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 STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)

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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Tue Aug 08, 2017 2:19 pm

Changing the defense names is a good first step. Armor defense flows better than AC anyhow, and Dodge works well in describing what the character is doing.

As you've feared, the problem with the “further out there” solution as you've put it is that it completely invalidates both Intelligence and Charisma as possible third stats for characters – they don't have alternate mechanics the way that Strength does, meaning that barring certain skill modifiers, optimized characters using that scheme would go back to the old “Intelligence and Charisma are dump stats outside of certain classes. Without Int and Cha going towards the same defenses as Dex and Wis, the upsides for avoiding Int and Cha unless necessary are too high: Initiative and Stealth for Dexterity, Perception for Wis, and increased Surges for Fort. About the only reason that Strength doesn't suffer as much despite its lack of skills is your load limit system.

If you're going to have classes determine which attributes are used for your non-Armor defenses, then perhaps you should extend that concept fully, assigning attributes for the third defense. For example, a Tactical-focused character would have something like: “Use either your Wisdom or Charisma for your Will defense,” while an Arcane character would just have “Strength or Constitution for Fortitude listed as part of being Arcane, since all three Arcane focuses use a Will-based stat. Essentially, this would restrict the mechanic of “either choice of attribute” to the third stat, while the first and second stat would be assigned by your class and focus.

This could work to preserve the edge cases like your Con-focused guy, since the character could choose to favor Constitution instead of a third stat – the choice of third stat would still be there, but it would be a choice between 0 or -1.

Here's a lineup of archetypes and focuses under this method:

I. Skilled
1. Style:
1. Strong/Berserker: Use Str for AC and Fortitude.
2. Swift: use Dex for AC and Reflex.
2. Focus:
1. Tactical: Use Int for Focus. Swift Style: choose Str or Con for Fortitude. Strong style; use Int for Reflex. Choose Wis or Cha for Will.
2. Wary: use Wis for Focus and Will. Swift style: choose Str or Con for Fortitude. Strong style: choose Int or Dex for Reflex.
3. Daring: use Cha for Focus and Will. Swift style: choose Str or Con for Fortitude. Strong style: choose Int or Dex for Reflex.
II. Spellcasting:
1. Arcane
1. All: use Intelligence for AC and Reflex. Choose Str or Con for Fortitude.
2. Focus:
1. Wizard/Gadgeteer: Use Wis for Focus and Will.
2. Sorcerer: Use Cha for Focus and Will.
2. Astral
1. All: use Charisma for AC and Will
2. Focus:
1. Faithful: Use Int for Focus and Reflex. Choose Str or Con for Fortitude.
2. Militant: Use Str for Focus and Fortitude. Choose Dex or Int for Reflex.
3. Primal
1. All: Use Wis for AC and Will
2. Focus:
1. Swift: Use Dex for Focus and Reflex. Choose Str or Con for Fortitude.
2. Insightful: Use Int for Focus and Reflex. Choose Str or Con for Fortitude.
3. Potent: Use Str for Focus and Fortitude. Choose Dex or Int for Reflex
4. Cunning: Use Cha for Focus. Choose Int or Dex for Reflex, and choose Str or Con for Fortitude. (not that it makes any real difference).
4. Rune:
1. Style:
1. Strong: Use Str for AC and Fortitude.
2. Swift: use Dex for AC and Reflex.
2. Focus:
1. Arcane: Use Int for Focus. Swift Style: choose Str or Con for Fortitude. Strong style; use Int for Reflex. Choose Wis or Cha for Will.
2. Primal: use Wis for Focus and Will. Swift style: choose Str or Con for Fortitude. Strong style: choose Int or Dex for Reflex.
3. Astral: use Cha for Focus and Will. Swift style: choose Str or Con for Fortitude. Strong style: choose Int or Dex for Reflex.

Let me know whether you think it will work or not.

Moving onto the practical history part of the post. I agree with you regarding the American frontier as being a better inspiration. I've thought for a while that traditional D&D (and 4e especially) draws more on Western tropes, even if it dresses them up in a medieval setting: you have the wandering heroes, the besieged town, the conflict with tribal enemies, as well as people seeking fortune and bandits preying on luckless travelers. It has very little to do with actual medieval life beyond the external trappings.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Tue Aug 08, 2017 10:18 pm

After some careful consideration and a bolt of inspiration from your mentioning having the class determine the ability I think I have a solution that dodges the bullet pretty cleanly.

Step one, purely for safety's sake I'm going to change at least two of the defenses... Armor and Dodge are both solid replacement.

If I have to I'll change Fortitude too, but at the moment none of my list of alternatives; Body, Physical, Stamina or Endurance sounds nearly as good as Fort does and Stamina having been used in other games for a hit point alternative and Endurance previously being a skill makes them less intuitive than I'd like. I think part of it is that the short form "Fort" is also the word for a sturdy defensive structure so even the short form feels like what it does in a way Body, Phys, Stam or End simply do not.

I think Will can also be kept by changing the full term to Willpower and then just use Will for for short in the same way that Fort is short for Fortitude.

So Armor Defense, Dodge Defense, Fortitude Defense, Willpower Defense or Armor, Dodge, Fort, Will for short.

As to the math part your mentioning of tying ALL the defenses to the classes sparked a thought in me because of how 13th Age handled defenses. Because they didn't just use "Middle of Three" they also replaced the "10+Stat+Class bonus" part to each class granting a base defense of "X" that the middle stat was added to.

So here's what I think will work at being sufficiently different in terms of presentation and math even though the end results will be exactly the same as before... Change the way defenses are determined to "Base Value + Stat or Stat + other bonuses."

So for example; the arcane spellcasting path currently gives a +2 to Fort and Will.

Instead it would give Base Values of Dodge 10, Fort 12 and Will 12. Then you add the better relevant ability score and any other bonuses (such as specialization bonuses) to the score.

Similarly instead of armor giving a bonus to the 10+Stat value of the Armor defense, it would instead provide a base armor defense value.

No Armor would be Armor Defense 10 + Dex or Int.
Light Armor would be 11 + Dex or Int.
Medium Armor would be 13 + Dex or Int -1 (min 0)
Heavy Armor would be 15+ Dex or Int -3 (min 0)
Full Armor would be 17 + Dex or Int -5 (min 0).

The results are the same as before and the scores used are the same, but because the math is arrived at a different way that should actually be enough difference in expression to protect it.

Particularly if I don't specify "better of" and just say "Dex or Int" and let people draw the obvious conclusion.

So the final result would be:
"To determine your Fortitude Defense, add either STR or CON and any other relevant bonuses to the base Fortitude Defense of your class."

For comparison, here is 4E's actual verbiage for determining the Fortitude defense:

* Base Defense: Each defense starts at 10 + one-half the character's level.
* Fortitude: Add your Strength modifier or Constitution modifier, whichever is higher.

