Move system for legamon part 2

Part 1 here.

The title says moves but I’ll be calling them abilities since that makes it less confusing when talking about movement.

Typed abilities

The types are Water, Verdant, Fire, Earth, Air, Metal.

All ‘mons know at least one typed ability.

  • Vineapple (a Verdant-type pineapple with vines coming out of its head) knows Vine Lash
  • Mistrunk (a cute Water-type elephant) knows Water Spray
  • Camelamp (a baby one-humped Fire-type camel) knows Shining Hump

As they advance, level-up and evolve, their abilities will gain new tags granting them increased versatility

Using these abilities requires one energy to be spent. When the energy is spent roll a d6.

On a 1, 2 or a 3 the energy is refunded.

On a 4, 5 or a 6 the energy is spent.

The GM will determine the success of the ability based on the result, with 6 being the best result and 1 being the worst. The result could determine:

  • How long an effect lasts for
  • How powerful an effect is
  • How difficult it is for others to counteract
  • Whether the attempted action is even possible
  • How quickly the action is completed

The GM should not allow characters to repeatedly try the same action until it succeeds. This is a waste of time. If time is a factor in an action that is definitely doable, then have the result determine how quickly the action is completed.

Abilities can be used in combat or out of combat.
The above statement might makes it seem like combat is the focus of this game but far from it, it just wanted to be explicit.

Energy will replenish at the same time as Grit (the health system I’ve not blogged about yet). Essentially it replenishes at some time or place of rest.

Why waste time make lot art when few art do trick

Typeless abilities

‘Mons can also do typeless abilities.

You could think of everything else they are doing as a typeless ability but that seems a bit silly. It’s more that we use the ability structure only when we need mechanical support to adjudicate our roleplay.

Really they’re only relevant in combat.

Actually no, there are loads of places they will be relevant, for instance if the ‘mons were in a cooking contest or a game of beach volleyball. However, the game needs combat rules first.

So below is a non-exhaustive list of example typeless abilities. The only restriction on what typeless abilities a ‘mon can do is what the GM and players think is reasonable.

ScratchBiteKickPunch
ChopGoreBashSlam
BargeSmackClobberClaw
BumpCrashBangWallop

Oh and they could be defensive too

SidestepRollJumpDash
LeapCrouchTake CoverDodge
DuckDipDiveDodge

Typeless abilities are not as powerful as typed abilities so they never get type advantage. They also roll a d4 not a d6, which will matter when it comes to combat. Finally, they lack the versatility and potential to affect the scope of the battle in the same way as typed abilities.

At this point my refusal to put a space in the middle is more obstinate stubbornness than anything else

But I mean you still didn’t tell me what am I meant to do with this

Okay the combat system is coming next.

Followed by the beach volleyball system and the cooking system.

Legamon type chart

Below is a legamon type chart. Arrows are pointing towards the type that is weaker. For instance, Fire beats verdant and air, but is beaten by earth and water.

The arrow colours are arbitrary, it just makes it more readable.

All of the type matchups follow some form of real world logic. The sort of logic that ancient greeks had where they sat around making up reasons why certain things must be true, without actually going out and checking them.

  • Fire beats Verdant because plants are vulnerable to burning
  • Fire beats Air because air is consumed by the process of burning
  • Verdant beats Water because plants need water to survive
  • Verdant beats Earth because plants roots dig into the earth and grow from it
  • Water beats Fire because water extinguishes fire
  • Water beats Metal because it causes rusting
  • Air beats Water because it causes evaporation
  • Metal beats Verdant because metal easily trims and cuts plants
  • Earth beats Fire because it can smother fires

‘Balance’

I don’t entirely believe in balance in role-playing games. Balance is about creating fairness, which is inherently linked to the distribution of power and influence. A lot of balance comes from the game master’s interpretation of the player character’s actions. Perceived likelihood of success, on-the-spot rulings, design decisions for homebrew content, NPC reactions, even the table’s attitude towards the spirit of the rule vs the letter of the rule, all these things affect balance in a way that is impossible to account for when designing a roleplaying game.

And that’s before you start hacking the rules.

Some games give suggestions, options of different rules with an explanation of how your choice might affect gameplay. Others give ongoing design commentary so you can understand why a rule is the way it is. Alternatively, a game might present its vision in such striking terms that most points of contention are easily handled.

