Utility Items

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Utility Items

Post  Grey Pen The Flawed on Thu Dec 27, 2012 11:43 pm

It strikes me as odd that nopony has thought too much about this.

Any how, rather than make an individual item for every conceivable effect you could want, let's make some basic templates that can then be filled in and flavoured appropriately.

I'm gonna start with two fairly simple ones, and I'll add more later. This will also provide the format you should use for your own ideas.

X-Shot Check Modifier (Take 2)
Cost: X*Y*(A-B, minimum 1)
Uses: X times
Duration: Y minutes (Minimum 1, Maximum 1,440 or 24 hours)
Effect: Increase one skill check by A, and decrease another by B.

Examples:

First Aid Kit
Cost: 9 bits
Uses: 3
Duration: 1 check
Effect: +3 to Healing.

Apple Cider
Cost: 360 bits
Uses: 3
Duration: 2 hours
Effect: +3 Endurance, -5 Persuasion

Magic Gemstone
Cost: 1800 bits
Uses: 1
Duration: 3 hours
Effect: +10 Arcana

See how that works? Let's try a slight variation:

At-Will Check Modifier (Take 2)
Cost: (X-Y minimum 1)*1500
Uses: At Will/Constant
Effect: +X to one check, -Y to another check.

Examples:

Crescent Wrench
Cost: 3000 bits
Uses: At Will
Effect: +2 Mechanics

Encyclopedia
Cost: 7500 bits
Uses: At Will
Effect: +5 History

Cursed Medal
Cost: 3000 bits
Uses: At Will
Effect: +5 Stunts, -3 Arcana


Obviously this idea will need tweaking, and my templates are not at all balanced (I think.) But I think simple templates like that, that GM's and players alike can work with, would make out of combat gear much easier to implement.


Last edited by Grey Pen on Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:13 pm; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : Derped on the title.)
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Re: Utility Items

Post  SilentBelle on Thu Dec 27, 2012 11:55 pm

Maybe the cost should be squared or something for the At-will, cause a +10 bonus should be REALLY EXPENSIVE compared to a +2 I'd say around 6000-7000 bits or so. Although squaring it would land us around 10,000 which is probably too much...
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Re: Utility Items

Post  Grey Pen The Flawed on Fri Dec 28, 2012 12:13 am

You mean the Magic Gemstone, right? Yeah, I wondered about that one too.

But whatever. Like I said, the templates are far from balanced, and aren't currently meant to be; I had an idea, and needed to portray it with an example. It seems to me that adjustable, easily-re-flavored item templates would make items more accessible.
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Re: Utility Items

Post  Grey Pen The Flawed on Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:03 am

I have a fix for the At-will item cost, and have edited appropriately.

Essentially, Temporary Items now have a maximum duration of 24 hours (1,440 minutes). An At-Will item now is treated essentially as a 25 hour item, for a multiplier of 1500.

I am also going to open up an Item Shop! For the purpose of displaying the stuff I come up with using templates.
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Re: Utility Items

Post  SilentBelle on Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:15 pm

Now those prices make much more sense Smile
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Re: Utility Items

Post  Whiteeyes on Tue Jan 01, 2013 2:50 pm

Your price for the Magic Gem is wrong. 3 hours = 180 minutes. 180x1x10= 1800. 3600 is double that value.
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Re: Utility Items

Post  Grey Pen The Flawed on Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:12 pm

So it is! Derp. Will go fix.
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Re: Utility Items

Post  thematthew on Wed Jan 02, 2013 11:46 pm

The problem with utility items is that they would inherently violate the combat/non-combat barrier, in that you now have a resource (bits, aka monies) which can be used to improve either your non-combat effectiveness or your combat effectiveness. And that, my friends, is a road to misery and woe paved with sometimes decent or good ideas. Now I'm not saying utility items aren't possible, I'm just saying they should never exist in a game which uses combat items.