In addition, add any of the following modifiers that apply to each defense:
* A bonus from the character's class
* Racial or feat bonuses
* An enhancement bonus (usually from magic armor or from a neck slot magic item)
* Any other bonuses and penalties


Does that seem sufficiently different in terms of how it is worded and expressed to you?
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Wed Aug 09, 2017 1:42 pm

I'd say so. You're consolidating a lot of the little bonuses to defenses that the characters would get from their class or focus option, simultaneously differentiating yourself from 4e while at the same time eliminating a lot of cruft. To mix metaphors, you're not just dodging a legal bullet, you're killing two birds with one stone.

Onto a semi-related topic, have you made a decision regarding shields?
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Wed Aug 09, 2017 2:41 pm

I think so. As it stands I switched shields on their own to just Armor (since dodge is, by definition, getting out of the way), but I improved the base dodge value for any archetype/path that that had small shield proficiency (and an additional bonus if they have heavy shield proficiency like the defender does).

Then I changed up Shield Specialization so that the basic tier now applies your shield bonus to ALL your defenses (no need to take it twice to cover all three) as if it were mobile cover. That also brings its value more into line with armor specialization with its +1 to all four defenses by covering three out of four instead of just one defense like before. And since it takes an additional specialization for any but the guardian classes to get large shield proficiency (and it now takes proficiency with the shield to even get the defense bonus with it) that means it takes two specialization choices to reach a net +7 to defenses over the basic benefit of a small shield that most classes can get (vs. net +4 from the basic armor specialization).
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Tue Aug 15, 2017 4:19 pm

So, minor update today on two topics… resolved defenses and a multiple-choice past.

Defenses

I just finished a pass on all the defenses and the numbers are 100% in line with my targets of 16 Armor (17 w. Shield), and an average of 14 in Dodge, Fort and Will for non-Guardians and 17 armor (19 w. Shield) and 15 average for Dodge, Fort and Will for Guardians before taking defensive specialization choices into account.

These numbers are based on an ability score grouping of where the best score in each group is either 4/3/1, 4/2/2 or 3/3/2 (the values for a weak good or a normal fair or mediocre species ability match up). The only way to get LESS than these numbers is to deliberately gimp your build by ignoring the basic advice on assigning ability scores.

Even then the worst possible combination possible would be 3/1/1… the strong array with the +1 species bonus applied to the base 0 and -1 score and then two strongest scores put into the same group (ex. STR 3, CON 3, DEX 1, INT 1, WIS 1, CHA -1) which would put you down only -1 from the target defenses (i.e. maximum of 5% below par).

By contrast the BEST possible combinations will only get you to a 4/4/1, 4/3/2 or a 5/3/1 which is only +1 to one or two defenses (i.e. +1.25 to 2.5% above par).

The total variation from abilities is all of 7.5% from best to worst. Defensive specializations can push the difference to about 22.5%, but those choices are available to everyone who wants them.

I also somewhat closed down a very hyper-defensive build (22 in all four defenses) I found by changing the Charmed, Mind Over Body, Power Through, Roll With It, Slippery Mind and Suck it Up universal specializations from “Use defense in place of other defense to “Use STR/CON, DEX/INT or WIS/CHA to determine your defense.”

The broken build required a very specific class (abjurer), spellcasting path (faithful astral), a VERY sub-optimal ability score array (STR 5 for melee attacks, leaving the implement attacks at 3 and starting focus at 1) and then burning five specialization choices (so minimum level 6 for a human or 8 for anyone else) to use your Fort defense (13 +5 ability, +1 class, +2 shield specialization, +1 abjuration specialization) for your Dodge and Will defense and then using the general rule that you can use your Dodge defense in place of your armor defense if its higher buff your defenses.

It’s still possible to use the 5 ability score and two specializations to make your ability modifiers into a 5/5/5… but that’s only about a net 10% defense gain over the default range for the cost of two specializations and that's only 5% over the 4/4/4 anyone could get using a more normal ability score distribution.

It also caught another potential loophole in the Warden multi-class I had missed since I had been using the shield bonuses to Reflex as part of balancing the guardian defense numbers… but because of the shifting forms, I’d built the shield bonus into the form weapons options, which I had to grant with the multi-class so the multi-class would even function.

Removing the bonus to Dodge from the Form Weapons feature closes a loophole that allowed non-guardian classes to pull off near guardian level defenses and gain extra abilities with a single specialization.

* * * * *

Multiple Choice Past

I’ve been putting a lot of thought into how to present various parts of the setting in a way that wouldn’t undermine the somewhat murky nature of the history.

Setting down anything hard and fast really makes some options, particularly in relation to magic and religion seem like no brainers (few people want to play a character they know is worshipping an objectively false god for example).

But I think I’ve found a solution via a VERY old game supplement I have for the MEKTON II game system called “MEKTON Empire.” In it they had a section called “Mysteries of the Galaxy” where instead of laying out the hard and fast truths of the galaxy, the presented them as a series of multiple-choice questions with answers ranging from the straight-forward to the conspiratorial to the outright whacky.

For example…

The Source at the center of the cosmos is the infinite source of matter, energy and souls. Some say the Source is actually more than that. The truth is;

A) It’s just a source of matter, energy and souls. Any attribution of sapience to it is akin to assigning motives and goals to rocks, rivers and trees.

B) Possibly Sapient, but so alien that no mortal could ever understand or relate to its actions and purposes.

C) The benevolent Great Spirit as claimed by the Old Faith.

D) A vast machine intelligence and artificial sun created to power and maintain the Dyson sphere in which the Mortal World resides (the stars are actually cities on the inner surface of the sphere).

Depending on your answer to that the Primal Spirits are;

A) Lesser AI programs/nanomachine clouds maintaining the environment for the benefit of the humans who first created them.

B) Benevolent non-corporeal aliens who helped ancient man defeat another group of aliens (i.e. the demons).

C) The oldest life-forms to gain sapience in the cosmos who promote the religion of the Old Faith to humans 1) for their own ends or 2) because they believe it to be true themselves.

D) The first creations of the Great Spirit who aided in the creation of the Mortal World and now serve as intermediaries between Men and the Great Spirit.

… and so on and so forth with things like the Great Spirit’s promise of a Malfean savior, the true nature of Arcane magic and the Astral gods, who built the Black Spire and what is its purpose all given multiple possible answers for the GM to pick from.

As a result, each GM can pick the right answers for their campaign world and the players will never know which answer is actually correct unless the GM wants them to.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Thu Aug 24, 2017 12:41 pm

An update today and a request for input.

