Controversy in Pony Tales!

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Re: Controversy in Pony Tales!

Post  Hayatecooper on Thu Sep 12, 2013 10:45 pm

Make Utilities cost points like Racials? I think.
It's an interesting idea.
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Re: Controversy in Pony Tales!

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Thu Sep 12, 2013 10:46 pm

I *think* that's part of it. And it's something we're actually thinking about doing after we solve the other issues with the system. Not sure what it has to do with genetic engineering though.

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Re: Controversy in Pony Tales!

Post  Zarhon on Thu Sep 12, 2013 10:52 pm

Stairc -Dan Felder wrote:I don't even understand that post Pingcode. Like, I literally don't understand what you're saying.
I think he's saying:
- make all utilities act like racials, costing "points" depending on power, rather than being purely "pick that many".
- give each normal race some "unchangeable" abilities (e.g. cutie marks for ponies, flying for pegasi... stuff that fits the biology), within those 8 points we currently have
- supply each character with X points to pick out of a pool of utilities AND racials.

So for instance, you pick a pegasus, and get flight/weathercrafting/cutie mark a unchangeable. Something akin to having an elf be able meditate instead of sleep in D&D. Biological stuff.

Then, you have X points (for instance, 30) to spend to pick out your other abilities, whether biological or magical or skill-oriented.

So for the pegasus, you have say 30 points, and you can use it to give your character whatever it needs to make it that character.
A DM might also allow you to "trade in" some of the "hard coded" stuff if it makes sense (e.g. a blank-flank, or crippled-wing pegasus).

It would be a interesting choice to go with, though not without flaws - for one, the difference between biology and "trained skill/magical ability" is pretty big for racials/utilities. However, it seems like a bit of a requirement: GE in its current state, actually does act like a unique talent pool - without racials and only utilities,you can't become a spider-pony, you can't dig, or breathe underwater, you can't breathe fire, you can't rhyme, you can't have nine lives, you can't polymorph (other than in one specifically defined way), you can't scare things...
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Re: Controversy in Pony Tales!

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Thu Sep 12, 2013 10:58 pm

Zarhon wrote:- give each normal race some "unchangeable" abilities (e.g. cutie marks for ponies, flying for pegasi... stuff that fits the biology), within those 8 points

So for instance, you pick a pegasus, and get flight/weathercrafting/cutie mark a unchangeable. Something akin to having an elf be able meditate instead of sleep in D&D. Biological stuff.
Even something as simple as this doesn't work though. What if someone, for character reasons, wants to play a pegasus with crippled wings? This could be a great roleplaying backstory, a rainbow dash style flier - going to be the next great flier - and suffers a tragic accident. No longer can this character fly. Should the person be punished in terms of character power by not being allowed to use their unchangable flight and weathercrafting abilities? Or would it make sense to trade them out for some other trait that the character developed in response to the hardship - so the player isn't 'punished' for the creative concept?

Ultimately GE isn't a character building option. It's for times when people *do* need to tinker with the races for various flavor reasons (or make new ones that aren't officially designed). We just built a system for them to do it in a balanced way.


Last edited by Stairc -Dan Felder on Thu Sep 12, 2013 10:59 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Controversy in Pony Tales!

Post  Xel Unknown on Thu Sep 12, 2013 10:59 pm

Pingcode wrote:Genetic engineering is a lost cause - there's too much utility design tied up in Genetic Engineering now. Perhaps better might be to merge a lot of it into Utilities and have Utilities be point costed rather than talent costed.

Then build a new racial system, designed to provide the baseline for actual races rather than nobody ever using the races as written because they want their pony to be extra fit or what have you.
Ping... That doesn't answer anything... And only makes the FANS of the Genetic Enineering hate the change... No matter what get's put in a reaplacement. That's a problem maker not an answer to any problem. Personally I'm still waiting for people to explain what the deal the "problem" even is... Cause it doesn't seem that way to me...
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Re: Controversy in Pony Tales!

