Introducing the ACTion System – Combat System Replacement [April Fools]

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Introducing the ACTion System – Combat System Replacement [April Fools]

Post  Paper Shadow on Fri Apr 01, 2016 4:00 am

Hello everyone! I have been given the pleasure to reveal a big change coming to Pony Tales. Over the next week, we will be updating our rulebooks to make way for a brand new system that we like to call the ACTion System. We have been thinking a lot about the current combat system in Pony Tales and tinkering around with ideas and ways to improve it, and the conclusion to our experiments is not an addition to the system as we first set out to achieve, but a complete replacement that will solve the problems that we have with the current system.

Problems with the Current System (and how the ACTion System solves them):

Flavour
The openness of flavour is something we at the design team have always prided ourselves in. We love seeing players come up with new and interesting ways to portray the different abilities in the PT system. However, when it comes to combat, flavour tends to get a bit messy. A lot of down-to-earth characters suddenly have to do something large or epic, and ultimately uncharacteristic, when they make a high damaging attack, or when they get multiple crits in a single turn.

In addition, combat has fewer roles compared to out-of-combat. Chances are, you are either a DPS, a Healer, a Tank, or apply Conditions (save ends). This is despite whatever your character actually is. You might have made a Royal Guard, so you think you do your fair share of damage, but in reality you do as much damage as the Baker, the Baker's son, the Librarian, the Wizard in their prime, and Zelbazoff, The Being From Outside Dimensions, if you all have DPS-based builds. With the ACTion System, it is much easier to express your character accurately without having uncharacteristic moments or being upstaged or upstaging a character that has a very different flavour to you.

Flow Chart Battling
Anyone who has heard me talk about the current combat system will know that I occasionally complain about something that I call Flow Chart Battling. Flow Chart Battling is what happens when you create your character with a set game plan in mind, and end up never deviating from the plan. On turn one, you do X. On turn two, you do Y and Z. Repeat until done, maybe with a backup should something unexpected happen (such as taking a healing talent to be used in the off-chance the healer gets knocked out and nowhere else). This results in a lot of combat encounters just having the players go through the motions and hope they roll good and the enemies don't. This can be dull, so we decided to fix it. With the ACTion System, you can't rely on a set plan. Each encounter is different, almost like a puzzle, with the players figuring out how to best use the pieces they have in order to accomplish victory or express their characters. Combat encounters are now more unique than ever.

Violence is Always an Option!
One of the more interesting problems of the combat system is, well, the presence of a combat system. All characters have to be made with the option of violence in mind. That Baker's son from earlier? He might preach a message about love and peace, but when it's time to throw down, you know he's gonna rip his shirt off and display some incredible muscle. When combat is always an option, players are always going to be aware that fights are bound to happen, and they are going to be prepared to fight, maybe even willing, maybe even hoping to start one themselves. Some might argue that this goes against the spirit of the show where, while there are some fight scenes, most confrontations are solved via alternative means. The ACTion System is non-violent. It is a system to react to adversity, not create it. This will limit this aggressive playstyle, meaning only aggressive characters or characters in a bad mood should display signs of aggression.

So why not just use Out-of-Combat Abilities for Combat?
The reason why the current combat system was created in the first place was so that players didn't feel like they had to sacrifice elements of their character in order to pick up talents that would be useful in combat, or otherwise feel useless in hostile situations. The ACTion System still provides a way for characters who take more passive abilities to have options and be useful when the time comes.

(Note: For the time being, the ACTion System will only replace the current system for Pony Tales, not Living Legends or Wanderlust (so the PT handbook will lead to the ACTion System, while the LL handbook leads to the current system). We figured that players who wished to play in more generic fantasy environments would like to keep the old style more than adapt to the new one. That said, if you would like to use the ACTion System in LL or Wanderlust, it's easy to swap out their combat systems for it, and if the response towards the ACTion System goes well, we may even move towards having it replace those old systems as well.)

How the ACTion System Works:

Creating a build with the ACTion System is simple. When you create your character, you choose eight non-violent verbs. These verbs can be anything, although your DM can reject any they do not like (so don't expect to get away with picking “Win Combat”). You gain an additional verb at levels 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, and 9. Aaaand, that's it! You are now ready to use the ACTion System. In combat, the goal of the players is to end the fight by any means how using their actions. This can be done in numberous ways, you could attempt to pacify your opponent, scare them away, befriend them, bore them to sleep. It all depends on who you are facing. When it's your turn, you may use one of the verbs you know towards one your opponents. The DM will respond with the outcome of your actions and how the enemy reacts to it and if they no longer wish to fight as a result.

So, let's make a build for the ACTion System to show how to do it. For this, I'll be using one of my characters called Scorch. All you need to know about Scorch is that he is a big, brawn-based dragon  who is normally laid-back, but has an anger problem. So with that, let's make a build.

First, I'm going to take the action “Talk”, since it is very versatile (Note: Actions are what you do to opponents, not allies. You can always talk to an ally as a free action as normal even if you don't have the action “Talk”, and whatnot). I'm also going to take “Joke”, as it fits Scorch's personality. Since Scorch is a dragon, I'm going to take “Fly” and “Breathe Fire”. I can't use my fire breath to attack, but maybe I'll come up against someone who might be impressed by that. To demonstrate Scorch's strength, I'm going to take the actions “Flex” and “Pick Up Object”. Finally, to show off his rage, I'm going to take “Intimidate” and “Roar”. I'm not allowed to take violent verbs, but I am allowed to take hostile ones. And with that, I have my eight actions, and am now ready. In combat, I also have two other options I can do once per battle each; copy the last action an ally has performed, and do an action I haven't taken. This is so players can have moments of inspiration on how to resolve the combat faster than they can with their own actions. It's exciting and interesting trying to figure out the best way to pacify your opponent with what tools you have.

To help you all get started, I have compiled a list of suggestions for different verbs that you can take for your characters. We are determined to make the ACTion System play as smoothly as possible. We hope that you all have as much fun with the ACTion System as we have, and we can't wait to hear about interesting encounters and experiences you have with it.

(Note: While you will be acting kind-hearted and passively, enemies will continue to be punching you in the face. Violently. So don't get punched in the face too much.)


Last edited by Paper Shadow on Mon Apr 04, 2016 11:19 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Introducing the ACTion System – Combat System Replacement [April Fools]

Post  A1C Bronymous on Fri Apr 01, 2016 7:56 pm

Nope, not getting me again with this. Not this year.
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