First the update. I've been working on filling in the map and thought I'd share a little overview of one of the places I've come up with;

Daysmarch is, appropriately enough, roughly a day's walk north of Stormhold along the old King's road. It is a small town of roughly 2500 souls, mostly humans (60%) and dwarves (30%) with the remainder a mix of malfeans, mutants and a small smattering of the other races.

The defining architectural feature of Daysmarch is The Shell; the entirely community is packed into the interior space of a pre-Cataclysm structure that was once a giant arena (about the size of a major football arena) near the river (which is Mississippi-sized) whose outer shell now serves as the main defensive wall for the community. A small section of the town outside these walls is filled with the building used to maintain the piers and fishing boats that employ about a third of the community (with another third of the populace farming out to about two miles; about 3500 acres; from the safety of The Shell).



The city is run by a mayor, a sheriff and his deputies elected by the heads of each family in Daysmarch and who serve until a vote of no confidence is given by the community. The two-dozen deputies are enough to man the town's defenses and keep it safe from typical raiders, but those outside the walls when night falls are on their own (though the gates will be opened for someone recognized by the guards).

The Days Inn has a dozen rooms and a fairly mundane menu to offer travelers, but the main establishment of interest to adventurers is the Salted Fish Tavern located just inside the River Gate where most of the fishermen and travelers go to share stories over better than typical ale. There's usually a singer, storyteller or the occasional acting troupe performing every night and merchants or travelers who can weave a good yarn about the goings on in distant lands will rarely have to pay for their own drinks.

Other services in Daysmarch include Keddrik the Blacksmith, a dwarf with artifice eye that allows him to see heat itself, and Nesrik's apothecary, a general store run by an arcanist with a reasonable selection of magic consumables available, particularly of the medicinal variety.

* * * * *

And now for the feedback. I've been mulling a fairly important decision for about a week now, but haven't gotten ANY real concrete feedback one way or the other.

The more I've development my project, the further it has deviated from the baseline of D&D (4E already being something a departure) and my latest foray into avoiding potential legal issues with the defenses has led me to an interesting observation; Terrors & Tactics is currently as, if not more, mechanically distinct from D&D as Palladium Fantasy was from AD&D.

My original plan was to make use the of the OGL to reference the d20SRD because I thought I'd need to in order to put in everything I'd need to make a good spiritual successor to 4E. But let's take a look at the distinct differences between Terrors & Tactics and D&D.

- Ability Scores cover a different range (-1 to 5) and are determined by a point buy with a different math structure than either 3e or 4E (0 is free, 1 costs 1, 2 costs 3, 3 costs 6 and 4 costs 10). While the end scores are equivalent to D&D's ability bonuses, the presentation and use with no intermediary step makes the ability scores different from D&D.

- Edge is a fixed value based on your class and level and is regained with an hour's rest. Falling and similar rules have been adjusted to make it consistent that Edge is 100% plot armor with no meaningful physical component to it... making it different from D&D hit points.

- All limited use abilities run off of Focus or Heroic Surges which are regained at specific rates through rest. Spamming is discouraged through a bonus to attack checks the first time each "special" is used in a conflict rather than through hard and fast "X per encounter" or "X per day" limits and there is a risk reward component to spending heroic surges for powerful attacks or extra actions since they also are used for in-combat healing and to avoid death (whereas daily powers, action points, healing surges and death saves are all separate elements in 4E).

- The action economy in combat is different in that you can't trade movement for an additional minor action, minor actions are intended to be a regular part of every player's turn, movement can be spent between other actions or to perform trivial actions and you get a reaction during every turn (not just 1/round) and none of the reactions require dice rolls to resolve so they resolve more quickly and the most common ones can even be adjudicated if the player isn't even at the table. Purely cosmetically the names are Main, Minor, Trivial, Free and Reactions.

- Alternate movement is different; climbing, jumping and swimming speeds are set values with terrain types (ex. a ladder versus a rain-slicked brick wall) affecting how much movement is required to move along them and Extra Effort checks only needed if dealing with terrain beyond your ability.

- Conditions are different and use the concept of staging and multi-turn effect duration is determined by "sustained hit" rather than the target using a saving throw mechanic.

- Characters level up mostly in Edge score and damage/effect potency while attack checks and defenses remain nearly static. It is pretty easy for party to get itself back up to half edge and regain their focus in just a couple of minutes with no resource cost (full with take a heroic surge), but sustained fights against large numbers of low level foes can wear down even the most skilled of parties.

- No alignments. Characters may choose alliances to people, groups, nations or belief systems and gain a bonus to social checks when interacting with those who share allegiances and penalties with those who oppose their allegiances.

- Species are either generic (humans), generic with a twist (ex. magi-tech cyborg dwarves, elves as caste-based servants of the gods, gnomes as the embodied dreams of children) or distinct/unique to the system (ex. avatars, beast-men, dragons, golems, malfeans, mutants, shadowborn). The generics have different species benefits and ability bonuses than those found in D&D.

- Non-combat abilities (including skills) are entirely siloed into your background selection (arcanist, artisan, barbarian, commoner, courtier, entertainer, military, monastic, noble, outlaw, religious or traveler) which is not something D&D does.

- The skill list and modifiers to them are different from D&D and could be made more so by changing up a few names (ex. Bluff to Deceit, Diplomacy to Persuade, Heal to Medicine).

- Language is a function of the Culture skill and includes the concept of familiar and unfamiliar dialects in addition to familiar and unfamiliar languages instead of D&Ds binary you know it or you don't languages.

- Classes cover only your combat abilities and split into two archetypes with classes that do not appear in D&D. Those classes have benefits different from those in D&D.

- Equipment includes a quality ranking. Armor and weapons are generic with specific types given as examples and with shields defined as weapons. The economy is based on the silver cent with currencies of various names, denominations and metal content minted by each regional power which is quite different from the universal gold piece standard of D&D. The prices are also not in line with D&D pricing (i.e. there's no set value you could multiply them by and get the same prices as D&D uses).

- Monsters are different along much the same lines as above. The math for them is different and while there are scales (grunt, standard, elite, champion) the rules for each level are different from those in 4E (ex. all champion actions being multi-target minor actions so they can take two per turn and one even if stunned). My monster lore is different as well; dragons are sorted by environment rather than color, my demons are based on Semitic cosmology, there are no distinct devils (some astral gods just have really nasty servitors, like succubi and living chains; my version of chain devils are sapient chains that entrap a victim and use them as a meat puppet) and elementals are avatars that have lost all hope and, with it, sapience.

* * * * *

In other words, I think there are honestly enough sufficient differences in light of the law being you cannot copyright game mechanics, just how they were specifically expressed, and there are numerous other non-OGL systems that use d20 resolution checks and polyhedral dice plus modifiers for damage rolls.

Basically, I don't think I NEED the OGL anymore.

