Theres some more about movement and churn and potential, "logical" if you will, in the way computing uses the word, range bands.  But I'm too tired to work through it at the moment I'll post it later.
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contracycle
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« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2002, 06:54:19 PM »

but, to magic:

If you used preperation rolls to build a magic ally which helped you in ritual or combat or something - posession, force field, whatever, I don't know shadoworld - then you'd get to store those points as "allies" to spend in the upcoming contest as AP.  The whole ally thing is very flexible; it does necessarily lead to AP inflation but this can be controlled.  Take the numbers of augment bonuses you are getting above, +3's and so on, and let them invest it in a reservoir of AP.  AP are less significant than TN hikes, so the impact of a large number is smaller.  But it can serve as a good buffer.
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« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2002, 02:57:36 PM »

Cool stuff, Gareth. Still absorbing and considering options. But I get the general gist of it now, and it's definitely affecting my thinking.

Mike
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Ian Cooper
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« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2002, 10:53:14 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes

1. Make augments made during a contest last for the duration. If I did this, I'd drop the free augment rule. This makes some sense, and is simple, but it means that some augment's that would only seem appropriate for one roll would be extended to many. I kinda like the one-shot augment concept.


Generally a Hero Wars magical augment is assumed to last the contest and cost you an unrelated action if performed in contest. A lot of people play that a non-magical augment, a physical ability for example, that is 'always on'  comes for free, and does not require an unrelated action. You could rule it is on, i.e. counts, when it fits the players actions. For example if you want to use your Hate Trolls for an augment, you need to be making big AP bids, not hanging back.

A lot of people do allow people to fire off an augment for free if not suprised, as they join a conflict, and I know some people play that you have about three augments for a prepared attack, whichmight suit you.

From the looks of the latest draft Heroquest is much more helpful on all of these questions.
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contracycle
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« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2002, 03:48:17 PM »

Alright, to address the bits I alluded to.

First of all, I see I have thoroughly failed to distinguish between Allies and Followers.  They are slightly different, but in essence the same as far as accumulation of AP's goes above.  But the distinction does get interesting when we take quite a long view of the extended contest.

Character A and Monster 1 enter combat.  They both start at AP = TN.  Monster 2 also attacks Character A in the next round.  The two monsters now have a single AP pool; Monster 2 adds its own TN as AP to the monsters combined pool upon entering combat.  This may well be less than both their TN's if Monster 1 has already lost AP, or higher than their combined TN's if it has won AP off Character A.

Now Character B joins the fray, in exactly the same manner.  Having 2 throunds of exchange gone, the total AP in play and how they are distributed may be quite varied.  As groups in extended contests, both side have pools collectively.  As the battle continues, the distinction between allies and followers becomes more acute.

If the monsters side were allies - a band or trolls or what have you - they each make an action and roll their TN.  If monster 1 was the leader and 2 and 3 acted as followers, only Monster 1 would act (although 2 and 3 would feature in the narration) and roll at its own TN.

The order in which characters die off, and the severity of the effects they suffer, is governed by this status.  Amongest allies, defeat occurs from lowest to highest AP contribution, IIRC.  In the Leader+Follower model, all the followers all die before the leader (and suffer worse effects), and the order of their going is determined amongst themselves like allies.

Thus it would be possible for the following to occur: as the fight goes on and allies on both sides join, both Character A and Monster 1 might be killed, depending on their leader/follower/ally status and the fortunes of war.  But, their individual contributions to the course of the battle are inherited by the other participants as the effect on the floating balance of AP's per side.  This occurs so long as there is one leader/active character on each side, engaged in the battle, otherwise one side has suffered defeat.

The battle itself, therefore, can be considered to exist independantly of any given participant (or most anyway).  A battle can be a churn of entrants and exits, and the entire starting cast could conceivably be turned over, possibly more than once.  And such a contest could last a long time which presents a new problem - WHICH participants-to-be can join and which can't?

