Wheel of Time mechanics


  • Admin

    @bad-at-lurking said in Wheel of Time mechanics:

    One thing that I think might help with character diversity, if you ever get the point of having a population that sustains it, is making crafting, trading and lore specialties as demanding as the One Power or earning a Blademaster reputation.

    Yes, that'd be great. But (and this isn't WoT-specific), what makes it worth it for them? What can they do, in practical terms?

    Crafting is easier in a way - they can make cool swords and staves. Trading requires an economy, and we haven't discussed that at all, but I'd very much like to. Finally... lore.. I don't have anything here. What's going to come in as handy as the stuff we've been discussing already?

    It would be interesting to see these very powerful characters who basically have to build up their networks of merchants and tradespeople if they want to be able to maintain a Great House or build (and sustain) an army. Or have to consult scholars to get clues as to where McGuffin X might be, etc.

    Resource management is where that's at. But it's hard. We'd need a robust system from the ground up.

    If all those specialties come out of the same base pool of points and count against some theoretical maximum, (which may be absolute or slowly lifted over time), you have characters who have to make meaningful trade-offs. Sure, it's great to be best in breed at something, but if that's ALL you are, you need a support network.

    I don't like maximums, I prefer... choices. If you over-invest in one thing you won't be as good in others - and then the challenge is making sure what you don't buy is as significant as what you do. You'll never get it quite right - ultimately a 'build' will be the 'best one' compared to the rest - but as long as the power gap isn't too large I think I'd rather have that, than everyone having to be cardboard copies of each other.

    Thoughts?

    @seraphim73 said in Wheel of Time mechanics:

    I'd like PCs to purchase overall potency, individual Powers or weaves directly, with each purchase becoming more narrow but more impactful.
    I'm trying to figure out a system that allows PCs to buy sword forms directly to improve their fighting

    Neither of these sound easy in the slightest, and they both sound like they would result in a great many "filler" skills/weaves/forms that very few people take (and some that everyone takes).

    Yeah, after some thought I don't like the early take of actually buying up individual forms. If not for the reasons you listed but because it's a headache from a design point of view to balance out all those dozens of forms, and from a player's perspective to even know what to use at any given time.

    I think that your idea of "second-tier" skills is an interesting one, however. Say you've got specializations in Air, Water, Earth, Fire, and Spirit for Channeling; Offensive, Defensive, One-on-One, and Group for weapon skills; Charm, Convince, Intimidate, and Bargain for Persuasion; Quality, Decoration, Speed, and Cost for Crafting (I'm making these up as I go along, you would want to change the details, of course), etc... it might work. But again, you're no longer anywhere near as simple or easy as you might be otherwise.

    The design challenge here won't be to keep the system simple since I think as long as we keep it consistent it will work; the social equivalent of a channeling build means you just pick different Tier 2 skills ("Military Logistics" instead of "Fire" for example to greatly cut down the costs of maintaining troops).

    It's making sure every single choice on the tier is, at least roughly and within thematic reason, equivalent to the other. I'd love social skills to be a real thing since it's such a strong trope in fantasy, but can I provide players with returns for those purchases that can compete with stabbing people really well? I'm not saying I can't, or that it can't be done, but we're missing the other piece of the puzzle - the economic and military resource management.

    What if we broke things down into three distinct ... let's call them templates? Then we can see what each can do. And if we can add a forth then let's do it.

    • Channelers.
    • Non-channeling combatants.
    • Military and social prodigies. Let's merge these from a design perspective although they are separate skillsets IC, to keep things simple and not add too many skills - remember, the more selection of useful skills we offer the less power these archetypes will have, since they will need to spread out their spends compared to a physical character who can specialize better.

    Then we can go into resource management - namely skills which modify how much gold it takes to keep an army, what it's generated by, etc.

    There are a lot of games that do the Heroes Journey well, all it really takes is a high amount of XP given out, and a logarithmic(ish) cost scale to increase your skills.

    One obvious way to curtail this - which we'll definitely need to for channelers else we'll have powerhouses on our hands no matter what - is to have XP tiers which can be increased as the game goes by. It's not that radical a notion, and it should work fine.

    So at first (I'll use arbitrary numbers here) you might have 50 XPs as your cap, then in six months change it to 75, then... so newbies can always catch up - and we can speed up their progress until they do - up to the current cap before they proceed at the same pace as their oldbie-r peers.

