The Abilities System Is Official!

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The Abilities System Is Official!

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Thu Jan 23, 2014 6:20 am

After the incredible efforts of Philadelphus, the abilities system has turned into a sparkling jewel over the past months of active development. Seamlessly uniting the previous three systems for non-combat abilities into one - the changes have both increased design space and made the whole system more elegant. Bravo.

Lapis Lazily also did a great deal of work going over the destinies and adapting them to the abilities system. Great job, our overworked intern.

Finally, let's not forget the endless hours of community feedback and suggestions that went into polishing and improving the abilities system rework. I'm confident that things will only continue to improve as they go along.

So bravo everyone for hard work, and we're now ready to endorse the abilities system as the official version of Pony Tales. Living Legends will soon follow. The old handbooks will still be available in Philadelphus' invaluable official sourcebooks thread - though we'll no longer be updating them. Feel free to houserule any updates as you feel appropriate.

There have naturally already been a lot of changes based on Philadelphus' ideas and I'm sure he'll be happy to talk about them. As ever, nothing is set in stone. He's already got a thread for discussing the destinies, including a call for new ideas for certain destiny features.

Now let us boldly go where nopony has gone before and continue to improve the game.


Last edited by Stairc -Dan Felder on Sat Feb 15, 2014 8:46 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: The Abilities System Is Official!

Post  AProcrastinatingWriter on Thu Jan 23, 2014 10:55 pm

This mostly seems good, but gaining an entire ability as opposed to a certain number of points every three levels seems hit-and-miss. Like, at level two I choose Herd Mentality, then at level 5 I choose Against the Gods...that's an 8 point difference. Feels weird, even if it technically tends to average out thanks to most player's particular inclinations.

But then I was never part of the "discuss the new abilities system before it happened", so this has probably already been discussed to death. Sorry and ignore this if so.
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Re: The Abilities System Is Official!

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:03 pm

Actually, that was just me being stupid and providing typos. It does give you 3 ability points - not a full ability. I'll fix it the moment I get a free... Moment. Thanks.

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Re: The Abilities System Is Official!

Post  Quietkal on Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:20 pm

Are the other Virtues being transferred, or only Tenacity?
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Re: The Abilities System Is Official!

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:50 pm

Okay, fixed the level-up table now. There are bound to be more inconsistencies throughout, since this was such a major change. Let me know if you spot any so they can be fixed.

The other virtues are highly unlikely to be transferred. Family no longer makes sense due to the ability system, Philadelphus made a compelling argument about why Magic Drain virtues in general reduced the use of the very fun and team-oriented magic point and Reliability has cut off design space at the knees for a while now (Philadelphus has gone into that). Also, reliability simultaneously crushed two areas of excitement in the game - Magic Points and Critical Failures. Doing that while also cutting off design space was, naturally, something that ended up not working as well as we'd hoped in the experiment. We feel weird having only one virtue at present though, so if you can think of any others - let us know.

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Re: The Abilities System Is Official!

Post  Philadelphus on Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:59 am

Stairc -Dan Felder wrote:The other virtues are highly unlikely to be transferred. Family no longer makes sense due to the ability system, Philadelphus made a compelling argument about why Magic Drain virtues in general reduced the use of the very fun and team-oriented magic point and Reliability has cut off design space at the knees for a while now (Philadelphus has gone into that). Also, reliability simultaneously crushed two areas of excitement in the game - Magic Points and Critical Failures. Doing that while also cutting off design space was, naturally, something that ended up not working as well as we'd hoped in the experiment. We feel weird having only one virtue at present though, so if you can think of any others - let us know.

I don't actually remember if I went over that on the forums or not, so let me briefly lay out the reasoning here:

Magic Points are an important, useful, and fun part of this system. That feeling you get when your character is about to fail an important skill check – and then a party member spends a Magic Point to turn it from a failure into a success – it's a lot of fun. It happened to me twice in my first session of Pony Tales (which was also my first real RPG session ever), and it was such a great feeling. There are also a lot of great, powerful abilities that work well to be balanced by giving them a cost of a Magic Point. Thus, a mechanic that removed a core part of the system deprived people of the fun of having, giving, and using Magic Points. This isn't to say that Magic Drain is fundamentally flawed – it's not a bad mechanic (it's not completely unbalanced or anything), just one that turned out not to be as fun as hoped. That's why we playtest things, after all.

Now, the Virtue of Reliability was the Magic Drain ability that let you reroll all natural 1s with a +5 bonus. In the core system, this is fairly balanced – but it prevented us from adding any new features that increased the critical failure range because it wouldn't be a drawback to a character with Reliability, it'd be a boon! Taking Derp along with it was almost a no-brainer, because if you already don't care about Magic Points enough to take Reliability you wouldn't care about losing the extra one from Derp, and the 15% chance it gave to reroll with a bonus on every skill check was really only marginally balanced. We initially decided to see if we could remove Magic Drain itself and make Reliability a normal Magic ability, but nothing we said seemed to fit, and I eventually brought up the point that it doesn't really make much sense to have an ability named "Reliability" that isn't actually, y'know, reliable, which it wouldn't be as long as it was a Magic ability (since you might have used your Magic Point earlier in the day, and hence wouldn't be able to use it). Thus the decision was made to cut Reliability for now.

