Talent Specialization

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Re: Talent Specialization

Post  Philadelphus on Fri Mar 29, 2013 3:30 pm

Well, with the updates to Ponykinesis and its variants, time to do some updates of my own. First of all, in case people want to continue using the old talents rather than switch (for whatever reason), I'll archive them here for people to look up:

Old Ponykinesis Talents:
Ponykinesis
[1] Stackable – Increase the weight limit by 5 pounds.
[2] Stackable – Increase the range by 10 feet.
[4] Unique – Thrice per day you may double your current ponykinesis weight limit for 15 minutes.
[4] Unique – Once per day, you may increase the range of your ponykinesis to 1,000 feet for 15 minutes. You must have a clear line of sight to anything you attempt to pick up or manipulate beyond your usual range.
[4] Magic – You may spend a Magic Point to increase your weight limit by 10 times for the next ten minutes.[*]
Footnote:
Multiplicative effects stack and refer to your current weight limit, including the effects of Advanced and Master Ponykinesis. So you can both double your weight limit and increase it by 10 times for a 20x modifier, but only for ten minutes. Somepony with two Magic Points could pull off a 40,000 pound weight limit for ten minutes with Master Ponykinesis and a judicious application of Talent Points, though it would require being at level 8 to do so.

Precise Ponykinesis
[5] Stackable – Increase the number of objects you can hold simultaneously by 5. Also increase the weight limit for your Ponykinesis by 15 pounds. This effect stacks with weight limit increases from Ponykinesis.

Advanced Ponykinesis
[3] Stackable – Increase the number of uses of this talent per day by 1.
[1] Stackable {2} – Preparation time is reduced by 30 seconds, down to Instantaneous.
[2] Stackable – Weight limit is increased by 50 pounds.

Master Ponykinesis
[7] Stackable – Weight limit is increased by 1,000 pounds.
Second, the new talents. Actually, a lot of what I already had can be recycled, most of it just needs to be consolidated. The fact that Advanced Ponykinesis doesn't have Ponykinesis as a prerequisite causes a few problems, because now I can't simply make one range-increase upgrade and assume that it will propagate down a prerequisite chain. Normal and Advanced can now be upgraded separately, but I'm ruling that range increases are shared between them if you have both. For Advanced Ponykinesis, you can upgrade the weight limit for both the regular version and the Magic version together, or you can save points up and upgrade just the Magic version at a 30% discount.

Overall I approve of the changes. I think they make Ponykinesis an even stronger talent than it already was, while freeing people up to be able to take more utility talents. Smile

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Re: Talent Specialization

Post  Philadelphus on Tue Apr 16, 2013 5:17 am

Changelog:
– Added an option to The Rainbow Dash to allow carrying more than one creature at a time.
– Added an option to Found It! to increase its range.
– Minor formatting options to account for the fact that all utility talents are in one document now (and some have been rearranged). Thanks to whomever suggested changing the format a few pages ago, it made it a lot easier.

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Re: Talent Specialization

Post  Philadelphus on Sun May 12, 2013 1:20 am

Changelog:
- Added an option to Cunning Disguise to let people have more than one 'mark' simultaneously.
- Cost of MacGyver's unique cost-reduction option reduced from 5 to 2.
- Cost of Can't Hide From Me!'s unique inanimate-object-marking option decreased from 5 to 2.
- Cool new header picture added to the beginning of the document. Check it out! Smile

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Re: Talent Specialization

Post  Fury of the Tempest on Sun May 12, 2013 10:09 am

Damn, that's pretty awesome.
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Re: Talent Specialization

Post  AProcrastinatingWriter on Thu May 23, 2013 12:40 am

So, I hate to say it, considering the possibilities...

...but isn't a mere 4 points for getting additional training as a result of I've Read a Lot About It overpowered? That's essentially a 6 point discount, is what it boils down to.
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Re: Talent Specialization

Post  Xel Unknown on Thu May 23, 2013 12:42 am

It's only at best a 1 point discount... Becaust I've Read all About it, gives two trainings... Therefore by that logic one training equals 5 points. Yeah I think it's overall fair.
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Re: Talent Specialization

Post  Philadelphus on Thu May 23, 2013 5:44 am

AProcrastinatingWriter wrote:So, I hate to say it, considering the possibilities...

