Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Stab at IMech

For anyone who doesn't know what IMech is head over here.

Now that you're caught up, I figured I would start my thought process on a solution to this.

The game I'm making now WILL have plenty of social interaction. This could be court intrigue, inter-kingdom politics, demoralizing the opposing army and so on. Fortunately, I have already been considering a solution to this, it simply needs expansion.

Morale would be the hit points of social combat. This could be effected by the strength of the opposition, the force of will of the subject and more effects. However, unlike hitpoints, morale would require rolls against it to perform some actions, and perhaps could result in a fleeing before they reach zero.

Base morale would likely be a calculation of Leadership ability of leader (score written down on the character sheet. Likely a sum of the 'charisma' stat, perhaps a relevant skill and probably some form of level bonus) Reputation of leader (a higher reputation is something worth fighting for Training and short term modifiers.

Generally this should lead to npc soldiers fleeing in combat due to low morale then returning after their temporary modifiers return.

How does this apply to IMech? Well for one thing this is only a stab, not a coup de gras as it were. In this case it applies to mental and social skills effecting survivability. If your inspirational speech fails, will your troops route the second the other general pulls a dirty trick? If your intellect based strategy roll fails will it give the other troops a huge advantage?

But this is at a higher scale. How would morale apply to lower levels of interaction? I would say morale would have a huge effect in the common torture example. Your goal is to lower their morale. But where is the chance for failure? I would say getting information through torture is 'common' because the chance for 'failure' is uncommon. However I would also say that there is more than one check to make with torture, not only must you get the information, but you must either disguise your association with the torture, disguise the torture event itself, spin the torture as a clearly necessary act for the good of all, or take the full repressions to your more permanent reputation stat.

Alright, but how could your reputation be ruined in court? There are no tools of torture here. Easier I would argue, as your reputation is at stake with every button you push to reduce your targets 'morale'. Why in quotes? I would further define morale to be mental stability and control. This means if you are seducing, inciting or persuading, you are trying to destabilize or seize control of their mental state. Drop their morale and you will drop their control eventually they will have to roll against their morale or fall into your 'control'. Not necessarily being mind controlled, they will still have their self interest at heart. They wont jump off cliffs unless they think it's a safer option than staying on the edge. And failure? Making a fool of yourself in politics, being seen as an inept leader, these effect reputation and perhaps, reputation can effect persuasion.

Alright, so I covered interpersonal, and in mass encounters. But this brings up some thoughts on Reputation. Reputation would be a score on your character sheet, but I'm also thinking perhaps reputation traits would also be warranted. These would be positive or negative traits acquired from repeat occurrences of particular acts. Known for torture, known for being a womanizer, known as a drunk, known for granting mercy, known for his battle strategy and so on. This means in encounters where those matter (social encounters with women, encounters in the church, taking prisoners, morale of troops) you get a bonus or penalty as appropriate. This would mean, for all the spin you may put on your acts, eventually people will see the pattern.

There is of coarse more to work on with this, but for my system here is the sketch for the bones.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

[OT] Language Barrier

A situation that has come up recently. Perhaps a little venting, perhaps a little hypothetical. A new adventure is started, the characters are 'rolled' (in my case a Savage Worlds) and they set off. They've been told a basic plot, you've been banished to another plane for a few years and you are going to return to take vengeance on the one who banished you and some other people there. Now you have to summon your friends back and stop an evil dictator.

You get back, struggle through an abandoned ruin, find some native people who you don't know how to speak to figure out a plot to help them against some humans and head out to figure out from the humans what is going on. Time for vengeance...

Except not really, you discover you can't speak to the humans, you also discover you are being pushed to choose the humans or the natives RIGHT NOW. Oh and one of you figures out it's really hundreds of years later.

So what is the problem here? How can I feel like I am making an educated choice? How do I as a player feel like I have the ability to push the plot in my favored direction? How about the character's background? Suddenly my family, my home, my target of vengeance, my knowledge of the world, my possessions are all now gone. I have nothing to save but the people at the other plane, I have no enemies, I have no way to communicate with these new people and get an opinion. These humans are not my team, these lizard folk are not my team, I have no allies, I have no enemies.

We flipped a coin. We delayed and tried to communicate, we gesticulated we flailed and eventually someone threw the native companion a sword and we killed the humans.

How could the situation been handled? How could it be presented better? How could we have prevented every character from putting points into speaking skills when we can't communicate? How could we prevent players from creating elaborate plots involving secret organizations with exotic weapons (we specialize in.) How could we prevent them from taking abilities representing reputation or even land holdings?

