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Author Topic: [Solar System] Let me see if I got equipment ratings right...  (Read 12045 times)
Klaus_Welten
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« on: August 30, 2009, 11:56:10 AM »

So, let's say I have Melee 2 and a sword with +1 for fighting men. I roll the dice to attack a fellow soldier, but I'm unlucky and get +, -, -. That would be a -1, so my final result would be 1. But since I have the forementioned sword, I can substitute my die roll for the rating's value, wichi is +1, so my final result is 3.
Did I get this right?
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2009, 01:38:43 PM »

I fear that this depends on whether you're going by the traditional equipment rating rules or the ones in my new TSoY book.

According to the old rules, an applicable equipment rating is added to a non-zero Ability check result. Thus a Marginal (1) result would be bumbed up to Good (2) by a +1 tool. These rules can be abused so much that I personally don't much like to use them: there is a very narrow range of utility in between making equipment useless (by having each rating cost one Advance and being strict about applying them) or overpowered (using the SS style cheaper equipment ratings liberally). There is a range in there where these rules work, but as these rules break the balance mechanics of the game, there's no telling when you get either too powerful or too weak.

The new rules I figured out through this year are different: your own Ability check is used to find out whether your equipment gets damaged, but the equipment rating itself is used to adjudicate the actual Ability check. So if you got a Marginal (1) result under those rules, a +1 equipment would do nothing for you.

Which rules you'd go with would depend on what you were actually doing, overall. Those have somewhat different feel, and they interact differently with other crunch you might be using. The rule you suggest (equipment replaces the dice roll) is something I've considered, but I didn't use it in TSoY due to how important bonus and penalty dice are for the TSoY crunch landscape. That (or something like it) could be used in some other crunch environment, though.
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Klaus_Welten
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« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2009, 01:57:01 PM »

Hi Eero,

don't you think that the Near rules make rated equipment a bit too weak? On the average, rolling three dice gives you a result of 0, meaning that you go with unmodified skill; if your skill is 2 or 1, a +1 rating is totally useless in most of the cases. That only becomes worse when bonus dice are taken into account, beacuse they raise your chances to roll more than 0; it's a paradox, but a GRANDMASTER swordman would actually waste a Secret if he went for a rated sword, as even a +3 rating would do nothing for him most of the time. I don't know, it feels... weird.
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2009, 02:29:55 PM »

Equipment is much more manageable in the new rules, that's true. A grandmaster swordsman (or any grandmaster, really) won't benefit much from a piece of equipment, but that's fine with me for four reasons:
  • The equipment will still provide insurance against bad rolls. Those do happen now and then. So while the master won't be dependent on his equipment, he does keep it around.
  • TSoY has a very rich crunch environment, which includes many, many ways of dumping a boatload of penalty dice on an opponent. Even a master or grandmaster will benefit from having a piece of equipment he can shunt forward when his own check result falls dramatically at something like that.
  • Equipment ratings have become considerably cheap in TSoY to own. Just like SS, you get ratings equal to the quality level of the equipment; unlike SS this is an inherent and mandatory property of mechanically significant equipment, which means that all of your equipment will have ratings whether you want them or not. In a sense they are thus free as long as you want to have a piece of equipment at all; you might not need the ratings, but if you want to get the benefits of imbued Secrets, you're going to be carrying the equipment ratings as well.
  • The most important point: a grandmaster wouldn't use his equipment ratings as mere replacements for his own check, he'd get some of the equipment mastery Secrets that allow him to do stronger things with the ratings. His equipment or personal skill (an imbued or known Secret) could allow him to turn the equipment ratings into extra Harm, reduced Harm, bonus or penalty dice, discounts on Secret activation or any number of other things. The default thing is pretty lame if you're skilled enough, but at that point nothing prevents you from getting equipment that uses the ratings differently.
The new equipment system is probably the part I'm most proud of in the WoN book, and the part I worked on the hardest. It's very powerful now in terms of setting contact, balance and punch that characters can get out of it. It also makes alternative solutions and expanding the system trivial; I went to great pains to rework what equipment does while preserving the concept of equipment rating unchanged exactly because I wanted to make it easy for anybody to use the old system or their own hack for what equipment ratings do.
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Klaus_Welten
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« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2009, 03:47:30 PM »

Mmm, I didn't consider all those elements... Perhaps I judged too quickly. I'll give it all a second good read. ^_^
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jb.teller4
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Posts: 21


« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2009, 05:35:03 AM »

The new rules I figured out through this year are different: your own Ability check is used to find out whether your equipment gets damaged, but the equipment rating itself is used to adjudicate the actual Ability check. So if you got a Marginal (1) result under those rules, a +1 equipment would do nothing for you.