I'd probably want to change out a few terms... make the ability scores STRength, ENDurance, REFlexes, INTellect, WITs and PREsence, change DC to TN (Target Number), change "Halfling" to "Shadeling" and make sure all my conditions are worded differently from their SRD or 4E counterparts just to careful, but that's five minutes with the word replace feature and doesn't alter the mechanics at all.

The ADVANTAGE I get out of this? I get to ignore Section 7 of the OGL.

Quote :
7. Use of Product Identity: You agree not to Use any Product Identity, including as an indication as to compatibility, except as expressly licensed in another, independent Agreement with the owner of each element of that Product Identity. You agree not to indicate compatibility or co-adaptability with any Trademark or Registered Trademark in conjunction with a work containing Open Game Content except as expressly licensed in another, independent Agreement with the owner of such Trademark or Registered Trademark. The use of any Product Identity in Open Game Content does not constitute a challenge to the ownership of that Product Identity. The owner of any Product Identity used in Open Game Content shall retain all rights, title and interest in and to that Product Identity.

Legal analysis of Section 7 is that you can't mention any other product by name either in the product or the promotion of the product. The closest you could get to it would be something akin to "The Third Edition of the World's Most Popular Roleplaying Game."

Leaving aside the poor marketing of having to call another product more popular, this is actually MORE restrictive than normal copyright where the use of trademarked terms is allowed under certain guidelines.

In my case, that would be Nominative Fair Use to make it easier to promote my system for what it is. Being able to say outright in promotional material that the system is "Inspired by the tactical combat of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition" or describing the development of the game as "working on a spiritual successor to D&D 4E."

Being able to make such fair use claims will make it easier for me to reach a big segment of my target market (disaffected 4E players who want a currently supported system) and I'm thinking might be worth having to give up a few more common D&D-ish terms for more generic ones.

BUT I'm not 100% sure on whether that would be sufficient enough cause or if being OGL compliant is has any sort of other benefit I'm not considering and that's where I'm looking for some input.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Fri Aug 25, 2017 10:42 pm

Isn't the OGL irrelevant, since 4e adaptation is governed not by the OGL but by the GSL, a much more restrictive license?

I mean, if you're right about the content being distinct enough from the source that it isn't considered derivative, the it doesn't matter which license you're ditching on (and of course you are correct about game system rules not being protected IP). But, you probably want to make sure you're looking at the right license, regardless.

Unless WotC transferred 4e from the GSL to the OGL during its twilight? That would be great news.

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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Sat Aug 26, 2017 7:32 am

Well, the concept behind using the OGL for 4E is the same one that uses the 3.5 SRD as the basis for retroclones of BECMI/BX, OD&D and AD&D 1e and 2e; all of them share a number of terms with 3E (the core ability scores, AC, saving throws, certain iconic monsters like color-coded dragons, etc.) and so you can use those elements whole cloth from the 3.5 SRD.

The GSL was terminated along with 4E so its a non-starter regardless, but the OGL would allow the pulling of mechanics word for word from any Open Game Content without fear of copyright infringement (versus having to re-write the mechanics in your own words first).

But I did write the mechanics in my own words and there are many structural differences in those mechanics. I'd probably even be fine with the D&D Six ability scores still in there since Tunnels & Trolls (1975) got away with doing so, but changing them up would be more about not even giving them an excuse... I'm in this for the money, not to win legal battles in the name of open gaming.

I'm just trying to figure out if there's still a reason to stick with the OGL or if I should just rely on general copyright for the main advantage of ignoring section 7 of the OGL. If there's no reason to stick with it, I might as well start the word-replace on the documents now.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Sun Aug 27, 2017 5:35 am

Chris24601 wrote:
Well, the concept behind using the OGL for 4E is the same one that uses the 3.5 SRD as the basis for retroclones of BECMI/BX, OD&D and AD&D 1e and 2e; all of them share a number of terms with 3E (the core ability scores, AC, saving throws, certain iconic monsters like color-coded dragons, etc.) and so you can use those elements whole cloth from the 3.5 SRD.
Interesting! I didn't know they had terminated the GSL. Continues the trend of 4e licensing being basically its worst point, I guess :\

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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Mon Aug 28, 2017 1:30 pm

So the sense I'm getting from the basically non-responses is "I can't think of any reason to not dump the OGL."

Regarding licensing; I will almost certainly have some type of free game system license for third parties to develop adventures and such, but it would be more akin to the d20 System license than the OGL (as there's no real way to prevent the use of mechanics anyway and my priorities are not those of the open-gaming movement in general) where they could use a logo (ex. "Terrors & Tactics System Compatible") and certain copyrighted elements (ex. use certain bits of trade dress like monster layouts and being able to specifically reference canon locations and monster fluff as part of an adventure) in exchange for leaving strong sexual themes, nudity, graphic language and graphic violence out of the product (with definitions of said elements specified in the license, but basically in line with HBO's rating system).

Also of note... if I'm changing up the ability score names, I might also make a minor tweak I'd been considering even before I would have changed the names... specifically swapping INT and WIS/WIT in terms of defenses (i.e. Armor/Dodge would use better of DEX/REF or WIS/WIT and Willpower would use the better of INT and CHA/PRE).

I started thinking about this back when I had considered having to change around the defenses due to OGL compliance and Honorbound's comments that certain changes would make INT and CHA even more of dump stats than they already are (due to WIS having Perception and DEX having Initiative).

But if Wisdom/Wits no longer contributed to the Willpower defense and you needed one of Int or Presence to actually have a good Willpower defense (which is probably the next most used after Armor for defenses while non-armor physical effects get a more even split between Dodge and Fortitude), then you'll have to prioritize between having a good Initiative, Perception and Willpower where you can only get two of the three for the most part outside of very specific builds.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Mon Aug 28, 2017 5:10 pm

Yeah, I've been pondering it, and I can't think of a reason to keep it, You've gone so far afield from D&D that I'm not even sure that the OGL would apply in your case anyhow. Granted, I'm about the farthest thing from a legal scholar you can find, but I don't think you have anything to worry about.

By the way, I like the idea of switching Intellect and Wits in terms of what defense they contribute to. It works better for the current names: Wits can also be tied to dodging on a fluff level. With regard to willpower, you could say that intellect and presence are two sides of the same coin - one providing willpower through the certainty of logic, while the other through sheer force of personality.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Tue Aug 29, 2017 8:24 am

That's kinda what I'm thinking. You can shake off effects like mind control or fear through logic or force of personality.

The only issue so far has been figuring out defenses for the spellcasters (skilled classes just needed the swift option to switch the extra defense bump to wary instead of tactical since REF/WIT are both on the same defense now while REF/INT are not). Unless I switch which scores are used for spellcasting Arcane went from universally Dodge (INT) primary/Will (WIS/CHA) secondary to Will primary (INT), with either Dodge (WIT) or Will (CHA) secondary. The same goes for the Faithful Astral since INT and PRE go to the same defense now.

