This is the section for use by Huitzil to contribute to the Princess project without breaking the thread ban or getting despondent and committing suicide.
These are the last few comments he has to make. Check back here from time to time since they cannot be posted in the thread.
April 08, 2010:Edit
"Put it this way: you take a feat once, and all your Charms get an improvement or a new option ... or, at any rate, a large fraction of them do. Take the suggestion for a Destiny-linked feat, that lets you bind a Charm activation into a token that anyone can trigger later. That's a quite powerful option -- the difference between a power that goes off when you spend the resources, and one you can pay for now and use later (after, perhaps, getting back what you spent on it) is at least 1 dot, perhaps 2. So this single feat adds 1 or 2 dots to every single power you've got. It's not quite as bad as Geist's Keys and Manifestations, but it scales to the same order.
Allow the feats to stack -- let it be legal to use every feat that's compatible with a Charm on the same activation -- and the number of ways to use a Charm is on the order of the number of subsets of the set of feats you have. That's the exponential power curve I'm talking about."
Except it ISN'T an exponential power curve, because stacking feats INCREASES THE COST OF THE CHARM. The ability to PAY MORE to get additional effect from a Charm is not an exponential increase in power. Yes, you get ONE free Invocation... and that about balances us with the ability to cast a Contract for free by triggering its catch, or the raw fuck-you power of a Sin-Eater's Manifestations. Technically, it increases the number of effects you are able to cast exponentially, but only technically -- in practice, being able to cast 4 effects, two of which are very similar to other ones you can cast, is not considered an exponential increase over being able to cast 2 entirely distinct effects; and the way Invocations interact is intuitive and easy to track, so it's not like you have an exponential number of things to keep track of.
Why do you hate this idea so much? You say it won't work at all and should be abandoned, but your reasons given are either objections to very specific parts (you think the Destiny Invocation is too powerful, even though I based it off of your suggestion for Veritas), or not really matched to what is true about the system (you keep saying it adds exponential versatility or exponential power growth when neither is true). Meanwhile, you're revising and re-revising your Charm overhaul, even though it's a non-starter due to the incremental nature of the powers you want to have, the vastly increased amount of rules text for each Charm, and the frankly stupid "elemental Invocations" working as Renown/prerequisites instead of Charms.
Why are you so committed to the idea that the existing Charm system MUST be scrapped and rebuilt? 220.127.116.11 16:38, April 8, 2010 (UTC)
April 05, 2010:===
So, basically... you want there to be more Charms, but each Charm to do less?
I just don't see the problem you're solving here. We HAVEN'T come to the conclusion that the current Charm system is unsalvageable, and I don't know why you and ES are acting like we have. If you have a problem with the current powerset, we can change aspects of the current powerset, I just don't understand why you went from "let's put the current system through its paces and see if we need to change it" to "we HAVE to make it something entirely different" so quickly.
April 04, 2010:===
What is it going to take for you guys to realize your new system is too complicated? People keep saying it and you either flat-out ignore them or say "nuh-uh". Each Charm family requires a ridiculous amount of rules text under your model. It's by design that it is this way, and has nothing to do with it being a work-in-progress. It is much more complicated for very little benefit. EVERYONE I have showed this system to says it is too complicated for them. You two keep assuming that because it's not too complicated for YOU, or not too complicated for OTHER PEOPLE WHO DESIGN GAMES, that it must therefore be simple and anyone who thinks it is overcomplicated is wrong.
We're not just making this game for the people designing it. We're making it for people who don't have enough immersion in the rules to follow mechanical discussions. Stop ignoring input from our target audience.
And what does ES mean when he says "we genuinely found that the old Charm system didn't make you feel like a Magical Girl"? Because he's sure as hell not talking about any playtesting I saw.
March 29, 2010:===
I really think that the new model is a non-starter. I hate the way the new model makes everyone's powers elemental-themed but makes it impossible to be elemental-focused, I hate the way the Invocations don't actually add anything, just restrict what you can get access to, and I hate the idea of making people dabble in them to get access to their good effects. It deforms things by putting far, far, far too much importance on elemental magic -- many magical girls don't have elemental-themed powersets, and we want to keep it that way.