Post  Hayatecooper on Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:11 pm

The problem?
It's very simply and easily used for min-maxing. Then again.. everything could technically be used for that. Also.. it's not being used correctly? maybe it needs a bigger warning sign but people are using it to make Characters, not races like it's meant to be used.

Also... there is so much stuff in there that is just weird and wonderful it's almost impossible NOT to make characters out of it, if you want to stay relevant in a group. I mean.. I like the legacy racial's but if you're the only one using them you are going to be lame next to the acid breathing creature who can fly brilliantly and is like third spider and third bat and third pegasus and has heart of courage.

Technically the above character isn't actually broken..(OP? In some cases.. broken no). But it's got a HUGE advantage over the generic Pegasus character.

Now I'm not saying it can't be a good, heck, even great resource when used correctly. But it's not, and even when it is the stuff it makes can be both wonderful and fantastically hugely evil.
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Re: Controversy in Pony Tales!

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:20 pm

That's one 'issue' with GE, it's so *fun* to use. But that's fine as long as it doesn't produce OP stuff.

We want to give people a method to create new races or tweak old ones for specific flavor issues (like the crippled pegasus and the non-exploding gnome)  in a balanced way. If some of the racial traits are undercosted, we should fix that.

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Re: Controversy in Pony Tales!

Post  Pingcode on Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:31 pm

She*

Anyways, essentially what Zarhon said. Also, that shouldn't come into the design. 'What if I want to play a pegasus with crippled wings' 'Well go nuts.' At the moment Genetic Engineering is actually a de facto build element. Everyone dismantles huge chunks of their respective races because there's so many abilities that fit a concept (for instance,

Here's sort of a counterproposal:

You start with 14 points with which to buy Utility Abilities - the current utility talents are 2 points, all racials are their current values. In addition to this, you have approx. 4 points of 'Racial Traits' that govern your basic character and may only be removed with DM permission. The DM creates the races available for the campaign, and exceptions are only with discretion.

So a pegasus would have CM (2) Flying (1) Weather Shaping (1), plus 14 points on top of that to buy from the merged Genetic Engineering and Utility list.

It doesn't actually change things from a practical perspective, but it reframes the races as races better, and gives a lot more flexibility for character building because you don't have that weird 'I could take this utility but I'd get it cheaper if I can reshuffle my species to be able to take it as a racial.'
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Re: Controversy in Pony Tales!

Post  Hayatecooper on Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:37 pm

To heck with all of this
Can we go back to like 1.0? Where we had racial barriers and Earth Ponies couldn't fly without pinkie's brew and other stuff? Razz
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Re: Controversy in Pony Tales!

Post  AProcrastinatingWriter on Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:42 pm

Points for buying utility talents doesn't seem like a bad idea, but limiting racials to a mere 4 points feels somewhat restrctive.

Admittedly, if it had been that way from the beginning, I probably wouldn't have noticed, but as is cutting our racial possibilties in half...well, it don't sit well with me, which means there'll likely be riots come decision time.
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Re: Controversy in Pony Tales!

Post  ZamuelNow on Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:50 pm

I feel it may technically need to be part of another discussion but I have to wonder if we get enough utilities. You progressively get stronger in combat as you level...but only get 3 more utilities. Granted, boons and destinies are supposed to fill that gap but I wonder if they truly do.
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Re: Controversy in Pony Tales!

Post  Hayatecooper on Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:57 pm

Ha... the last thing we need is for characters to get stronger. (Can you tell I'm terrified of that? I thought I was being subtle.)
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Re: Controversy in Pony Tales!

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:57 pm

Everyone always likes to get more stuff, but the mental issues of tracking variables are an issue. In 4e, for example, the high level characters require the next best thing to flowcharts in order to track all your abilities. Psychological experiments tend to demonstrate that people are only able to track 7 variables at once comfortably. 5 utility talents with multiple x/day plus the issues of destiny talents plus the added utility talents certainly can push that upper limit.

