Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

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Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Mon May 06, 2013 8:57 pm

Hey everyone, it's here right on time!

This is the first draft of our new approach on boons. We wanted to do two things in the new take. First, we wanted to address the flavor issues of the old boons - it was odd for the old boons to automatically give players allies and objects that you’d normally expect to attain through roleplaying. Plus if you ever had a game where you reached level 3 in the middle of a wasteland, a fanclub suddenly popping up could be rather odd. Second, we wanted to make boons a lot more exciting - so we upped the power level a lot (including adding consumable boons, that give you extremely powerful effects a few times over the course of the entire campaign). And yep, we plan to add more boons in future updates.

We usually put things through a bunch of playtesting first, but we want to include you all in developing and exploring this revamp. After all, this isn't like traits or items - where we pretty much got the core concepts right the first time and were just rebalancing them and making them cooler. This revamp is a whole new approach on how boons work and we definitely want to give everyone a chance to contribute to the discussion.

Enjoy. sunny

Boons Revamp Beta - Playtest and Feedback


Last edited by Stairc -Dan Felder on Tue May 28, 2013 7:21 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

Post  A1C Bronymous on Mon May 06, 2013 9:38 pm

Oh... oh my...
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Re: Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

Post  Xel Unknown on Mon May 06, 2013 9:41 pm

I like them... But that might be the SHININESS of new-stuff haze! At least all of them seem useful and useable unlike the old versions.
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Re: Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

Post  Xel Unknown on Mon May 06, 2013 11:02 pm

boons wrote:Spelltacular - 1/Day
Roll a d20 with a +50 bonus. Treat the result as a magecraft check.
So... This counts as a basic Skill Check, right meaning it can be assisted and magic point added right?
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Re: Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Mon May 06, 2013 11:04 pm

Yep, that's right. But as no creature is making the check, you can't assist that creature or give a creature a skill bonus (the way Yee-Haw, for example, gives a bonus to a creature). So it's very hard to assist - keeping it more fair.

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Re: Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

Post  Xel Unknown on Tue May 07, 2013 12:11 am

I'd just suggest putting a memo explaining that little factoid... Where basically only at best magic points and assist rolls only could boost Spelltacular, right?
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Re: Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Tue May 07, 2013 12:37 am

Good idea.

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Re: Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

Post  RavenscroftRaven on Tue May 07, 2013 1:36 am

Feedback! I'm typing this live as I read them, true first thoughts!

I was speaking on Skype about the level 3 boons, the rest is as-I-read-it as a powergamer.

Level 3 Boons:
You mention in the doc you want more powerful boons, so I'm going on the assumption the boons should be, contextually in a majority of situations, more useful.

But I don't see it. Or I see it too far the other way. Critique:

Memory Re-write once per campaign is basically a Friends in High Places that, should they figure out what was done, will become an enemy. It also has no presupposed limits, making it at the same time super-weak and super-strong. In example, regular ponies = Friend in High Places with risks. Most villains won't go down without a fight, they will often die, but if you rewrite their memories, as a DM you now have an NPC following the party with 100hp and field-wrecking attacks who will actively help the party and have a plethora of resources, essentially screwing any further campaign things. Further, nothing is stopping the ability from effecting, say, Discord or Celestia while they're sleeping (and thus "helpless") and getting a god on your side. It needs power limiters, but if it get them, then it becomes worse than the old boons.

Assistant is good, but the way DMs in general (I've played a few games, I can say generally) make DCs ridiculous, 5 in other skills might as well be -100, standard skill checks seem to be in the 25 range, so that really isn't a buff. The two utilities are, though. And it makes Build-a-Boon useless. Build-a-boon cannot grant any utility taking more than 5 minutes to cast (there's quite a few of them, as someone who plays with Element of Magic characters, I know how limited 10 minutes is, let alone 5), and it is limited to 3/day, and there are only so many utilities any campaign will need, and will become obvious by level 3. Two permanent utilities (there's no time limit on this summon) are much more useful than 3 that can't be illusions, shields, constructions, et cetera (you know, the good/cool utilities).