Simply put, resources are either combat or non-combat, never both because that's what causes crazy imbalance.
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Re: Utility Items

Post  Xel Unknown on Wed Jan 02, 2013 11:58 pm

But that's just it... It's hard to not having bits be not used for both combat and non-combat to get items. From what I understand Items are MEANT to be the one point were combat and non-combat mix.
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Re: Utility Items

Post  SilentBelle on Thu Jan 03, 2013 12:14 am

Well, how's this for a crazy idea. What if all items were to have a utility and a combat purpose? So say you spent 3000 gold on a piece of fancy armour, maybe you would get to choose a 3000 gold out of combat ability that it grants you as well. I could see that working.
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Re: Utility Items

Post  LoganAura on Thu Jan 03, 2013 12:24 am

But again, that goes against the In Combat, out of combat split.

I think maybe having Role Play Bits, money you earn from scenarios infun, and combat bits, stuff you use to equip yourself, could be possible..

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Re: Utility Items

Post  Xel Unknown on Thu Jan 03, 2013 12:27 am

But my understanding is that Dan doesn't wanta do that, or would think such a thing as dumb or something. This isn't the first time the idea of spliting money has been brought up. Just know that Dan brought it up as more a joke or I think.
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Re: Utility Items

Post  thematthew on Thu Jan 03, 2013 12:34 am

See, the problem arises when people are stuck choosing between making their characters better at combat or better at not-combat.

Assuming the 1000 bits = 1 standard action model, and something like 1000 bits = 1 racial point model (seems to be a reasonable standard and allows for comparison) you end up with basically 3 possible starting ponies which diverge further as the game progresses:

  • Rainbow Dash: 2000 bits worth of combat equipment, making her equivalent to having a trait at level 1 (level 2 worth of fighting power) but just basic when it comes to non-combat and requiring the GM to tweak combats toward a higher difficulty

  • Applejack: 1000 bits worth of combat equipment and 1000 bits worth of non-combat equipment, making her a good balance point at first (see divergence issues)

  • Pinky Pie: 2000 bits worth of random utility swag making her the equivalent of having a whole extra utility talent or some such (fun fact, one non-incentivized racial = 2 racial points = 2000 bits), thus making her as useful out of combat as a second level pony and as useful in combat as a basic pony.


So long as everypony falls into the same balance group, there isn't an imbalance problem and the game goes on like nothing happened, but once somepony decides that their bits are best put in a different pile than everypony else we have a divergance which grows larger as the party levels:

For every 2000 the party gains Pinky gains effectively an extra Utility talent, making her gain an effective 3 levels worth of non-combat utility, while Rainbow is gaining an extra Trait's extrorth of combat utility (one Trait = 2000 bits) and Applejack is getting the same as the both of them at half speed. This in turn means that at level 10 Pinky has 7.5 extra utilities worth of swag (that's almost 2 whole extra races btw), Rainbow has 7.5 extra Traits worth of swag (Which means she's fighting as if she was level 17.5ish btw), and Applejack has an extra 3.75 of each (That's fighting at level 13.75ish and having almost a second race stapled to her face, but who cares, the other 2 completely outshine her anyway.) That kind of digression is bad for a game, and is one of the really big problems D&D faces because of magic items (Fighters have to buy all their magic equipment, Wizards buy a stat buffer and then have loads of gold left for candy) which really makes the game less fun.

And yes Logan, a 'non-combat bits' and 'combat bits' split would fix this, but it would feel tacky and artificial.
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Re: Utility Items

Post  Grey Pen The Flawed on Thu Jan 03, 2013 1:03 am

Disclaimer: I haven't read the Combat Items file in a while, so maybe some of my info on it is outdated.

But, there is a much easier solution: Limit the availability of items and/or Bits.

Think about it. How many people here have played any of the open-ended games like Fallout or Elder Scrolls? Raise your hoof!

Now tell me, those of you who have their hooves raised. How often did you talk to a merchant (or vending machine, or whatever) and find that they just happen to have every single weapon, enchanted trinket, useable item, and piece of armor/clothing in the whole game available for purchase? I mean really, doesn't it sound kind of ridiculous?

Oh sure, at character creation you can get away with just about anything, with the simple phrase "It was my dad's." But later on, it'd be pretty easy (I think) for a GM to dictate what sort of items are available to them, particularly depending on how they choose to go about getting them. Who says they have to buy it? Maybe they got it from that dragon they befriended. If they request more swag, whether directly or without even realising it, the GM should be the ultimate decider on how it gets to them and how many options they have.