Movement abilities are of course vague rather than specific, as are all abilities.  Is move 2w enough for that rider on the hill to join the battle?  It seems to me that the answer must be that this is a simple contest: roll to succeed, i.e. join, and hence contribute AP (with probably a different, combat, ability).  Which suggests that different movement rates, that  have different mastery levels, must have differing degrees of automatic successes.  And that implies the existance of "logical range bands".

Thus you could be at two bands away from a battle, and make one "band-change" test each turn of action.  When both have succeeded, you join the battle.  If your steed has mastery level plus in speed, you automatically cover the distance in one action if you roll well: one automatically and one by roll.  If you fail, you still move one anyway, and get there in turn 2.

So how far is a band?  Well, as far as the GM thinks it is, I guess.  IOW we know or can find out real ranges and rates of movement and make an informed decision, considering the specific situation and dramatic need, as to how many logical range bands to assign to a given would-be combatant.  

For a melee combatant, changing range bands is needed to physically join battle.  For a ranged combatant, their participation can be projected one range band because being In or Out is a binary condition; they are the special cased of being in-by-proxy.  Thus note the subjectivity of logical range bands - an axe-man hurrying to battle might be four range bands away themselves and an archer firing into the same melee only one range band away from their own perspective.

It is here that I started to get skirmish scale.  After all all of the above means you could have hundreds of AP behind one low-TN leader, which sounds right.  They can still make a bid that is unsurvivable by an opponent who lost; the trick would be winning against the leaders TN.  In the case of a low TN - lower than the TN of the followers - this could indicate a stupid leader who cannot use their troopes effectively.  A high TN could represent tactical cunning and the ability to enhace the groups overall perfromance.

Then the range bands can be overtly expressed as logical on a map.  I drew this as a mirrored flow chart - closed to its twin was Engaged, then Disengaged, then Reserve, then Rear.  A melee unit could only contribute AP at Engaged; a missile unit could contribute from different TN's (melee and missile) depending on whether they were Engaged, or Disengaged.  They would try to be Disengaged, from which they can add missile AP to that of those Enagaged in melee.  A magic-wielder, I felt, could be at Rear - present at the battle but way behind the lines.  Serious uber-magic back in the fortress could contribute from the Rear.  To break out and attack the archers, you need to make a movement test action, etc.

But that implies there can be more than one Engaged zone if there is more than one front; they could be sub-contests of accumulated AP from a pool of units held at Disengaged, Reserve etc - in other words the in-depth battlefield.  To make this a tabletop game, all you need is maybe cards displaying TN's and AP's, a flowchart over a terrain map and your dice.  As you move units around in the battle, their cards change zones on the map, contributing AP where relevant.  To redeploy a unit from one front to another, its card would be moved from one stack to another (I'd pile the cards Engaged together in a stack in the zone box).

Phew.  So as you can see, allies and followers add a whole lot of extra options to play.  Not all of this is necessary to use, I guess, but I do now think of AP's and TN's as being totally different entities, the fact that one determines the starting level or contribution of the other is more or less incidental.  And I like to think that most of it is already implied in the game as it exists, that this is an interpretation of the consequences of the system as it stands.  I think the awkward problem of the archer facing a charging knight is easily addressable from the perspective I've outlined.

For magic, I'd say intrepret the hell out of what can constitute an ally or a follower, and then simply apply the rules with an eye to the distinction between the categories of leader, follower and ally, and between TN and AP.  Magic powers could even be differentiated under differing conditions, frex a bullet missile-proof force field that acts as a follower against projectile weapons only; against melee weapons it is not In.  stuff like that.  Or a curse that acts as an invisible astral being wound around your foes intestines, acting on the PC's behalf remotely.  There are quite a lot switches to fiddle with to make them different.
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« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2002, 09:52:25 AM »

I'm trying to grok all this, Gareth.

