Wednesday, January 16, 2013

SA 2.0 Dev Blog #2: Big Rocks

Finding the Problems

  One of the first things we did when we started working on the new edition of rules was find out what we considered the major issues with the current system. We called these the big rocks. It was important that we figure out where the big rocks went before we tried to move around the little stuff. There was a number of small issues we wanted to deal with but we had to keep pulling back to the big picture. A number of issues cross into multiple big rocks such as Vampire Feeding which plays a role into pretty much all of them.
  As a note we've made it through most of the big rock issues at this point and are moving into the more tactical process of writing rules that display out intent. This often requires us to go back and readdress our big rock decisions.

I've included the list of big rocks below and explained why we feel it's an issue:


  Lack of clear combat rules causes spamming attacks to be the most effective method to take down an opponent. It's not particularly safe and generally not much fun. Mental rules in combat are unclear and not well followed. The general belief is that brawl boffers is the most effective tool unless the fighter is incredibly skilled in combat at which point sword and shield is probably the dominate form. We'd like to see combat rules established in a way that promotes fun, safe, and effective combat.

Energy Economy

  There energy trade in game is currently very free. Energy has little value and is easily created. This creates a number of problems. First and foremost is that the only limited resource in game is coin and willpower. Even in the middle of combat it is possible for people to refill on energy and jump back into the fray. ST isn't able to whittle down energy over the course of a day or event. There's no ability to have a prolonged doom. This means that all that really matters is the size of a particular fight, not the sustained and tactical use of powers. We want energy to be a valued resource that needs to be well used, not wasted. Our goal is to make a finite system for energy.
  As a side note I'd like to say that I didn't think that this could be done successfully. I couldn't come up with an idea that worked. In the end, I didn't. But someone else on the team had an idea that did work, and we ran with it. It sounds impossible, but I really feel that what we've done here is fantastic and adds great flavor to the game.

Killin' a Bitch

  Actually understanding what it takes to kill a character requires a masters degree in advanced logic, and even then is incredibly difficult. Being taken down doesn't equal killing. This means that dying in open combat is very difficult leaving only assassination as the primary method of a character dying. This issue is compounded by the Regenerate power, Withstand, and immunity powers which allow someone to fall down and get back up only to become immune to damage. It can take over an hour to kill an opponent with the right combination of powers. We feel that most of the fight should happen before someone falls down, not after.

Immunities and Resistances

  Heavily involved with the above we felt the need to look over the current immunities and resistances. In the system currently too many powers favor the defensive over the offensive. Large and supposedly badassed NPCs who hit for as much as 8 damage were as easy to resist as a human with a stick. Taking a look at the foundational resistance powers seemed necessary as we looked at immunity powers as well. This meant how things like Hasty Escape and Form of Vapor worked needed to be addressed. We feel that no one should ever be invulnerable.

Character Knowledge

  Though not as major an issue as some of the others we very clearly wanted to define character knowledge and how it works. Issues with what was and was not character knowledge need to be cleared up to avoid things like not being able to ask someone about information on their character sheet. We want it to be clear what your character knows and how that can be influenced.


  We need some, you know, rules for these. That are clear. Also we want to make this part of the game available for more players.

Richness and Depth

  There were a few areas that we felt could use some enhancements with regards to feeling like a more important part of the game. Adding a little bit more into Powers, Virtue, Abilities, and Merits felt like something that could open up the options for people playing the game. We wanted to have more than a couple of viable merits for each faction. We wanted abilities to be a little bit more exciting. We also wanted to encourage people to spend virtue. We want to have less in faction crossover with powers and have more defining powers in appropriate trees.


  1. You mention in the introduction that Vampire Feeding is a Big Rock, but don't discuss how it is a Big Rock or why it is one. Could you elaborate on that?

  2. I intended to state that Vampire Feeding falls into a number of big rocks. It isn't one by itself. Obviously it has a large role to play in the energy economy as it is the way for vampires to get energy. But there are also a number of combat mechanics regarding feeding that need to be considered. Not only combat mechanics but also draining is currently one of the most effective ways of getting a target to 0 health. It's one of the primary methods used to take down big opponents. There are also powers that grant immunities to feeding while active and the issues of character knowledge what is your character aware of while being fed on. Let's not forget that there are a number of rituals that require some sort of feeding during the steps of the ritual. All this means that the rules on vampire feeding need to be clear and balanced across all of these situations.