...but isn't a mere 4 points for getting additional training as a result of I've Read a Lot About It overpowered? That's essentially a 6 point discount, is what it boils down to.
No, please feel free to bring anything you think looks unbalanced to my attention, because it may very well be. Smile In this case I don't believe it is (though you are most welcome to try to convince me otherwise if you like), mainly because of the reasons that Xel mentioned.

As you obviously know, I set 10 points as the rough worth of a utility talent. Thus, since I've Read a Lot About It gives two trainings, they should each be worth about 5 points. However, after thinking about it and testing it a bit, I've decided to implement a slight discount when you use Talent Points to specialize to encourage their use.

Originally I had it so that things that would "double" the effectiveness of a talent would cost 10 points, as close as possible; things like buying a second daily use of Phase Step or doubling its duration to 10 minutes. However, when I thought about it some more, I began to wonder if these things really and truly doubled the effectiveness; because what if you doubled the duration of a talent, but it turns out what you actually needed was a second daily use of it? Have you actually doubled its benefit to you at that point, and is it really worth half your total point allotment? Also, I wanted to encourage people to spread their points around a bit and that couldn't happen if they were sinking all of their points into as few as two upgrades, so I decided to implement a gradually increasing discount structure.

To that end, things like getting an extra use of a daily talent, which before would have cost 10 points, now cost 7. Crucially, with the limitation of 20 Talent Points total during level up, you can still only buy two instances of an upgrade at this price, the same as you could if it cost 10 points; however, this way you have 6 points left over to spend on other things, which gives you more options and (I hope) makes it more interesting.

Thus, doubling the use of a single-use talent costs 7 points; instances of twice-daily talents cost 4 points each, for a total of 8 point to double the daily number of uses; three-a-day talents cost 3 points each, for a total cost of 9 (this was in effect before due to three not dividing evenly into ten, and it was pure serendipity that it worked into the scheme as well as it did); and five-a-day and ten-a-day talents have no discount, costing 2 and 1 points each, respectively.

Thus, for I've Read a Lot About It, the principle is similar: it's basically a two-part talent, so doubling it costs 8 points. This way, two trainings using Talent Points costs 8 points, while buying I've Read a Lot About with them straight out would cost 10.

I admit it's a slight stretch in this case and I could perhaps be persuaded to bump the cost up to 5 points, since trainings are always in effect and thus slightly more useful than situational utility talents; but I haven't heard of anyone breaking it yet so I think I'll leave it in there for now as a nice bonus for players. Smile

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Re: Talent Specialization

Post  Ramsus on Thu May 23, 2013 5:51 am

I figured your setup was something like that and I think the 4 points actually works better there. You still have to have taken the Utility in the first place afterall and so it's basically just like you're getting a slight discount off of a second one (or half a second one). If this slight discount actually leads to someone taking a utility talent for something that does something else, all the better really. That'd mean you managed to, as a side effect of granting specializing opportunities, also encourages diversifying at the same time.
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Re: Talent Specialization

Post  Philadelphus on Fri Jun 21, 2013 4:55 am

I came up with a new option for the system called Experienced, which acts like mini-Training. You can now spend 3 Talent Points to become Experienced in a skill to gain a +2 to it. Experienced stacks with a Cutie Mark, but not with Training to encourage you to spread it around (and to reinforce the fact that it's basically a kind of training). It's good for those times when you realize you really need a boost in a particular skill, but you need your Trainings and Cutie Mark where they are.

Experienced also counts as Training for the purposes of Applejack of All Trades, so that if you have it and become Experienced in a skill you gain only a +2 to that skill rather than +3. Let me know what you guys think of the idea!

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Re: Talent Specialization

Post  Ramsus on Fri Jun 21, 2013 5:34 am

That's certainly interesting.
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Re: Talent Specialization

Post  Zarhon on Fri Jun 21, 2013 11:22 am

I assume "Experienced" would be unable to work on a CM with training stacked on top of it? And that "I’ve Read A Lot About it" can't be put on top of it?

It indeed sounds interesting - The odd-number cost though is a bit iffy, since it leaves you with 1 talent point spare between levels, and those are generally lacking in good uses (since +1 to a skill very rarely makes a difference, and most upgrades cost more than 1 point).

And technically, the option is actually weaker, cost-per-gain, than just saving up points for a skill it is needed for:

- You get a +1/+2/+3 bonus for 3 points, in whatever skill you want, allocated on demand, but with a daily total limit.
- Or with "experienced", you get a +2 permanent bonus to a single untrained skill (and since it's untrained, you probably aren't relying on using it with your character much).

