Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Acquiring Followers

So I've talked a lot about Players, Heroes, Soldiers and Commoners, but where do you get these things? Statistically, probably a chart or a little bit of math for the maximums. That's all well and good for determining the numbers but what we really care about is how they actually get the crew itself. Thus my following thoughts...

At level 1 the players start out as just themselves, party of X. No companions, as they progress somewhere in the 10-20 range they acquire their first followers. I'm a little unsure of the first followers' type. Should they start by acquiring a Hero? Obviously the player would get to know their single follower's name and abilities, logically they should have more than a half sheet to sum them up. But that's also a lot of information out of the gate, and possibly skill for the Hero. Perhaps a soldier would be fine, using the assumptions to play out the other information like skills and such. I'm leaning towards Hero.

Anyhow, the Hero would be met on their journeys as introduced by the GM, or hijacked from a nearby town should the player seek them out. Heroes should be obvious, and possibly notorious/famous and easy to display as an option for the players, however, just because the player has the capacity for a Hero, doesn't mean they need to have one, let them acquire one naturally. In the life of a player, heroes should be MUCH fewer than soldiers, they represent your stalwart companions, your right and left hand men/women/things. They are the backbone of your followers, and you are the head. Numberwise I'm thinking no more than 6. But these are 6 units that have levels and skills just like you, but lower level. So perhaps having a Hero early builds the attachment and excitement about getting another.

Your next followers would be soldiers, in total around levels 15-25 you should have about 8 soldiers, 1 hero and your player character. These can be hired on, people who saw your work and wanted to follow, people you saved who now travel with you... Just as the hero acquired naturally, but more generic. At this point they should probably be summed up as Melee or Ranged, Heavy or Light and perhaps some basic skill that defines their style. Roguish types being Melee/Light with Stealth. At this point you have gone from the solo scale to the party scale level. Each player should have 10 total units including themselves and can scale the combat between individuals and party markers depending on how many people are involved. For instance if it is one party vs three, you would probably use individuals, however if it were four parties vs six you would use party markers.

Progress would continue on, as you settle down (or not) and word of you travels you can continue to gain followers. However, there is more than one way to get Heroes and Soldiers, that and I haven't covered Civilians.

Another method for acquiring Heroes is when a unit of troops fights a battle, the player has an open hero slot, and the battle was a real fight (crushing civilians doesn't count) there's a chance a Heroic act could be performed. Yep, you can get a hero from a heroic act being performed by your soldier unit. Makes sense right? This brings up the concept of loyalty. Soldiers, Heroes and Civilians will have derived stats called loyalty. In cases which seem logical, low loyalty can cause a given Hero, Soldier or Civilian to abandon you. Obviously it would hurt most if a Hero left you, but less for a Civilian. Those heroes you are lucky enough to have perform a heroic act will probably have a higher loyalty than someone you hired on.

But wait, my stats say I should only have 200 followers how could I be managing a town? Well you can have people under your command who aren't followers. These NPCs will have a much lower loyalty, and may even require payment to stay in service, but don't count towards your limit. They will however cost more, and be more fickle. This means likely you have 200 stalwart allies, but you could have 600 civilians protected in your city and 200 guardsmen on payroll who stay as long as the staying is good, if they had somewhere better to be they'd leave.

The best part about these stats is that they'll only needed to be calculated a few times in the life of a soldier or hero, and if the player is diplomatic, tested just as few.

Now for more on civilians. So what if you want a civilian for a follower? Simple enough, they can take a soldier slot. While this may seem undesirable, wouldn't it be nice to have a faithful team of metalsmiths who will follow you to where they are needed? Or perhaps merchants who will run trade routes on your direct command? You don't even need to have all the merchants in the caravan be followers, just enough to keep the caravan moving and ensure they return.

Lots of rough thoughts, as always nothing is final and thoughts and designs are always in flux as things progress. More to come...