Again, unless a rules lawyer gets at them. Then 3 utilities is broken. Because you can take 1/session or 1/campaign boons 9 to 15 times per session some times. If this was the intended purpose, to make Unreliable Narrator totally useless because you can Twitchy Tail with it much more efficiently, I guess? But it leaves Unreliable in the dirt.

Unreliable Narrator, as said, is funny, but useless. It will very likely never be picked. It is far less useful than a base of operations (be it ship or building), let alone willing and helpful spy networks (fan club). Especially let alone a rules lawyer'd 3 utilities.

And all in all, if used right, a Friend in High Places is the strongest Lv3 boon of the old set, and if it was still offered, it would probably be the most powerful here, too (barring making Nightmare Moon your staunch footsoldier through an extensive memory re-write). These are different boons, but they are not more powerful. I'd like to see Fanclub, Base, and Friend back in the new ones, they are comparable in power in my opinion, mostly because of their permanency with no side effects. Yes, they don't always make sense, but if you're relying on DMs to NOT have their PCs make Luna their delicious plot slave through a Mem-Wipe, you can assume they will be restricted where those boons would not work. Plus, though I know we're encouraging NOT splitting the party, those talents could still be used even if only one person was present. (and the old and current assistant could too, as long as two people are there to summon the assistant, they can then split, since the apparition is permanent)

Level 6 Boons:
I like Think Small. Backtracing is always a good thing, just in case.

Strategic Withdrawal's wording is finicky: It is a group talent, so who is doing the "Seeing"? Or can each party member casting it bring over 6 people (so, like, 36 person exit)?

I know you, for some reason, like segregating combat and RP, like a JRPG where the world shatters and suddenly everyone follows different rules when they encounter an enemy, but Miracle can be used in combat: Injury is a harmful condition, I'd say. You may want to define "harmful condition", since being tied up with rope is a harmful condition, but being tied up in tax return work is also a harmful condition, being wanted by Celestia for improper conduct to royalty with a banana is a harmful condition, villains knowing you're a threat is a harmful condition... Or leave it as-is, as a 1/campaign at this point it should be pretty powerful...

BUT WAIT! Rules conflict: I'd say a memory overwrite is a harmful condition... If they wind up getting hit by miracle, with its wording of irreversability, you have an unstoppable force pushing an immovable object, if the overwrite was caused by the level 3 boon.

Spelltacular is fine, but with the way It's Witchcraft has its DCs to do things, you almost can't do magic WITHOUT using it. I have had DMs say that extending Memory to Mist to a 50 foot range, or switching it to forget 1 and 10 minutes before and after as opposed to 10 and 1, would be DC 50 or higher checks, and those are only minor alterations. Not a problem with Spelltacular, mostly with the explanation of DCs for spellcasting, but being brought up nonetheless.

Increasing it so many times per day, Friendship Never Dies should have some sort of penalty... Because I know good friends, ones that might reach level 6 boons, who would kill each other to freak out "the normals". After all, if there are no consequences for death, killing is a neutral activity, like racing or arm-wrestling. It is hard enough as-is to kill a single party member (it is usually TPK or nothing) so I do not see the logic in allowing 2 party members revive their 4 allies after each combat. It encourages recklessness, suicidal tendency (after all, suicide is just a temper tantrum if you can revive 4 times a day)... I'd say 4/campaign would be better. There's a Level 10 destiny that allows immortality, why grant it to huge groups of 6 or more people four levels lower than that?

Again, for comparisons, Pinkie Control is more powerful than many of these (there is no such thing as "surprise", ever, if it uses magic in a macro scale, along with several other benefits), secret ally is a DMPC get out of everything free card (much more useful than Spelltacular, IMO), and the fandom is still quite a usable thing as a spy network or labour (if the case is presented right). I think their power level is comparable enough to include in the new boons.