    This sounds very interesting, but also really hard to balance. What about something where you have a Channeling stat, with Elemental specializations, and then can just note where your character has particular strengths/weaknesses with individual weaves? Like Edges and Flaws-style? Then you don't have to have a full list of ratings for individual weaves (since there are likely dozens), but you can still have people who have advanced expertise (or weakness) in a given weave.

    Hrm, so you're saying that instead of spending XP the 'interesting choice' we are asking players to make is to pick a flaw and edge? Be stronger in Water but weaker in Fire at the same time?

    I guess I liked XP because it promotes the 'interesting choice' motif. You don't have to buy Fireball up but it looks attractive if you can spend that last XP to buy it up some more, doesn't it? Shame you can't use it then to purchase some lands of your own, or a military commission or... whatever.

    That's the kind of MUSH I'd like to run. If players are always second-guessing themselves about what they could have bought instead of what they did, and we keep the system as simple as possible - easy to understand but hard to master, if you wish - then it'll be good.


  • Coder

    @krmbm said in Wheel of Time mechanics:

    I love AresMUSH, but it would take someone that could code a whole different stat system to pull it together.

    I agree, but you can do that. I mean, you're going to have to code up a whole different stat system whether you pick TinyMUX, Evennia or Ares. I don't think the effort to do so is going to be orders of magnitude different no matter which one you pick.


  • Pitcrew

    @faraday said in Wheel of Time mechanics:

    @krmbm said in Wheel of Time mechanics:

    I love AresMUSH, but it would take someone that could code a whole different stat system to pull it together.

    I agree, but you can do that. I mean, you're going to have to code up a whole different stat system whether you pick TinyMUX, Evennia or Ares. I don't think the effort to do so is going to be orders of magnitude different no matter which one you pick.

    This. It really depends on what language you want to work in.. and what other systems are already available (logging, messaging, etc).


  • Admin

    @faraday I have somehow managed to not add a single line of code on mushcode in my life so far and I'd like to keep it that way.

    I chose Ares, and I don't see why picking something else to implement an entirely new system from scratch would have been easier than any of the remaining alternatives, so that's not a factor I had to consider too hard.


  • Pitcrew

    @arkandel said in Wheel of Time mechanics:

    Yes, that'd be great. But (and this isn't WoT-specific), what makes it worth it for them? What can they do, in practical terms?

    Crafting is easier in a way - they can make cool swords and staves. Trading requires an economy, and we haven't discussed that at all, but I'd very much like to. Finally... lore.. I don't have anything here. What's going to come in as handy as the stuff we've been discussing already?

    For trading, one option that might work is to tie building and equipment into a resource system. I've never played Arx, but I understand they do that and it's a great idea for a long-term game and giving players long-term goals. If you want to play Daes Dae'mar, you have to build up a warchest to bribe, gift and impress all the right people.

    For lore masters, there are so many examples in the books of Rand and company going after a goal because one of his sages or scholars mentioned it. In game terms, sages might earn 'plot points' of some kind, which they can turn in for long-lasting game effects arising from staff or player run plots. And they can assign the benefits of those points to others.

    Want your character to discover the lost Heron-Mark Back-Scratcher of the Lost Sedai? She better be as invested in lore as she is in the One Power. Or make very good friends with somebody who is.

    Essentially, it would promote creating an RP partnership. Tomb Raider style lore masters and their Aes Sedai and Warder patrons going on wacky adventures, etc. Especially if you put a cap of one or two on the number of uncommon/unique Ter/Sa'/Angreals a given character may possess.

    Basically my philosophy on MU*s these days is that it's all about cultivating RP circles and things that give you narrative reasons to do that are usually good.


  • Pitcrew

    @faraday said in Wheel of Time mechanics:

    I agree, but you can do that. I mean, you're going to have to code up a whole different stat system whether you pick TinyMUX, Evennia or Ares. I don't think the effort to do so is going to be orders of magnitude different no matter which one you pick.

    Oh, totally agree. I mostly just meant... Don't use Ares because you like FS3. Use Ares because it's the best integration I've seen between web-and-MUSH. \o/

    If @Arkandel is looking to code up an Ares power system, that'd be badass.