That being said, the idea of merging combat and utility with items is an intriguing one. After all, it's hard to imagine (in-character) NOT using a "combat" Staff of Healing, or whatever it's called, to patch yourself up after a non-combat accident. Or, similarly, NOT using a "utility" Crescent Wrench to whack an unruly stallion on the head. But, it will need to be thought of very carefully.
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Re: Utility Items

Post  thematthew on Thu Jan 03, 2013 1:09 am

But that is basically the 2 separate piles of bits strategy effectively, by having items get both an in and out of combat utility based on value (In the case of your examples the staff giving healing uses in combat and a bonus to heal out of combat, and the wrench being a mechanics buff out of combat and an extra beaty attack in combat.)
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Re: Utility Items

Post  sunbeam on Thu Jan 03, 2013 1:21 am

This seems awkward to me, but as a basic idea from someone who's been awake for far too long to improve their basic ideas...
What if the DM made an executive decision about whether or not the PCs could use combat or utility items?
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Re: Utility Items

Post  Grey Pen The Flawed on Thu Jan 03, 2013 1:46 am

Matthew: That's true... except it wouldn't feel as awkward.

See, it makes sense to buy one first-aid kit (for a simpler example) and expect to be able to use it in a raging battle just as easily as in a calm back alley. With the original "split cost" fix I would have to buy two, one for utility and one for combat.

See, what the original fix was (as I understand it) is the player gets, say, 3000 for combat stuff and 3000 for non-combat stuff. He can't mix the two, spending 4000 on combat and 2000 on utility.

The fix SilentBelle proposed would dictate that when crafting an item we consider the cost for the combat effects, and the utility effects, and either make them about the same or split the difference. One item, one price, two effects. You get how that works?

Ant, boot.

Sunbeam: there is no reason at all, since the GM (ideally) can decide anything. He is a dictator, not an executive.
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Re: Utility Items

Post  thematthew on Thu Jan 03, 2013 2:02 am

That's actually what I was saying, thus the use of the word basically, I guess I wasn't that clear.

What I meant was that every item would have to have both combat and non-combat uses which were appropriately balanced for the cost of the item. We couldn't discount an item because it had weak(or non-existent) combat use, because this would put us back to the Rainbow/Applejack/Pinky trilemma.
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Re: Utility Items

Post  SilentBelle on Thu Jan 03, 2013 2:05 am

Indeed, the combat and utility would stay separate, yet would have balanced values relative to the each other. But like just about everything in this system it would let you choose both parts of the item and pay based on the part with the heftiest price, I think it could work if that's what we want to do with items. Of course it brings up other problems, such as... Consumption items which would have 1 time use effects in both combat and out of combat. They would be hard to place in a system like this... but maybe if we are very clever we can come up with some good ideas...
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Re: Utility Items

Post  thematthew on Thu Jan 03, 2013 2:08 am

Consumption items are not a good option in normal cases, and are better suited to being X/day, X/extended rest, X/session etc... since it gives them a limit without making your pony's effectiveness go down with time.
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Re: Utility Items

Post  Grey Pen The Flawed on Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:30 am

Again, that depends on how much control your players have over the items they get. A one-use item can get them out of a hairy situation, without being overly expensive or producing feelings of necessity; since they'll save it for when they need it really badly. How over or under powered they are still relies on how they get those items; A little shop in town that sells First-Aid kits for 15 bits each would be just fine, as they could grab as many as they felt they'd need, ans use them as needed. Whereas a Magic Gemstone that costs 1800 would require a little more fishing, if available at all. If they waste those items, then that's their fault, not the developers'.

EDIT: Regarding the difference between combat/utility cost... again.

Lemme see if I understand... you're asking "What happens if the combat side cost 3000 and the utility only costs 1000?"

Here's an easy equation for you. X is the higher cost, Y is the lower cost. We get:

([X-Y]/2) + Y = Total Cost.

So, given a combat price of 3000, and a utility price of 1000, the result is 2000.

Of course, the problem here is the RD could make a very high priced Combat item, with a very low Utility cost, and get more bang for her bit as a result, since the low Utility cost would offset it. We would have to set some sort of minimum cost on either side so that if RD did such a thing, the Utility cost would effectively get wasted.
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Re: Utility Items

Post  thematthew on Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:22 am

The point is that if RD could get low (or no) cost on her utility side, then we once more get the massive character divergence. Quite literally speaking, the ability to spend your bits on a slide-able scale between combat and non-combat effectiveness is the problem.