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Re: Controversy in Pony Tales!

Post  Pingcode on Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:13 am

AProcrastinatingWriter wrote:Points for buying utility talents doesn't seem like a bad idea, but limiting racials to a mere 4 points feels somewhat restrctive.

Admittedly, if it had been that way from the beginning, I probably wouldn't have noticed, but as is cutting our racial possibilties in half...well, it don't sit well with me, which means there'll likely be riots come decision time.
It can be varied, but essentially it's formalising the prevailing attitude that the 'heart' of a race is in only a handful of racial abilities - the rest is by large used to represent the personal features of an individual character. It only compromises the idea of a species template by having them set up in such a way that everyone strips out half their talents for the space to represent things like their character being more fit or agile or smart or perceptive than the average pony, etc.
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Re: Controversy in Pony Tales!

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:16 am

What problem with GE are you trying to address with that solution and how would it address it? Because it doesn't solve the problem we've been discussing, unless I missed something.

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Re: Controversy in Pony Tales!

Post  Xel Unknown on Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:20 am

Personally I say the problem was the dev's thinking when they built the racials... As Racials... They should've been Character Traits... Which is basiclaly how they've been used. But nothing saying they can't be used to also count for one's race...
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Re: Controversy in Pony Tales!

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:24 am

Interesting point, but it creates a really fuzzy line about racial templates in the first place. Heck, it'd be a lot fuzzier than it is now. It'd kind of eliminate races entirely, which is a rather interesting option...

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Re: Controversy in Pony Tales!

Post  Pingcode on Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:29 am

Well, right now Racials are doing double duty as Character Traits - unifying it with Utilities could remove a chunk of unnecessary complexity, and make it easier to create a defined 'Species Space'.
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Re: Controversy in Pony Tales!

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:31 am

It'd also intensify any current weirdness about not being in line with basic race layouts

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Re: Controversy in Pony Tales!

Post  Xel Unknown on Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:31 am

At this point... The only move that'd likely not just go over with people being so upset... Is turning the Racials into pure Character Traits... And trying to rebuild the "race" thing as a new minor system? *shrugs*


Well that's not totally true... People would still be upset. But I think the lest amought of people would be upset by this type of change...
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Re: Controversy in Pony Tales!

Post  Zarhon on Fri Sep 13, 2013 10:24 am

What about the Elements of Harmony mechanic? Could they be convertible into such a "racial" form as well? Cause right now, they're really limited in variety and they aren't equal in usefulness/power/practicality.

Similar issue might arise from the other magic point abilities, and magic points in general.

The way I see it, GE's ability to pretty much make whatever character you want to make is a huge upside - if people are limited, it limits what characters can be made and potentially how much fun you can have playing the character (or alternately, the usefulness of said character - the DM can't always tailor challenges unique for your character, and that can lead to boredom if you just sit around whilst others do stuff. This can also be a motivation to min-max, if creativity fails you or the DM can't fulfill the character expectations, or you just have that "gamer" mentality).

There will ALWAYS be min-maxers, no matter how much one balances the system, but it can be controlled by both the player (who isn't obligated to min-max, and can be encouraged by his fellow players not to) and the DM (who has final say in the matter). Making the system balanced is a double-edged sword: It can lead to fairness, but sometimes at the cost of fun. It's when the balancing takes out a good chunk of the fun that it becomes a problem - the DM's hands are usually tied when it comes to rules, as most are unwilling to break away from them.

Both Pony Tales and LL are extremely flexible because of that massive option for character variety, being able to fit into almost every setting (exceptions: Aquatic settings, due to lack of useful aquatic features, settings where "weather-crafting" is unusable, and possibly space exploration).
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Re: Controversy in Pony Tales!