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Skills are something very common in various role playing games, 3rd edition DnD, GURPS, White Wolf and so on. Needless to say I am going to touch on the topic.

All the characters are leaders by nature of the game. And eventually most of their common tasks should and will be done by underlings. This makes for some interesting thoughts on how skills should work. I intend to discuss my interpretation of how skills should work in the given system and what kinds I think are useful.

These are about movement, getting places. Climbing, Jumping, Swimming, Riding and Long Distance Travel are considerations for skills under this category. At early adventuring levels, these could be important. They open tactical opportunities more land bound or slower units lack. This is probably the least sensible at higher levels, but would make sense later after I clarify some other information on subordinates.

These are memory skills, awareness and so on. Very good for beginning and end game, very apparent use for players, less so for subordinate grunts, however as with physical it would have some benefits still. Some thoughts... Area Knowledge, Tactics, Awareness, Exploration, Important Persons Knowledge.

These are interpersonal skills. Diplomacy, Investigation, Sense Intent, Deception and more. Very useful to leaders, and perhaps some specialized grunts. Some could even be useful in combat. For instance sense intent and Deception could be used for feints and detecting maneuvers immediate results (tactics being for more long term strategies in addition to short term)

These would be mainly roguish skills. Sabotage, Stealth, Pickpocketing and so on. These abilities are pretty straightforwards. They could be useful for a character as well as an army at a great scale. Sabotaging catapults and walls as well as traps and wagon wheels, ambushes and sneaking into an enemy camp.

Craft Architecture, Craft Weaponry, Craft Armor, Craft Elixirs, Drafting and so on. Pretty straightforwards for the most part. At the low levels these skills could be used to do a job, and having an army of folks with Craft Architecture can allow you to build small fortifications pretty quickly.

Some thoughts on the actual functionality for the different types of characters.

Functionality for characters.
Every Level the character gets an allotment of points for skills (likely static) with a maximum amount that can be put in each time you level. There will likely be a general path of bonuses that will allow you to specialize in a skill sacrificing some combat ability to become an ultimate master of knitting or something. This might even extend to giving supervised NPCs a bonus to their attempts to perform these skills. There would definitely be a bonus for tools and perhaps circumstance (supervision would be one of these)

Functionality for Heroes/Villains
Likely they will be built much as characters, keeping in mind the greatest number of points that could have been put into an ability and with the same ability to perform the skills as a PC. I'm not sure if granting bonuses to underlings will occur, perhaps I will use a diminishing returns the higher in the command chain the bonuses are granted. (Using math we could see this as a curve steadily approaching a certain number, that being the highest possible bonus. Yay Algebra.) They would also definitely benefit from tools.

Functionality for Soldiers
Soldiers have to be trained. And in this system I see soldiers as being simplified to having certain amounts of training. One thing I'm thinking is that soldiers will have skill slots, for skills they are particularly good at, and the reason you would want to keep similar troops in groups. If you mixed all your troops the bonus is negated. If they all have the same skill choice they retain it. Otherwise in larger than party groups, it can be assumed that together they manage to have a certain skill rating based on their 'training' or 'drill' stat and type relevance (archers, melee, casters) Perhaps I'll even establish a tradition for certain factions and natives will be assumed to have certain skills at higher levels. This would be GM set and not player set of coarse. The stats for Heroes and Soldiers would be GM set. And given that the GM introduces the heroes through methods I should go over later. These guys still benefit from supervision and tools, but don't grant any bonuses to underlings.

Functionality for Civilians.
Fairly straightforwards. They should have a skill level as appropriate to their job/station, receive all bonuses and cannot grant bonuses except to other civilians. They are assumed to exist as necessary to fill out cities and match the economy and situation. You need a random mason's exact skill level? I'd look at the economy, figure out how many mineral based production workers there are, roll against the % of refinement level produced, then set a skill level based on which part of the production line they are in. If I roll they're one of the two people producing exotic goods in a 200,000 strong city then they are going to be very high on the spectrum of masonry (the kind that makes the stone part for portal gates and such) If I roll one of the 4000 supporting members in the raw production side... well he can cut a rock out of a mountainside if you need and can do it really well if you have some well built and supplied mines too.