  • Admin

    @krmbm I'm not looking to do it as much as I'll have to. Be the change you want in the world, etcetc.

    I'd much rather just play a modern tech WoT MUSH, but c'est la vie.


  • Admin

    @bad-at-lurking said in Wheel of Time mechanics:

    For trading, one option that might work is to tie building and equipment into a resource system. I've never played Arx, but I understand they do that and it's a great idea for a long-term game and giving players long-term goals. If you want to play Daes Dae'mar, you have to build up a warchest to bribe, gift and impress all the right people.

    My concern here is that these things will be honored in theory and not in practice. After all sure, the gift of a beautiful jewel is very important IC so you theoretically should befriend the master tinker who can fashion it into a bracelet... but will you risk pissing off the kickass warrior whose dice pool can take care of other problems of yours? One is more tangible than the other, so how do we make the bracelet's effect be tangible as well?

    For lore masters, there are so many examples in the books of Rand and company going after a goal because one of his sages or scholars mentioned it. In game terms, sages might earn 'plot points' of some kind, which they can turn in for long-lasting game effects arising from staff or player run plots. And they can assign the benefits of those points to others.

    Hrm, can you give some examples of how plot points could be used in practical terms? What would they do? How would Storytellers utilize them?

    If lore is a resource in and of itself, what does it buy and how do we make it as useful as ordering around cavalry units? Because that's what we're talking about here, right? Making fun choices... so what could make you think "damn, I bought those horsemen but I kinda really wish I could have afforded more lore!".

    Basically my philosophy on MU*s these days is that it's all about cultivating RP circles and things that give you narrative reasons to do that are usually good.

    I agree. Now let's see how we can turn that excellent perspective into a usable mechanic.


  • Pitcrew

    @arkandel said in Wheel of Time mechanics:

    @faraday I have somehow managed to not add a single line of code on mushcode in my life so far and I'd like to keep it that way.

    This is worthy goal.

    Ares makes it so you don't have to re-invent the wheel to get a lot of the basic stuff that people take for granted taken care of. bboards, mail, logging, etc and that tight integration of web that people keep touting.

    Evennia may have this taken care of too with various contributions, but I haven't really dug in to that yet. I'm hoping it does? Professionally, python is a language I should be more familiar with than I currently am and working on Evennia would have some immediate benefit outside of a fun place to play.

    @arkandel said in Wheel of Time mechanics:

    If lore is a resource in and of itself, what does it buy and how do we make it as useful as ordering around cavalry units? Because that's what we're talking about here, right? Making fun choices... so what could make you think "damn, I bought those horsemen but I kinda really wish I could have afforded more lore!".

    Not exactly the same thing and I'm not sure how to put this mechanically in a system.. but it makes me think of the very beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Indiana Jones (high lore, bunch of action worthy skills) finds ancient tomb, gets a McGuffin. Belloq (the French archaeologist) is waiting outside with a tribe of retainers (still high lore, more social skills). Indy can take Belloq in a fight one-to-one no problem.. but Belloq has overwhelming force of retainers so gets the McGuffin.

    Maybe system wise... some sort of Contacts skill lets Belloq know that Indy is going after the McGuffin that is triggered by Indy putting in a +request to go raid the tomb. Belloq puts in a request to follow after Indy and just wait outside the tomb.


  • Pitcrew

    @arkandel said in Wheel of Time mechanics:

    Yes, that'd be great. But (and this isn't WoT-specific), what makes it worth it for them? What can they do, in practical terms?
    Crafting is easier in a way - they can make cool swords and staves. Trading requires an economy, and we haven't discussed that at all, but I'd very much like to. Finally... lore.. I don't have anything here. What's going to come in as handy as the stuff we've been discussing already?

    Non-combat and non-magic (combat magic in particular) things are always hard to incentivize (include social combat in there if there's a hard system for it), because what it comes down to is: what are you gaining from the skill? In combat, you gain winning the fight, killing the enemy, and staying alive (plus looking badass). With crafting, unless you're a combat character too and are crafting cool gear for yourself, all you really get is money. Which means that you need an economy, and you need lots of things to draw money out of the economy, or everyone is just going to be rich.