I get the usage in general terms, but I'm trying to see how it solves my problems specifically. What I think you may be saying, is that if the ability seems to be additive as a notional ally or follower, that it should be able to add itself to the combat. That is, it might require a roll for the ally to get to the combat, but that roll does not require an Unrelated Action on the part of the player (but rather on the part of the ally, which is a separate roll). Similarly, if I define a spell as taking time to cast, it would require an Unrelated Action roll. But since strength is an everpresent ally, it would not. The only problem with this is, as I see it, the motivation for the player to try and describe everything as an everpresent ally.

In any case, do you suggest using adding AP for everything then? Or do you suggest the use of Augments and Edges as well? AP would, of course, last until no longer pertinent (usually the end of he conflict). But what of Edges and Augments? How long do they last? Perhaps these sorts of things should only be applied to the specific sorts of things that are delineated as such pre-combat: magic iems, armor, weapons, etc.

One thing that I don't like about this is that it seems that this system chucks out the normal roll for adding APs (I may be misinterpreting). Philosophically, your post makes this roll hard to justify, I suppose. That is, you're rolls seem to be to include the whole amount or not, as opposed to the nifty mechanic where you roll against the amount of AP lended to see what happens. But if a person can join with another, and lend all APs automatically, then why is lending less more uncertain? Because the lender does not share the risk? That seems thin.

But I really liked how elegantly that mechanic works. Total gambling stuff.

BTW, the book does give movement rates. 50 yds, 80 with successful roll. That may or may not sork with your Travelleresque rangebands; but I thought I'd mention it.  

Ian,
Quote
From the looks of the latest draft Heroquest is much more helpful on all of these questions.
Do tell. Any hints?

I like your suggestions in general. I think it makes sense that under certain circumstances, that certain things will be free, or automatic, or be incertain or take actions to perform. But I hate making subjective calls onthese things. I think that I'll leverage off the system even further. Was the character "surprised"? Roll to see. If he succceeds, he gets to pre-augment once, if he fails, he does not. As far as "circling" or any otther long preparation goes, I see that as players each taking unrelated actions to augment, and as such already handled in the system. There may be occasions where due to social reasons, the characters may have several rounds to prepare with Unrelated Actions. For example, in a duel characters may be expected not to start until both sides declare that they are prepared. I can see a duelist who has run through all his reasonable augments rolling a Taunt roll (ala TROS) to get the opponent to cease preparations and comence with the duel. Cool.

This solves some subjectivity, but still leaves the questions of what abilities have that really useful "always on" quality (doesn't take an unrelated action to turn on, and lasts throughout the conflict, might operate at a fixed and reliable level) in which situations. I think I'll solve that by only allowing one such ability to be turned on per conflict without a roll per the ideas I related to Gareth above. With the right rolls, players can activate more. Using methods that incorporate some risk (as all of the augmentaion rules do).

That was kinda foggy. But in my mind I know where I'm going with it.

Mike
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contracycle
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« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2002, 12:35:21 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes

I get the usage in general terms, but I'm trying to see how it solves my problems specifically.


Only insamuch as it provides an alternative to straight augments and edges, and I was trying show how else the system can be used.  It provides another way to "bulk up" characters or to mechanise enhancements, with even differentiation based on a consideration of the nominal type of the ability.

So, casting a lightning bolt, say, a direct use of magic, is an action in the exchange.  OTOH, something like body armour of flame might be considered to manifest as a Follower, mechanically, and thus add AP-equal-to-TN.  How you choose tio implement this is up to you; don't know shadow worlds style of magic.  You might use magic to summon elementals as spirit-followers, or use a Haste-type spell as a "follower" to represent its effect.  The only point is that the implementation is not much discussed in HW and hence these consequences are not much noticed; the flexibility of allies and followers adds another potential layer; it allows another way to distinguish abilities (whether they can be used for death or not, whether they are ability or follower, under what conditions they are "in" the contest).  