As you can see, less and less detail per type of unit as we go down the line. Scale. A civilian is one line until you pick them out of the crowd and are concerned. The soldier half a page, probably no more than 3 skill slots and the rest is 'assumed'. A Hero/Villain is one page they have a full skill set, but the math doesn't really need to be detailed. Then the players who manage their own information could have 2 sheets or more. I've actually got some good ideas for topics after this, more to come...

Friday, November 19, 2010


Abilities, I think for the time being, I will define the basic statistics as traits, passive boosts from 'level points' bonus' and special actions one must buy abilities.

So in our case an ability could be cleave, a fireball, a heal spell, a berzerker rage, a protective aura and so on. But some things become a bit unclear. What moves should be abilities? What is special and unique? Would Aiming be a special ability? How about diving for cover? Weapon proficiency?

The answer that comes to mind is, can the weakest nobody do it? Can a wizard spend time to aim a bow and noticeably increase their accuracy? Can they effectively feint in combat? Can the rogue take a moment to catch their breath?

The choice of what an ability is can really decide the feel for a game. If running is a skill you have to take to receive any benefit, odds are you're playing a roll playing game. If it's assumed natural actions such as running, climbing and catching your breath are something you can do with their natural effects, then you are playing a role playing game.

So breaking it down for just an ability; It has to be something that not just anybody can do, and for classes it has to be something a person of a particular branch of training can use. As mentioned before, there will also be racial abilities, however, these will likely just be representative of greater ability with particular actions, this wont mean that the entire race is able to perform those abilities, just that they are capable of such actions.

Abilities will be bought and upgraded with points accrued at each level. I'm not quite sure how many points I'll grant each level, but I'm considering 5ish. These would be applied to abilities and bonus'. Bonus' are rather simple, I think I shall throw them into this post after covering abilities.

A breakdown of each abilities information. In example form.

Mage Abilites

Cost: 10 Energy
Base Range: 10 units.
Base Effect: Shoots a fireball at an enemy hitting the target for Stat +3d roll Fire Damage.
Levels: 5
Requirements: lvl 0, lvl 20, lvl 40, lvl 60, lvl 80
Effect: Increase Area Scale and cost increases by Level x 100%

Cost Decrease
Req: lvl 5, lvl 10, lvl 20
Ranks: 3
Effect: Decrease the cost by 1 energy per point per level.

Damage Increase
Req: lvl 10, lvl 20, lvl 30
Ranks: 3
Effect: Increase the damage effected by 1 unit per point and the cost by 2 energy per point

Range Increase
Req: lvl 1, lvl 5, lvl 10
Ranks: 3
Effect: Increase the range by 2 units per point.

So lets talk about what you are seeing there.

At first, this is a subsection of Mage Abilities. The title is Fireball. The cost in energy (the ability currency) is 10, this is an arbitrary number currently. As opposed to a preparation system, I think with my more organic ability system it would be better to use energy.

Base effect, the stat +3d currently implies that whatever the spellcasting/damage statistic will be will effect the final damage. I am unsure of exactly how many stats there will be, but as the concepts of the mechanics solidify into a usable form I think that information will finalize.

Levels: 5. This means there are five levels to the ability including the initial one. The level for the ability is one when first acquired, this is described in the effect section before it. It can be bought at level 1 for 1 point. Each level costs a point and requires that you meet the requirements. They are below that, character levels 0, 20, 40, 60, 80 are the requirements for each of the levels. The idea is, that as the character grows, so can the spell, in the case of this spell 4 times it can grow and at each of the landmark levels in scale (in my head anyways.) The effect of the leveling up of the ability is below that in very opaque non-descript terms that I will now explain.

