New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

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New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:10 am

Hey everyone, the beta-test for Genetic Engineering - the expansion that lets you fiddle with existing races and even build your own from scratch is now in open beta. This we haven't playtested at all yet, so I'd be surprised if there wasn't lots of room for improvement. Normally we playtest things a bit before showing it to the community, but this time I want to change it up and let you all in on the early action. After all, Wizards is doing that for D&D Next. =)

Putting all racial traits on a numerical scale was extremely helpful, as it revealed a lot of previously unnoticed balance issues. Furthermore, removing the race-restrictions of utility talents completely through most of the existing balance out of whack - so a major racial redesign has happened with most of the previous races, especially the non-pony ones. Check out the Player's Handbook's section on races for all the changes (many of them took place in the Races of Equestria expansion).

Enjoy.


Last edited by Stairc -Dan Felder on Sun Dec 02, 2012 7:30 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Re: New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

Post  elfowlgirl on Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:13 am

Says I need permission.
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Re: New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:16 am

Alright, fixed. Now open to everyone. =)
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Re: New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

Post  Ramsus on Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:43 am

First off, you've made LL characters automatically superior to Pony characters by making Cutie Mark a 2 point cost talent and having LL characters get Expert Skills for free. Change it to cost 1 Point and I think that'd fix it.

You should add Jason Shadow's alternate versions of Fireborn (found in the Joke race document)

Graceful Form is pointless as it's less good than just taking Feline Grace and We’re Just Good At This Stuff unless you intend for Acrobatics to be an extra bonus skill in addition that people can take by taking both We’re Just Good At This Stuff and Graceful Form.

I'm not super happy about it being obviously better to take Flight as racial instead of Utilities (as you might want some of the high cost racials instead of a bunch of the utilities out there and this penalizes you for that). Feel the same about all the incentivised racials.

I don't actually see the point of forcibly linking Spyrotechnics to Fireborn.

Challenge Fate shouldn't cost an MP. Make it once per day. If it costs a Magic Point this discourages the player from taking any Utilities that cost MP as they already have to choose between that and their Virtue and having three or four things that cost MP is not particularly rewarded in any way

Same issue with Adaptable.

Changeling's Trickery is cool and I understand why it costs the MP but..... really what you've done is just make it so that nopony will take it since it means it's completely non-adaptable to situations since you can only use it once or twice per day.
Edit: What people who were playing Changelings or want to play as Changelings will likely do is take A Thousand Faces and Flight, then grab Ponykinesis as a Utility. (Which means you've nerfed Changelings too.)

Against the Gods seems a little heavily priced since that ability alone would be basically all you had with a single 1 point racial.

Is Ponykinesis now just a Utility? If you're going to have incentivised Utilities on the racial trait list you might as well put that up as a 1 pointer. (Though I'm still basically against incentivization like this.)
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Re: New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:01 am

Ramsus wrote:First off, you've made LL characters automatically superior to Pony characters by making Cutie Mark a 2 point cost talent and having LL characters get Expert Skills for free. Change it to cost 1 Point and I think that'd fix it.

I wondered if people would think this. However, if we do change that as you say - we'll have automatically made the Living Legends characters worse than pony tales; since they'll have lost the extra versatility. We'll be auto-selecting one racial trait for them. I think it makes more sense to give the ponies the extra point and the extra freedom to not choose either a cutie mark or an additional trained skill. Freedom of builds is about equal to a slight uptick in power.

You should add Jason Shadow's alternate versions of Fireborn (found in the Joke race document)

Ramsus wrote:Graceful Form is pointless as it's less good than just taking Feline Grace and We’re Just Good At This Stuff unless you intend for Acrobatics to be an extra bonus skill in addition that people can take by taking both We’re Just Good At This Stuff and Graceful Form.

Thanks, there was a typo there. It was supposed to be a smaller, stackable bonus. Fixed now.