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In any case, do you suggest using adding AP for everything then? Or do you suggest the use of Augments and Edges as well?


I would use it only rarely; I went through this exercise to find how it dealt with very large groups, and noticing that a Roman Legion might weigh in at about say 90,000AP but only be considered to fight with TN 20, if you chose to see them all as one leader plus followers.  Its a very significant distinction to make to an ability, but probably a fair candidate for cult secrets, powerful magic and the like, or the self-evident otherworldly friends (allies).  You use this very dramatically way, like only a certain College can use magic in this way (to generate follower-like effects).  Or perhaps, for a Certain Class of Wizard, you just don't go in until you have your eight layers of standing Wards.  

Perhaps a Word of Power, Power Word Kill as an example: can only be used in the narration of an action intended to kill THAT ACTION (i.e. as a proposed last action of the contest).  It is sufficient in itself to constitute death stakes; it is considered ranged; it requires a related action to cast; it counts as a follower on the action in which it is said and no other; it contributes AP equal to its TN; if the target is defeated by the end of the exchange, the defeat condition is automatically Death and no other; if the target is not defeated they are not at deaths stakes for the rest of the contest and cannot be forced to death stakes until after the contest ends.

OK so what would happen is: your sorcerer learns Power Word Kill, after much effort, to 2w.  If they use it early in the contest, its likely to backfire and make the target unkillable, as they have literally escaped death (thats just for spice).  It's intended to be played as an early coup de gras, finishing a terget off, and it makes this more likely by acting as a follower in that action.  So our sorcerer might normally fight at say 16 from whatever, but if they drive an opponent to low AP, are confident of winning, and bid big aided by the temporary 22 AP they get and the 2w TN they are using, they can Power Word them to death.  If they win, the target drops stone dead, no messing about with any potential other defeat conditions or being rescued by transferred AP by another combatant (and incidentally, there followers are implicitly killed too).  You don't even need to be physically engaged - if your other allies drive ther target to low AP at a distance, you could say the Word at range (automatically in this case at one mastery per band).  You could even say the Word while running away and using your movement TN as the action.

Thats using about as many of the possible permutations in one batch as I can think of, but I'm sure there are a lot of ways to use these various options to make a lot of interesting magic.  Seeing as you adapting a new world to the system, you can use them as much or as little as you want.

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But what of Edges and Augments? How long do they last? Perhaps these sorts of things should only be applied to the specific sorts of things that are delineated as such pre-combat: magic iems, armor, weapons, etc.


I like edges for armour and weapons as writ, especially becuase large AP can be fielded without changing the probable outcome of an exchange; in fact large AP amounts make big edges more viable.  But I understand that edges are the least-used component of HW in play, I think this is because the impact on outcome is so small due to the compressed ranges of listed edges given.  The only really extant unit of time is the contest itself, in that something is either relevant or not; I'd think edges are either one-shot or permanent, pretty much.  Maybe warpaint gives you and edge for the duration of the fight you are going to, specifically implying that it occurs "en route", once committed to a contest at death stakes, and only for that contest.  Same logic could be used for augments I guess.

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But if a person can join with another, and lend all APs automatically, then why is lending less more uncertain? Because the lender does not share the risk? That seems thin.


Well, one is an action between two actors, and the other is between leader and follower.  Between the two actors, it is AP lending, and so for one thing the lender may well not lose the AP loaned (if they get a Complete of Major victory).  As actors, both have actions in the contest and hence narration powers, which is tactically important. And they have "separate" AP totals, in that they can be defeated individually but only suffer the effects at the end of a contest.  A follower cannot take actions, and dies immediately the leader character is driven to their own AP contribution or less, i.e as if there were no follower.  This only needs to happen once and the follower is dead (that points a bit debatable I concede); at the very least they suffer a worse defeat condition than their leader.  A fellow Actor can be brought back from the dead, more or less, if you win and lend them enough AP's during the contest.  So I still feel that between two actors, AP lending is probably better than effectively merging into one character (for the counterpoint, where characters do merge as "leader and follower", I'd think Chewbacca with C3PO's dismembered torso on his back).  

