Monday, April 29, 2013

SA 2.0 Dev Blog Post #16: New Merits - Last Blog Post

Merit System

The current system with a limit of two merits works with the current limited list of merits. But we wanted to open up more merits without limiting people just two. So the system has changed a little.

First off all humans get a free merit. They may pick this merit as their basic subfaction choices (gifted kinfolk, ghoul, sorcerer, etc) or they can spend it on something else.

Secondly there is no limit on merits. Merits, however, will cost 3 xp plus 3 additional xp for each merit you currently have. Meaning your first merit is 3 xp (free if you're a human), your second is 6xp (even if you're a human), your third is 9xp, etc.

New Merits

DOOMSLAYER <Dark Arcanoi tree> (Wraith only)
You may use the chosen dark arcanoi without being in catharsis.  You may exchange this merit for another one if you ever check your character in with 10 angst.

FOMORI (Human only)
You have been possessed by a bane spirit. Pick one innate fomori tree, you receive the first power in this tree at no cost. Additionally you gain a derangement. If you pick the Toad tree you must also gain an mutation. While this merit is active you are permanently tainted.

GHOUL (Human only)
A human will automatically gain this merit if he is given 2 points of blood from a vampire in the same feeding. You gain Celerity, Fortitude, and Potence as innate trees. You get one level in the Potence tree. Your energy type becomes vitae. Being given health by a vampire instead will give you energy. If you go through an entire event without consuming at least two blood from a vampire in the same feeding this merit goes dormant. To reactivate this merit you must consume two points of blood from a vampire in one feeding. While this merit is active all sorcery trees and gifts go dormant as well. If purchased at character creation you get faction knowledge  vampires at no cost.

Your maximum health is increased by one.

HIDDEN AMARANTH (Vampire only)
You always answer the Sense Amaranth power with “0”.

You have a small income source from a job, small business or benefactor. Most of your earnings go to supplies but you gain 3 pence at check in each game. This merit may be purchased multiple times.

KINFOLK (Human only)
Select a tribe from the Shifter section as your sub-faction. You may not purchase gifts and your energy type does not change. You may start the game with knowledge appropriate to your tribe. At check in you may switch this merit for Gifted Kinfolk at no cost or put your name in for the drawing to become a Shifter.

KINFOLK, GIFTED (Human only)
Select a tribe from the Shifter section as your sub-faction. Your energy type becomes gnosis. Select a level 1 gift from the homid or your tribe power tree. These are your two innate trees. You may not purchase the Sorcerer merit. You may start the game with knowledge appropriate to your tribe. If you purchase this merit you may not become a Shifter.

LOST SOUL (Shifter or Vampire only)
You have the option to become a wraith at the next event after you become dead though your faction is normally prohibited from doing so.  You may not have this merit at the same time as Mortwight.

MORTWIGHT (Human, Shifter or Vampire only)
Upon becoming dead you immediately become a specter. You need to carry a wraith character card with a set of starting character stats that has been approved by a Character Guide. Upon your death, drop all items with in-game value on the ground, immediately put on a white headband, and begin play with your second character sheet.  Your spectre persona may only take dark arcanoi as innates, but you may spend XP on it as normal during check in.  Just keep in mind that your reign of terror is likely to be a short one.  You may not have this merit at the same time as Lost Soul.

You receive one prophecy at check-in.

Your answer to the Sense Faction power is Human. For the purposes of Sense Energy you are considered to have Vitality as your energy type.

SORCERER (Human only)
Select two power trees from the Sorcery section as your innate trees. Your energy type becomes essence. Select a level 1 innate power. You may pay 3 pence at check-in to create a focus. You may not purchase the Gifted Kinfolk merit.

Mental powers last half of their normal duration on you.

You are permanently tainted.

Whenever a character attempts to use Usury to drain health or pathos from you, say "Taste of Oblivion! Unresistable Catharsis!" That character then immediately goes into catharsis, gaining an angst as normal, but may then proceed with draining. Spectres are unaffected.  This merit is only active while you are tainted.

