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.


  1. Hasty escape, Form of vapor, and Hero's stand: all of these are stated oddly but are similar:
    Hasty escape sounds like it is no longer the “super dodge” ability as it was originally intended, and is now “I'm in over my head and I need to run away”. My assumption is that the 1 energy is the cost per activation of the power, NOT the cost per resistance of damage/status.

    Why do you need to “call” Hasty escape? The crossed arms over the chest had always been the “sign” for that ability. Less things to have to say keeps it simple, if you already have a physical action that must be maintained... the sig call seems excessively redundant. Same with form of vapor, and Hero's stand. Form of vapor requires a mask, and Hero's stand has you plant your foot, making verbal calls for all these defensive powers is a bit silly making it like a Japanese Anime where you have to now say every time you use an ability.

    Mimic? I'm not in favor of this. Canonically and thematically losing thieving talons is sad. Thieving talons was originally limited by the expense of the power. Originally you have to spend 1 energy to use thieving talons, AND any other costs associated with using the power (effectively making copying some powers cost double, or have a cost when there normally isn't one). I can see how it could be perceived as needing to be reigned in when its drawback (the expense of the power) was not very limiting. Since the game is moving toward a severely reduced energy system (in comparison to the current energy availability) this makes its original limitation suddenly have meaning once again. Players with this ability will now carefully consider whether its worth the expense of copying someone's power. Limiting the power to only “combat effects” (damage, status, and mentals) drastically limits the intended utility of the power. Why the big deal about copying sensory powers? The Story has punished the players in the past for not checking each and every minutia of an NPC, so the current state of the game has forced a need for the players to do this, once again making energy no longer “free” will bring this back in line, even if powers like “sense taint” become free on use, it would still cause copied detections to cost 1 energy... once again limiting the desire to use a power because players will be more guarded in how free they spend their energy.

    Meditate: I'm not happy with this change, but I appreciate how it is made to be different from Sparkles, even though players have been role-playing each of those powers much more differently. This new power for it to stay this way may need to be reevaluated in where it is on certain trees, and you may need to swap it with another power if it no longer fits the theme of say, the philidox tree.

    Obiedience: I agree 100% this was always too powerful for only a rank 2 power, and I think the new usage limits its power, but maintains its flexibility of use.

    Paralyze: can you still talk, yell, communicate or scream etc. while under paralyze? People usually forget that you can in the current rules.

    Root: I like this change from bind foot

  2. I've heard that hasty escape, form of vapor, and Hero's stand; in addition to their built-in limitations also have a 1 energy per resist cost... please tell me that's not true... because that makes those powers unuseable compared to the rank 2 counterparts that have the same cost per resist, but with no drawbacks other than that it is 2 rank 2 powers instead of 1 rank 3.

  3. Paralyze is total paralysis under these rules. No doing anything but standing still and using regeneration.

    Meditate actually becomes more of a canon philidox power that encourages people to sit down and meditate rather than something that pulls someone out of a fight to "think about how I'm going to kill you" as I've most commonly seen it used.

    The call for hasty escape is necessary because bad communication between players causes problems. It's important to identify that you have started using the power so that people can understand how you just resisted 5 people hitting you at once. Hasty escape was never intended to be the super dodge ability. It was intended to be the "I'm fleeing to survive". It has been continually misused violating the specific rules that state:

    "You cannot take any actions other
    then talking and moving away from attackers and
    combat, which must be done as soon as Hasty Escape
    is activated."

    (side note: these rules seem to indicate that you must start talking when you activate this power -- that is really odd)

    This was change was specifically intended to return hasty escape to its intent.

    All powers with immunities to status, damage, or mentals have been swapped to resist for 1 energy. I'm not aware of any rank 2 powers that allow you to resist damage or status for 1 energy. The difference of resisting a nexus crawler hitting you for 8 costing 8 energy or costing 1 energy is a pretty good deal for a level three gift.

  4. Requireing a vocal call for anything that has a hand-sign (like crossing your arms over your chest) or prop requirement (like a mask) is excessive. We need to keep things simple, not weigh players down with more things to remember and keep track of.

    Hasty escape: Umm you're not talking to some newb who just jumped into the game yesterday. The evolution of this ability as previously been that it was a "super dodge". the origins of the power were grounded as a tier 3 celerity power. When Thieving talons was removed from Corax and given only to Ragabash, they were given Hasty escape to be used as a "get out of combat" defensive power since Corax are not supposed to be very physically combative... but they are agile and dodge-y. Nothing in the rules indicates you MUST talk, only that you are allowed to talk if you want to, like choosing to activate the power, and then shouting "retreat". You site the rules, but do not mention how the power has been misused with any examples. I'm not saying it does not happen, but if the power is not being used according to the rules then it needs to be called out when it happens, those misusing it may not know they are doing it, and should be educated.

    Crossing your arms over your chest is a pretty obvious sign, the fact attackers do not recognize "hey this guy keeps saying "resist" when I hit him, he's walking away, AND he's not attacking me ?" should be a big clue about what's going on. Adding in having to say "hasty escape" throws in a 4th thing that if the other 3 are being ignored isn't going to help, the power needs education and clarification, not overcomplication. The only exception to this is if someone using hasty escape is cornered and cannot retreat away from the fight, the power still works, but still can't take any other actions (the implied intent being that if the power is still active and you are no longer physically barred from running away, you should run away).

    previously Hasty escape only allowed you to resist physical attacks. YOu can now use it to resist status attacks, but the offset is that when you activate the power it cannot be turned off until you have completely fled the conflict. that's a pretty significant drawback. Adding in an additional energy cost not only over complicates the power, but makes the power a liability instead of something useful if a character is being curbstomped by a large group.