    It's making sure every single choice on the tier is, at least roughly and within thematic reason, equivalent to the other. I'd love social skills to be a real thing since it's such a strong trope in fantasy, but can I provide players with returns for those purchases that can compete with stabbing people really well? I'm not saying I can't, or that it can't be done, but we're missing the other piece of the puzzle - the economic and military resource management.

    I would actually say economic, military, and social resource management systems, actually. Because using social skills on NPCs in scenes (or for investigation requests or whatever) is all well and good, but if you can gain resources (favors from NPCs, information about plot, economic resources, military support from NPCs, etc) with social skills, they'll be valued.

    What if we broke things down into three distinct ... let's call them templates? Then we can see what each can do. And if we can add a forth then let's do it.

    • Channelers.
    • Non-channeling combatants.
    • Military and social prodigies. Let's merge these from a design perspective although they are separate skillsets IC, to keep things simple and not add too many skills - remember, the more selection of useful skills we offer the less power these archetypes will have, since they will need to spread out their spends compared to a physical character who can specialize better.

    I don't know that I would work too strictly on closed archetypes like that... because most people are going to want to be some mixture of them. I know that book characters (especially mains) are all overpowered, but Mat and Gareth Bryne are both commanders and combatants (Bryne is a Blademaster and Mat beat two of them at once), Moiraine is an exceptionally powerful channeler and a social expert, Thom is perhaps the best player of Daes Dae'mar in the world and can still throw a mean dagger (and fight a Fade one-on-one with daggers only).

    I do agree that the three general "buckets" that most skillsets will tend to fall into are Channeler, Fighter, and Expert (commander, socialite, crafter, investigator, etc). I just think that most PCs are going to want to have a primary and a secondary--most book characters have two primaries. And yes, there'll have to be a good balance that allows someone to have a primary and a secondary, but not two primaries, and for someone who just pours -everything- into one bucket to be somewhat better than someone with a primary and a secondary, but not nearly as flexible.

    One obvious way to curtail this - which we'll definitely need to for channelers else we'll have powerhouses on our hands no matter what - is to have XP tiers which can be increased as the game goes by. It's not that radical a notion, and it should work fine.

    I do like the idea of a shifting cap. You could also arrange that with a shifting -bottom- cap: characters created after X date start with Y XP. You could even have a combination of the two.

    Hrm, so you're saying that instead of spending XP the 'interesting choice' we are asking players to make is to pick a flaw and edge? Be stronger in Water but weaker in Fire at the same time?

    I was thinking on a weave level, not a flow level. So you don't have to track what everyone has for their Fireball skill, but if someone is particularly good at it, they can take a weakness (say, Weather Control) and get a boost to their Fireball skill. And then you only have to track that they're strong in one weave and weak in one other, instead of where they're at in every weave in your database. You could even integrate it into every other bucket, so you could take, for instance, a weakness in Fireball (assuming you're a channeler), but a strength in Military Rank and become a Dedicated. That would be exceptionally difficult to balance, but... it would certainly lend itself toward choices.


  • Admin

    @seraphim73 said in Wheel of Time mechanics:

    Which means that you need an economy, and you need lots of things to draw money out of the economy, or everyone is just going to be rich.

    Yes, money sinks. Only two are semi-obvious; troops (which to everyone but specific organizations such as whitecloaks will cost money), and crafting (for materials, and depending on how deep the rabbit hole goes, recipe research). But more will be needed, perhaps tied to the other pools.

    I need ideas here, folks. :)

    I would actually say economic, military, and social resource management systems, actually. Because using social skills on NPCs in scenes (or for investigation requests or whatever) is all well and good, but if you can gain resources (favors from NPCs, information about plot, economic resources, military support from NPCs, etc) with social skills, they'll be valued.

    I like social skills but they will definitely only work on NPCs. Same as all mind-controlling weaves and those a'dam thingies - I don't need the grief, and I definitely don't need the jerks who'll use them on PCs.

    I don't know that I would work too strictly on closed archetypes like that... because most people are going to want to be some mixture of them.

    Yeah, I probably phrased it pretty badly. That's what I meant - it is, after all, the whole point of a system based on 'making interesting choices' that they are allowed to mix and match, then wonder what could have been with a different template.

