Saturday, December 4, 2010

Applications or Abilities?

There are several abilities/applications that I’m torn on, but I think I have a solution. For example, should Lore be a distinct ability you purchase, or should it be an application of your Focus? What about Nature? Stealth? Poison Use? Healing?
The list is pretty long…

Here’s what I’m thinking right now…

Many abilities will be designated as ranked or application. This means you can purchase them in one of two ways: as an ability (rated from +1 to +13, with escalating costs), or as an application (at a default cost of 2 character points).

- If you purchase something as an application, you get to use it once per scene (although you could potentially use a Resolve Point to re-use an application you’ve already used).
- If you purchase something as a distinct ability, you can use it as often as desired, and you also get to build other abilities off of it.

Here is an example for two heroes who take Stealth:
- The first is an elfin ranger who purchases Stealth as an application of his Intuition. Once per scene, he can use one turn to Stealth, getting the full benefits of the Stealth ability equal to his Intuition rating (a bonus to his next attack roll, the ability to move about undetected, etc). However, once his Stealth ends (he’s discovered or he attacks), he cannot Stealth again that scene without spending a Resolve Point.
- The second is a magic-wielding thief. He purchases Stealth as a unique ability, pumping as many points as he can into it. For this character, he actually manipulates shadow energy, allowing him to fade into shadows and shape them to his will. In fact, he becomes so good at it that he purchases Energize Weapon (as an application), Shadow Dart (as an application) and Teleport (as an application). He can use his mastery of shadows to Stealth at will (using one turn each time), getting the bonus to his attack rolls each time he does this.

Both characters are good at sneaking around; one of the heroes spends 2 character points and gets to do it as a complement to his other abilities; the other hero builds his entire character around being a super sneak, investing more CPs into it as a core ability.

Let’s do this for healing:
- The Paladin purchases Healing as an application (2 character points) tied to his Resolve +8. Once per scene, he gets to cast one healing spell that restores 2D+8 wounds to one target within 8 units.
- The Cleric purchases Healing as a unique ability at +5. 5 times per scene, he can heal a target within 5 units and restore 2D+5 wounds each time. His heals are not as powerful, nor do they have as strong a range as the Paladin’s, but he’s able to heal much more often. On average, our Paladin heals 15 wounds each scene, while our Cleric heals 60. The Cleric spent 9 character points and the Paladin spent 2. If our Cleric gets to Healing +8, he’s now 8x more effective than our paladin (although he’s spent 20 character points to get there). He’ll heal 8 times per scene, up to 8 units, for 2D+8 wounds, restoring an average of 120 wounds. That’s a LOT of healing, but he’s made a huge investment to get it.

I like this because it really differentiates different healers… one of them is a part-time healer, and the other is a full-time healer.

The break point of value for investment is going to be different for each hero… if you have healing linked to a +10 ability, you will need to put +4 or so into Healing as a unique ability to make it worthwhile having separate. In theory, you could have both… you have a single powerful heal linked to another ability, but you also purchase a small heal that gives you short range little bursts of healing. As a Druid with Intuition +7, healing as a +2 application and healing as a +2 ability, you heal three times per scene: one is a big heal that allows you to restore 2D+7 wounds to a target 7 units away, and you also have two little heals that allow you to restore 2D+2 damage to targets up to 2 units away. This gives a LOT of variety with a little bit of math. I also like that this allows min-maxers to play with the numbers a bit. It gives you a ton of options for building your hero.

This is neat because if you want to play a hero who has the ability to bandage wounds and apply first aid (for instance, a young ranger trained in herbal remedies and applying these in combat situations), you take Healing +1. You get to heal once per scene for 2D+1 wounds to a target in the same or an adjacent unit; you can spend a Resolve point to do this again, if needed. You are by no means the main healer for a group, but in a pinch you can help out a little, and you’ve only spent 1 character point to get this ability.

I especially like the implications for building foes too…

The drake has breath weapon as an application of his Stamina- once per scene he gets to unleash a big breath of flame at a foe; a dragon, however, purchases breath weapon as a unique ability at +10, usable 10 times per scene… a poisonous snake has poison linked to his stamina, while a wyvern has poison as a unique ability at +8, usable 8 times per scene. This keeps the players guessing- is that the only poison the spider gets, or can it poison me again?