Was this the best method? Could the GM had faith that the players could pretend they wouldn't know its 700 years later? Could the GM just have filtered our character abilities and plot with an ambiguous 'you can't take that'? Or perhaps they could trade every loss with a bonus, if you find or make the weapon you are looking for your style is so unique you get a bonus to fight. If you find your holdings through magic it can be proven you are the legitimate heir to everything. I don't know. It's a tough nut to crack, suggestions?

Friday, December 3, 2010


So the problem came to mind again about equipment. In a 100 level system how do you keep a consistent growth of equipment for the player? I mean, lets be honest, either they're going to upgrade every 15 levels or it's going to become a mess of +15 butterknives and +25 flaming pitchforks (great for destroying thatched huts maybe?)

Some thoughts...

Possible ways to improve weapons.

Quality Craftsmanship
Various scales of quality from Poor to Godly. Characters can find all kinds of quality on opponents, in tombs, crafted by NPCs or even crafted by themselves. This is more dependent on the skill of the person crafting the item and the time taken to craft the item. A rough item can be put out very quickly, whereas a Godly item could be an extremely long process with an amazing result.

Possible levels of Quality
Poor, Rough, Average, Fine, Masterwork, Godly

Quality Materials
Here I am after making a post saying I wouldn't get into materials in weaponry on another blog... However, this could be a good tool for setting the quality of weapons. Early along this list would be some normal natural materials followed by either standard or setting specific higher quality materials. These would represent increased resource cost and time cost, possibly increasing the skill requirement to craft the item.

Possible Materials
Iron, Steel, Mithril, Adamantine, Woods (of various natural types), Ironwood, Ent Wood, Exotic creature leather, Wool, Cotton, Silk, Iron Silk and so on...

These are a little more up in the air. I can either go heavy into enchantments with a wide variety of benefits, or be very basic in their qualities, or somewhere in-between. For simplicity with listing such things and tracking them (given the player will have armies to manage in addition to their awesome sword) I think perhaps keeping it basic will probably be more beneficial. Add it to the stats once, don't worry if it's bane against carnivorous butterflies or whatnot. However I think since they should be applied to weapons only as that little something extra.

When I say little something extra, I mean they should have a smaller effect than the material or the quality does. This seems a bit strange, but imagine magic weapons for a moment, they are that intangible bit that seems to help push you over the edge. They have side effects like being unbreakable and maybe shiny or glowy, but generally they are just a little something extra. Ideally, you would only want to enchant a good weapon from the start.

Enchantments would utilize exotic materials (only produced by large towns and above) and a great deal of expert labor and time. I'm also considering making enchantments only performable by a race that has an affinity with that material, making it a racial bonus to crafting that allows enchantment. Which also brings up the point that I want anyone potentially able to enchant. Warriors, kobolds, rogues and commoners. If they have the materials, know the rituals, and have the crafting skill, they can put the part of their spirit and soul into the weapon and imbue it with the breath of magical life. The skill being skill in crafting that type of item.

This means that in the ideal situation you would have a crafter craft an item in the ideal workshop, with the best tools, using mythically rare components, being the best person to do it, for two years, then breathing life into it using a massive amount of exotic materials in a giant city that can produce them or afford to trade for them. This would give you a Godly Ultimatine Butterknife +3. Congratulations, you now spread butter like no known hero king before you may you use your power wisely.

For the purpose of abstraction, how will this apply for heroes and soldiers? Will armies be equipped with magic weapons and armor? Is this scale possible?

I'm thinking Heroes can possibly have magic weapons, but not soldiers at a large scale, magic items should not be that numerous. Yes you can hand your two +1 swords to a regular soldier, but when the scale increases to Party or Army level, 2 out of 10 or 1000 soldiers having a +1 bonus doesn't help much. (maybe you can reason they would be the last of the soldiers to die, but +1 isn't really much)

However, giving it to a Hero helps in individual encounters and for the direct survival of the hero during targeted attacks and small scale combat. Sometimes sending an army isn't the best choice, but you can still take some faithful fearless companions with you, or on your behalf. (I'm considering house rule variants or even official rules allowing Heroes to also be possible players)

Materials and quality however could play more effectively. I'm thinking probably the lowest material type to probably the first mythical metal type will be used in materials (given the odds are low there is enough material findable for an army worth of Ultimatine) and up to Fine for crafting quality (Mass producing tends not to lend itself to particularly high quality items). This of coarse seems about appropriate however, as soldiers should never reach the combat prowess of a player.

I'm still working out the details, but I think I'll probably continue on my lvl 20 landmark points for these things.

More to come...