[Blood Red Sands] Elemental magic and power types

edited April 2010 in Story Games
An elemental system with a circle of aspect superiority: water puts out fire consumes air erodes earth soaks up water. Elemental dice cost an extra die (like with sorcery). During advancement, their value is doubled. If you advance superior element dice against inferior elements, each superior die reduces one inferior die to a 0. Likewise, if you advance inferior element dice against a superior element, each superior element die reduces one of yours to 0. Value reduction does not negate superiority, so if someone advances water and air and their opponent advances fire, water reduces fire to 0 and fire still reduces air to 0. White dice may cancel elemental aspects the same way they cancel green aspects -- they cancel both superiority and doubling, simply removing the aspect from the dice (their face value still counts) and the white dice change the score, as when they cancel green aspects.

Power types, like in D&D (acid, cold, fire, force, lightning, thunder, necrotic, poison, psychic, radiant, sonic): I think this can work for genres other than fantasy, too: projectile (guns, arrows), laser, plasma, voodoo, chi, etc. As with other special dice, you spend an extra die (like with BRS sorcery). You tag a standard die with a power type. A powered Force die negates all advanced Fortitude and Finesse (in addition to acting like a regular Force die), unless that component has an undevastated Fortitude or Finesse trait that is powered with that type (doesn't need to be advanced), in which case it just functions like a normal Force die. Making a trait vulnerable to a power type makes the entire component vulnerable but it gains an extra die of the same type from the bone yard, which must be used for another, "linked", trait in the same component. If the vulnerable trait or the linked trait is devastated for any reason, the other one is as well (this reclaims the extra die and should help prevent grinding). Force of the type to which a component is vulnerable damages one extra die in that component. After the attack is resolved, if the vulnerable trait has been devastated, the component is no longer vulnerable to that type of Force.

It seems like powered Force and vulnerable traits are more powerful if there are a lot of choices, because it's harder to defend against them (or gain advantage in the case of vulnerabilities), so groups would probably want to limit the number of power types to something relatively small (like 4 or fewer, maybe).


Bill

Comments

  • Conceptually I think there are all kinds of fun ways you can give special powers to the dice, although each additional interaction increases handling time significantly so I would be very wary of multiplying effects or of layering more than one effect on a die. Tracking what die can do what can quickly get out of hand.

    Dice trumping other dice is a fun effect but I think what you've described above is far too powerful. Doubling a die is hugely huge, especially on defense. The Green Soul Fused dice (where you get to add a third die to the pair) is already one of the tougher powers and it at least costs you using up an extra die. To get that third die effect by doubling an existing die, but not having to spend a third die to do it AND getting to trump a lesser element...I suspect that would be rather over powered.

    Perhaps treat element dice like Soul Fused dice in that you can Advance them in combination with other dice without counting as an Advanced die but then have them canceled (reduced to zero value) if trumped by a superior element.
  • OK -- I don't have a really good feel for the scale of the BRS system yet, since I haven't really played it much. And here's me, already writing a mod. Some people! My mind has been exploding with possibilities. Just thinking about how TPS would play out makes me high. Hopefully I'm not headed for a big anticlimax. :)

    I was looking for a power that was different from Soul Fused dice, but still felt like fearsome power -- a guy is shooting molten flames at you or the earth is swallowing you up! What about a constant mod, like +1 or +2?

    For power types, since undevastated defense and vulnerable traits always affect their component, regardless of advancement, it's just the Force die that's layered. A different colored die might work (if your sets are otherwise uniform) or maybe have a different slot on the battle map for powered Force dice.

    Do you think negating all Fortitude and Finesse is over powered? And what about vulnerability? Is it too vulnerable, with the linked trait AND the extra damage from powered Force?
  • edited April 2010
    The real thing to watch for is handling time and your ability to create play aids to help alleviate that. The play mat that I developed (heinously ugly as it is) does a good job of laying out the dice, what their effects are, and the order those effects happen in. That was a HUGE struggle and the number of times in playtest we had to pause and think...what happens when this type of die meets that...which one goes first...was painful.

    If you start adding a bunch of powers you have to find ways to sort the dice so you know which powers you have. Find room on your play aid to describe those powers, and then analyze all of the interactions between the dice so you can slot that die in the proper order of when it takes effect and make sure you have all of the "what happens if" taken care of.

    Too many dice powers and I think you'll quickly get to overwhelmed.