    Hasty escape: the player takes themselves out of the fight and cannot help their friends until conditions are met, that is HUGELY limiting in a LARP.

    Form of Vapor: the player cannot use any powers other than mentals and sensory powers, and is immune to status and physical attacks.

    Hero's Stand: YOu cannot move, you SHOULD be under continued assault, you can use any and all powers within the rules for those powers, but when your foot moves you have zero health.

    all of these powers assume that person under attack when the power is used, adding in a cost-per-resist is too limiting, especially when you are trying to change to a reduced energy game. it creates a situation when a player is being curb-stomped by a group that they will either die from damage by choosing not to use thier defensive power, or they will die from energy loss before being killed by damage, and then lack the energy use to heal themselves... Rank 3 powers should be powerful. this change to cost-per-resist for tier 3 powers encourages bloating energy pools even more than the current rules, which I take it to understand you want to get away from.

    If you going to reduce energy availability, you need to also reduce the cost-per-useage. if a power seems too powerful after you have incoporated the energy changes, then increase the cost-per-activation for these powers, not the cost-per-resist.

  5. Can Meditate be stacked and how long does the effect last? Can someone use Meditate on herself? If there's no limit or duration, I could see Buddhism making an early appearance in England.

    The proposed change to protection powers is going to be huge. Trying to think about it abstractly, I definitely see those as being some of the most difficult powers to work around in the game and they tend to make SA combat very difficult compared to other LARPs, so I can see why you want to make this change. Personally, I think someone in mist form should at least be immune to status effects though seeing as how the person doesn't have a physical body with limbs, tongue, etc to affect.

    I'm concerned about this wording and clarity of Obedience. There are many actions that don't have a quantity that could be rendered null by personal interpretation. If I'm told to be silent and not speak, I could interpret that to have been completed after the first second of being silent. If I'm told to follow someone, I could take one step and then stop. Someone can also simply add a quantity to an action and render your goal of limitation rather useless. For instance, "hop 10,000 times in place." I think the break-out resist model is going to address the issues you're concerned with more than setting a static repetition limit. You can always make a clarification that in certain instances a single performance of a task satisfies the command and then give examples you intended this for.

    A subtle but potentially large change to Obedience is adding that you can 'attack' as normal. I believe the 'defend yourself' is very important, but 'attacking' as normal seems to indicate that if someone would rather attack than perform the task given, they can attack. That essentially means that anyone can ignore Obedience if they are in combat or want to start a combat. Is that the way you intended it?

  6. Meditate is a touch power. It allows you to resist the next attack. If it was used on yourself 10 times you could still only resist the next attack. However, there is no duration.

    I like the idea of mist form being immune to status and hero's stand being immune to damage, though I'm still not totally comfortable with immunities. I'll bring that up tonight when we take a much needed look at hero's stand.

    There are still some issues with clarity in obedience. You're note here made me make a change to help this.

    "The target may attack and defend themselves as normal unless prohibited by the command."

    We discussed what happens if someone gives a duration. The simple fact is duration is not a part of a legal command. In your example someone basically said hop in place, one hop, you're done. A "follow me" command would have them follow you until you stopped (they could stab you on the way). The best duration command I can find is "Kill Fankie" or "Run to Durahm".

  7. In regards to the Obedience wording, the last statement you added makes it sound like I could be ordered to not defend myself. It also sounds like anyone giving orders should add "without attacking me" to every instruction.

    Overall, it doesn't look like a huge change, but you're trying to do something with it and I think the intention needs to be more clear. Here are some common actions I think of Obedience being good for scaled from weak to powerful based on my perspective:

    - To make noise or be quiet
    - To move somewhere / stay put
    - To occupy / embarrass / annoy / subjugate oneself
    - To stop doing something one is already doing
    - To give / fetch / steal something
    - To tell you information
    - To prevent one from doing something
    - To remove someone from combat
    - To defend someone in combat
    - To redirect one's target in combat
    - To put someone in a vulnerable situation
    - To kill someone

    - Obedience is not an instant kill power, therefore someone hit with Obedience should be able to defend oneself
    - Obedience can not force one to tell character sheet info in game
    - Obedience can not directly mimic another existing power

    Based on your proposition, I can see you want to minimize its ability to annoy/occupy people (10 minutes is a really long time to do something you don't want to do). It seems like you want to reduce its combat utility by allowing the victim to attack as they desire, but the most powerful part of it (kill your ally/etc) is just as effective.

    Throwing in clarifications and examples of what is allowed, what shouldn't be, and how commands should be made for those mentioned above will probably help a lot.

    1. With regard to your assumptions. Number 1 is correct. A single obedience shouldn't get you killed on it's own. Though a well placed "kill the Earl" could lead to one's death. It's not the obedience killing someone.

      Number 2 is correct in today's rules. This is dumb. Currently I can't tell you I'm a Brujah because it says so on my character sheet. This is changing as we are defining Character Knowledge (what your character believes and has experienced) with Character State (What it says on your character sheet plus things like taint, health, etc). All truth type statements are made per character knowledge, all sensory powers are made per character state. Character knowledge and character state can contradict (eg Bone of lies "Are you tainted?" "No" "Sense Taint" "Yes")

      With greater limitations on obedience the "can not mimic another power" isn't necessary. Mentals last 10 minutes and obedience is the only one with the "ends once action has been completed". Therefore anything you could use obedience to mimic would be less powerful than the original power.
      Commands like "Hide from me." (terror) would be completed once the person successfully hid.

      The key piece of this is that it limits Obedience to physical actions and only doing so once. It falls along the format of "D0 X to/with/on Y". When people us it well it can have some cool effects "Dance with me" or "Give me your money". If people try to use it stupidly in combat "fight with your left hand" or "Hop" it's only going to last for a second.