Level 9 Boons: Alright, in theory, these should be better than the level 6 ones, right?

Think different: Again, good. I like backtracing abilities.

Machine: Google says to me that 100 yards is 300 feet, which is used everywhere else in the campaign books for units smaller than miles. This would be more appropriate here.

As for balance, assuming you can pick the materials it is made out of (such is assumed in-text), this is more than absurdly powerful when combined with a Break the Fourth Wall (since I assume ponies don't know about antimatter bombs), so it is indeed strong. And pretty reasonable elsewise, an omnitool. I like it.

Keys to the Universe? Strong, but stoppable. Unlike the 3rd and 6th boons. So its weaker than those, but for people with no imagination, you spell out how it is best used in-text, so I guess it is a good boon for unimaginative people. I like it. It should, however, have what happens if the location is either impossible (the location plain does not exist), through time travel (technically, you could teleport to a garden two weeks ago), or a location that prompts rolls ("teleport me inside the lungs of that manticore!" "Teleport me into a wall".)

The Show Must Go On: Weaker than a level 6 boon when used in its minor form, you'd be taking it for the insurance policy of TPK. But considering the huge explanation of what a teleport is, there's no detail here on how this boon activates. The party must be together to trigger a boon, but no one is alive to trigger it. Can players trigger this boon with OOC knowledge without a Break the Fourth Wall? Does it trigger immediately upon death of the last member, or can the players wait around for a few days as their stinking corpses decay and are burned, ash tossed in a pile, to take the villains by surprise?

I Dream Of The Sky: If a player takes a glob of dirt from the island, and spreads the soil in a tiny flat circle in the basement of the Big Bad Evil Pony, does it count as part of the island for the teleportation effect? (Otherwise, a "items taken from the island are no longer considered part of the island" should be present). Also, it mentions wildlife, but not source. If I bring a hydra onto the island through a teleport, does it suddenly become friendly? If I bring Nightmare Moon onto the island, does SHE become friendly? Or do animals "spawn" when the island is created?

Much better than an airship, though.

Time travel is awesome, but I'm sure a colossal headache for DMs. But awesome.

Again, a Barony is comperable in power to a few of these, and Taste the Rainbow is still in the same power range as well.

Just my thoughts.
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Re: Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

Post  Hayatecooper on Tue May 07, 2013 5:23 am

Just out of curiosity.

Wibbly Wobbly - 1/Campaign
Up to six willing creatures perform a ritual to travel up to ten years into the past. When you use this talent, choose a duration up to 7 days. At the end of this duration, all creatures moved into the past with this talent are returned to their normal time.

Can I get 6 NPCs to do this? Or does one of the party have to be involved.
Also if I go back in time and get previous versions of myself+party to cast it on me what happens?
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Re: Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Tue May 07, 2013 5:30 am

1) Yes you can send NPCs back in time even without a member of the party.

2) Time travel powers are independent of time - which is how they can manipulate it. When you use it, it's retroactively wiped from the rest of reality - so you suddenly no longer have it in the past. In short, once you use it - you lose it. I had a note on that, it seems to have vanished. I'll fix it. =)

RavenscroftRaven wrote:Feedback! I'm typing this live as I read them, true first thoughts!

Awesome! Thanks for taking the time for so many in-depth thoughts on the expansion. It helps a lot.

I'm really interested to see your reactions being so very, very different than most people. The boons you mention as being extremely powerful have been derided by most playtesters as barely worth noticing and most of the ones you mention as underwhelming are ones I tend to see people saying are the best. Love it, it shows there's a lot of different angles and approaches to the system.

As for the It's Witchcraft checks - have you seen the new Magecraft revamp of the talent? It makes the DCs a lot clearer.