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BTW, the book does give movement rates. 50 yds, 80 with successful roll. That may or may not sork with your Travelleresque rangebands; but I thought I'd mention it.


Not as write exactly, but this has not really been suffient to resolve the many questions on the lists, as was.  But I concede the range bands are severe extrapolation; that was really only there to twist it into something wargamish.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2002, 10:35:52 AM »

Cool observations.

As for the Power Word Kill idea (something similar happened in my game, actually) , the negtative repercussion would be losing the AP yourself, no? Both for the augment roll, and/or for the actual exchange. Which I'd personally narrate as the word bouncing back on the caster (or, more dramatically saying that the force caused by the word needs to drain some life-force, and will drain the users if it can't take the target's). That's cool as it makes the Power Word Kill have potentially severe consequences for the caster.

That said, I might require such a spell to be taken with a bid large enough to drive the opponent to -31. Interesingly, that's made more possible with using AP as the result of using the spell.

BTW, as it happens, in the game, Josh's character does know the language of the Power Words, and, as such, he'll be rolling against that to see if he can lend AP in such a manner (then Sorcery to make it stick). Which should be very cool.

I love the idea that these things are available to my "low-level" characters. It means that they can try them, and sometimes blast away other low-level NPCs, etc, but that they are doing so at risk to life and limb.

Let's look at an example to see if I've got it right. Killian uses his Iruaric (Power Words) 17 language, to augment his sorcery of 18 (he's really still just an apprentice) with AP lending to self. Given the trickiness of the language (And because I think it's dramatic), I have him take an unrelated action to remember the term correctly. But he's only got 18 AP in the conflict, and his opponent has 17. This means that in order for this to be Power Work Kill (and not Power Word Stun), he's going to need 48 AP (which is equal to his opponents 17 plus 31 which is required for death). So he makes a roll of 18 vs 10w.

I'll stop at this point and explain that. I see no reason why a player should be limited to only taking a difficulty that's less than their own ability when lending AP. As it's incredibly risky to do so, I think it's fun to allow a player to try to get as many AP as they like in certain situations.

He, of course, fails the roll, which means that he's going to lose 30 AP, and be out of the contest. The Word will have adversely affected mentally him so badly that he will be Hurt by it, in fact (if he'd rolled a critical failure, I might rule that since he is the lender, and the lendee, that he loses on both ends, and kills himself). So he decides to spend a Hero Point, and the result changes to a Success, and he gets the AP instead.

On the next exchange that he institutes (let's say for the example's sake that the opponent augmented, and got a higher TN, and, he has to use the power. So he bids his entire pool. If he wins, the target will be dead. If he loses, he will be out for the count, dazed.

That's cool. I see PW: Stun bing used a lot more frequently, however, as it's a hellofalot safer. :-)


I'm a bit confused by your comments on Edge Augmentation in regards to pool size. Woudn't edges lose thier bite against larger pools of AP? In any case, I am assuming that a legion of 5000 men with a TN of 18 (and thus an AP pool of 90,000) and armor and weapons edges of +4 each would have an aggregate Edge of +20,000. Which makes sense mechanically (seems large, but it's all proportional, and edges cancel; the opposing sides +18,000 will leave the legion with a net +2,000).


I buy your AP lending/adding thing. Or rather, it seems to me that the "lender" is doing so in a tentative sort of way that might, if well done, allow him to retain his AP. That tentativeness may be the downfall. As opposed to throwing in wholeheartedly, which means that he's automatically fully committed. That works. That'll be my criteria, in general. Does the action seem like it's a devoted commitment, or is it some uncertain attempt to bump things up.

Mike
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