It is really important that there is not one option which is obviously way worse than the others because then players won’t pick it and you’ve wasted your development time, word count and design space.

It’s also really important that there is not one option which looks good but actually sucks.

Unlike a video game, I’m not going to have lots of stats and systems to do balance with. And ‘mon video games tend to have lots of visible stats, and even more hidden stats and formulas to tinker with.

So every type gets as many advantages as disadvantages. That’s the balance. That and the advancement system that’s not finished yet. The rest is up to the GM.

Ew your type chart is janky

Why thank you.

Beaten ByBeaten ByTypeBeatsBeats
EarthWaterFireVerdantAir
VerdantAirWaterFireMetal
MetalFireVerdantEarthWater
VerdantEarthFire
FireAirWater
WaterMetalVerdant

Thank you very much.

FireWaterVerdantEarthAirMetal
Fire Bad Good Bad Good
Water Good Bad Bad Good
Verdant Bad Good Good Bad
Earth Good Bad
Air Bad Good
Metal Bad Good

The attacker is on the left, defender on the top.

What about other types?

I have lots of ideas for other types. These ones above are core, physical, real-world types.

It’s noticeably missing magic types and types to represent real world phenomena such as ice and electricity. It’s a lot harder to reason the balance of magic-style types. The more secondary physical types I put in, such as ice and electricity, the more janky it became. I think they can be serviced by water and fire respectively. Or by duo types such as Water/Earth and Fire/Air.

Oh yeah, I guess duo types are a thing too.

There is design space for more types since Air, Earth and Metal only have one advantage and disadvantage each.

List of possible magic types

  • Aether
  • Astral
  • Nightmare
  • Shadow
  • Void
  • Fear
  • Cosmic
  • Decay

List of types that tickle me but I can’t reasonably put into the game at this time

  • Snake
  • Egg
  • Granny
  • Hair
  • Filth
  • Paradox
  • Dino
  • Mech
  • Kaiju
  • Candy

Vineapple

My friend Becca_3D made art for Vineapple, a legamon from my previous post.

Vineapple used Vine Lash!

Wait but you didn’t even say what it means for something to have advantage or beat something else

Yep.

Combat rules are not done yet. But I reckon you could run it as is with minimal elbow grease.

Move system for Legamon

There’s been a lot of chatter in recent months about Legallydistinctémon, a lot of which is collated here. A lot of that stuff is glog-y, though there are some excellent random generators in there.

This is more in the FKR vein of games, though I will be assuming you have two things sorted already. I’ll probably write posts for each of them at some point

  1. A core resolution system. I will use the words advantage/disadvantage to show when a character should have an improved or lessened chance of something, though I’m not necessarily talking about the ‘roll two take the best/worst’ definition. It could be a modifier or whatever.
  2. Some sort of battling system. It could be rules light or glog-y or what have you.
  3. Some sort of levelling/evolving/advancement system

Popplio used bubble

In the pokemon anime popplio uses bubble to attack other monsters but also to envelop pikachu so it can search underwater and it makes a massive bubble to stop the fall of some pokemon from a team rocket gondola.

That got me thinking about how a well enough written legamon move could be used in a wide number of situations outside of combat, or even in lots of different ways in combat. They might only need one or two moves overall.

Vineapple used Vine Lash

Vineapple is a plant-based monster which looks like a pineapple but with vines coming out of the top.

Okay I know that’s dumb but stay with me.

Vineapple has one ability, Vine Lash. Like all abilities, Vine Lash has some obvious qualities – as you will infer, the vines at the top of Vineapple lash out at a target. As it’s a plant-based ability, we’ll give it the Verdant tag. As I can’t really visualise it working well in melee, we’ll give it the ranged tag.

Vine Lash: Verdant, Ranged

^That’s the whole ability. Done.

Explicitly, Vine Lash has limited capabilities

  • It can be used to make Verdant ranged attacks

Implicitly, Vine Lash can do many things

  • Swinging from tree-to-tree
  • Tripping opponents (though it might have disadvantage/no chance against opponents who can fly, who are fiery or who slither like a snake. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, follow the fiction – rule whatever makes sense)
  • attacking with vines at close range (though this might be at disadvantage)
  • grappling opponents (though it might have disadvantage against particularly strong opponents or those who are fiery)

There are some uses of vine lash that are good ideas, but a bit of a stretch, for instance, whirling the vines around quickly enough that Vineapple makes a defensive/protective shield.