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Re: Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

Post  Philadelphus on Tue May 07, 2013 5:56 am

I really like some of these boons, mainly the ones having to do with teleportation (which I am a sucker for in all its forms). My first tier of picks:

I love Keys to the Universe. I don't even have anything else to say about it, other than that I want to take it.

Strategic Withdrawal is also nice, though I share Raven's confusion regarding the exact wording of it (who is "you"? The two team member quorum required to perform the talent in the first place?). I definitely love the idea. I don't know if this would make it too powerful, but what if you were allowed to increase the number of charges for it by some suitably costly event, such as all team members paying a Magic Point and spending a day concentrating on it?

I also find I Dream of the Sky rather charming, though I can't place my finger on why. For some reason I just like the idea of having a giant floating island. I like Homeward Bound, but I guess I really just love its flavor (completely independent of the number of uses I can think up for a giant floating island).

Second tier stuff:
Spelltacular and Build a Boon Workshop have some excellent versatility, and could be very useful in certain situation depending on the talents chosen or the Magecraft effects attempted. Team Awesome and to a lesser extent Team Fantastic I like as well.

Think Small and Think Different are also nice to have, from a theoretical standpoint. Assistant could also be useful and/or fun, I suppose.

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Re: Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Tue May 07, 2013 6:03 am

Great to hear. sunny

And clarification has been added on the Strategic Withdrawal. Like all group talents, the 'you' refers to those performing the talent.

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Re: Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

Post  Ramsus on Tue May 07, 2013 6:13 am

For the record I'm largely on the same page with Raven. Though I think both boons that grant lower level boons should do more than just that as, if the Boons were all fair at their level compared to others at the same level, they'd be inferior to other boons of their level. (Of course right now the power scale is all over the place.)

I don't much like the 1/Campaign things but, that's partially just an issue of my style. Still, I don't see people taking those very often.
Edit: Partially because if your GM was ok with you doing such things, there would probably be ways to do them that came up naturally in the course of the game that might not be quite so limited in usage or would function differently.
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Re: Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Tue May 07, 2013 6:16 am

We don't expect many players to take the 1/Campaign boons - but we like the extra design space offered. And that's the beauty of a system like this, even if only a small minority of players like one of your options - you can still provide it for them (oddly, I hate consumables on principle but I really like the 1/Campaign boons and would be seriously tempted to take them).

Giving some extra punch to the 'take a lower level thing' boons could be a good idea. After all, why punish players just because they like some of the lower level stuff more?

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Re: Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

Post  Zarhon on Tue May 07, 2013 8:58 am

Personal feedback time! A bunch of (hopefully constructive) criticism below:

- Offering "Rewrite Memories" as a 1/campaign, as early as level three pretty much *guarantees* the party will not use it until the very certain end of the campaign (where such ability that cannot be veto'd, or fail, becomes more powerful). This in turn can make the party feel regret for not using it at a different, earlier time, where it might have been more appropriate. On the other side of the coin, if they do use it early in the campaign, then they'll feel regret for no longer having it available when a new situation occurs, thinking "ah, if only we had it...". This might even have them go out of their way to go pick the same boon again to get another use of it (via "think small" and/or "think different", allowing the 1/campaign ability to potentially become a 4/campaign, in total).

- "Unreliable Narrator" is made a bit redundant by the presence of the completely reliable "twitchy tail" utility talent. The ten extra uses it offers are ultimately spent making the unreliable narrator "more reliable", which, if luck is fickle, may not actually work.

- "Brainstorm" makes several utility talents AND destinies obsolete, and thus makes the boon a default "no-pick" if it interferes with the players who already have such abilities as a unique feature of their character. It also allows for the kind of "abuse" where the brainstorm abilities are taken early by various party members, then replaced with completely different talents, once brainstorm becomes available in boon form. It is also practically available from level 3, by taking the "Build a Boon" workshop and applying the identical utility talents (the talents are actually superior to the boon itself). Oh, and it makes the "unreliable narrator" redundant/obsolete.

