Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More on Power Sources, Primes, and Ability Scores

Back in "Possible Combinations" I alluded to a few ways that just about every common fantasy archetype could be represented using combinations of "Power Sources," "Prime Abilities," and "Ability Scores:" http://vedronspotionshop.blogspot.com/2009/03/possible-combinations.html

This is an extension of that post, some more thinking out loud to see how it all works out. I want to see what each of the archetypal roles "should" look like to determine which factor controls which aspects of the character's abilities.

THE PRIMES - Primes represent training that your character has undergone. It is "nurture."

BODY PRIME: Fighters (maybe Barbarians), Swordmages, and Paladins.
Weapons: Wide variety, especially melee
Armor: Fighters & Paladins traditionally wear heavy armor, although Swordmages would be fine archetypally in chain, as would barbarians.
HP: The most durable HP-wise.
Body-Related Checks: Get +15% to Body-related checks
Movement: Move an extra space
Endurance: Get +15% to throw off harmful conditions

AGILITY PRIME: Swashbucklers, Wizards, and Monks.
Weapons: They use a pretty restrictive set of weapons. Swashbucklers traditionally are limited to light blades, basic weapons like clubs, and maybe a few basic ranged weapons. Wizards just use their staves, darts, daggers, and the like. Monks prefer their open hands, and I can see them using staves and some missile weapons (I've never really cared for the AD&D conception of Monks using polearms).
Armor: All of these guys tend to wear light or no armor. They tend to be highly mobile.
HP: They tend to not be terribly durable.
Agility-Related Checks: Get +15% to Agility-related checks
Beguiling: Gain an extra minor action each round
Initiative: Get +15% to initiative checks

HEART PRIME: Skalds (4E Warlords), Bards (or maybe sorcerers), and Clerics.
Weapons: As far as weapons go, they use a smaller variety of weapons than the Body prime types but more than the Agility types.
Armor: These guys are all over the map as far as armor goes -- some are in plate, others are in light leathers.
HP: They tend to be somewhat durable.
Heart-Related Checks: Gain +15% to Heart checks.
Inspiring and Impetous: Gain an extra large bonus when spending FATE points
Leadership and Senses: Gan +15% to Leadership and Perception checks

THE POWER SOURCES - The Power Sources represent how your character usually exerts his or her will on the world. It defines the "verbs" that you have mastery over.

MARTIAL POWER SOURCE: Fighters, Swashbucklers, Skalds. These guys dominate melee. They thrive on getting physical with the opponent. They should have lots of "verbs" that let them perform exploits in hand to hand combat and with weapons. They tend to be decent at leadership or in a bad situation.
Martial Verbs: Advanced (3)
Magic Verbs: Basic (1)
Morale Verbs: Simple (2)

ARCANE POWER SOURCE: Swordmages, Wizards, and Bards/Sorcerers. These types are magical. Some are elementalists (Fire, Cold, Thunder, Lighting, etc). Some are conjurers. Some are enchanters. They all tend to be cruddy leaders, and not so useful when the plan goes awry. They need verbs that relate to Power Words.
Martial Verbs: Basic (1)
Magic Verbs: Advanced (3)
Morale Verbs: Simple (2)

DIVINE POWER SOURCE: Paladins, Monks, Clerics. All of these characters should be good to have around when the plan goes awry. I see them as having mastery over Fate. This also has a nice advantage of cleanly differentiating Wizards and Clerics; Arcanists are very Magical, Priests control Fate. They need verbs that let them control probabilities and/or "fate" points, and they also have a splash of magic and melee to boot.
Martial Verbs: Simple (2)
Magic Verbs: Simple (2)
Morale Verbs: Advanced (3)

ABILITY SCORES - Ability Scores are the Nature side of your character, what you are born with. They effect largely derived statistics or the "nouns" you control in your action-sentences.

High Body: I have envisioned Body as controlling HP and carrying capacity. Carrying capacity basically determines two things: Ability to wear heavy armor and ability to carry a wide variety of physical weapons (Melee Nouns).
BEST CASE: A Body-Prime Martial character (Fighter) has the most use for a high body score. They are great with weapons so this lets them wear heavy armor and still carry 3-4 weapons with them. They are often in hand to hand combat so the extra HP are handy.
WORST CASE: An Agility-Prime Arcane character (Wizard) has the least use for a high body score. They can't use many weapons so being able to carry a lot isn't helpful. And they shouldn't be good at using armor. HP are still useful for anyone though.

High Agility: Agility should control the number of Power Words or True Names (Magical/Knowing Nouns) you can learn. It could also perhaps effect skills or languages known.
BEST CASE: An Agility-Prime Arcane character (Wizard) can get the most use out of a high Agility score. They have the verbs to make use of a wide variety of Power Words.
WORST CASE: A Body-Prime Martial type (Fighter) sucks at using magic, so knowing a bunch of power words isn't too helpful. But if you use those Power Words as a sort of basic skill system too then it might be ok.

High Heart: High Heart should affect your retainers (Leadership Nouns). It also could effect "luck" or Fate reserves somehow.
BEST CASE: A Heart Prime-Divine Type (Cleric) likely benefits the most from having high Heart. They have strong Morale verbs that let them make excellent use of followers or a "Fate" mechanic.
WORST CASE: An Agility-Prime Arcane Type (Wizard) likely benefits the least. Although, having reserves of "Fate" and bodyguards is handy for anyone.


One potential problem is that I've made having a high Body ability score important for wearing heavy armor. This is bad in that you could in theory have an agility-based wizard/swashbuckler/monk type with a high body score running around in plate mail, even though that is not archetypal.
FIX: Part of the Agility Prime should be either a ban on Heavy Armor, or a bonus to wearing light armor that makes it better than wearing Heavy Armor.

Arcane Power Sources could deal with being an armor step lighter than their fellows.
FIX: Part of the Arcane Power Source perhaps conflicts with wearing heavier armors.

Should Racial Benefits control your Prime or your Ability Score? Basically, should all Elves be Wizards, Swashbucklers and Monks (Agility Prime)? Or should all Elves know extra power words (Bonus to Agility Score)?


Let's see if we can brew up a classic archetype.

Here's a pointy-hat wizard. The Arcane Power source is obvious: We want control over a wide variety of verbs that relate to magic, because that is the primary way in which we'll interact with the world. Prime is pretty simple too. We want Agility. The extra minor action will let us sustain more spells, we want to get the jump on our enemies, and +15% on ranged attacks (Agility checks) will be nice so we can sling spells from afar. For placing ability scores, high agility is essential because we want to know as many Power Words as possible to fuel spells. The second score can go in Body for more HP and weapons if we think we'll be getting physical from time to time or Heart if we think we might want some bodyguards or protection from Fate.

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