Enter the rest of the tag system.

Tags for abilities

So you might want a monster to do something with its ability that is ‘a bit of a stretch’. When the monster levels up/evolves/advances or when it is dietetically appropriate, for instance when you’ve been training a Vineapple to whirl its vines around, choose an ability and add a new tag to it.

Tags can be words or phrases. They cannot be rules-lawyered, that goes against the spirit of this sort of game, a game run on consensus and player trust in the GM’s model of the reality of the fiction.

Some examples:

  • Whirling Vines: Vineapple can now cycle vines in front of itself to try to shield against ranged attacks. I’d also say that it can attack in melee without disadvantage now, though it also tires itself out when it does so as whirling the vines takes a lot of energy
  • Sleight-of-Hand: Vineapple is now precise enough with its vines (the word ‘lash’ before implied some imprecision) that without disadvantage it can pickpockets, flip switches, grab small items etc.
  • Razor Sharp: Vineapple’s vines are razor sharp so they can cut through things now.
  • Cracking Lash: The vines now crack as they lash out, the noise can be distracting or draw attention
  • Metal Vines: Vineapple has evolved into Zincanut, a metallic coconut who has metal vines above its head. The tag metal should be added and the tag verdant removed.
  • Wicker Weaving: Vineapple can weave its vines back and forth to make a wicker item, then dis-attach them. It takes a while for the vines to come back to full strength
  • Powerful Lash: Vineapple’s vines are powerful enough that strong monster could be grappled now, and weaker ones with advantage. Any other logical extensions of the vines being more powerful would also occur. Maybe it does more damage in your battle system
  • Hover Vines: Vineapple’s can hover through the air by spinning its vines above its head. I might allow this tag to occur by itself, or I might say it needs one or both of the Powerful Lash and Whirling Vines tags already.

So the new ability might be written thus on the character sheet

Vine Lash: Verdant, Ranged, Whirling Vines, Razor Sharp

or following a different route

Vine Lash: Metal, Ranged, Powerful lash, Hover Vines

That’s all we need to write ‘cos that’s all we need to record, the rest is in our heads.

Vineapple, courtesy of Becca_3D

The risk of that is when an alternate move use becomes a Magic Key that Solves All Problems Ever

On the glog discord Spwack said ‘ The risk of that is when an alternate move use becomes a Magic Key that Solves All Problems Ever’.

I absolutely agree.

Looking at you, Minor Illusion.

It’s a classic problem of having an optimum solution to every problem. Having dynamic goals in the game (not just fighting in a blank arena (or just fighting for that matter)) goes a long way to solving this. Another long way is gone (?) if we all agree to disavow a magic key if ever we find one. As I said before, the game should be run on consensus.

But what kind of ways could an ability be modified?

  • increased power
  • increased precision or nimbleness
  • decreased precision for an area of effect
  • modifiying light/vision levels
  • changing sound levels quieter or louder
  • change in speed
  • applying conditions/statuses grapple/paralysis/sleep/fear etc.
  • flight or other increased mobility (swimming/moving through earth/lava)
  • increased size or scale
  • healing
  • protection
  • reflection
  • penetration/sharpness
  • constructing items/objects/consumables
  • human actions (such as the weaving)
  • changes in type (verdant to metal etc.)
  • etc. I mean its your game jeez

But I can’t think of any abilities for this legamon

vine lashshell shrinkflame tailsilk string
poison shankwing flapgnawpeck
zap tailcurl upunfurlconstrict
spore spraydigsingecho
swipegrowlchoplift
wrapmagnetismrock rollrock yeet
seasonabsorbdirtifyclean
ethereal formpinchshock furchatter
coordinatemystic punchfire kickegg roll
entanglenurturehopglitter
glimmerspincopymesmerize
lava divecrushstampedecute look
enter cyberspaceinvisibilityshimmerdevour

What next?

I think I’ll probably make my own monster types and do a post about ‘catching’ monsters and evolving them.

