Variable-Strength Utility Talents

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Variable-Strength Utility Talents

Post  Philadelphus on Sat Jun 22, 2013 6:54 am

What are variable-strength utility talents, you ask? They are precisely what they sound like – utility talents that change in power or effect depending on extrinsic factors. What kind of factors? Well, it could be many things; some examples are the number of allies who take part in a task or are in the nearby area, the level of the character performing the talent, the number of Magic Points spent so far today, the number of objects of a particular type within sight, etc. For some examples, take a look at the following (extremely rough) talent ideas:

Comrade-Constructed Creation – Magic
Prep Time: 1 minute
This talent acts exactly like Create Crazy Contraption, except that for each player who participates in the prep time, the size limit increases by 10 feet on a side.

Fired by Friendship – 1/day
Prep time: 1 minute
Upon making a skill check, for each ally you can see that participates in the prep time you gain a +3 bonus to your skill check.

Focus Energy – 2/day
Prep time: up to X minutes, where X is your current level
For each minute you spend concentrating on the task at hand before making a skill check, gain +1 to that skill check, up to your level.

There aren't many variable-strength talents in the system at the moment; the only one I can think of off the top of my head is Fabricate, which lets you affect 30 cubic feet per level. Now, there may be a reason for that, and I'd love to hear from the developers if there was (I'm guessing simplicity), but I'd love to see more talents that change dynamically. Perhaps a talent for druid-type characters that grants a bonus based on how many trees are nearby, or the ability to teleport farther or more often depending on your level. Ones that incentivize teamwork by granting bigger bonuses depending on the number of party members involved could also be neat. (You may be wondering how something like that is different from a boon. Boons typically require all party members to take part, whereas these could be activated by a single person, just with better bonuses if more people take part.)

Now, I've thought for a while that it would be neat to have more variable-strength utility talents, but there are so few of them in the system that I had some trouble coming up with outside-the-box ideas. What do you guys think? Would you be interested in talents of this sort, and what sort of ideas do you have for some?

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Re: Variable-Strength Utility Talents

Post  Ramsus on Sat Jun 22, 2013 2:28 pm

Well the idea itself is fine. The examples you made aren't great though.

Your CCC is just flat out better than the book version so basically only one could really exist and I think it actually works better to have the original version for flavor/character reasons.

Fired by Friendship is basically 1/day a better version of aiding. There's not really anything wrong with it but, I don't imagine it'll be something a lot of people would take.

Focus Energy is just too weak to be worth the Utility. Things like that are probably the wrong way to go about this concept. Most likely what you'll end up with things that are too weak to be worth taking at lower levels and too strong not to take at higher ones.
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Re: Variable-Strength Utility Talents

Post  Z2 on Sat Jun 22, 2013 3:31 pm

In theory it's okay, but the talents you listed are a little undesirable...

Fired by Friendship in particular is kind of overpowered:
Standard six mare band is an instant +15 in a minute, with all the magic points and assists still available - it gets even worse if the party has NPC allies: end up trying to rally the Equestrian army for story reasons, or any sufficiently large group, and suddenly you can skip half the plot with a 9001+ arcana check...
While that does sound awesome, non-capped bonuses don't - and assist DCs DO - exist for a reason.

Even if you specified 'player' it's still a daily auto +15 to anything, which is MORE than a magic point (which usually costs +2 critical failure range or -4 racial points just to approximate.)

The multi member version of CCC is indeed problematically stronger and more boring...

And Focus energy is kind of cool from a 'scaling with level' perspective, but is ultimately kind of awkward - and uninteresting besides.


I might help come up with some later, I DO like the idea...
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Re: Variable-Strength Utility Talents

Post  ZamuelNow on Sun Jun 23, 2013 4:32 pm

I sorta like Fired by Friendship, though it feels like it should be slightly reworded to Fired Up by Friendship since the current name sounds like they're kicking you off the job.  Would probably be more balanced as a once per session ability and limiting it to 5 allies max.  While it's possible that it might not the most popular of abilities, it seems good for a lovable underdog or "powered by the people" type character.

While the concept of variable abilities seems interesting, there does seem to be a problem of finding ways for these to avoid the feast or famine problem of them fluctuating between overpowered and useless.
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Re: Variable-Strength Utility Talents

Post  Philadelphus on Mon Jun 24, 2013 2:39 pm

ZamuelNow wrote:I sorta like Fired by Friendship, though it feels like it should be slightly reworded to Fired Up by Friendship since the current name sounds like they're kicking you off the job.
Ha ha! I didn't think of that interpretation of the name.

ZamuelNow wrote:While the concept of variable abilities seems interesting, there does seem to be a problem of finding ways for these to avoid the feast or famine problem of them fluctuating between overpowered and useless.
This is true, and I see a lot of you raised the same point that it'd be a lot harder to balance these sorts of talents. I do still like the idea of Fabricate-like talents that become more powerful as you level up because there's a good feel for how powerful you should expect to be at each level, but I agree that a lot of the other kinds of variable-power talents I thought of just don't really work that well, I think.

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