[TSoY 2nd] Goblin crunch

Started by Eero Tuovinen, January 17, 2009, 01:30:09 AM

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Eero Tuovinen

While reviewing goblins I decided that I don't actually like the Secret of Addiction at all. It is bad on several levels:
- Of course counting days is just wacky - we want flexible dramatic measurements, or tailoring to the specific addiction at the very least.
- The Secret is wholly negative. Even the purported benefit just means that if you refresh Vigor twice in one day, you're going to only get one point the second time.
- The mechanics are suspect, as they cripple a pretty basic mechanism in preventing certain sorts of Refreshment. I'm not opposed ot crippling characters in principle, but I'd prefer it if that came about due to a choice and not because you were born that way.
- The conceptual core of the goblin is in adaptability, not addiction. The two are put together in a strained manner that does little to connect the two.

Of course I started thinking of ways to improve on this. A basic solution would be to drop the whole Secret, but there is virtue to the addiction angle as a story theme, so that's not going to happen. Another partial solution would be to combine with the Secret of Adaptation to get a positive side to the Secret, but I sort of like the idea of there being goblins who don't control their adaptation too well. Here's my first draft:

Secret of Addiction, v2 (addiction)
The character is addicted to something or other. The player tracks a pool of penalty dice that increases by one die for each Refreshment scene the character has, and applies to all Ability checks made for the character. The player may opt to cancel the penalty dice from individual rolls by spending Vigor. The penalty dice pool is emptied when the character indulges his addiction. When the player makes a check with penalty dice, the character gains one "adaptation experience point" per penalty die. These experience points work normally, except that the player may only spend Advances gained with them to improve the goblin's Adaptation (V) Ability. Cost: 1 Vigor per check to cancel the penalty dice. Requirements: be a goblin, mandatory

So, earmarked experience points. I'm relatively happy with the above, as it ties the addiction into the adaptability as a sort of motor of discomfort - one might view the goblin's constant form-shifting as a defense mechanism caused by the addiction, which makes more sense than some other viewpoints. Likewise the ever-present penalty dice that can be countered relatively cheaply at crucial moments work for me as a generic addiction representation. Giving out xp from a Secret is pretty heavy stuff to put into a mandatory Secret, though, and that amount is probably too much (and needs to be capped, really). Ideally the choice between struggling with the addiction and giving in would have some mechanical weight, I think - don't know if xp is immediate enough to be that weight, though; it sort of fits that the reward for perseverance is long-term, but I don't know if that's good drama.

I also considered simply making the penalty dice pool from above turn into bonus dice when the character acted to indulge his addiction (Dust Devils Devil, essentially), but I found that a bit offensive and simplistic - addiction doesn't give you superpowers, and won't likely help you do anything better just because you have craving bangs.

Opinions? Other ideas for how to do the addiction thing or why it should be dropped? Also, I'm going from the viewpoint that goblin addiction is not the same as human addiction - feel free to suggest crunch that unifies or separates the two further.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.


  Two things:
1) The addiction/Adaptation thing always made sense to me. Their Adaptation is sort of like a supernatural extension of their desire to do anything to fulfill their addiction.
2) This secret seems to fiddly to me. I mean, if we look at the mandatory secrets of the other races, we see a pattern where they get a bonus, but it is at a price. Elves are immortal, but they still lose a lot when they are broken. Rats get bonuses to help their litter, but that only helps them if their litter is around. The original Addiction already has a price, so what could be the benefit?
  Maybe they get a bonus for rolls related to their addiction and a penalty for things that are not related?
Dave M
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I agree with Dave, it's too fiddly. Adaptation can be put to great use as I've seen in the past.

TheSecret of Addiction is quite heavy handed as is. But I don't see the addiction part as off-core; the goblin core is tension between affliction, addiction and adaptation (almost as if Clinton did look for an alliteration ...). Removing the 'once per day' clause would fix it fine for me, as I doubt it will be an issue ever so often. Overcoming the addiction is also tied to five days, I would change these to five refreshments scenes with the character the goblin is afflicted with.

Secret of the Addiction, rev.B
Your character is addicted to a substance or behavior. You cannot refresh any pools if it has been longer than a day since your character took part in this addiction. In addition, your character can never refresh Vigor normally: instead, he only refreshes Vigor through taking part in this addiction.

You can break this addiction if you have the Key of the Affliction. The character must abstain from the substance or behavior. For every Refreshment scene with the character the goblin is afflicted with, get an XP. If you got five XP this way, you may spend them to get the Secret of the Tea-Totaller. The secret is kept and if the character ever takes part in the addiction again, it returns. This secret is mandatory for goblin characters.

Secret of the Tea-Totaller
A Goblin with this Secret can refresh Vigor normally. If he ever indulges in his addiction again, the Goblin loses this Secret, and the Advance spent is docked towards the Adaptation Ability. Requirements: Goblin with the Secret of the Addiction and the Key of the Affliction.


I forgot: This makes refreshing Vigor hard for Goblins who are on turkey, but they still may get Vigor points by spending advances to raise it.