Ramsus wrote:I'm not super happy about it being obviously better to take Flight as racial instead of Utilities (as you might want some of the high cost racials instead of a bunch of the utilities out there and this penalizes you for that). Feel the same about all the incentivised racials.

That's important to address the major concerns of quite a few people that making all racial things equal to utility talents, without incentives, would result in unwelcome fallout regarding the races just becoming sinkholes for extra utility slots, and that a pegasus should have some natural advantage over an earth pony that learns to fly. There's a few other reasons for it too, but either way I like the extra depth that incentivized racial traits bring. It makes it easier to slip flavorful things into whatever race you're building while still having room for other abilities. If halfway decent flying took 4 points as a racial trait, any half-way decent flying race would have lost most of their design space the moment they walked in the door. We want to avoid that.

Ramsus wrote:I don't actually see the point of forcibly linking Spyrotechnics to Fireborn.

Probably because it's bound to puffs of flame. But we can get rid of that easily. I think I will get rid of that prereq.

Ramsus wrote:Challenge Fate shouldn't cost an MP. Make it once per day.
No. We did that originally. All playtesting has shown that it's insane without the magic point limit.


Ramsus wrote:Same issue with Adaptable.
Same answer. The magic point is the only thing that makes it fair. Otherwise it would be insane versatility at absolutely no drawback.

Ramsus wrote:Changeling's Trickery is cool and I understand why it costs the MP but..... really what you've done is just make it so that nopony will take it since it means it's completely non-adaptable to situations since you can only use it once or twice per day.

When they do take it, it'll be awesome. A Thousand Faces is the smaller version of it for those that just want the basic changeling experience, and there's even a 1 point version too. Add that to utility talents I plan to develop and such, and there will be lots of cool changeling options for everyone.

Ramsus wrote:Against the Gods seems a little heavily priced since that ability alone would be basically all you had with a single 1 point racial.
Try imagining a party that took nothing but "Against the Gods". 5 players being able to tell the DM to auto-fail once per day. Such power should indeed carry great price.

Ramsus wrote:Is Ponykinesis now just a Utility? If you're going to have incentivised Utilities on the racial trait list you might as well put that up as a 1 pointer. (Though I'm still basically against incentivization like this.)

It's a utility, but an extremely useful utility. Definitely worth a slot. I considered incentivizing it, but it's so useful I decided not to for now.
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Re: New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

Post  Ramsus on Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:10 am

Well, you could give LL characters that choice too and it'd be a non-issue.

You should probably build the default Changeling around the other way then because yeah.... you're kinda kicking Changeling players with by the book default no optional stuff GMs in the jimmies as they suddenly go from adaptable to not. (Or at least offer it as a two different choices as default thing.)

I guess we just see some things differently. Like, for the most part I don't imagine a GM letting players (who I don't see as naturally inclined to do so) build all their characters with the same traits to stack them in super broken combos. And I just don't see Ponkinesis as all that great, lol.

I think you may have skipped my thing about checking out Jason Shadow's Fireborn alternates. Seriously, they'd be great additions.
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Re: New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

Post  XandZero2 on Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:13 am

Looking over the abilities right now, and here are my first impressions:

1. I personally kind of think Adept might be too expensive for 3 points because it's not really reliable. I don't know how many players would actually take it for 3 points...

2. Pack Mentality seems too expensive at 3 points too. An extra +2 is nice, but I see it as more of a 2 point thing...

3. Hey, and I just noticed this - but why are Earth Ponies impossible to build on this list anyway? I never thought Earth Ponies were really in need of a debuff personally...

4. Just wondering, but why is the Thousand Faces ability DC 34+character level? 34 just seems like a really odd number... Also, can you use the abilities of the race you shift too? For instance, can you fly if you become a pegasus?

5. How are A Thousand Faces and Changeling's Trickery any different? It seems like ATF's just better sense it's cheaper... Or am I missing something? Oh, it looks like you can only get Natural Form if you have CT? Hm... That looks kind of harsh to me... Points-wise, that's a major sink to get Ponykinesis and cruddy flight. Seems like Natural Form should just be part of the Changeling's Trickery if nothing else, and keep the ability at cost 5... or maybe 4?