UMBRAL AFFINITY (Shifter only)
Stepping sideways when not at a Gaian node takes you 30 seconds of meditation instead of 60.

Monday, April 22, 2013

SA 2.0 Dev Blog #15: New Bad Things for Bad People, and some more good.

We wanted to share some of the new powers that we'll be rolling out for characters interested in things like Wyrm Powers, Dark Thaumatergy, and Dark Arcanoi. We felt the need to increase the offering of evil of to increase it's draw to a wider range of characters. This allows us to make sure that some of the primary canon powers were well represented in the game.

As a note we aren't happy with some of the names of the powers but haven't gotten to the stage of rewriting the names yet. We're still focused on making sure the powers work as intended. Again, I'm not posting the trees that things come from but if you do some canon research you may be able to figure it out. We'll start out with the treats for bad people (not exclusive to NPCs) and then share a few more of the great new powers available for conventional starting characters.

Some new stuff for bad people.

Cost: None
Call: None
This power removes fire as a form of aggravated damage from the character.

Cost: None
Call: “No Effect” to Wyrm’s Voice and Sanctuary
A character with this power will answer “No” to any use of Sense Taint power on them. Additionally, he is immune to the Wyrm's Voice and Sanctuary powers.

Cost: None
Call: None
Each time you use the Dreamshape power on a target, your maximum energy is increased by one for the remainder of the event. This bonus can only be received once per target per event.

Cost: 1 energy
Call: “Vulnerable”
Any damage the target takes is aggravated damage.

Cost: None
Call: “No Effect” to Sanctuary
You are immune to the Sanctuary power and you may spend willpower to break from the Wyrm’s Voice power even if permanently tainted.

Cost: 1 Energy
Call: “Wyrm’s Voice”
A target that is tainted must follow all commands given by the caster to the best of his ability. A character who is permanently tainted may not break this power with willpower. Targets that are not tainted are immune and state “no effect”.

Some new stuff for good people (who might want to do bad things)

DECAY (Damage)
Cost: 1 Energy
Call: “Decay”, “Agg 1”
The caster touches a target with her hand.  Every 10 seconds, the caster causes one aggravated damage to the target. A character who is dead that suffers damage in this way immediately becomes decaying and turns to ash (goes out of game). This power ends immediately if the caster is no longer touching the target or moves his feet.

Cost: None
Call: “Release Spirit”
After 10 seconds of honoring a spirit you may activate this power and the spirit will immediately become Decaying and turn to ash (go out of game). The caster then gains 1 willpower up to their maximum willpower.

Cost: None
Call: “Sense Spirit”
This power may be activated after staring intently at a target for 10 seconds. The target must state OOG their spirit power level. Targets that are not spirits respond “No Effect”.

Cost: 1 Energy
Call: “Song of Rage”
After the caster shouts out a war cry he may activate this power. While under the effects of this power the target may choose to frenzy without losing virtue. While in frenzy provoked from this power the target gains Augment 1.

CRAVING (Touch [Condition])
Cost: 1 Energy
Call: “Craving <single word>”
After speaking with the target for one minute the caster may activate this power. The word mentioned becomes the target’s primary desire.

Coming Soon

In the next post I'll be talking about some of the new merits and character creation rules we're looking at in order to open up some concepts that are currently prohibited by the character knowledge rules (ungifted kinfolk). This will be my last Dev Blog post, as we will release our in process document of the rules after the May event. Then there's not much left to spoil to you.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

SA 2.0 Dev Blog #14: New Good Things for Good People


In order to bring in some diversity to trees we wanted to add in some powers to make each tribe, discipline, and arcanoi more unique. This allowed us to try to bring in some of the great canon powers that are somewhat missing. It also allowed us to remove some of the powers which had been subbed in because it was slightly similar to another power that was remaining in the game. We also took the opportunity to remove some powers that had some serious rules issues in a LARP setting.
  Below are a couple of rules that have been added to facilitate some of these changes:

Conditions are long term effects such as poisons or illnesses that will remain until treated or the end of the event, a player may decided to have the condition continue from event to event if they like. If you are affected by a condition you will need to follow the rules element as well as roleplay in the suggested manner. You are free to describe your symptoms in an in-game way.