Conversely it made the Primal a little smoother since it no longer needs to use WIS in place of DEX for its Armor and the short-changed option just swapped places from cunning to swift like with the skilled classes.

This isn't insurmountable by any means... but it is going to create a situation where some non-standard builds might get a bigger edge than intended (ex. a swift primal shifter who dumps REF for STR could still make solid melee attacks, still has full WIT for their Armor/Dodge (16/14) and Focus score (4), and the extra defense buff for both primary and secondary being in the same defense group means Willpower is still on target (14), but Fortitude would be way above normal (17 instead of 14).

Those edge cases were one of the reasons I tried to build all the classes so their attack and focus scores were in different defense groups and its something I have to aware of with the fix.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:56 pm

So... I just solved my ability groupings defense issue with two sentences.

Focused Abilities: If your two highest ability scores apply to the same defense, you gain a +2 bonus to your lowest defense score. Tied scores only count for this purpose if they all apply to the same defense.

I now do not need a special rule for the Swift Wary build, nor the Sorcerer, Faithful Astral, Swift Primal or Swift Primal Rune builds AND it closes down the edge cases that those builds could create if they used a non-standard ability score assignment.

So now if the Swift Primal Shifter makes their highest score STR and their next highest is WIT then they don't get the +2 bonus for their highest defenses both applying to Dodge and this brings their Fortitude right back into line.

Not only does it close the loophole, it also shortens up other sections of the rules. That's a win/win.

ETA:

And just like that, all the changes to avoid needing the OGL at all are done. A couple other nomenclature changes are that Gargantuan has been replaced with Massive, Thunderwave was changed to Shockwave and Polymorph was changed to Transformation.

The base defenses got tweaked a bit due to the INT/WIT swap and the order of a couple things got switched around (Shadelings now come after Mutants and the skill rules got reshuffled to remain alphabetical), but otherwise its the same document as before.

The best thing through all of this process though... is how closely it still PLAYS just 4th Edition at the table.

Which reminds me... while I don't want to poke the bear too much so I wouldn't go out of my way to advertise it, the fact that I am not using the OGL means I CAN actually put a 4E to T&T "Comparison" Guide on the website when it goes live.

"Wanna know what's closest to a Fighter or Avenger or Wilden? Check out our handy Comparison Guide to see if there's a comparable class or species for you!"
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:03 pm

Update of the week;

After the latest round of tests, I think I've finally nailed down the right numbers for monsters so they're the right level of threat. It wasn't much... just 2 extra points of damage for a normal hit, but it really makes a difference at the lower levels where it was taking regular use of level+2 foes just to get to my baselines of a standard encounter.

The big problem was, well, tactics. The math was based on relatively unobstructed monsters attacking the PC's while the same was done by the PC's to the monsters. But the players can spend focus and surges to get much better status effects than the monsters (not to mention extra actions) so the monsters were invariably fighting at a major disadvantage that wiped them out before they could get enough hits in.

But after a series of live tests the monsters have gained about 10% more "oomph" and that makes enough difference to show up in the after-action evaluations.

Also, the ability to set the monster attack bonuses from 4-8 vs. armor or 2-6 vs. NAD's has also been felt and appreciated by the people running sessions.

* * * *

Update two is that for OGL avoidance and general mechanical cohesion I've merged slide into shift. Push and Pull are so self-evident that I'm not worried about them, but keeping both slide and shift is a little too close to 4E. However, half the time the language for slide was already "you slide the target X paces" and, frankly, so long as you indicate WHO gets to determine the direction of movement the distinction between shift and slide disappears ("You shift the target X paces" vs. "The target can shift X paces.").
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Sat Sep 09, 2017 12:42 pm

More playtest feedback has come in and the main thing of note is that Sanctions aren't popular.

The main observation is that no one chooses them willingly. They'll use them on a pre-built test character because its the tool they've been given (they were also used back when they were the only option for divine/astral controllers), but when given the choice between sanctions and minor spells, the minor spells have won every single time.

The primary objection to them is that they're not all that interesting because there's a very small pool of triggers to choose from while the effects of violating them are so strong that no one willingly violates them and the options can be gamed such that they may as well just be the real conditions in the first place.

The prime example of this is taking any of the movement triggers and combining it with the immobilize effect. Since the violation condition is so much worse than the trigger the feeling is that they may as well just be checked, tethered or slowed where they have no choice but to obey.

Which means that for most people sanctions looks like "choose 2-6 of seven de-facto effects (because they'll never trigger the violation effect)" vs. Minor Spells "choose 2-6 of 22 effects, many of which can be used on objects or in non-combat situations (ex. instant cover also provides something you can climb on top of to reach something you normally couldn't)."

I like sanctions, but I can't argue with those points. I haven't done anything with it yet, but I suspect that they're going to need to go into the pile with the auras as 'future expansion' material where they've been reworked from seven triggers and seven effects into a set of specific trigger/effect combos that can take the interactions into account.

For example, I can already envision something related to movement where instead of a hard and fast 'don't move away or immobilized' it becomes something like "Weight of Duty: Choose one other creature or space. Each pace the target moves away from the target costs them one extra pace of movement than the last (i.e. 0 extra, 1 extra, 2 extra, 3 extra, etc.)." This gives them a choice with an increasing cost for defiance without a binary lockdown (they could choose to run or sprint for extra movement if they really needed it for example).

I think something like that could work as a revised sanction. But I don't know that I want to spend a lot of time now while the Player's Guide is to the 'minor revisions only' phase (i.e. pull out what doesn't work for later instead of re-doing it) and I'm hip deep in the GM's Guide work.

On the plus side, I have a much stronger sense of how to make sanctions better than I do on how I could fix the buff/control auras. Its just a matter of priorities and time management (i.e. finishing the GM's Guide gets me to a finished product going out the door) that makes me think reworked sanctions might have to wait for the first expansion (it'll give me more crunch to release than just shadow-themed player options) at this point.

If I do set it aside for now, at least the Interdictor and Maledictor still have plenty of good options via Minor Spells (easily comparable to the options available to the other classes).

So, back to the design mines... minus some reformatting, humans/humanoids, shadowborn (goblins, orcs, ogres), undead, dragons and demons are done and I'm currently working on the Hellborn creatures including one of the Cambions as a unique named creature (Im'baru, Dread Queen of the Black Marsh... a Miasma Cambion).


t could be that the best thing would be to group reworked sanctions with reworked auras as material for a future expansion (like the Templelands region).
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:15 am

Completely unrelated to the writing part of the project, there's been a huge art sale for the models I've been using to produce a lot of planned artwork going on this past week (66-75% off) so rather than wait for the kickstarter funds to buy these elements I'm buying a bit ahead.