Post  ZamuelNow on Fri Sep 13, 2013 10:56 am

Zarhon wrote:What about the Elements of Harmony mechanic? Could they be convertible into such a "racial" form as well? Cause right now, they're really limited in variety and they aren't equal in usefulness/power/practicality.
On the contrary, I argue towards a few of them needing buffs as opposed to a system revamp.  The Virtue addition helps a lot since it adds more options and gives more design space for future "Elements"/Virtues.

This can also be a motivation to min-max, if creativity fails you or the DM can't fulfill the character expectations, or you just have that "gamer" mentality).

There will ALWAYS be min-maxers, no matter how much one balances the system, but it can be controlled by both the player (who isn't obligated to min-max, and can be encouraged by his fellow players not to)
I sorta disagree here.  Some people are simply wired this way.  Now, they may still make interesting characters and may be helpful with other people's builds but they still openly min-max the system as a default.  A lot of things here would be better served by eyeing disparities between similar options so they can be fixed and making sure that more options are available.

I have to wonder if opinions are skewed by location.  In a pbp campaign I'm running elsewhere, they're much more story focused than here and the things they use and value are much different. I know the devs have mentioned different things happening in their sessions.
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Re: Controversy in Pony Tales!

Post  Philadelphus on Fri Sep 13, 2013 2:29 pm

ZamuelNow wrote:I have to wonder if opinions are skewed by location.  In a pbp campaign I'm running elsewhere, they're much more story focused than here and the things they use and value are much different.  I know the devs have mentioned different things happening in their sessions.
This is entirely possible. Some groups are more story-based. Other more into min-maxing and metagaming. And that's not even getting into the logistical differences between a PbP and a Skype game...or a tabletop game, for that matter.

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Re: Controversy in Pony Tales!

Post  A1C Bronymous on Fri Sep 13, 2013 2:34 pm

Cases in point: PBPs are very easy to RP in, so my character gameplay is almost always concerned with that in such games. In skype games, I don't get to manufacture my own time or spotlight, so I end up with an indestructible EP that just does one thing and waits his turn. And on board, just because "running away" is now a viable option while maintaining combat, I have a filly with an ALL flavor build- so basically, close to worthless functionally, in and out of combat, but it makes sense flavor wise, and I can still kind of contribute if I need to.
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Re: Controversy in Pony Tales!

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Sep 13, 2013 2:42 pm

Right, many groups are different. Heck, I'm a weird example of both types. I optimize to hell before the session begins, enjoying the challenge of building within whatever game system I'm playing, but when it comes time to play - all I want to do is talk to people and make allies out of enemies without firing a shot - or else outwit them in political gamesmanship and focus on story events.

That's one reason there's a separation between combat and non-bat in this system actually. I'd always feel driven to sacrifice flavorful character abilities in exchange for things to make me better in combat. The utility system being separate from combat means players don't need to make that choice and the easy reflavoring of combat abilities means flavor can be a lot more flexible.

But let's talk about optimization. There's nothing inherently bad about optimization. Enjoying playing with the system and seeing the cool things you can come up with is an enjoyable element of the game the same way deckbuilding is an enjoyable element of trading card games. The only issues with optimization are...


1) If a very few types of builds are far better than the other options, the optimizers will have a hard time enjoying building any other type of character. This limits their options and limits their fun.

2) The character the optimizer builds is *so* powerful that it makes the other players feel like they don't contribute by comparison.

3) The character the optimizer builds makes life harder for DMs and makes them have to do extra work (trying to invent interesting challenges for Superman can be a problem, even without trying to keep the rest of the heroes involved and relevant).


All of these issues can be solved within the system to one degree or another. Ideally, we want a system that has...

1) Lots and lots of valid options for various builds that do cool things and offer possibilities for optimization.

2) The results of that optimization feel interesting and do make you more powerful... But only a ceiling of about 25% more powerful than the average character.

3) Makes it pretty hard to build a seriously sub-par character unless you're trying to.


We want the system to be fun for optimizers without hurting the fun of everyone else.

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