Mass meta call
Mass attacks affect everyone within mental range of the caster.

New Powers 

Cost: 1 Energy
Call: “Entrancement”
The target is oathed to the caster for the duration of the power. This power will end if the caster makes any attacks against the target. The target of this power may spend willpower to break from the mental effect even though they are under the effects of an oath.

Cost: None
Call: None
This power increases the caster’s Regeneration rate by 1. If he does not have regeneration from his faction he will gain Regeneration 1.

Cost: 1 energy
Call: “Hallucination <description>”
The target has a hallucination that fits with the description in some way. The <description> is limited to three words.

Cost: Energy equal to the <number> of the damage attack call.
Call: “Juggernaught <damage call>”
The caster may add the Juggernaut meta onto a single damage call.  Juggernaut attacks are considered successful attacks and cause damage even if blocked.

Cost: None
Call: None
The caster may put on any type of mask they desire. Additionally, a character with this power is no longer required to wear makeup requirements of their sub-faction. Also, a character with this power may identify himself under a different name without a full face covering (see disguising rules, p.XXX).

Cost: None
Call: None
You get 3 additional pence at check in.

READ MAGIC (Passive)
Cost: None
Call: None
A character with this power may read the rules portion of any ritual scroll or tag and take the information in game.

Cost: 2 energy
Call: “Resist”
This power allows the caster to resist a single attack with the “Breach” meta call.

Cost: 2 Energy
Call: “Resist Taint”
The caster may use this power any time they would become tainted or poisoned to not be tainted or resist the poison effect.

Cost: 2 energy
Call: “Mass Sanctuary”
All tainted targets must attempt to remain 10 feet from the caster and may not make attacks against the caster. This power has no effect on targets that are not tainted.

Cost: None
Call: None
Silver is no longer considered a source of aggravated damage for this character.

TRUE FORM (Mental)
Cost: 1 Energy
Call: “True Form”
The target must remove any mask they are currently wearing and cease using the Cloak power.  For the duration of this power the target may not wear any mask or use the Cloak power.

Cost: None
Call: None
You receive an additional prophecy at check in.

Cost: 1 Energy
Call: “Woadling”
The caster must paint a Gaian symbol on the target. The target may resist the next status attack that hits them. Future uses of this power require a new symbol to be drawn.

Cost: 1 Energy
Call: “Wounding Lies”
Each time the target makes an untruthful statement per character knowledge, he suffers one aggravated damage that cannot be resisted and cries out in pain.


Monday, April 8, 2013

SA 2.0 Dev Blog #13: Clarifying and Rewriting Powers, Two

Josh had complained that there weren't enough powers. So I'll include some more here. 10 this time instead of five -- but the first two don't really count. Enjoy.

We've discussed the two below. So they shouldn't be a surprise.


Cost: None

Call: “Form of Vapor”
The caster puts on a silver or black cloth face covering. While this power is active he may resist Damage and Status attacks for 1 energy. He may not make any damage attacks or status attacks and may not drain or block with boffers. This power may not be activated within 10 seconds of making an attack.


Cost: 1 Energy

Call: “Umbra” or “Realm” state your destination.
The caster may spend 1 energy to travel from the realm to the umbra or the umbra to the realm immediately. This power cannot be used within ten seconds of making an attack.

-- In the attempt to make escape and defensive powers very effective over the short run but not over-powerful in the long run you'll see some changes in anything that gives an immunity to a whole attack type like form of vapor, hasty escape, hero's stand and form of war.


Cost: None

Call: “Hasty Escape”
The caster crosses their arms over their chest. He must immediately leave the area of any combat as quickly as possible and may not return while the power is active. He may not voluntarily end the power until he has left the area and may not make any attacks while under the effects of this power. While this power is active the caster may resist damage and status attacks for 1 energy and is immune to draining.