6. Critiques aside though, I like the look of some of those racial abilities. A lot are new to me. They must have been invented for LL, but I could see them working in Pony Tales. Two things I would like to see though: some kind of digging ability and some kind of swimming ability (especially since there's already a water-breathing ability in the expansion).

So yeah, that's my two bits.
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Re: New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:25 am

XandZero2 wrote:Looking over the abilities right now, and here are my first impressions:

1. I personally kind of think Adept might be too expensive for 3 points because it's not really reliable. I don't know how many players would actually take it for 3 points...

2. Pack Mentality seems too expensive at 3 points too. An extra +2 is nice, but I see it as more of a 2 point thing...

3. Hey, and I just noticed this - but why are Earth Ponies impossible to build on this list anyway? I never thought Earth Ponies were really in need of a debuff personally...

4. Just wondering, but why is the Thousand Faces ability DC 34+character level? 34 just seems like a really odd number... Also, can you use the abilities of the race you shift too? For instance, can you fly if you become a pegasus?

5. How are A Thousand Faces and Changeling's Trickery any different? It seems like ATF's just better sense it's cheaper... Or am I missing something? Oh, it looks like you can only get Natural Form if you have CT? Hm... That looks kind of harsh to me... Points-wise, that's a major sink to get Ponykinesis and cruddy flight. Seems like Natural Form should just be part of the Changeling's Trickery if nothing else, and keep the ability at cost 5... or maybe 4?

6. Critiques aside though, I like the look of some of those racial abilities. A lot are new to me. They must have been invented for LL, but I could see them working in Pony Tales. Two things I would like to see though: some kind of digging ability and some kind of swimming ability (especially since there's already a water-breathing ability in the expansion).

So yeah, that's my two bits.

1) It's really, really powerful to double your crit range - especially on your expert skill. Definitely worth taking at 3 points.

2) Pack Mentality is crazy strong. An extra +2 bonus is a world of difference. Three players asisting one with this could give them a +12 bonus, more than a frickin' magic point. And it's *at will*. Definitely a 3 point power.

3) 1+2 equals Earth Ponies were overpowered what with new utility talents opening up.

4) So that you get 35 at level one. A very standard number.

5) The difference is Changeling's Trickery lets you copy racial traits. If you turn into a pegasus, suddenly you get a cutie mark, can fly as well as them and can weather-craft. Thousand Faces can't do that.

6) An awesome two bits. =)
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Re: New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

Post  Jason Shadow on Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:26 am

XandZero2 wrote:
5. How are A Thousand Faces and Changeling's Trickery any different? It seems like ATF's just better sense it's cheaper... Or am I missing something? Oh, it looks like you can only get Natural Form if you have CT? Hm... That looks kind of harsh to me... Points-wise, that's a major sink to get Ponykinesis and cruddy flight. Seems like Natural Form should just be part of the Changeling's Trickery if nothing else, and keep the ability at cost 5... or maybe 4?

It's really hard to miss, but Changeling's Trickery allows you to use all of the racial abilities of the race you're disguised as, while A Thousand Faces does not. CT still seems a less favorable to me than ATF, but I suppose the extra cost is understandable. (Personally, I'd suggest making CT only worth 4 racial points or changing the ability to 3/day, but then again, I'm not very balance-savvy.)

But as for the document in general, I really like it! I think I might have to make a whole slew of races for Living Legends...

EDIT: Ninja'd.
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Re: New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

Post  Greywander on Fri Nov 16, 2012 5:20 am

I'm somewhat curious about traits like We’re Just Good At This Stuff and anything that gives a boost to certain attributes. I remember when I posted a diamond dog racial profile, I originally gave them a flat boost to digging tunnels and to perception using their physical senses, and someone pointed out that doing so would encourage min/maxing, so I changed it.