I mean what am I meant to do with this

Idk use it or something

How to use Pokémon cards and tabletop slither.io

I saw a group of four or five 8-year-olds playing with Pokémon cards recently. The kid who owned them poured a bag of a hundred or so onto the table and they picked six cards each. The kids took it in turns playing cards onto the table (regardless of the evolutionary stage of the card) and then attacking other player’s cards (completely ignoring the mana costs for doing so).

Obviously they had a vague idea how the game was played, but were making up most of it

I let them get on with it.

At one point somebody had played a poison Pokémon, maybe a Nidoran? We’ll assume it was this exact card:

Source: Bulbapedia but I guess its copyright Nintendo?

The kid played the card and attacked with it.

What should have happened: Assuming the card had sufficient energy cards attached (a poison and one other energy card of any type), it would have done 20 damage (before applying weaknesses and resistances). Additionally there would be a 50% chance the target would be poisoned, meaning it would take an extra 10 damage each turn until it feints.

What happened:

‘I attack that one with my sting, it does 20 so its dead’

‘Nooo that’s not how it works, because he is poisoned it means every time he is attacked he takes an extra 20’

No flipping coins, no initial 20 damage, no weaknesses and resistances.

Was it balanced? No

Were they having fun? Yep

Tabletop slither.io

I also saw a group of six-year-olds the other day playing with multilink cubes

These things. From wikimedia

They scattered the cubes out across the surface as unconnected singles. They then each chose a cube and began hoovering around the table, and whenever they connected to other cubes they added them on.

At one point one kid accidentally knocked the front of their snake into another kids and then had to dismantle it into its constituent pieces and start over.

So they were playing slither.io. But they could choose how quick or slow to move their snakes with only “hey, that’s too fast” as a mediation tool.

Was it balanced? No.

Were they having fun? Yep

Playground Among Us

I would’ve thought that a social deduction game with randomly assigned traitors would be about as immune to adaptation for the playground as any game could be but boy oh boy, was I wrong.

It was a group of ten-year-olds this time.

Yes, your assumption is correct, I work in education.

On the playground they gathered and closed their eyes. One person secretly chose a couple of others to be the imposters.

Then they all went around doing ‘jobs’ on the ‘ship’ until someone ‘died’.

But it was a playground without pipes and tunnels and vents, where they should’ve all been able to see each other and keep track of who might be the imposter.

As canny as ten-year-olds can be, they can also be oblivious.

Inevitably one of three things happened

  1. The imposters were found out after the first two murders
  2. The imposters positioned themselves near a group and fake-shanked them all before they could call a meeting
  3. Some non-imposters got bored, decided that they had been imposters all along, then piled in on option 2.

It was the least successful of these games. Its rules made the least sense and were adhered to the least.

And yet they keep on playing it.

Is it balanced? Dream on.

Are they having fun? Yes

Here’s a reward for reading the above ramble

Glog spell: Misremember

Range: Touch

Target: Person

Duration: [dice] hours

The person will misremember a rule, law, instruction or regulation from within a body of rules, laws, instructions or regulations. You can add, revoke or rewrite up to [sum] sentences.

Character progression in games I

Riding a Dragon is cool?!?

Sometimes character progression sucks in games and sometimes it’s my jam. I enjoy both The Witcher 3 and Shadow of War but I like SoW’s progression way more. They make for a decent case study as the core gameplay is pretty combat focused, it’s third person and they’re AAA fantasy games. All of this is related to tabletop roleplaying I swear.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

In TW3 as you advance through the game you get skills points which can be spent in 4 different trees. For the most part, spending these points gets you statistical improvements.

  • Fast attack damage increased by 5%
  • Increases crossbow critical hit chance by 5%
  • Time is slowed a further 15% while aiming bombs

This facilitates ‘builds’ and specializing in certain areas of the game’s combat system, especially earlier in the game where skill points are limited. It can be quite fun to find combos that work well, especially in the alchemy tree which intersects with the potion gameplay.

But moment-to-moment it’s boring. I fight much the same as I would have before spending my skill points, except I am now aware that my fast attacks do more damage. I don’t really see that damage though. A marginal increase in the rate at which the enemy’s health bar decreases is all and its not really noticeable.

