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.
Cost: 10 Energy
Base Range: 10 units.
Base Effect: Shoots a fireball at an enemy hitting the target for Stat +3d roll Fire Damage.
Requirements: lvl 0, lvl 20, lvl 40, lvl 60, lvl 80
Effect: Increase Area Scale and cost increases by Level x 100%
Req: lvl 5, lvl 10, lvl 20
Effect: Decrease the cost by 1 energy per point per level.
Req: lvl 10, lvl 20, lvl 30
Effect: Increase the damage effected by 1 unit per point and the cost by 2 energy per point
Req: lvl 1, lvl 5, lvl 10
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...
Cost: 50 (some prohibitive number, likely all the mana a character has when first gotten)
Cast Time: 1 day
Base Effect: Resurrects a single person. The target of the resurrection suffers from Exhaustion for 1 week.
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
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
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.