So here are a bunch of Invocations as I originally proposed them: they go with the existing Charms, adding things to them rather than dictating their effect entirely. The only thing changed about the existing Charms, for now, is that the various "magical attack" Charms (Geyser's Eruption, Incineration, Sphere of Oblivion, Scouring Flood, Call Down The Thunder, Towering Inferno, Earthquake) are taken out, we come up with new Charms to go in those slots. They are incorporated into the Volley Charm, which all Princesses have an affinity for and functions as follows:
You focus the magic of your Inner Light into a blast of energy, striking at your foes. When you first get this Charm, choose a Mental or Social Attribute; rolls made to cast this Charm use that Attribute + Occult + Volley - target's Defense. The magical attack can take any form you choose, but its mechanics stay the same no matter what form it takes.
(*): The Volley costs 1 Wisp to cast, has a range of 10/20/40, and deals one bashing damage per success.
(**): The Volley's range extends to 20/40/80.
(***): The Volley may deal either bashing or lethal damage and doesn't subtract the target's Defense.
(****): The Volley now may affect everyone in a radius equal to your Inner Light in yards.
(*****): You may spend a point of Willpower when making the Volley attack to either have it deal aggravated damage, or apply a special "super attack" effect based on the Invocation applied. Then we would have a sidebar with Call the Thunder, Earthquake, Towering Inferno, Scouring Flood, and 5-dot attacks for Legno, Vetriolo and Vuoto as the "super attacks". This would work like the system MB proiposes, but would be the only one that did so.
Then there are the Invocations. Each of these represents some magic word or phrase you say when casting your Charm; to cast a Charm silently, don't apply any Invocation and take a -2 penalty. Invocations cost 5 XP to purchase. Most Charms have two associated Invocations, you can buy one of them when you have 2 dots in the associated Charm, and buy the other one when you have 4 dots. The elemental Charms each have an extra Invocation that works with the Volley Charm, so they have 3 Invocations apiece, you can buy an Invocation at 2, 3, and 4 dots in the associated elemental Charm. The elemental-attack Invocations have conditional bonuses associated with them, but you do not have to meet the condition to use the Invocation (and alter the effects of the attack).
Invocations modify the traits of the Charm without defining them, or give conditional bonuses. You can always apply one Invocation to a Charm for free, but each one after that costs 1 additional Wisp. It lets us have a character's magic abilities flavor each other without coming up with new unique effects for each combination of Charms, doesn't put too much emphasis on element Charms above others, and is a place to put minor buffs and effects that don't deserve a Charm of their own but work as little add-ons. A not-exhaustive, not-finalized list of what each Invocation adds to the Charm it is applied to (ideas welcome):
Aegis : +2 if the Charm is being used to shield someone from harm
Aegis : Charm counts as having double successes for purposes of dispelling or counteracting it
Arete : The target of this Charm's Speed is doubled for the scene.
Aria : +2 if cast on a hostile target that is denied Defense (such as from surprise), and makes the Volley charm an arcing lightning bolt
Aria : At a cost of 2 additional Wisps, cast this Charm reflexively
Aqua : Make a contested Wits + Intelligence roll against hostile target; if you win, this Charm gets +2; also makes the Volley charm a geyser that pushes target back
Aqua : +2 if cast while at least partway immersed in water
Balm : The target of this Charm may reroll any failed attempt to resist a derangement he made this scene.
Destiny : +2 if used on a friendly target with Morality or Belief 7 or greater
Destiny : Turns the Charm into a magic token that can be activated (and cast) by anyone
Fuego : +2 if used on a hostile target none of your friends have attacked, and makes the Volley charm a persisting bolt of flame
Fuego : +2 if cast near a flame source of Bonfire-size or greater
Fuego : The target of the Charm sheds bright light in all directions for the rest of the scene or until you dispel it
Illusion : This Charm can be cast silently even if other Invocations are applied (it still gets the -2 penalty)
Kiai : Apply an equipment bonus to a Charm that incorporates it
Legno : +2 if used on a hostile target you have won a contested or resisted social roll against, and makes the Volley charm a grappling vine
Plainsong : Reduce the Commonalty penalty by your Plainsong dots
Plainsong : Substitute Expression for the skill normally used to cast the Charm
Salvation : +2 if used on a target with Morality or Belief 5 or less
Terra : +2 if used on a hostile target who has both feet on solid ground, and makes the Volley charm a knockdown effect
Terra : +2 if cast underground
Terra : Extend the duration of a Charm's effect
Twining : +2 if used on a friendly target to whom you have an Intimate relationship, in either form
Twining : Cast a beneficial Charm sympathetically
Vetriolo : +2 to the Charm unconditionally, but requires you to take a resistant lethal. If applied to Volley, the attack ignores armor.