Intellectually, I know that my skill points are having an effect, but that effect is never obvious and material to me in the moment. Sometimes I want to play spreadsheet simulator, I like Paradox Interactive titles as much as the next nerd, but not when I’m meant to be Geralt of Rivia.

Individual statistical improvements which are not appreciable in the moment are boring

Middle-earth: Shadow of War

In SoW as you advance through the game you (again) get skill points which can be spent in 6 different trees. Or maybe one tree with 6 parts. For the most part, spending these points gets you tangible, concrete improvements.

  • When you shoot a bonfire, spiders erupt from it
  • When you shoot an enemy with an arrow from stealth, you can teleport them to your location
  • You can ride a dragon if it is low on health

When I look at these skills in the skill tree, I want to unlock them. And I want to use them.

When I use these skills I feel cool. I like remembering I have just the right ability to deal with the current situation. And there is all the intellectual stuff going on too as you can change your current skill build to counter a particular orcs weaknesses or strengths.

Individual concrete improvements which are appreciable in the moment are great

In fact, all the worst bits of that game are when you can’t use your cool abilities because you have to fight a ringwraith who nothing works against.1

Total War Warhammer II

So this is a fantasy tactics/strategy game (with more of a focus on tactics) where you can get heroes and generals for your army who have, yeppers, you guessed it, skill trees.

It has one foot in the Witcher’s paddling pool and another foot in the SoW paddling pool. I’m not sure that analogy makes sense but I think you get me. Henri Le Massif, who is essentially a french knight trotting around the warhammer fantasy universe has such upgrades as:

  • Melee Attack +5 (for context it starts at 83)
  • Mount: Hippogriff
  • Hit Points +3%

One of these is not like the others. The Hippogriff is cool. It does have a concrete impact, moment-to-moment, because Henri can fly over enemies. It also has statistical effects that you might notice over a duration.

That time my Paladin had a keen blade

Once upon a time I had a Paladin in a D&D game who got hold of a keen weapon which increased his crit range to 19-20. This was a game where crits doubled the amount of damage dice you rolled. He also was an Oath of Vengeance subclass with Vow of Enmity, which gives you advantage against a single target. So I was throwing out 4 attack rolls a round (with my extra attack features) and if one of those 4 rolls was a 19 or 20 (which it was every 2 or 3 rounds) I would burst my highest level spell on a smite, with the smite damage dice doubled.

It was a nice build, particularly against a single powerful enemy. Intellectually, it was appealing. It also didn’t feel too game-breaking since the keen blade had cost about 20,000gold. And it was nice to be the person who looked for the toughest enemy in a fight and charged headlong at them.

But it felt great moment-to-moment. It felt great when I got a hit due to my advantage. It felt great when I got a crit from a role of 19.

And it felt amazing when I scooped up 8d8 and 4d6 and cast them across the table for my damage, hit for 50 or so damage and flexed ‘and now I’ll roll for my second attack’.

5% increased crit chance is boring. But critting on a 19-20 is exciting even though they are statistically the same.

So when designing games I should remember to make the character options interesting in a concrete way that is fun for the players at the table. Bonus points if its fun when they’re overanalyzing the probabilities too.

Joesky Tax

Hippogriff generator: Front part bird, back part ungulate (hoofed mammal). Roll 1d10 for each

1d10 roll

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

Ungulate

Horse
Camel
Hippopotamus
Zebra
Moose
Mouse Deer
Wild Boar
Sheep
Giraffe
Dolphin2

Bird

Eagle
Seagull
Ostrich
Flamingo
Vulture
Hummingbird
Shoebill
Peacock
Owl
Penguin

  1. Also the ringwraith is Helm Hammerhand and don’t get me started on how immersion breaking it is to have timetravelling ringwraiths and then start doubting your knowledge of tolkein’s continuity and to hop on the wikis only to find out that yes, Helm Hammerhand was born thousands of years after the defeat of Sauron so how can be a ringwraith and this fight is monotonous and boring but its a story fight so I have to do it even though its literally the worst part of the game aside from that stupid balrog fight and all the other ringwraith fights I mean you design an entire game about three things: parkour; the nemesis system; batman arkham style gameplay; and emergent narratives, only to neuter all three of those for many of your set-piece story fights?
  2. Apparently dolphins are ungulates, who knew?