It's probably because I'm new to TSoY/SS, but I really don't understand what this means.  Can you explain it again and/or give an example or two of how it works in play?  I'm probably missing something simple and it will all click when I hear more, but I'm currently at a loss.

Thanks!
John B.
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John B.
Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2009, 07:33:48 AM »

Which texts have you read? It makes a big difference if you're going by Clinton's text or my Solar System or the new TSoY book.

Regardless, a simple example... let's say that I have a sword according to the new rules, like so:

My Great (3) Sword
This is a masterwork sword, the sort you might expect Gorenite smiths to make. Because it's Great (3), it gets three ratings.
Ratings:
+1 for fighting people
+1 for slaying beasts
+2 against unarmored opponents

Now, if my character was in a fight with this sword, he could replace his check result with a Marginal (1) success (when fighting with the sword) or Standard (2) success (when fighting specifically against unarmored opponents). His actual rolled result would be ignored, except that if it was a failure, then the quality value of the equipment would go down one step - the sword would become merely Standard (2) and it would lose one rating until fixed. (To be exact, the player of the character would choose which rating would be lost when his item loses quality; it wouldn't need to be the one he used.)

As you can see, it makes no sense to use the equipment in this way if you can roll a solid success yourself with the dice. This sort of equipment use would for the most part be for characters at Competent (0) Ability levels. Stormtroopers, king's guardsmen, whatever - they need the equipment to give them some reliability with the dice, you could say if you wanted to get logical about it. Even an Experienced (1) character would statistically get some use from equipment, especially if it had +2 and +3 ratings. Characters at higher Ability levels would probably be better off investing in specialized equipment that does something more powerful than this basic effect - this is fine with me, I wanted the basic equipment effect to be something commonplace that'd allow me to have equipment appear all over the place instead of being the major artefact that you'd get in Clinton's rules.

An edge case with this equipment rating usage is that the +1 rating is only normally useful for a character when he's rolled a failure - and thus the equipment will always get worn a bit when he activates such. I'm not greatly concerned with this myself, it makes for suitable drama, even if it means that equipment needs constant maintenance in the hands of the inept. It's easy enough to bring in a Secret or Imbuement that allays this, anyway; something that allows you to pay a Pool point instead of getting the equipment broken, for example.

I should also say (I think I intimate this in the book as well) that I'm very interested in hearing about the experiences and solutions others use in leveraging equipment ratings. I spent quite some time coming up with my current solution that'd both preserve the concept of the equipment rating unchanged (important for backwards compatibility) and bring the rules in line with the rest of the system. What I like about my new system is that equipment is now not one of those mechanically volatile, awesome subsystems that might blow on your face at any moment. The new book certainly has a lot of those, but I feel that they are in the proper places in there: when your character gets an alien symbiote or starts combining dream shamanism with Three-Corner magic or whatever, we all know and accept that hey, he might break the world. The feeling just is not there if my character breaks the game by getting a bog-mundane sword from a bazaar and finding out that equipment ratings are actually the most powerful force in the game by far. It's much better if they are so weak that I can scatter them about like so many pennies without worrying that something is going to break.
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jb.teller4
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Posts: 21


« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2009, 08:56:00 AM »

Thanks for answering so quickly!

Which texts have you read? It makes a big difference if you're going by Clinton's text or my Solar System or the new TSoY book.

I have Clinton's TSoY and your Solar System as a PDF.  I don't have the World of Near (though it's on my Wish List).


Your explanation above made a lot more sense to me, thanks.  I'm pretty sure I've got it now.

The only question I have is the cost (if any) of using equipment.  From the description you just gave, it seems like using equipment has no cost (except damaging the equipment if your ability check failed).  What is the cost of a) getting new equipment and b) using equipment?

I think I remember reading in another post that the first time you use a piece of equipment you have to spend a number of pool equal to the rating of the sword +1 per imbuements, then it's yours and you can use it freely.  In other words, there's a pool cost, but no Advances cost.  Is that right?  I'm guessing that you can take equipment as a Secret, which would give you the benefit that it can't be taken away from you long term (or you get the Advances back if it is destroyed or taken).