Cost: None

Call: “Hero’s Stand”
The caster plants one foot in place. For 10 minutes he may resist damage and status attacks for 1 energy.  Once the 10 minutes expires, or If the caster lifts his foot for any reason, the caster will immediately drop to 0 health.

-- Go crazy then go to take merciful sleep was always a really weird thing. Making horrid reality a powerful but effective defensive/offensive mental make's more sense and still gives the flexibility needed to still make the power fun.


Cost: 1 Energy

Call: “Horrid Reality <description>”
The target must roleplay as if they are dying in the way described. The <description> is limited to three words. For the duration of this power the target may not attack.

-- Meditate had become one of the most powerful attack powers due to it basically being the same as merciful sleep when used on an enemy. It really isn't supposed to be a power you use on your enemies that are trying to kill you. So we wanted to make it something you use on a friend. It can also be used to diffuse situations as it gives a specific advantage to people who stop to meditate.


Cost: 1 Energy

Call: “Meditate”
If the target roleplays meditation for 60 seconds without walking, speaking, attacking or being attacked, the target may resist the next mental power used against them (and only the next mental power used against them) without spending willpower. If they choose not to resist the mental this power is still expended.

-- Thieving talons is the most errataed power in the game. We've given more rulings on this power than any other, including obedience. We needed to simplify the effect and get it to not be a level three power that lets you have every other sensory power in the game. The canon of this power is tricky since it technically allows you to take someone's power and then they can't use it. I don't think that's the direction that we want to go but controlling it to be more manageable is necessary.

MIMIC (Touch)

Cost: 1 energy

Call: “Mimic <power>”
The caster is able to activate the damage, status, and mental power named for 10 minutes so long as the target has it listed on their character card as a gift. If the target does not have the power listed on their character sheet as a gift they state “no effect”. Only one power may be mimiced at a time. If this power is resisted, the caster believes the target does not have the power mentioned.

-- The definition given for obedience has been a level 4 power in a level 2 slot. There's a few things here that needed limitation. Obviously obedience was never meant to be a 10 minute "do what I say". But the rules allowed for that and it became the only major use of for it. Making it a reasonable power meant limiting what could be said with it. In canon it's generally only applicable to one word. We also wanted to avoid the stupid things like "obedience hop" making forcing someone to hop for 10 minutes. It still needed to be flexible but didn't need to be godly. The perform an action once is a good limitation on that.


Cost: 1 Energy

Call: “Obedience <action>” or “Obedience <action> <noun>” (The action and noun are spoken IG)
The target immediately carries out the action to the best of her ability as directed in the call. The power ends immediately once the action has been performed one time. The target may attack and defend themselves as normal. This power may not be used to cause a target to harm herself.

-- Paralyze is often viewed as what made status attacks so unstable. It's also the power that makes Resilience mandatory at higher power levels. If you can be paralyzed you're able to be taken down. There's a few defenses that could still be used to try to keep you alive but you were basically hosed. Most paralyze powers in canon more of a mez than a stun (to use the common MMO terms). It's still very useful, but no longer an instagib. It also is not the default status you want to use no matter what. Status attacks like Venom don't go away when struck making the use of paralyze tactical rather than expected.


Cost: 1 Energy

Call: “Paralyze”
The target is held in total paralysis unable to do anything other than use regeneration. This power ends immediately if the target is attacked or damaged.

-- Bind foot had some very specific limitations. We wanted a more general power with a more specific name. This also gives more of the impression of something grabbing your foot like shadows or briars.

ROOT (Status)

Cost: 1 energy

Call: “Root”
The target’s feet are stuck in place, he is unable to move either foot. This power ends immediately if the target takes damage from any source.  Umbrabound creatures in the umbra may use this power across the Gauntlet by saying “Breach” before the sig call.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

SA 2.0 Dev Blog #12: Clarifying Powers, one

I've been crazy busy the past couple weeks and I think I'm behind on getting promised posts out. I'm going to do this one in a big fun way. I'm going to just list some of the rewrites we've done to powers and talk about why we went in that direction. Some of these powers had an unintended side effect use that went beyond their intended use that wasn't intentional. Not all the wording has been finally polished but it should clarify how the power can be used. Take a look:


Cost: 1 Energy

Call: “Beast Mind” and “predator” or “prey”
The target must roleplay as an animal that is either a predator or prey based on what signature call was used. While under the effect of this mental, the target may not use language, whether verbal, written, or telepathic.