Increase Area Scale is one of the important ideas in the system I'm building. Notice the keyword there, scale. In this case area scale is pretty simple. In it's earliest incarnation it targets a single opponent. This would be at an interpersonal scale where all combat units are signified as a single character. A level 2 version would target an entire party at the party scale (the second scale level intended for lvl 20 - 39 characters) or would have an area effect at the interpersonal scale, probably an area of 2 units (target plus two rings around them on a hex grid if hex is used.) If a level 1 version is used at the party scale, it would likely do a fraction of the damage, If d10s, I would say only 1 point of damage per d10 and 1 extra damage for every 10 bonus damage. However, I'm considering an assassination bonus or ability type that simply targets one opponent (at most 1/10th a unit's health), but can eliminate leaders due to the enhanced damage for the ability being at such high a level. (still targets only one opponent but can do 10x the damage, more than enough for a non-heroic unit)

Alright, so now that we understand how scale applies, let us continue on... Now we see modifications. Another nifty little trick I'm considering. Instead of buying a new ability, or leveling one up, you can put a point into a modification. These modifications allow your ability to perform better at their current level, while not as powerful an upgrade as a level, the bonus will persist through into higher levels and may have a lower requirement than buying the next level, allowing you to be the ultimate fireball throwing machine with all the modifications. This would allow someone to really be superior in their casting of fireballs as compared to someone who didn't modify and just leveled up. Sort of like having a fiery +1 longsword instead of just a +1 longsword. As with levels it has a requirement for each rank, a maximum number of ranks, and an effect. However, some of the modifications have additional costs on the spell, all modifications are optional during casting, but this helps balance out the power a bit for stronger effects.

Not all abilities will be so clear and concise. For instance, considering a resurrection spell...

Priest Abilities

Cost: 50 (some prohibitive number, likely all the mana a character has when first gotten)
Range: Touch
Cast Time: 1 day
Base Effect: Resurrects a single person. The target of the resurrection suffers from Exhaustion for 1 week.
Levels: 3
Requirements: level 40, 70, 100
Effect: (1) Single person target and Cost 50, (2) party target and cost 100, (3) scale 3 target and cost 200.


Reduced Cast Time
Req: 50, 80
Ranks: 2
Effect: Cast time is reduced to 1 hour cost is increased 100%, Cast time is reduced to 1 turn cost is increased 200%

Reduced Exhaustion Penalty
Req: 60, 90
Ranks: 2
Effect: Exhaustion penalty reduced to 1 day and cost is increased 100%, Exhaustion penalty is reduced to 1 turn and cost is increased 200%

This requires more description as to the effect and has more complicated math when doing costs. I'm thinking multiplicative costs, so if you wanted to cast the most powerful version...

Level 3 Resurrection 200pts
1 turn cast time = 600pts
1 turn exhaustion = 1800 energy.

This will resurrect approximately 100 men in one turn who will be weakened only for the next turn.

A more likely example would be a character resurrecting another one during a heated battle...
Level 1 resurrection 50pts
1 turn cast time = 150
1 turn exhaustion = 450

At a really high level this is probably more possible, but would wipe a priests mana in my mind. The other ability is parallel to a god, but could salvage troops after the victor completes a battle.

The exhaustion in my mind would basically halve the unit's effectiveness, including health and energy, meaning you don't want to be made vulnerable in a fight, as if you are in an at-level encounter, you would probably die again very quickly. Perhaps I should make a rule about stacking exhaustion...


Imagine a generic passive modification that applies to a generic action. Done. Each point put into a bonus after you've met the requirement grants you that bonus.

Aaaaand now you've got an idea of what I'm thinking for abilities. Give each subclass at least 20 abilities and 15 bonus' and were looking at 180 abilities with 135 bonuses for classes alone. Not intimidating at all... no never... But I've started on the path and so I shall continue.