Like Dan said, with Honor incorporated into Loyalty, Family removed due to no longer working well, and Reliability removed to free up some design space, Tenacity is looking a bit lonely, so we are definitely interested in adding a (small) number of new Virtues in.

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Re: The Abilities System Is Official!

Post  Fury of the Tempest on Fri Jan 24, 2014 12:24 pm

Can't you have family as a smaller passive bonus, without the Magic Drain?
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Re: The Abilities System Is Official!

Post  Xel Unknown on Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:06 pm

Well I suggest the "Virtue of Chaos" which would be the old laughter if you want something asap to help fill the void a little. Also I agree with Fury that Family could still work as some type of passive element thingie if you remove the magic-drain part. Think the same can be made for a retooled Reliability thing... Also I'd suggest looking over Z2's Lost Elements for ideas on what to to help vill the element void. I think something that works mechanically like Love would be really neat. (If not the element of love itself cause that seems soild in my opinion.) Next idea that comes to me is maybe have a "Magic-Drain-ish" type of talent where not that you lose your magic points, but your magic points are automatically passively converted into something else. Just to give ideas out there on how to fill the Virtue Void,
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Re: The Abilities System Is Official!

Post  Fury of the Tempest on Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:13 pm

Why not have Reliability effect only natural 1's, and not be affected by abilities which extend the natural failure boundary?
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Re: The Abilities System Is Official!

Post  Xel Unknown on Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:32 pm

That would make it extra weird... Cause if anything from what I understand they wouldn't wanta do that like ever for why should this one element be the only thing that only works on pure natural ones when everything else that turns other crit fails into nat-1s are planned to work with that?
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Re: The Abilities System Is Official!

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Jan 24, 2014 4:26 pm

Xel Unknown wrote:Well I suggest the "Virtue of Chaos" which would be the old laughter if you want something asap to help fill the void a little.

Our plan is for Chaos to be an option listed in DM support material, not the player's guide. It's a Rod of Wonder that anyone can access and lots of DMs don't want to play with that. If it's in the Player's Guide, new DMs will have to take the step of actively banning it and many palyers might put pressure on DMs to allow it. Keeping it as a DM-option to *include* mentioned in the Player's Guide puts less pressure on the DMs and is a bonus some DMs choose to include rather than a core ability that some DMs ban.

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Re: The Abilities System Is Official!

Post  Crystalite on Fri Jan 24, 2014 7:34 pm

Virtue Of Family - Magic
At character creation, choose 15 points worth of abilities that you meet the prerequisites for. You gain those abilities for the next hour.
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Re: The Abilities System Is Official!

Post  Xel Unknown on Fri Jan 24, 2014 9:38 pm

Crystalite wrote:Virtue Of Family - Magic
At character creation, choose 15 points worth of abilities that you meet the prerequisites for. You gain those abilities for the next hour.
While this very well can work... I kinda don't like the idea of Family being an active talent...Virtue of Family seems neater as being a passive effect for the character in my opinion.
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Re: The Abilities System Is Official!

Post  Quietkal on Fri Jan 24, 2014 9:43 pm

Xel Unknown wrote:While this very well can work... I kinda don't like the idea of Family being an active talent...Virtue of Family seems neater as being a passive effect for the character in my opinion.
But that's exactly why they took it out, so it'd be a neat thing for you to do sometimes instead of several things you can just always do.
As for Crystal's suggestion, that's literally a buffed version of the element of Magic, with gaining all of the abilities instead of one and retaining them for an hour instead of 15 minutes.
Magic – Magic
Choose five abilities each worth 3 points or less at character creation. When you activate Magic, pick one of the abilities you chose. You gain access to that ability for the next 15 minutes.

[edit] Since the Ability system is now official, could we get an area to discuss it? Assuming this thread isn't the correct place, which I'm fairly sure it's not.
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Re: The Abilities System Is Official!

Post  Crystalite on Sat Jan 25, 2014 8:58 am

Quietkal wrote:
Xel Unknown wrote:While this very well can work... I kinda don't like the idea of Family being an active talent...Virtue of Family seems neater as being a passive effect for the character in my opinion.
But that's exactly why they took it out, so it'd be a neat thing for you to do sometimes instead of several things you can just always do.
As for Crystal's suggestion, that's literally a buffed version of the element of Magic, with gaining all of the abilities instead of one and retaining them for an hour instead of 15 minutes.
Magic – Magic
Choose five abilities each worth 3 points or less at character creation. When you activate Magic, pick one of the abilities you chose. You gain access to that ability for the next 15 minutes.

Oh. Cheerilee Derp
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Re: The Abilities System Is Official!

Post  Philadelphus on Sat Jan 25, 2014 5:28 pm

Quietkal wrote:[edit] Since the Ability system is now official, could we get an area to discuss it? Assuming this thread isn't the correct place, which I'm fairly sure it's not.
Ask and ye shall receive! Pingcode whipped us up a nice shiny new Abilities subforum under the Game Mechanics Discussion umbrella.

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