- "Think small" and "think different" allows for multiple "1/campaign" boon uses, defeating their purpose and giving more than a little trouble to DMs.

- "Free revival" boons kind of make the other unique "revival" abilities (healer destiny, nine lives racial) less special. For the nine lives racial, it isn't clear how it would interact with such alternate revival abilities available - is the owner of the racial forced to revive with his nine lives, or can his allies "interject" an revive him on their own, before a "extra life" is expended?

- "Spelltacular" seems hilariously broken - it can easily go up to 120+ with manipulation (magic points, a number of destinies, it going nat20). It also needs clarification on how it interacts, exactly - who would count as "performing" it? Can it nat1 critfail, or go into a crit succcess? Is it counted as an "ally skill check", or affected by destinies and utilities?

- "Keys to the Universe", and "Show must go on" throw any possibility of the DM guiding or controlling his players out the window, especially since they're useable every session. KttU does so by making them viable to go anywhere they want and having no real way to stop them (they can just use "spelltacular" or a pumped-up caster to break barriers) other than an unreasonable veto. "Show must go on" makes them utterly immortal, removing any real consequence (other than that to NPCs/campaign world, which they may not care about) from their actions, or even letting them abuse it ("okay, we're utterly lost - let's just suicide and teleport back to our airship base") even if it makes no sense (e.g. disintegration).

- X/Session limitations are very vague for the boons - they can be short duration, or frequent occurring. It is entirely possible for a group to be able to use their boons more often then their utility/magic point talents (which are limited by "extended rests", a in-game time measure).

- Play-By-Post campaigns don't/can't really use "sessions", so it's a bit tricky to implement/control them in such.

- None of the repeatable-use or "miraculous" boons use or require magic points - compare with a few destinies (which should be superior, since they need an extra level to get) that require magic points. There's also a lack of boons relating to magic points. How come?

- What is the ruling of having "water sources" on the flying island? Is there anything preventing players from flying over a city with a island and having it rain endless waterfalls down (think pegasi cloud houses and their rainbow-falls), effectively flooding it, or just threatening to crush anything below them, much like was done by "Laputa" of Gulliver's Travels? Is there a possibility of the island crashing down from damage, or being destroyed by a powerful force, and its subsequent repair, after being summoned?
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Re: Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Tue May 07, 2013 2:10 pm

Thanks for the detailed feedback. Don't have time to address it all right now, but I just want to clarify one quick thing.

Zarhon wrote:
- None of the repeatable-use or "miraculous" boons use or require magic points - compare with a few destinies (which should be superior, since they need an extra level to get)

One boon is shared between the whole party, while every single member gets a destiny. Therefore, though there is a one level difference, the boons are still supposed to be much more impressive.

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Re: Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

Post  Pingcode on Tue May 07, 2013 10:58 pm

Something's missing...

AHA!

You know what the boons system needs? A boon that lets the party spontaneously start and participate in musical numbers and drag the entire town into them. Why?

Spoiler:



Ponies sing all the time - the Main 6, the CMC, the entire town, everypony sings! Clearly this should be a boon, so that parties can break into song at the slightest provocation.
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Re: Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Tue May 07, 2013 11:14 pm

So... Tempting...

I mean, you could flavor it as an instant party or something but...

Want... Special... Boon...

Someone take a whack at it! sunny

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Re: Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

Post  Quietkal on Wed May 08, 2013 12:03 am

Bam! This is just a rough draft, mind you.