While this doesn't get the project to Kickstarter any sooner, it really cuts down on the amount of funds the project will need to turn a profit which is a good thing.

* * * * *

As to the Sanctions, I think I've found a solution to both it and the auras with a new class, tentatively titled the Sanctioner. Conceptually they both give sanction (as in giving license to do something) to their allies while inflicting sanctions (as in embargos) on their enemies.

The basic gist is that it will forego direct damage like a Sidekick does to be a combination of both a mostly non-damaging Controller and a super-dedicated enabler. The main actions will be the Aura effects which, as main actions, can be scaled up enough to be meaningful without also being game breaking. Their minor actions will be the Sanctions, which will be fully designed instead of build your own and be the multi-target variety like the Interdictor had.

They are explicitly NOT a solo-class and really need a group to shine (best option would be to go with one of the weapon-using spellcasting paths like Rune so you could at least make basic weapon attacks or pick up an attack spell via multi-classing into a class that grants them.

My thinking right now is that they'd make an excellent counterpoint to the Shadow spellcasting path in the "Blood Wastes of Bestia" supplement that's been coming together. Between the Shadow Path, Sanctioner class, Mass Combat rules and new monsters that should give the first supplement some nice crunch to go along with the setting fluff.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:38 pm

Sorry I've been out for a while - I'd blame it on Hurricane Irma, but that only covers the last couple of days.

Update Responses:

The Focused Defenses mechanic does solve that problem neatly. Hats off, man.

I don't think that merging shift and slide would be a problem, especially given the way you're phrasing it. Eliminating potential ties to 4e that WotC can nail you for is always helpful, especially when it works to the benefit of the game.

The Sanctioner, on the other hand, may raise some difficulties - it looks like you're creating an enabler/controller hybrid, able to fill both roles in a single turn. I'm worried about the balance implications. I know that the character would be trading his/her ability to directly attack the enemy, but it seems to me that under your current idea, it would be better to have a Sanctioner in the party rather than a separate enabler and controller - if the two are purely dedicated to their role, you get two characters for the price of one, at the cost of damage. The lack of damage coming out of the Sanctioner could balance that, but some of the sanctions involve damage anyhow.

From a thematic perspective, they make an excellent counterpoint to the Shadow path, as you said: one selfless class contrasting a rather selfish spellcasting path.

The Blood Wastes of Bestia supplement looks like it's humming along rather well at the idea stage. I have to say that your ability to juggle the three supplements, seeing multiple projects through to completion, fills me with a lot of confidence in your business, beyond just the quality of your mechanics - you're showing professionalism that many would-be game designers could stand to learn from. I look forward to seeing the end result.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:16 pm

I hope all is well for you and yours if you're anywhere near Irma. One of my players is down there now helping with the cleanup and its apparently pretty messed up, particularly away from the big cities in the heart of the state; no fuel, no power, spotty cell coverage and lots of destroyed homes/businesses. I'm praying for everyone down there.

You definitely have a point about the difficulties with the Sanctioner. There's a reason why the Controller class in the "City of Heroes" MMO (which had a similar array of control and buffs as its primary and secondary foci) was considered one of the most powerful classes in the game.

That difficulty in working something up is precisely why I'm not trying to squeeze those elements back into the Player's Guide at this stage. Its tweeks and easy fixes (ex. changing slide to shift was mostly just word replacement).

One example of that came up last night with a very obvious thing I missed. While I included a silver sheen consumable I completely left out the option for Silvered weapons. That's essentially one item entry and easy to add once I figure out cost and whether or not its alchemically treated silver as hard as steel (so at least 100c a pound for cost just for the base silver) or if its just silver-plated (perhaps doubling the price of a given item).
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:59 am

My family and coworkers are all fine - God definitely looked after us. Power's back on, and we never even lost water. Granted, I'm right outside Orlando, so there are probably a lot of areas that are worse off, especially along the coasts. Thank you your thinking of us.

With regard to the Sanctioner, you could keep the two ideas separate to avoid such balance issues, the way it originally was. Your old Manifester idea could keep the buffs, and the Sanctions could be added to classes that use minor spells as an alternate option

One other thing that I noticed with the test document that you sent me is that the runic classes don't list which stat they channel their implement attacks with - in previous versions, you used Strength/Dexterity, so I'm assuming that it just didn't transfer over. You probably already fixed it, but your topic of obvious things brought it back to mind.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:26 am

Yeah, keeping the two features split up is definitely one of the more likely prospective options. Part of my thinking as well is that, with the base classes established in the core books, those that show up in supplements can actually be more "experimental"/special-purpose.

For example, a spellcaster with benefits specifically related to boosting minions (doing to the Summon Minions spell what the Summoner does to the Summon Ally spell) is another possible class for the Blood Wastes (combined with the Shadow Path to be the guy with the horde of skeletons/zombies).

In a similar vein one class that's been dancing around in the back of my head as something for the "Endless Archipelago" would be a Skilled variation on the minion concept (essentially the Ship's Captain and his crew of loyal sailors/pirates). Essentially taking the "Band of Thugs" utility concept and improving it to make it a full class feature instead of a "backup slayer" option for more damage when your role minor action isn't useful during that turn (the Companion utilities work out to only about 60% of a Slayer's damage output if you use them for damage every turn).

As to the Runic classes, I'll take every correction (even ones that seem obvious) people can dig up. The human mind is funny about being able to read over obvious grammatical errors if they're familiar with them without even consciously noticing the errors and I've been staring at this stuff so long its definitely reached that stage for me (one of the reasons I plan on using part of the kickstarter to pay a professional copy-editor).

So thank you for actually noting these things when they pop out to you.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Fri Sep 22, 2017 2:33 pm

I looked through the document again, and here are a few questions I've come up with.

Focus: Page 29 in the old document says that you gain 1 focus at level 1 in addition to levels 4, 7, 10, and 13, while everywhere else in the document just says you gain extra focus at levels 4, 7, 10, and 13. I'm assuming that the other instances are correct and Page 29 is incorrect, but I wanted to bring it to your attention.

Zones: Can you be said to be entering a zone when you're in the square the turn that the zone was created, i.e. if you were there first? I never played much with zones in 4e, so I'm not sure.

Languages: What happened to the language branches and how they affect Charisma checks? Did they get moved to the GM's Guide?

Swift Benefit: The Swift benefit on page 145 allows you to use half your Dex instead of your Strength, while the base climb/jump/swim speed section on page 28 uses half your Strength. Does that mean that you're using a quarter of your Dex in total, or is the page 28 section in error and you mean that a character can use their full Strength for their base climb/jump/swim speed?