It sorta depends on the balance between "flexible daily" and "fixed perma-bonus".

Also, another thing I noticed: Level 0 characters tend to be stuck out of any real options for upgrades, other than the very cheapest/inconsequential ones, or sticking with the 2 points for a skill check. Think it would be much of a balance issue if they were given a slight "start boost" in the points (3-5)?
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Re: Talent Specialization

Post  Fury of the Tempest on Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:45 pm

Hmmmmm... an interesting idea. Mechanically it seems good, but the lore/theme just doesn't fit.
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Re: Talent Specialization

Post  Philadelphus on Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:35 am

Changelog:
– The option to decrease the preparation time of Phase Step to zero was doubled in cost (to 4), due to it being pretty powerful.
– Added an experimental option to Teleportation to allow you to teleport to a pre-chosen ally 1/day, regardless of whether you can see them.

Zarhon wrote:I assume "Experienced" would be unable to work on a CM with training stacked on top of it? And that "I’ve Read A Lot About it" can't be put on top of it?
Correct, because both of those are training, which it doesn't stack with.

Zarhon wrote:It indeed sounds interesting - The odd-number cost though is a bit iffy, since it leaves you with 1 talent point spare between levels, and those are generally lacking in good uses (since +1 to a skill very rarely makes a difference, and most upgrades cost more than 1 point).

And technically, the option is actually weaker, cost-per-gain, than just saving up points for a skill it is needed for:

- You get a +1/+2/+3 bonus for 3 points, in whatever skill you want, allocated on demand, but with a daily total limit.
- Or with "experienced", you get a +2 permanent bonus to a single untrained skill (and since it's untrained, you probably aren't relying on using it with your character much).

It sorta depends on the balance between "flexible daily" and "fixed perma-bonus".
It does. I'm by no means sure I have it right. If it turns out a lot of people think it's overpriced, I could drop the cost down to 2, which would give it a demonstrably better cost/power ratio than I've Read A Lot About It.

Zarhon wrote:Also, another thing I noticed: Level 0 characters tend to be stuck out of any real options for upgrades, other than the very cheapest/inconsequential ones, or sticking with the 2 points for a skill check. Think it would be much of a balance issue if they were given a slight "start boost" in the points (3-5)?
Balance-wise probably not, it would just mess up the 2/level system currently in place which is simple and easy to remember. It's not supposed to make you much more powerful at level 1, after all. And even 2 points for skill check adjustment can be surprisingly powerful I'm finding.

@Fury: Yeah, the name was...difficult. I thought of "experienced" as well, but if you have any other suggestions I'm happy to entertain them.

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Re: Talent Specialization

Post  Fury of the Tempest on Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:43 am

... Natural would work, but that kinda implies they always had that skill. And it would stick stack with training from a flavour standpoint.
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Re: Talent Specialization

Post  Philadelphus on Sat Jun 29, 2013 6:33 am

Changelog:
– Changed the preparation time decrease of Create Crazy Contraption to go down to 3 seconds rather than Instantaneous, and decreased the price from 3 to 1.
– Added an identical option for Cloudsculpting, which didn't have a preparation time decrease option before.

After some contemplation I've decided to remove the "Experienced" buy-able 2-point increases I added last time. They didn't really fit with the core theme of this system (modifying and improving utility talents), added a good bit of extra complexity for no real good reason, and worst of all it just weren't very compelling (as evidenced by their luke-warm reception). So they're gone for now.

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Re: Talent Specialization

Post  Philadelphus on Mon Jul 08, 2013 2:00 am

Changelog:
Strengthen Substance and Weaken Substance's prep time reduction costs decreased from 2 to 1.
– The final option for Teleportation has changed from "within two times your maximum range" to 1000 feet. Now simultaneously clearer and more useful.
– Cost of range increase of Celestia's Light decreased from 2 to 1.
– Added options to Celestia's Light to let you emit light from locations other than yourself - either from a fixed point you can see, or an object you designate.
Dazzling Wing's 24-hour-duration cost decreased from 6 to 2. It already costs a Magic Point, it doesn't need to be that expensive.
Jinx's single option cost reduced from 8 to 5.
Sunderblade's prep-time reduction cost reduced from 3 to 1.
– Fixed Form of the Dolphin to refer to Audiomancy instead of the now-defunct Echo.
– Added a stackable option to all the Shapeshifting talents to allow you to retain access to one of your utility talents upon transforming.
– Reformatted all the utility talent section to make it (hopefully) easier to read.