Vetriolo : Pay all or part of the Wisp cost of a Charm in points of resistant lethal damage instead.
Vuoto : +2 if cast in an area illuminated with no more than candlelight. If applied to Volley, the attack ignores darkness penalties.
Vuoto : Targeted character can't spend Willpower to resist or contest this Charm's use
March 22, 2010:===
So if I get this right, you buy the elemental Upgrades and Variations the way you bought the normal ones -- meaning now you're getting less per Charm dot, since you don't get the "free" elemetal abilities. And you can buy elemetal upgrades, but get a penalty on them for not having the "right" ones, so you're allowed to get a non-standard powerset but the mechanics kind of punish you for it. At this point, why bother making them elemental associations and giving out the penalty for having the wrong one? And at THAT point, why stay committed to the model of incremental upgrades that is inextricably entwined with the new system? The only way I can see making this work is looping back around to something almost totally like the old system of branching Charm trees, so why can't we just return to that system? I don't think this solves the issue, and I don't think the concept is good enough to warrant all this fighting for. Incremental upgrades are good and in-genre for magic attacks and blessings and bad for everything else. I'd rather have two choices each for two, three, and four dot powers, than a bunch of choices for a bunch of two-dot powers. It's just not worth it.
Also, I had a conversation with sun_tzu about the San Francisco setting, specifically about vampires, then about Princess politics. Rather than go through and edit the whole thing down, I just posted up the log here: March22ChatLog
March 20, 2010:===
The more I think about it, the more I think this new Charm system revision just isn't going to work out. It just restricts too much of your powerset to your Queen, putting an inordinate amount of importance on that choice. Under the new system, a Princess with the same charms can do much less than she could in the old system -- almost everywhere the old powerset has an AND, the new one has an OR. This would naturally lead to people dabbling in every element to be able to get the effects they want, which is not something we want to encourage at all. And the idea of putting all the "cool" powers in Invocations is fundamentally a bad one, because without dabbling, that means you get only one "cool" power per Charm tree until you get both the Charm AND the Invocation to the 5-dot level. And let's face it, incremental upgrades aren't exciting. The fact they cost less XP is cold comfort when the new dots I get in a Charm aren't going to be new effects half the time.
I've talked to Flarelord and sun_tzu about this and they both agree the new system isn't as good as the old one. I think a lot of people are, like them, not really paying attention to the mechanics, but when you get them to look it over, they don't like it as much. I think we should go back to the old system with old Invocations, with the addition of generic "attack" and "bless" trees that everyone has affinity access to and have their effects determined by what Invocation you add, like the new system. This gives everyone easy access to what all magical girls should have, and retains the uniqueness and cool factor of the other trees. I'd like to talk about this after the playtest game on Sunday, while we're all in IRC.
March 17, 2010:===
One thing we have to keep in mind with the new Charm system is that we can't put all the good, interesting, or "cool" effects as Invocations. The plain, un-Invoked Charms have to be cool and useful as well, otherwise we limit their utility entirely based on what Queen you chose. That's bad, your powerset shouldn't be entirely dictated by your Queen, and if the cool and useful part of your powerset is dictated by your Queen that's close enough.
It's one of the reasons the current Restore charm fails, because its application is so incredibly narrow. The abse Charm should heal 1 bashing per success, or one lethal per 2 successes, the upgrade should be 2 bashing or 1 lethal per success or 1 agg per 2 successes, we can probably get rid of the sympathetic casting upgrade, and with the two slots that frees up we should add something that emulates Purify (remove toxins, diseases, etc.) and something that deals with suppressing/ameliorating derangements and mental illnesses. Those would, I think, cover the bases adequately enough. Similarly, the "ofuda" ward function should be one of the basic charms in Banish, with probably Light over All becoming an elemental Invocation; otherwise, it's just too narrow in application without using Invocations.
The upgrades for Bubble Shield in Protect are good enough, though I have issue with Terra's because every Bubble Shield should have more longevity than one turn -- maybe a normal Shield loses some amount of Structure per turn, like 1 or 3 points, and a Granite Shield loses that amount every (Protect) turns? But the upgrades to Barrier Jacket, I think, fall flat. Too many of them are things from Excel, which I don't think you should be counting out yet, and Legno's upgrade is just terrible compared to the others -- whoop-de-doo, I can heal one Bashing every 8 minutes, and won't get the other benefits of Quick Healer because I can't stay Transformed for that long, and nothing about it helps me in combat the way the others do. Maybe if it was werewolf-style regeneration, that would be better.