Halflings/Shadelings: This one's more of a suggestion than a question - I would suggest giving Halflings/Shadelings a version of the Avatar's All Shapes and Sizes trait, allowing the player to go with your standard creation story or a chance to create their own shadow humanoid like the Shadar-kai. It could also represent the halfling/shadeling growing up, if that's even possible in setting.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Thu Sep 28, 2017 4:16 pm

Wow... I completely missed the thing you posted here on the 22nd for some reason, so I'll reply to that first before giving an update.

Focus... you are correct that 29 is incorrect... starting Focus is equal to the ability score and extra is gained at 4,7,10 and 13. I've made the correction on the main document.

Zones... If someone drops a zone on you and, on your turn, you can exit it without entering any other square in the zone (i.e. if you're at the edge of the zone) then you do not suffer the effect (except for being forced to move to avoid it... which is soft control as well).

If you're in the middle of a burst 1 though you'll have to enter another square in the zone to get out and so WILL suffer the effect at that point (or at the end of your turn if you don't move).

The only way to avoid the effect in that case would be to teleport out since you do not pass through any squares between the square you leave and the one you arrive in.

Languages… got changed up because they were feeling too small for the setting and too binary. I started reading about Languages a while back and it turns out during the middle ages there were something like 50+ mutually unintelligible dialects of French just in the territory of French alone and that the French spoken near the borders of the Holy Roman Empire was closer to the German of the time than the French spoken near the borders of Spain.

I wanted to model this so languages got merged into the Culture skill and now include both dialects (ex. Cockney English vs. Received Pronunciation vs. Appalachian English vs. Jamaican English) and languages. You start with fluency in one dialect of one language and for every +2 in Culture you learn a new dialect and for every +5 you learn a new language.

Here are the actual mechanics;

Comprehend Language

Use: Free Action (You try to speak to or understand someone using an unfamiliar language).

Check TN: TN 0 for basic communication (buying or bartering goods, where things are located) in a fluent language dialect, TN 5 for familiar dialects of a fluent language, TN 10 for unfamiliar dialects of a fluent language, TN 15 for foreign languages commonly spoken in your home region, TN 20 for uncommon foreign languages rarely spoken in your home region.

Increase the TN by 5 for normal communication and by 10 for complex subjects (abstract concepts, euphemisms and cultural taboos). Also increase the TN by 5 for reading or writing instead of speaking about the subject.

Success: You can use your Presence-based skill checks normally. If you succeed by 5 or more you can also speak like a native speaker or duplicate another accent if you succeed by 10 or more.

Failure: You take a penalty to all PRE-based skill checks with the person you are speaking to equal to the amount you failed your check by.

Special: You can always take 10 on this check, even when in a conflict, but may not take 20 on this check. This means that even the least intelligent and uncultured characters will only need to make checks when dealing with unfamiliar dialects or languages.


The big benefit of this is that it allows for a potentially infinite extensible list of languages without the binary of “understand it perfectly” or “gibberish.”

Also, the languages for the Old Praetoria region include the following;
• Praetorian (Familiar): Familiar (Ironhold, Marshlands, Riverhold, Stormhold, Toria Tribes), Unfamiliar (Classical, dialects from outside Old Praetoria).
• Astral (Familiar): Familiar (Elven, High Elven), Unfamiliar (Shadow Speech)
• Abyssal (Unfamiliar): Familiar (Malfean), Unfamiliar (Demon Empire).
• Arcanos (Unfamiliar): No dialects; a ‘programming language’ for arcane spells and rituals.
• Old Imperial (Unfamiliar): No dialects –  written only; the now lost language of the First Empire of Man still found as writing in ancient ruins.
• Primal (Unfamiliar): Familiar (Air, Beast Earth, Fire, Frost, Water, Plant), Unfamiliar (Spirit Speech)

Swift Benefit: Nope… its supposed to be half your DEX as your STR for determining the value (so if your DEX is 4 you’d treat it as STR 2… which would net you +1 to climb/jump/swim). I think I discussed this a ways back, but the Strong benefit was REALLY underperforming the Swift option and making the change so that swift still let you make up for having a 0 or even -1 STR, it did not function quite as well as just having a 4 STR did.

In retrospect, I could probably achieve the same effective result if I said use your REF-1 in place of STR (taking a REF 4 to 3… half is 1.5 which rounds to 1) and that would make it more clear that it’s still supposed to be halved afterwards. That would also let someone with REF 3 benefit as well.

Shadelings: Adult Shadelings are Goblins, Orcs and Ogres. They are soulless monsters driven by pure passion without a conscience to restrain them and I don’t want to compromise on that by making the adults playable. Shadelings themselves don't actually grow up... but they do wear out as the normal lifespan the child they were a part of is reached.

A Shadar-kai would be best represented by the Half-Shade (the new name for the Orc since technically a goblin, orc or ogre could be their parent or ancestor). To better reflect this, its benefits (beyond those of all humans) now include;

Half-Shade: You gain +1 to REF, darkvision, resistance to shadow damage, +5 to Stealth checks when in dim light or darkness and either one of the Shadeling’s shadow-touched abilities (see below) or one extra universal specialization (except cross specialization or basic multi-classing).

Half-Shades, like half-elves and half-avatars and, obviously Malfeans, can and do form their own communities either within or apart from their full human kin. So an entire village or town composed of half-shades is absolutely possible.

* * * * * *

Okay, and now on to the updates.

Monster design is locked in. The numbers are where I want them. Design work on them is now just about coming up with interesting abilities/tactics for them rather than juggling the math.
At the suggestion of one reviewer, I moved the glossary items all to the very back of the book for ease of reference.

Also caught was that there were still a few references to “divine” instead of “astral” and to “power origin” instead of archetype or spellcasting path (as appropriate).

It also turns out that despite there being things that were vulnerable to silver in the game, the only way to get a silver weapon was to use the silversheen consumable. That has been corrected by added Silver as a weapon property that can be selected when you make it a fine or legendary weapon for melee weapons and ammunition.

A minor one, but relevant is that Perception got renamed "Insight." The reason for this was that other than "notice details" every other use of the skill came from the old Insight skill. Calling it Perception for so many tasks felt a bit off.

Also, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that "notice details" is not really about whether you SEE the details. Your eyes pick up the photons bouncing off the guy hiding in the shadows whether you recognize it as a man or not. Notice details is all about your mind being trained to recognize "this pattern means there's a guy hiding in the shadows" and THAT is Insight.

Finally… Art.

There was a HUGE sale (66-75% off) on the 3D modeling resources I intended to use for a lot of the interior character art so I took advantage of the sale despite having not run the Kickstarter yet because it’d be silly to pay 3-4 times as much later just because it was technically other people’s money being spent. I’ll pay myself back using the Kickstarter (its all itemized), but I want to get the absolute best bang for every dollar in the project.