-John B.
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John B.
jb.teller4
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« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2009, 09:11:21 AM »

I did think of one more question about imbuements... are they separate from the ratings?  What I mean is can you use an imbuement while using your ability check result instead of the equipment rating?  I'm assuming the answer is yes and I'm guessing that imbuements are a big part of the "specialized equipment that [do] something more powerful than this basic effect" you mentioned.

-John B.
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John B.
oliof
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Harald Wagener - Zurich, Switzerland


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« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2009, 03:00:46 PM »

new equipment rules in World of Near? I need to take a closer look.
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2009, 09:55:39 PM »

Yeah, the new rules are somewhat different from the old ones, Harald - they're in the generic crunch section at the beginning of the book. I made a point of keeping the equipment ratings intact as a concept, but the way they're used is pretty different. Imbuements work differently, too.

John: don't get confused by this discussion of my new TSoY equipment rules - it's all explained pretty clearly (I hope) in the book, these forum clarifications aren't really that good in comparison. I can tell about the old rules, too, if you'd rather hear about them.

As for your questions, remembering that we're discussing the new rules: Owning equipment always costs one Advance per piece of equipment - it's just like a Secret. This is radically different from how it used to be, but it works better this way, I find. The one Advance buys you however many equipment ratings your item has, and the chance to have Imbuements in the item. Imbuements are Secrets that are possessed by the item instead of the character. It used to be that Imbuements cost Advances just like normal Secrets, but they also gave you a one-point discount on using the Secret for various reasons. My new rule is that Imbuements do not cost Advances (although you still need to be able to justify the Imbuement in the setting, and an item may only have at most as many Imbuements as it has quality value), but instead they have an introduction cost: when a character uses an item with any Imbuements for the first time in a scene, he has to pay Pool equal to the number of Imbuements to introduce the item. My goal with this new dynamic has been to support powerful magical artifacts better than before: the logic of these new rules is that you don't need 10 Advances to own Excalibur, but you need to be quite virile to swing it around - and even then you'd likely only bring it up in an important scene where it's actually useful instead of using it all the time.

As can be seen above, equipment only has extra Pool costs if it has Imbuements. Thus the simple sword in my last post is free to use, as it doesn't have Imbuements. If we gave it some, it'd look like this:

My Ultimate (5) Magic Sword
This is a magical sword crafted from the bones of a bird, such as some Qek craftsmen make for ritual purposes. It whistles when swung, and should it pass nearby your ears, they will bleed blood. The sword's vibrations break bones quite easily on impact; the user can activate the Secret of Mighty Blow at will. Also, the user can sacrifice a '+' die from his Ability check to bumb up the equipment ratings of the sword by one step for the rest of the conflict.
Ratings:
+1 for fighting people
+1 for fighting spirits
+2 against birds and lizards
+2 against hearing opponents
+3 for ritual dances involving martial spirits
Imbuements:
Mighty Blow (V)
Equipment Mastery (I)
Cost: 1 Vigor and 1 Instinct per scene

The type of Pool each Imbuement contributes to the introduction cost is determined by the Story Guide according to his whim - whichever Pool the Secret itself uses is always a good pick. As you can see, Imbuements and Secrets are mechanically interchangeable: the Mighty Blow Imbuement and Secret of Mighty Blow do the same things once they are introduced into the game one way or another.
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oliof
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Harald Wagener - Zurich, Switzerland


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« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2009, 04:35:31 AM »

This does also dovetail into the issue of lending some piece of equipment to someone else: They could possibly use the ratings as-is, but would need to pay for the imbuements.
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2009, 03:18:21 AM »

Actually, the imbuements are free for everybody. The only cost associated with them is the introduction cost, which applies to the whole item. So if your item has imbuements, you pay the introduction cost once in each scene if you want to use the item for anything, ratings included. The introduction cost is per-item, though, so if you loan your item to somebody else in the middle of the scene, they don't need to repay the introduction cost - or that's how I figure it, the situation hasn't come up for me yet.
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oliof
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Harald Wagener - Zurich, Switzerland


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« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2009, 12:55:39 AM »

yes, but you can loan and the recipients pay for the imbuements if they want them and you didn't before. That's a nice feature.
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