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Re: Talent Specialization

Post  Fury of the Tempest on Mon Jul 08, 2013 7:25 am

If you don't mind me asking, can you explain why you made these chzanfes? Excludding Echo to Audiomancy
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Re: Talent Specialization

Post  Philadelphus on Thu Jul 18, 2013 5:27 am

I don't mind at all. The short answer is that I came up with this system half-way through my first game of Pony Tales – which also happened to be my first RPG campaign, ever. I was very afraid of making something horribly unbalanced and broken, and since I didn't have the experience to judge on my own what would and wouldn't be broken, I came up with a formula that I could stick to (at least roughly) so I could at least say I'd been consistent.

Over half a year since then, I have a bit more experience playing and a bit more of a feel for the relative value of various upgrades. Looking at the document again, I see many places where a strict adherence to my formula led to upgrade options that were much too expensive for their benefit.

That's the short answer, applicable to pretty much all the changes in some form or another. I'd be happy to give you the long answer and explain in detail any specific changes if you like.

Also, on the subject of changes: I realized the other day that although I changed Form of the Dolphin to refer to Audiomancy instead of Echo, I left Echo itself in the body of the document. Whoops! It has now been removed and replaced with options for Audiomacy.

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Re: Talent Specialization

Post  Fury of the Tempest on Thu Jul 18, 2013 7:12 am

I'm fine with the current explination, thank you very much. However, I wouldn't mind a small explination to future changes if possible
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Re: Talent Specialization

Post  Philadelphus on Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:01 pm

Ugh, I had a whole big long post written up about changes and additions, and then my browser crashed and I lost it. These new weekly additions are keeping me on my toes!

First off, with the addition of Stepping Stones to Enchantment, and the fact that several of the Enchantments have been better defined, I took a good look at the Enchantment options and realized I didn't have a very good idea for how much an Enchantment should be worth. Since you get 4 of them with the talent, I settled on a value of 2 points, and re-balanced most of them (and added new options for some). Some numbers changed, but everything either remained the same value-per-cost, or got better. (Eternal Flame and Untraceable were already good, so they didn't change.) I'm afraid I really don't feel like re-typing the entire point-by-point list, so just check for any Enchantments you're interested in.

Secondly, there are now options for Mind Of Its Own, Green Hooves, and Companion. There aren't options for the new talents that give additional racial points to you or your companion because A) racial points are balanced differently from utility talents, and could potentially be broken; B) the way the talents are worded makes it difficult to apply a consistent standard (the price should change depending on whether you have just Pick of the Litter or Highborn as well, but you can only take Highborn as many times as you have Pick of the Litter, etc.); and C) the Talent Specialization System is basically set up to deal with utility talents, not racial abilities. This might possibly change in the future if there's a lot of demand for it and I can come up with simple balanced system, but don't count on it.

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Re: Talent Specialization

Post  Philadelphus on Sun Aug 25, 2013 4:14 am

Updates! There are quite a few of them with all the new utility talents released lately!

Changelog:

  • Applejack of All Trades has an option to buy Attribute points. It also used to have a note based on old information stating that you could ignore the limits on Attributes when adding them post-character-creation. This is no longer the case. You are still limited to 10 (or 12 with Overachiever) in any particular Attribute, which removes the temptation to simply pile Attribute points into your highest Attribute without limit. The upshot of this is that Attribute points can now be cheaper (4 points vs. 6), so you can use them to buff your lower-level Attributes better.
  • Instant Party used to cost a total of 5 points to reduce the prep time to zero. This was much too expensive. It also doesn't really make sense to have it take less time, since you're having a party, after all. Since Instant Party isn't the sort of Utility Talent where a prep time reduction option is either useful or sensible, I've decided to just remove it for now.
  • Recycle Crazy Contraption added, and can have additional uses per day. Given that its prerequisite is a Magic talent and the fairly specialized nature of RCC itself I couldn't justify the usual cost of 7 points for an additional daily use to myself, so it costs 5 instead.
  • Steady Hooved added, and has an option to reroll on natural 2s as well as 1s. Obviously, this doesn't mean anything with Derp, it's for people who don't want to take Derp with it but still want a trigger range increase.
  • Stealth Mode got a slight rejiggering of its group-stealth option, taking inspiration from the new version of The Unseen Destiny to make it easier to understand.
  • Teleportation and Flash Teleport had enough stuff to warrant a separate discussion at the bottom of this post.
  • Failsafe Spell now has an option to allow re-rolling of natural 2s and 3s in addition to 1s. Again, not useful if you have Derp, meant for those without it.
  • Added options for Dispel Magic.
  • Spectral Steeds' option to reduce the preparation time has been lowered in cost from 6 to 2, because it really isn't worth that much. I also added an option to increase your steeds' speeds.
  • Added options for Minimize.