And I'm not talking a 'Hey, there's still weird wording in the PHB that we brought up over a month ago' kind of problem, I'm talking the 'some characters really can kill everything on turn one with little to no help from the rest of the party, while others are the combative equivalent of tree moss' kind of problem.

Secondly, with the ability to always get a 100% refund on any item you don't want anymore (as stated by Dan) there is literally no reason to include 1/ever items. If you buy a med kit, it should be 'I has a medkit, I can use it X/times I visited town thank you very much' at the worst case, or that ruins the whole point.
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Re: Utility Items

Post  Grey Pen The Flawed on Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:50 am

thematthew wrote:The point is that if RD could get low (or no) cost on her utility side, then we once more get the massive character divergence. Quite literally speaking, the ability to spend your bits on a slide-able scale between combat and non-combat effectiveness is the problem.

And I'm not talking a 'Hey, there's still weird wording in the PHB that we brought up over a month ago' kind of problem, I'm talking the 'some characters really can kill everything on turn one with little to no help from the rest of the party, while others are the combative equivalent of tree moss' kind of problem.

((True... which is why Items need to be balanced between Utility and Combat. It would seem that being able to favor one side over the other is ultimately a bad idea.))

Secondly, with the ability to always get a 100% refund on any item you don't want anymore (as stated by Dan) there is literally no reason to include 1/ever items. If you buy a med kit, it should be 'I has a medkit, I can use it X/times I visited town thank you very much' at the worst case, or that ruins the whole point.

((I'm not sure I understand what you're saying... but let me see.))

((You're saying that the number of times you can use a First-Aid kit is determined by the number of times you've been to town, and presumably thought to buy First-Aid Kits. Is that correct?))

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Re: Utility Items

Post  thematthew on Thu Jan 03, 2013 12:55 pm

Grey Pen wrote:
thematthew wrote:The point is that if RD could get low (or no) cost on her utility side, then we once more get the massive character divergence. Quite literally speaking, the ability to spend your bits on a slide-able scale between combat and non-combat effectiveness is the problem.

And I'm not talking a 'Hey, there's still weird wording in the PHB that we brought up over a month ago' kind of problem, I'm talking the 'some characters really can kill everything on turn one with little to no help from the rest of the party, while others are the combative equivalent of tree moss' kind of problem.

((True... which is why Items need to be balanced between Utility and Combat. It would seem that being able to favor one side over the other is ultimately a bad idea.))

My point exactly. In order for items to work for both combat and non-combat, you have to get the same effectiveness on both sides as you spent for, otherwise it is broken

Secondly, with the ability to always get a 100% refund on any item you don't want anymore (as stated by Dan) there is literally no reason to include 1/ever items. If you buy a med kit, it should be 'I has a medkit, I can use it X/times I visited town thank you very much' at the worst case, or that ruins the whole point.

((I'm not sure I understand what you're saying... but let me see.))

((You're saying that the number of times you can use a First-Aid kit is determined by the number of times you've been to town, and presumably thought to buy First-Aid Kits. Is that correct?))


Yes. What I'm saying is that if you want something to be a consumable, then the only way to really work it is to have people pay a 'buy in' price, and then restock all their uses of it at a given time (for example, I have 5 med kits. Whenever we go to town, it is assumed that I get all my med kits back because I payed to have 5 med kits. If I don't want 5 med kits anymore, I get my money back instead. Just like if I don't want my fleshrender anymore.)
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Re: Utility Items

Post  Grey Pen The Flawed on Thu Jan 03, 2013 2:23 pm

I agree on combat vs utility; I think we can safely set that aside.

As for consumables... it makes sense, from a mechanics perspective, but not necessarily from a realism perspective. It seems like it would end up being rather confusing, depending on the item.

It also reduces flexibility. Suppose, as a GM, I decide the players are relying on First-Aid Kits too much. If each one can only be used once or twice, and then you have to buy more, I can simply raise the price or eliminate them entirely. With your method, they already have it and can rightfully demand more whenever they go somewhere that could expect to have medical supplies; I would have to create extenuating circumstances that may or may not rid them of it, or else never let them go to town.
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