    So if folks want to play the quintessential highly trained Aes Sedai? Buy all the channeling things. Do they want someone who was Accepted and then left to go back to her lands before Tarmon Gai'don hit, and now she's a Lady with some Saidar tricks in her bag? Awesome. A blacksmith who followed Rand and his Aiel around so he picked up some TFL fighting skills and toughness even though he's not actually Aiel and now he's going back to making stuff for a living? Great.

    I do agree that the three general "buckets" that most skillsets will tend to fall into are Channeler, Fighter, and Expert (commander, socialite, crafter, investigator, etc). I just think that most PCs are going to want to have a primary and a secondary--most book characters have two primaries. And yes, there'll have to be a good balance that allows someone to have a primary and a secondary, but not two primaries, and for someone who just pours -everything- into one bucket to be somewhat better than someone with a primary and a secondary, but not nearly as flexible.

    Yeah, that's kind of what I had in mind, minus the 'primaries' and 'secondaries' - whatever people can fit in their build should be fine in whatever mix. The only requirement should be to make sense for their chosen background, so if you spend some XP on Black Tower training then you'd better be a male channeler who trained with them at some point.

    I do like the idea of a shifting cap. You could also arrange that with a shifting -bottom- cap: characters created after X date start with Y XP. You could even have a combination of the two.

    Yeah, plus this way lets us make adjustments on the go, especially on a brand new system that looks a certain way on paper but then players come trying to optimizebreak it to make super characters. I don't mind that, mind you - I would want to plug any broken builds, but one of the measures of success is allowing folks to get creative.

    You could even integrate it into every other bucket, so you could take, for instance, a weakness in Fireball (assuming you're a channeler), but a strength in Military Rank and become a Dedicated. That would be exceptionally difficult to balance, but... it would certainly lend itself toward choices.

    Yeah, the balance would be my issue here. To be honest my original reason for this system was to try and recreate that Gateway adept Asha'man - I like the idea that weird edge concepts like those can be perfectly doable. And if people want to create a pretty decent combatant who can occasionally bust out some channeling why not? As long as they're not as good at either as those who specialize in those things.


  • Pitcrew

    Starting to feel like this is diverging from your "simple and easy" original post.

    All systems and no roleplay makes Jack a sad panda.


  • Coder

    @Arkandel Kinda reminds me of the way Fate does magic in Dresden Files. You can do stuff on the fly, but if you have something specialized you are better at it.

    I know I say Fate a lot but sometimes, it just works, and WoT is very cinematic.


  • Pitcrew

    @arkandel said in Wheel of Time mechanics:

    Yes, money sinks. Only two are semi-obvious; troops (which to everyone but specific organizations such as whitecloaks will cost money), and crafting (for materials, and depending on how deep the rabbit hole goes, recipe research). But more will be needed, perhaps tied to the other pools.

    I need ideas here, folks. :)

    Money for favors, housing, influencing NPC rulers, messengers across long distance, um... um... eyes and ears?

    I like social skills but they will definitely only work on NPCs. Same as all mind-controlling weaves and those a'dam thingies - I don't need the grief, and I definitely don't need the jerks who'll use them on PCs.

    I might suggest "unless both parties consent," because some folks like being damane, or even Compulsion. But yeah, only-on-NPCs is good, although it does break the "just as valuable as combat skills" idea that you had.

    Yeah, that's kind of what I had in mind, minus the 'primaries' and 'secondaries'

    Yeah, my turn to not phrase things properly--I didn't mean anything like WoD primaries, secondaries, and tertiaries, just like people who are primarily fighters but can also do command stuff.

    Yeah, the balance would be my issue here. To be honest my original reason for this system was to try and recreate that Gateway adept Asha'man - I like the idea that weird edge concepts like those can be perfectly doable. And if people want to create a pretty decent combatant who can occasionally bust out some channeling why not? As long as they're not as good at either as those who specialize in those things.

    Always going to be the hardest part, yup.


  • Admin

    @krmbm said in Wheel of Time mechanics:

    Starting to feel like this is diverging from your "simple and easy" original post.

    It should be simple and easy from the player's end. Or a better way to put it is to keep it easy to grasp but hard to master - that way new players or those who just don't care about mechanics that much can make a character without too much hassle and they'll be just fine, with no real chance of screwing themselves over, yet someone who wants to surgically build something else has the option to do so.

    All systems and no roleplay makes Jack a sad panda.

