Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mefloquin: Three Power Sources & Action Verbs

I've alluded to these before in the past but I was pondering some and wanted to elaborate before I go to bed, before my nice little Mefloquin buzz fully kicks in. This is intended to be aimed at my OD&D/BFRPG/LL/S&W/oldskoolish hack codenamed "SEPTIMUS."

The 3 LBB have 3 core classes: Fighting-Man, Magic-User, and Cleric. The fighter and magic-user use wildy different mechanics for the most part. The cleric is sort of a blend of the two, the first multiclass if you will. He's decent at fighting but also uses vancian spells.

One problem with this is that clerics don't feel too unique. They use the same sub-systems as everyone else so they don't have much flavor of their own. In good campaigns, clerics serve as the beating heart and moral compass of a party which gives them a legitimate sub-system of their own in a way, but that is not really reinforced by mechanics, so its wildly DM and campaign and player specific.

Supplement 1 introduced the thief. At first I thought that the thief was an essential part of the four man team, but I am starting to think that she is not really required for several reasons (probably worthy of a post on their own). So let's scrap the thief for now.

In SEPTIMUS, I think your Power Source (some might call it Class) should reflect what makes you different from an average joe. More HP, better defenses, riches and cash -- those are all quantitative changes. Any commoner who works hard and gets lucky can buy a suit of plate mail and get lucky on a HP roll. A power source reflects a qualitative difference. You harness the power of magic, an indomitable martial spirit, or divine power itself. It should be a significant choice and be clearly mechanically differentiated from the other options.

Going back to Spell Grammar (see earlier post), your Power Source should effect your choice of verbs or actions that you can attempt. It gives you access to a more specialized grammar in that particular field. Let's create four levels of verb grammar access:
None - Can't do anything
Basic - One or two elementary choices
Simple - Three or four choices that are strictly better than the basic options
Advanced - Sub-choices based on the simple ones (so 6-8) that are more specific than the simple ones and often strictly better, if less generally useful

FIGHTING MEN (MARTIAL) types should have a wide variety of verbs dealing with physical combat.
COMBAT verbs: Advanced
MAGIC verbs: Basic (or maybe none?)
FATE verbs: Basic (or maybe simple?)

MAGIC USERS (ARCANE) types should have a wide variety of verbs dealing with magic.
COMBAT verbs: Basic
MAGIC verbs: Advanced
FATE verbs: Basic (or maybe simple?)

CLERICS (DIVINE) types should have some access to both of the other verb sets but have privileged access to their own mechanics, those for Fate. After all, a cleric's faith is best in a situation where neither arms nor brains can save you.
COMBAT verbs: Simple
MAGIC verbs: Simple
FATE verbs: Simple (or maybe Advanced?)

Here's some examples of what the verb trees might look like.

MAGIC VERBS (Power Words)
The nouns associated with these verbs are the seven Magical Arts. Air, Water, Fire, Earth, Aether (Spirit/White), Black (Diabolic), and Natural (Animal).

Conjuring School -- These Power Words generally create something from nothing. They tend to be offensive. They are strong against divination.
Basic - None
Simple - Create or Infuse (create water, start a fire, create spirit, create entropy aka necrosis, etc -- limited object summoning and direct damage)
Advanced - Summon (critter summoning), Evoke (direct damage)

Divination School -- These Power Words help one to understand the nature of the universe. They tend to be neutral or supportive. They are strong against wards.
Basic - Detect (the absence or presence of something unusual is there or not using ESP of some sort)
Simple - Divine (traditional divination of something beyond the normal senses, but with less than perfect accuracy -- why priests have been in business forever)
Advanced - Dispel (once you know something, you can get rid of it), Design (you have to know something to be able to build it)

Warding School -- These magics are generally abjurative in nature. They tend to be defensive. They are strong against conjurations.
Basic: Resist (even a simple barbarian might know how to Resist Cold through some sort of shamanic trick)
Simple: Restore (Its one thing to ward off damage before it happens, but its more complicated to restore something already affected to its pristine state)
Advanced: Remove (proactively getting rid of an unwanted element), Ward (preemptively keeping an unwanted element out)

MARTIAL VERBS (Techniques)
The nouns associated with these verbs are the weapons.
Incomplete a of yet...

The Italian School -- These Techniques are oriented towards maintaining one's guard, defensive techniques, and controlling the tempo of a fight. It is strong against Dirty Tricks.

School of Dirty Tricks -- These Techniques are aimed at inflicting maximum harm on an enemy, even if they are seen as being underhanded. It is strong against the German School.
Advanced: Backstab (massive HP damage), Cripple (ability track damage)

The German School -- The German School is oriented at no-nonsense techniques that put an emphasis on speed and simplicity with a strong offense. It is strong against the Italian School.
Advanced: Master Hew (Long range, early in the engagement, triangular stepping)


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