--Using Beast Mind as an in combat/incapacitating mental was never the intended use. While making someone flop like a fish was funny, it doesn't really fit the theme of the game. Specifying more generally to give a target a bestial mind is more the intended effect.

Cloak (Self)

Cost: 1 energy

Call: “Cloak”
You may spread your hand out in front of your face to indicate that you are no longer visible. You may not use this power within 10 seconds of having made an attack. This power will end if you speak, interact with any object or person, make an attack or lower your hand from covering your face.

-- Cloak has basically become a power that can kill anyone without cloak sight. A cool down timer would decrease its effectiveness for disappearing style combat but retain its escape and sneak up ambush features. Incidentally, this also gave a slight nerf to cloak sight as someone trying to use cloak to get in free hits would require significantly more time kill you making cloak sight valuable but not a must have survival power.

Cloak Gathering (Touch)

Cost: 1 energy

Call: “Cloak Gathering”

While using the Cloak power the caster may hide a target person or item by touching them. The target becomes Cloaked as per the Cloak power. This power ends immediately if the caster and target are no longer touching or if the caster is no longer cloaked.

-- Rolling Cloak item and cloak gathering into a single skill made it more suitable for a level 3 power. It also opened up a slot at level 2 in obfuscate which we really really wanted to fit some other canon powers in there.


Cost: 4 energy

Call: “Conditioning <Mental Power Call>”
Immediately after having a conversation with a target for at least 60 seconds you may add the “Conditioning” meta call onto any mental attack that does not use the “Mass” meta call. Powers with the conditioning meta call can’t be resisted or broken with willpower.

-- The 1 hour nature of conditioning never really fit it into the level 3 slot. It was a thing that could be used occasionally but the nature of most powers is that they last about 1-3 minutes to get their full effect. It also led to the possibility of some crappy things you have to do for an hour. We wanted to make it the top of dominate. Something that was very vampire and very dominate. Now things like "don't talk to vampires or bad things may happen" has some real backing.


Cost: 1 energy

Call: “Disquiet”
This power will immediately end frenzy in the target, this is an exception to frenzy’s regular immunity to Mental Attacks. Additionally, a target will not be able to frenzy for the duration of this power.

-- The calming influence of Disquiet never really had support from the rules. The powers from canon that disquiet come from tend to force someone out of a frenzy and keep them there. Making it a mental effect that not only ends frenzy but prevents it from happening can make it useful for the calming an friend that is teetering on the brink supporting the RP that some people are already doing.


Cost: 1 Energy

Call: “Fabricate Armor”
The caster spends one minute roleplaying building invisible armor on the target. The target then receives 4 additional armor points that do not require a phys-rep. These armor points are the first to be used when the target is struck for damage. A character may only have one fabricated suit of armor at any time. If the power is used again when the armor has taken damage but has not been destroyed it will only refill to a maximum of 4 armor.

-- I'm not aware of anyone who liked the tag part of Fabricate Armor. Most people who used it regularly kept a card in their pocket rather than visible so item sense never really worked on  it anyway. Also the math on it was always wacky. It cost a lot of energy to build up and that would never work under the new energy system. Taking it down from 6 to 4 is balanced by the cost at a single energy. This makes it equivalent to a preemptive healing touch.

Neverwinter Beta: Mixed Review

Overall I enjoyed my time in beta. I didn’t run into any major issues that would make me feel like the game wasn’t close to release. This is a major plus as a number of other games I’ve beta tested didn’t feel like they were ready for the public to consume. Most of the issues I encountered were in the realm of things that hadn’t been implemented yet rather than things that overall felt missing. So overall nice job.