Alright, so, teleport abilities...with the new Flash Teleport, it's obvious to me that I drastically under-priced the preparation time reduction option for vanilla Teleportation. From what I've seen in my experience, it was one of the more popular options for Teleportation, so I wanted a way to balance it without drastically increasing the price. However, the way Flash Teleport works, even if I quadrupled the cost for Teleportation it would still be more powerful than Flash Teleport due to its ability to teleport other people and the ability to increase its range.

So I decided to go a different tack, and change it so that regular Teleportation can no longer get down to zero prep time. It can now get down to 5 seconds, which is still quite fast for most purposes, but leaves Flash Teleport its gimmick of instant escape and (importantly) doesn't require massively increasing the cost for vanilla.

It's actually good to have a second teleport utility, as it allows me to transfer some of the options from the swollen original Teleportation over it and lets both specialize in different areas. Teleportation is now more focused on "non-emergency" teleportation and being able to teleport things besides yourself (either other creatures, or inanimate objects). Flash Teleport is the "escape" utility, so it now has the option (formerly of vanilla Teleportation) to teleport all allies simultaneously by spending a Magic Point. It also has another formerly-vanilla option, slightly buffed, which allows you to set either a location or an ally to instantly teleport to in an emergency.

All-in-all Flash Teleport upset the apple cart a little bit, and though it might feel like Teleportation came out a bit worse from the deal, I think the fact of the matter is that we've now got two complementary talents from which to choose that each have their own focus, along with a better understanding of the value of certain things in the system as a whole.

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Re: Talent Specialization

Post  ZamuelNow on Sun Aug 25, 2013 1:38 pm

You may want to make your link bold or italics or something on the first page. I've looked at it before but the link really doesn't stand out as is.
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Re: Talent Specialization

Post  Philadelphus on Tue Aug 27, 2013 4:48 am

You have a good point, it is hard to find among all the words, isn't it? I'll re-arrange the original post as soon as I get the time to do so, hopefully in the next day or two.

Edit: I have now re-done the original post, and removed some stuff that was no longer relevant (like the sentence "This hasn't actually been playtested yet"). I like the look much better now and it's much easier to find the link, so thanks for the suggestion!

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Re: Talent Specialization

Post  Philadelphus on Tue Sep 03, 2013 6:06 am

Another week, another expansion with multiple utility talent options. Changelog incoming!

  • Speak with the Dead's official prep time was changed from 1 hour to 10 minutes, so its prep-time-reduction option has been updated to reflect that. It used to require 12 points total to reduce the time down to 15 minutes, it now take a total of 4 points to reduce it to 2 minutes. It was also changed from Magic to 1/Day, so it now has an option to gain more daily uses.
  • Flashback now has options.
  • Mook now has options.
  • I couldn't really think of options for the upgrades to Arcane Eye beyond simply increasing the Perception bonus even more, which is rather boring. So I haven't added anything for them, although I'd be open to ideas.
I also realized I started a formatting change a week ago and got distracted halfway through, so I went through and finished that up. Much better now.

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Re: Talent Specialization

Post  ZamuelNow on Tue Sep 03, 2013 8:24 pm

Philadelphus wrote:
  • I couldn't really think of options for the upgrades to Arcane Eye beyond simply increasing the Perception bonus even more, which is rather boring. So I haven't added anything for them, although I'd be open to ideas.
One possibility is to allow your companions/mooks/minions to see through the upgrade and another for all allies. Thus, it transforms into a sort of mystic viewing pool instead of just the current mystic sight. In fact, it could potentially become like an 80s Cartoon Villain All Seeing Computer/Cauldron(tm).
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ZamuelNow
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Re: Talent Specialization

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