    Plus, for the game to work tactically you need to be able to keep in your head which dice do what, when its a good time to advance this vs. that, what dice your opponent has, etc. The more powers you get the more chance you have of the game devolving into a) analysis paralysis, or b) people stop caring and just advance whatever because thinking through all the options becomes too hard.

    Also, and this was the deal breaker for me in terms of how many powers I went with, the more options there are, the more random the results become because the more difficult it is to plan an effective strategy. The dice numbers alone without the powers are already random...so if adding the powers is just adding a different flavor of random and not adding any tactical interest...then they're just adding handling time without enhancing game play.

    I think variant powers are cool. But I'd think about them this way:

    1) Does it need a new power, or can you just relabel an existing power. "Soul Fused" is a label that only really has meaning in the Blood Red Sands Setting. Simply changing the name to "Elemental Magic" and calling it a day may be the easiest option.

    2) Does it need a new power, or can in just be flavor to describe why the die has an existing power. For instance the Trait "unbridled rage" and "razor sharp edge" could both be tagged with the "Force" power. Mechanically they have the exact same effect, but when they apply, and how their use has to be positioned and described in the fiction will be radically different. Perhaps "Acid" vs. "Fire" vs. "Lightening" is similarly more effective as being incorporated in the name of the Trait and less as creating a different die power for them.

    3) Can you change an existing power by giving it a slightly different nuance (like adding the trumping effect of the elements)

    4) If you do decide on a new power that is absolutely cool and a must have, can it be limited to special situations...like a particular monster has a unique power that no one else has and thus you don't have to worry about it except for that particular encounter. This is essentially what most of the special effects in the setting appendix are. Little extra powerz that only happen 1 or 2 at a time and just for that particular chronicle.

    5) Can you drop one of the other powers to make room for it? And if so how does that effect the interplay of powers?


    I'd recommend one of those options before expanding the number of powers any further than it already is.

    I'm not sure I follow your Force / Vulnerable interaction. If I were going to come up with a Vulnerable Trait, I'd probably keep it much simpler. Something like "If this die is ever Advanced against a die it is Vulnerable to, it automatically suffers 1 damage step higher than it otherwise would after all other Aspects are applied".
  • Oh, and because I'm stupid...

    Here is the link to the game Blood Red Sands that Bill is discussing variants for.
  • And here is the variant :)
  • Alright, for elemental magic, I like the idea of making it a flavor of green dice -- i.e. if you have elemental magic in your world, it's the only flavor of green dice available. That means you can't get green dice without the risk of cancellation by a superior element.

    For power types, maybe they should be a flavor of orange dice.

    I also like vulnerabilities causing an extra damage step, but I'd apply that to any one die for a vulnerable component (i.e. the trait imparts vulnerability to the whole component and in exchange, you get a free die), in orange die order (advanced first, then used if no advanced can be affected, then available if no used can be affected).

    Resistance can just negate orange aspects.

    I still like linked traits for vulnerabilities, to manage the benefit of the extra die. Hopefully this doesn't create too much complexity, since the linkage will be labeled on the trait.

    Making these changes in the working doc.
  • Here are the new rules:

    FLAVOR: Elemental Traits (Green)
    • When you buy a green die, you must assign an element to it
    • water puts out fire, fire consumes air, air erodes earth, earth soaks up water
    • If you advance superior element dice against inferior elements, each superior die reduces one inferior die to a 0. Likewise, if you advance inferior element dice against a superior element, each superior element die reduces one of yours to 0
    • Value reduction does not negate superiority, so if someone advances water and air and their opponent advances fire, water reduces fire to 0 and fire still reduces air to 0, so water + air vs fire + earth results in all zeros.
    FLAVOR: Power Types (Orange) -- when you choose this flavor you need to state the available power types
    • When you buy an orange die, you must assign a power type to it
    • Power types, like in D&D (acid, cold, fire, force, lightning, thunder, necrotic, poison, psychic, radiant, sonic): I think this can work for genres other than fantasy, too: projectile (guns, arrows), laser, plasma, voodoo, chi, etc
    • You can specify any trait as "resistant" to a power type if you spend an extra die. This makes the whole component resistant and orange dice do not get the benefit of their aspects against this component.
    • You can specify any trait as "vulnerable" to a power type. This gives you an extra die of the same or lower size that you can spend only on a "linked" trait within the same component. Vulnerable traits render their entire component vulnerable and orange dice do an extra step of damage to that component (choose a second die to damage, as with orange dice, but increase its damage level by one step). When a vulnerable trait OR its "linked" trait is devastated, the other trait is immediately devastated as well.
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