    Well, this is a thread about systems. :) It doesn't mean roleplay isn't the ultimate main focus, but unless the game is sheetless... it's a valid conversation.

    Hopefully though those same mechanics can emphasize roleplay. For instance nobles minding their economies which drives them to make alliances, being able to afford their troops, and make the choice of supporting or opposing each other in the Great Game are all major, major tropes in the WoT.

    I find - and hope - that making those resources part of a system improves and drives RP; that way a noble can't just do and afford all things magically, but they need to go out there and secure alliances in a world of limited resources while everyone else is doing the same thing.


  • Pitcrew

    @lithium said in Wheel of Time mechanics:

    @Arkandel Kinda reminds me of the way Fate does magic in Dresden Files. You can do stuff on the fly, but if you have something specialized you are better at it.

    I know I say Fate a lot but sometimes, it just works, and WoT is very cinematic.

    This is what I am basing channeling on for myself. It needs some tweaks to fit into a non-Fate system, but otherwise it's pretty much perfect



  • So the big trick economy wise to ensure that nobody ever has enough and always wants more? Do not just say 'You are an X level noble, you get Y income!'.

    Instead put together a list of Things A Rich Person Might Want, limit the number to how much detail you want to go into. Then default people to having these things at 'Moderately Crappy'. Let them spend portions of their income to raise them, but not enough to have them all above average.

    So say you are an Andoran Lady.

    You have an income of (random number) 1000 Crowns a year.

    You might have to think about:

    Household - Spending on your servants, retainers, clothes, etc. Would effect social and political stuff and how fancy of a dress or horse you can just be assumed to have.
    Guards - How many armed retainers you have, from some literal household guards, to a retinue of cavalry to a small personal army.
    Alms & Welfare - How much you give back to the common people. Charitable donations, good works, sponsoring festivals, etc.
    Infrastructure - How much you invest in stuff like bridges, town walls, roads, waystations, etc.

    Then have all of those default to like a 2 on a 1-5 scale with 3 being 'average/acceptable' and have it cost 250 Crowns a year to raise each one by a point. Also let this theoretical noble squeeze out more money if they ratchet up taxes and/or take out loans. (or if they bring in another PC who has high Stewardship or something. Best to make the actual extra income somewhat random though and ensure the steward is in a position to seriously consider embezzling).

    Make sure raising each of these things either gives beneficial shinies or ups some abstract popularity meter that has descriptions for each level saying how awesome as a ruler the PC is and loved by their populace they are, but only at the higher and very expensive levels.

    I can guarantee that if you run something like this you will end up with characters who are rich but are still scrabbling desperately for every penny, trying to extort each other or going into debt.


  • Pitcrew

    @packrat said in Wheel of Time mechanics:

    abstract popularity meter

    People do love their fake popularity.

    For me the struggle with this is that it is a generic Lords and Ladies system with no real Wheel of Time flavor to it aside from a couple of nouns. Trying to thing of ways to add more theme to it.. Aes Sedai advisors, Ogier builders, etc.


  • Admin

    @packrat said in Wheel of Time mechanics:

    So say you are an Andoran Lady.

    You have an income of (random number) 1000 Crowns a year.

    That's what I was thinking, yes. The following parts are tricky though, especially if we want the overhead for staff to be as light as possible (which we dooo):

    1. How do we, as system designers, ensure a faction won't be screwed over either because the player in control of it lacks the OOC skills needed to administer its economy efficiently? Do we let them get in a hole? Because just like RL once you're in a hole the probability increases you'll stay in there for a while.

    2. How do we deal with OOC alliances? Say you're playing the Andoran Lady and I roll a Tairen merchant who gets 200 Crowns a year... and I donate them to you, yet almost never play.

    3. How do we deal with dinos? Remember, XP may be capped but resources are stable (more or less). So you've been playing for a year and you've been securing alliances, etc... so by now your income is 9000 a year. You can outspend newcomers nine to one! And, as noted before, the resource pool is finite - it's a zero sum game. When you make more others make less. This could either encourage politics or become... messy.

    Thoughts?

    @wildbaboons said in Wheel of Time mechanics:

    People do love their fake popularity.

    I can think of nothing MUSH players - in general - want more. Not XP, not bonuses on their dice, nothing. This above all.


  • Pitcrew

    Mush Economics amuses me greatly.


 

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