Good Things

1. Customization in Character Creation
I really liked how much customization there was in character creation but I wasn't overwhelmed by the options. There was even a fingernail setting. The one thing I felt was missing was a decent green for my half-orc. Even a dark green. Instead everything ended up to human, even the grayer options. My Horcs are green, let them be green.

2. Action RPG
Most of the time action RPGs end up on consoles in games like Gauntlet, or the old DnD PS2 game. Having a good action RPG work online is difficult but I feel that it was pretty well done here. I enjoyed learning to dodge with their system and having enemies attacks be obvious when they show up made for a different kind of play than most MMORPGs I've been involved in. Playing was also way more active than games like WoW or SWTOR. I'd liken the style closer to what I'd expect Diablo online to be like.

3. Foundry
Although almost all of the foundry content I went through was TERRIBLY bad I'm excited to see what the future has to hold with this. If I devote serious time to this game, the foundry will be why.

Bad Things

1. Healer Aggro
WTF. I couldn't heal anyone without getting someone to want to kill me. Regardless of whether I was in combat or not. Healing aggro seems to be greater than visual aggro range so if I was healing before the next attack I'd just get jumped again. This is just going to need some kind of fix in the near future for the game to really be enjoyable long term.

2. Narrow Classes
I felt that the combination of limited class choice along with narrowly defined classes really limited my interest in investing in a particular class. With only 5 available classes and incredibly limited customization within each one, I'm not really that impressed by my options. Maybe once all 20+ DnD4 classes are available I won't feel that way. But when I compare my options to DDO I'm WAY more pigeon holed than I want to be.

3. Limited attack options
When I play an MMO I generally have 4-5 hotbars open with 10-12 spaces on each. DDO limited me to what ammounts to a single hotbar with very limited space for my abilities. I basically get to choose my 2 free attacks, 3 10-20 second cooldown powers and my "daily". This isn't really a spread of options. I can't investing a ton of energy into a character who can only have 8 different attacks at a time. Also with the encounter powers, they were entirely on cooldown timers as a cleric so I was just spamming them every 12 seconds. It worked out OK but I'm not sure my interest in doing this will last.

4. Respawn times
In the shared instances respawn times were very short. I hate this. There was always stuff to kill but clearning a path through and stopping to try to heal up would often times get you respawned on. I'm not a fan. Most of these zones could have delt with the same number of enemies and a 10-15 minute respawn timer rather than a 2-3 minute timer. Or even better yet, the use of off stage respawns like I saw in the intro quest (zombies were appearing up on a hill you couldn't get to and running down at you) would be great. I always hate the idea of orcs randomly appearing where I'm standing.

5. Class Weapons/armor
This is really a pet peave of mine. When items drop and they are almost all class specific I get really annoyed. I understand the existence of light, medium, heavy armor in a game and there being some things you just aren't proficient to use. But when the nice leather boots that just dropped I can't put on because they're Rogue only, I just get annoyed. This is even worse for weapons. If only 1/5 weapons fit my class and the rest are all junk regardless of how "good" the weapon may be why should I even bother. It might not be smart for me to put on the two hander with my cleric, but considering how often I'd wade into battle, let me do it anyway. Being stuck with a holy symbol didn't make me feel like a cleric. It made me feel dumb.

I just found out about the foundry in STO and Neverwinter last week so I was really happy to get into the beta and give Neverwinter a try. Although, without the foundry, I doubt this is a game I'd really be very interested in. The limited class options combined with the lack of flexibility in builds for my character made the game feel like something that wouldn't hold my interest at all. To be honest I felt myself more interested in going back and playing STO because at least the game let me define my own role as I leveled. I'm really interested in seeing what the Foundry can bring to the game as it was my main interest in NWN and NWN2. But how can the foundry be totally sufficient for a game that is basically lackluster. The game is better than Diablo III, it could provide some fun as something to play with some friends, but I'm not sold that this is really the next game for me. It's free to play which is always a bonus, so I'm sure to give it a try. But I doubt the upper levels will keep me attached unless the foundry locks me in.