I don't think we need a version of Rites or Ceremonies. I think we just need a Merit that you can buy in respect to a certain Charm that lets you cast it while not Transformed. Sworn, I'm kind of on the fence if they need powers or if their role should be downgraded (they don't seem a good fit except for antagonist groups and I think said antagonist groups should ALSO be more focused on Princesses, do we need to give their human helpers unique mechanics?) -- but if we do keep them, they can just be able to buy Charms without an affinity discount and not get to apply Invocation upgrades, maybe they buy a generic Inner Light invocation that doesn't change the traits of the Charm used but lets them add dice to the pool. Oh, and we decided against starting at 8 Belief a while ago, and balancing stats with background NPCs in mind is a terrible, terrible idea. Player characters are who we balance for, and player characters are going to have higher than 3 dice in the things they do.
March 12, 2010:===
Two comments ont he new Charm system, both of which are bringing up older things that I don't think were resolved.
First, I don't think the Invocation dice should be conditional, you should just add them to the desired Charm. Why? Because even if we're no longer making it so you have to play your characterization close to our stereotype, we're still acting as if Charms are something EXTERNAL. There's this desire that you can only use your Invocations when pursuing your Queen's goals, and why? You know an Invocation, it isn't leased to you. It's an expression of your personal Inner Light, there's no reason for it to be conditional. It also makes it harder to misuse (which is something already built into the abilities as being generally positive ones), and that cuts off roleplaying opportunities and makes it harder to run current or former followers of the Radiant Queens as antagonists. Maybe there can be a few conditional bonuses ON TOP of the standard one die per dot of Invocation, but I don't think the Invocation bonus itself being conditional is at all helpful.
Second, yes, I think Fight should be made universal affinity. I already said everyone's Charms should give them something to do in combat, and it's perfectl in-genre to give everyone regardless of Calling access to attack abilities. I was told that it was okay, because other Charms would give people combat abilities -- but those Charms haven't done that. Appear's all about out of combat utility, Bless is all done before a battle, bubble shields with Protect are too reactive to be satisfying as your one combat ability, Banish is only useful against a specific set of circumstances, creation of elements with Create will not create useful attacks because that just makes it redundant with said Attack tree, and relying on certain elemental Invocations to give combat utility is bad because not everyone will have those. Yes, even though Ami didn't have an attack throughout all of Season 1 of Sailor Moon, everyone else DID, and everyone including Ami regularly had their magical attacks upgraded even though they weren't all Champions. To not make Fight universal-affinity requires us to devote design space on other Charms to having repeatable combat utility, and right now we simply aren't doing that. While there are abilities that can be used in a fight, they are more situational or "gimmicky", and would get tiresome to set up every time as your contribution to the battle. Make Excel the new affinity for Champions only, and make Fight universal-affinity; it just makes sense. Combat will be a major element in some games, requiring everyone have access to combat abilities even if they don't want to be Champions, those combat abilities should be simple and accessible and not require lots of advanced strategy to set up, nor should they be things that will just get old.
March 09, 2010:===
The problem with the Fight Invocations is that there's too many variations on trying to incapacitate the target for a round. Grappling and knocking down are natural ways to do this, but giving them a seizure or maiking them take a round to put themselves out aren't. (Fuego's is the best by far -- the other Charms have a chance of taking away all or part of their action, but Fuego forces them to stop and put it out or take a huge amount of damage). ES has already talked about how to change Fuego and Aria -- the Aria fix of arcing to other targets seems like it might get either redundant or complicated with Explosion, but I can't think of a better one right now. Terra's Invocation, however, is extremely lackluster; it's just plain not as good as an attack that lets you actually attack, you know, your opponents. I was thinking the Terra Invocation would be something like the fights in "Fullmetal Alchemist" where they transmute giant spikes or fists out of the floor and walls. If the Terra attack was a "stone fist" type of thing, it could have the knockdown functionality instead of Aqua (which seems like a better fit for it), and Aqua's Invocation could do something else. Maybe penalize the target's Dexterity for a few turns?
Also, I think WyldCard making details on internal politics and factions amont the Radiant Queens is a terrible idea. That's how setting design worked in the oWoD, the Radiant Queens right now are drawn in broad strokes for a very, very good reason -- and aligning yourself to one is more a matter of philosophy than politics. We should not tell players how those philosophies interact, because the players and STs should be the ones to decide that. A description of actual politics and factionalism can only be harmful.
This is where mechanical systems go.