So when I’m burnt out on writing for the day, I’ve been working on interior art and you can check out some of it HERE.

ETA: Forgot one other change. The Expert level Weapon Specializations that only worked with one specific weapon type were updated so that, upon achieving Expert level you could apply the specializations of a similar weapon to that weapon type as well (ex. At expert Staff specialization you can start using polearm specializations with them as well). This then gives each weapon three additional specializations to apply to it if the player really wants to focus on a single weapon type.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:47 am

Thanks for clearing up the confusion, especially with zones - I was thinking that it was something like in 4e, wherein if you're standing in the area where the zone is forming, then you get hit immediately. I agree that using REF-1 would make things clearer.

With regard to the Shade, I was still stuck on goblins, orcs, and ogres being separate beings as opposed to what they really are: different variations of the echoes of a being's soul when it dies before its time. The half-orc entry reinforced that divide. Turning them into half-shades should clear some of that up. I would also classify goblins, orcs, and ogres under a shade entry instead of a goblinoid entry. It's only a name-swap, but it's one that would reinforce what they are and linguistically group the non-playable full shades from the shadelings and half-shades.

I looked through your art samples, and I have to say, it looks freaking awesome. The various golems are neat as hell, with a more emotive appearance than any of D&D's Warforged - the little robe-clad golem is adorable as all get out, something that you'd never hear about a Warforged. Seeing the beast-men and dragons in various forms is good, too. With the stocky humans, I can't tell if they're humans or dwarves. The armor and weapon aesthetic communicates your setting's post-post-apocalyptic nature, with the kobold's armor and rifle especially contrasting against a standard medieval appearance. The map is my favorite, though. I think you've posted it before, but I still love it.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Sat Sep 30, 2017 9:05 am

Yeah, I'm trying to make zones consistent. If there's an effect that occurs immediately with a zone it will usually be an attack (i.e. the target gets a chance to dodge or soak it with fortitude or willpower while the zone effect itself is for anyone who stays in or enters the area.

Actually, I should probably see if there are any zones that particularly break this rule. If there aren't I should probably do the good design thing and move the zone trigger conditions (enter square of zone or remain in zone at end of turn) to the general Zone rules instead of duplicating them (with the possibility of error) each time.

And I made the change to REF-1 last night in time for a new round of play-testing. The people who saw it seem to think its just fine.

* * * * *

Shades... the funny thing is I'd always had Goblins, Orcs and Ogres grouped together in the monster section under the heading of "Shadowborn" so it seemed super obvious... to me.

Its actually a minor problem with RPG design in general; the project is so big that its easy to miss connections the author feels are obvious when you're actually reading it; often because its in a section that hasn't been read (or released in this case).

One thing I'm debating is a name change for one of the three types of Shadowborn... either change the name of goblins to Oni... so that the names would be Oni, Orc, Ogre (i.e. all "O"s to strengthen the word connection between them)... or to change the name of the Orc to Oni so that the names would be Goblin, Oni and Ogre and add more overt Japanese mythological themes into the Shadowborn both in terms of abilities and appearance.

Alternately, break from the entire D&D naming structure entirely. I used the names because they were the names for the traditional hierarchy of low-to-mid level D&D adventures, but I don't HAVE to do that... perhaps "Oni" is the word in the Shadow tongue for the Shadowborn and instead they're broken down into common Oni (goblins), warrior Oni (orcs) and the Oni lords (ogres). Maybe tie in some of the game-world mythology about the Shadow world being said to have have been created by the Demon Emperor himself (so It could exist completely out of all light from the Source) and that the Oni, to the extent they have religion at all, worship the Demon Emperor as their creator god (the Necromancers being their high priests).

Its not going to effect the mechanics of them one way or the other, but there are interesting things that might be done to make the fluff more interesting and unified. Its what I ponder while I'm having breakfast lately.

* * * * *

The stocky humans are indeed dwarves... but it sounds like I may need to work on that a bit.

The bad thing about dwarves is they're SO stereotypical that if you don't give them beards and the common accoutrements a lot of people can't even tell if they're dwarves or just stocky humans. I'm just so utterly sick of the "Our Dwarves are all the same" trope (where they're the same in practically every series) when elves and dragons and such get radically reinterpreted from setting to setting.

Until I hit on the artifice they were so mechanically uninteresting that I considered just merging their mechanics into the mutants species and listing them as a particularly common kind of mutant.

I think the solution is that I need to make the artifice more obvious. The lady in the first pick is practically covered in it, but it does look more like armor (that one is Matara Jadeaxe from the signature characters, who has frame reinforcement and leg hydraulics) and I guess its hard to tell that the one with red lenses actually has the nightvision artifice and those are his actual eyes now. My hunch is that Ezra's multi-fist read as a gauntlet rather than an actual replacement hand as well.

I'll try to futz with those a bit to see if I can't make the artifice more clear for them all.

ETA: I'm glad you like the map. It took me a LONG time to finalize something I was happy with. My secret is that I went back to the roots of laser engraving business. I first learned my trade working for an outfit that cut 3D lake maps out of wood. One of my jobs was to trace the lines of the government survey maps into the computer to use them as the cutting template and from Google Maps to get the surrounding roads and such (as customizing the maps with a star for the buyer's address was a big part of the finished pieces).

So while the surrounding terrain was changed, the course of the rivers and coastline are actually from a real world location. While you can sub in screencaps of weather radar for major continents, you're never going to get a more realistic looking map (particularly at the up close scale I wanted to focus on) than you'll get by cribbing from reality.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   Thu Oct 05, 2017 2:33 pm

Dwarves: yeah, dwarves are a pain in general - too generic and they stick out among other innovations, too unique and they are harder to recognize as dwarves. I figured that the one guy with the lenses had eye artifices, but that was just because I'm a little familiar with the fluff of the setting - looking at it by itself, it just looks like lenses.

Mechanics: thanks for clearing zones up. I'm glad that REF-1 was well-received.

Shades: I like the idea of a common name with multiple castes, but I'm not sure that Oni is the right name. To me, oni are red or blue ogres with horns, tiger-skin loincloths, and kanabos (spiked clubs). They might be better saved for an eventual Sun Kingdom setting. I actually like the idea of goblins being the name for this family of Shades - the image of scrawny, withered common goblins skulking in the darkness and tall and strong warrior goblins march against their foes, led by a hulking goblin king, is too cool to pass up, in my opinion. Common goblins could just be goblins, obviously, and goblin king speaks for itself. I don't think that you can call the warrior goblins hobgoblins, since it comes too close to D&D, but perhaps something like war goblins or uber-goblins or something like that.
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