Musical Number - Level 3 Boon
Your group gains the following talent.
Maestro! - 1/Session
A melody of your choosing forms from seemingly nowhere, and all creatures hearing it feel a compulsion to sing and dance in time to it.
Your group and all creatures within X radius are compelled into a musical number of your choosing. After the musical number finishes, all creatures that partook gain a +4 morale bonus to rolls for the rest of the day.
Creatures that do not wish to partake still sing to the melody, though they sing parts along the lines of "I don't want to be a part of this," or "Leave me alone!" They do not gain the morale bonus unless they are overcome by the melody and join into the song, usually noted by a short solo.
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Re: Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

Post  sunbeam on Wed May 08, 2013 1:07 am

Could you use this to influence people emotionally?

Example:
Could you do a song like "Tonight" from West Side Story (The Jets are gonna have their way, toniiight...the Jets are gonna win the day, toniiight...), to stir everyone up into a murderous frenzy?
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Re: Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

Post  AProcrastinatingWriter on Wed May 08, 2013 1:17 am

Quietkal wrote:Bam! This is just a rough draft, mind you.

Musical Number - Level 3 Boon
Your group gains the following talent.
Maestro! - 1/Session
A melody of your choosing forms from seemingly nowhere, and all creatures hearing it feel a compulsion to sing and dance in time to it.
Your group and all creatures within X radius are compelled into a musical number of your choosing. After the musical number finishes, all creatures that partook gain a +4 morale bonus to rolls for the rest of the day.
Creatures that do not wish to partake still sing to the melody, though they sing parts along the lines of "I don't want to be a part of this," or "Leave me alone!" They do not gain the morale bonus unless they are overcome by the melody and join into the song, usually noted by a short solo.

How exactly is somepony "overcome by the melody", precisely? In gameplay terms. Why are creatures that do not wish to partake forced to sing anyway? There are plenty of musical numbers in which at least one person speaks without doing any singing. What if a person is mute? Do they miraculously gain the power to speak for the duration of the song? What if they are silent by choice and doing this song would ruin the mystique of the character?

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Re: Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

Post  Pingcode on Wed May 08, 2013 1:46 am

Why make it forced? Hardly seems in the spirit of a song and dance. This one's probably on the powerful side, thanks to its unbounded potential (get enough ponies harmonising and nothing can stop you but a rival production of comparable size or possibly Loyalty), but that consequence seems entirely within theme.

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Tell me she's not... - Level 3 Boon
Every pony loves a good song, and your group is no exception. Your group receives the following talent:
She is! - 1/Session Day
As part of the activation of this boon designate a single task (eg. Wrap Up Winter, Raise This Barn) and strike up a song. While participating in the song, all participants (including ponies not part of the group) may freely aid other participants without restriction, and additionally receive a +4 untyped* bonus on all checks directly related to the task. At the conclusion of the song, all participants subsequently receive a +2 untyped* bonus on all checks for the rest of the day, because everypony loves a good song.

Participation is voluntary, but most NPCs not directly opposed to the group or the task in question are likely to participate if provided an opening.

*Collision with the specific 'aid bonus' talents providing morale bonuses, may be worth just leaving overlap in, though.
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Re: Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

Post  Quietkal on Wed May 08, 2013 12:14 pm

Ooh, I like Pingcode's one. Encourages working with npc's, but can also be done without them.

As for my suggestion, the compulsion is part of the inherent magic of the world. Creatures that can't sing or dance, or do neither by choice are not compelled into the song, unless circumstances arise such that they change their mind.
But my suggestion was just a point to jump off of.
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Re: Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

Post  LoganAura on Wed May 08, 2013 1:25 pm

Personally, I'm a big fan of the "Forced to sing unless unable too." or "has to speak to the rhythm of the song"

This is the example I had
Spoiler:

The boy with the mohawk, kid with the glasses and nunchaku, and the girl with teal hair are good examples of "Speaking to the rhythm"

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Re: Boons Revamp Beta is Live for Testing and Feedback

Post  Ramsus on Wed May 08, 2013 2:18 pm

I'm not a fan of forced the sing along as it can easily cause breaks in character. It also might want to be phrased as sing or dance instead of just sing so that mute characters can participate. What a shock I don't agree with Logan.
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