By the way, I took it to mean that We're Just Good At This Stuff doesn't mean that the player gets to choose an extra trained skill, but rather whoever creates the race picks a skill, and ALL members of that race are automatically trained in that skill. Looking at the Races of Equestria expansion, either they're still being edited, or it's being left to the player to pick a skill to train.

In other news, I've invented a new abomination: the pegasleipnicorn. It's like an alicorn, but with eight legs like a sleipnir. Antlers, fox tails, zebra stripes, bat wings, and poorly applied rainbow gradients optional. Under the new rules, you can totally play as one, and the best part is that it will still be balanced (some racial traits, like ponykinesis and flight, are also utility talents, allowing you to get all the abilities that would define an alicorn or similar creature, but not a whole lot else).

Actually... Unicorns get Ponykinesis, which is unlisted as a racial ability, a Cutie Mark (2 points) and Finishing School (Naturally Skilled, 2 points). Does Ponykinesis cost 2 points? It's a useful ability, to be sure, but it's kind of outweighed by Naturally Skilled, and seems like it would be more on par with Cultural Knowledge or It's Almost Like Flying, in that it should only cost one point, but grants you a specific utility talent rather than allowing you to choose. In fact, you might make that a generic racial ability; for a 1 point cost, you pick a particular utility talent to give that race for free. The creator of the race chooses the talent, not the player. The caveat would be that the utility talent can't require another one as a prerequisite (e.g. It's Almost Like Flying is fine, Flight is not).

Actually, by this same logic, Flight is weaker than It's Almost Like Flying + Naturally Skilled. Huh, I can see this being difficult to balance. Flight might be slightly weaker than the IALF+NS combo, but I'd say it's close enough that it's not worth worrying about. (In fact, having It's Almost Like Flying would encourage you to spend your extra talent to get Flight anyway).
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Re: New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Nov 16, 2012 5:35 am

Every instance of a utility talent being placed as a racial trait, with the exception of those features that are actively undercosted when you take them as part of your race (like weathercrafting) is the same as naturally skilled. At character creation, you can do anything you want with those points. Naturally Skilled doens't become weaker the moment you choose Ponykinesis. You have to choose something with it and choosing Ponykinesis makes sense for unicorns.

As for the 'encourages min-maxing' thing, you're very right - that is always a huge concern. However, we get around it in two ways. First, offering to give someone training in a skill is fine; because it can't be stacked on top of other training. Letting a race be trained in Athletics just means you can choose something other than Athletics for your normal 2 skills. Second, now that we have variable racial traits thanks to this expansion, things like Graceful Form are options that any character can take (you can tweak existing races if you want a different version of them, there's more than one shade of earth pony out there). This means that we don't need to worry about every acrobatics character having to be of a specific race.

Cool to hear about your alicorn-spider-thing. Sounds absolutely crazy. =)
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Re: New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

Post  tygerburningbright on Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:59 am

you cut the speed of fast as lightning by half this was the big thing hippogiffs had going for them.

Edit the 1000 faces only works for minotaurs very few humanlike creatures here.
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Re: New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

Post  Fury of the Tempest on Fri Nov 16, 2012 9:45 am

I've got two things I wish to bring up about the species changes.

1. Why have Baby Dragon's just been nerfed now that utility talents are non-species linked?

2. Earth Ponies don't give +4 assist bonus, you might want to change where it says that in the Pony Tales handbook.

Actually that reminds me. How does the utility talents work with the true-form changling's now? I mean, would I have to get Flight then Flight School in order to be able to have only a -5 when I'm a pegasus, or would transforming into a pegasus bump me up to Cloud Chaser levels?
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Re: New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

Post  Appkes on Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:37 pm

Yeah, changelings really need a buff now that their big thign is available to evryone - and largely nerfed
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Re: New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

Post  Fury of the Tempest on Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:26 pm

I don't know about that... they are pretty good to me. You just need further calcification on how getting the racial talents work. Like my example above, if you have 'flight' and you transform into a pegasus, are you treated as having 'flight-school' as long as you are a pegasus?
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Re: New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

Post  Ramsus on Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:39 pm

At this point after having experienced it for a day, my general opinion is that Stairc and I don't agree on what certain things should be priced (as he prices things with players trying to break the system in mind and I'd just say "no" instead) and that races could use a couple more points in general. Also, I'd really like it if Stairc would make LL races and PT races function exactly the same so that both sides don't have players going "man, this sucks they have the better deal".
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Re: New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:56 pm

tygerburningbright wrote:you cut the speed of fast as lightning by half this was the big thing hippogiffs had going for them.

Edit the 1000 faces only works for minotaurs very few humanlike creatures here.

Thanks! Caught that and it's now fixed. =)

Fury of the Tempest wrote:I've got two things I wish to bring up about the species changes.

1. Why have Baby Dragon's just been nerfed now that utility talents are non-species linked?

They haven't. They've been nerfed because working on the Genetic Engineering expansion involved us having to pay really close attention to balancing racial traits and it turned out Baby Dragons were overpowered.

Fury of the Tempest wrote:2. Earth Ponies don't give +4 assist bonus, you might want to change where it says that in the Pony Tales handbook.

Thanks! Fixed.

Fury of the Tempest wrote:Actually that reminds me. How does the utility talents work with the true-form changling's now? I mean, would I have to get Flight then Flight School in order to be able to have only a -5 when I'm a pegasus, or would transforming into a pegasus bump me up to Cloud Chaser levels?

You only get the racial traits, you don't automatically get brand new utility talents to make those traits better. Its power is in its versatility.

A for Appkes wrote:Yeah, changelings really need a buff now that their big thign is available to evryone - and largely nerfed

The fact that there can be other shapeshifting races out there doesn't make changelings any less powerful. As for the nerfing, I'd say they're actually stronger now - as their core mechanic (the shapeshifting) has been improved by a significant degree. Being a little weaker in flying and having one less training is a pretty solid price to pay for being buffed in the ability to disguise yourself.

Ramsus wrote:At this point after having experienced it for a day, my general opinion is that Stairc and I don't agree on what certain things should be priced (as he prices things with players trying to break the system in mind and I'd just say "no" instead) and that races could use a couple more points in general.

Yeah, that's a core element when building the system. It makes less work for DMs since they don't need to ban things on the fly and try to balance things in their head to see what's fair and also makes life a bit nicer for players when they don't live in fear of their DM banning their favorite strategies. Making sure things aren't broken means the system runs a lot smoother for everyone involved, and smooth play is a major goal of the system. I'd rather have DMs be able to give players extra goodies if someone just wants something for flavor than have to play "you can't do that" cop and ban things their players want to do.

Ramsus wrote:Also, I'd really like it if Stairc would make LL races and PT races function exactly the same so that both sides don't have players going "man, this sucks they have the better deal".

I would so like that too. But without either allowing living legends characters to ditch their expert skill (something I don't want to do, as it fleshes out their skills and is extremely fun) or giving expert skills to all non-ponies (which would unbalance the races again and is a little odd).

This is something we should resolve, but we need to be delicate as to how we resolve it. Right now there's just a perception that the other system you're not playing has an advantage over you. We don't want to make players feel bad in some other way.

Perhaps we could solve it by just adding 1 extra trait point to pony characters, handing Friend in Deed back to Earth ponies, handing expert skills to all the non-pony races except for changelings and baby dragons (who just get an extra skill training), and doing something for pegasai and unicorns (not sure what).

Even that though wouldn't solve the problems, as Living Legends players would still be forced to take an Expert Skill - which would give them the perception that ponies have the clear advantage (and an inarguable one, it's strictly better to have more options even if the expert skill is pretty much the strongest 2 point trait anyway). And we can't just hand everyone expert skills without having to nerf changelings and baby dragons again... Unless we bump the racial traits to 8 and hand out candy to even more races. And 4 utility-talents-worth-of-stuff-on-your-race is a helluva lot.
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Re: New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

Post  Ramsus on Fri Nov 16, 2012 4:18 pm

You really need to make PK a 1 cost racial trait. And here's proof why.

Looking at Changelings (the Quickshifter type), you've given them PK, 1000 Faces, and It's Almost Like Flying. If they want the third skill they used to have they have to pay a Utility for it. But, instead they could not have PK as a racial and take a Cutie Mark and just take PK as a Utility. There's no difference in the racial point cost but they end up with +2 to a skill and CMCs.
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Re: New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Nov 16, 2012 4:20 pm

Ramsus wrote:You really need to make PK a 1 cost racial trait. And here's proof why.

Looking at Changelings (the Quickshifter type), you've given them PK, 1000 Faces, and It's Almost Like Flying. If they want the third skill they used to have they have to pay a Utility for it. But, instead they could not have PK as a racial and take a Cutie Mark and just take PK as a Utility. There's no difference in the racial point cost but they end up with +2 to a skill and CMCs.

That's actually an argument you could apply equally to all utility talents. Making utility talents at 1 point would totally upset the balance of all racial traits. This is actually an argument to make CMs more expensive.

That said, I might well make Ponykinesis 1 point; as there's a perception that both changelings and unicorns could use a buff. Changelings are pretty amazing right now, but unicorns definitely don't look that impressive anymore (they're balanced, but they don't LOOK powerful, and that matters a lot).

It would also make adding expert skills to everyone in the system more feasible... But Baby Dragons would still need a 1 point nerf.
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Re: New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

Post  Ramsus on Fri Nov 16, 2012 4:32 pm

Btw, is there some reason you can't take Natural Form with 1000 Faces?

Hmmm, -1 point to Baby Dragons. Well, if you're giving everyone CM/ES you could make them have one less trained skill. Or alternately you could make them choose a skill to have -3 at instead (that can't be a trained skill or their CM/ES)? This second option seems more interesting personally.
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Re: New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Nov 16, 2012 4:35 pm

Ramsus wrote:Hmmm, -1 point to Baby Dragons. Well, if you're giving everyone CM/ES you could make them have one less trained skill. Or alternately you could make them choose a skill to have -3 at instead (that can't be a trained skill or their CM/ES)? This second option seems more interesting personally.

That adds a specific debuff into the system, listed on their racial traits, which would be the only actively negative thing we've had in the system so far... And as I actually already tried templating that in with "Still Learning" - you'll remember how much it sucks to see that on a race description.
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Re: New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

Post  Ramsus on Fri Nov 16, 2012 4:39 pm

Well you could just make the default 6+CM/ES so that people can at least do things like 1000 Faces + Flight or Pack Mentality + Adept for Earth Ponies who didn't care about FK as much. That fixes the need to debuff Baby Dragons. I think people would probably be happier with this as, as is with 5+CM or 6 without a lot of people are having to lose stuff from their characters (yeah ok so Earth Ponies would *still* be losing FK but, that's a lot less than they were losing before).


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Re: New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

Post  Xel Unknown on Fri Nov 16, 2012 5:07 pm

I agree with Ramsus here, I don't see why don't with doing the Cutie Marks/Expert Skills for everyone!
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Re: New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Nov 16, 2012 5:13 pm

I agree too. I love that for Living Legends (it's exactly what we did for that system). It's also less rules for people to memorize. However, the implementation of that is pretty tough. We'd have to either mass-nerf races or buff them by 2 points each (which is a pretty dang huge change) to account for the frickin' baby dragons.
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Re: New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

Post  Xel Unknown on Fri Nov 16, 2012 5:15 pm

Then why don't you outsorce with helping with a mass buff for all PT races?
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Re: New Build-Your-Own-Race Expansion is live!

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