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Saturday, April 14, 2018

BAKFDG v .8, Signature Powers and Trumps

So, getting to the end of the changes for this version. Like I mentioned last time the EP available to characters have decreased, but the value of each Energy point has increased. To try and be a bit more formal with power construction, I've divided Signature Powers into three levels of strength:

1 EP Powers provide a significant bonus, usually in the form of a unique mechanic, the ability to bend the rules in some way or a new way to spend Strikes. These are "workhorse" powers, which are meant to be used often but don't dramatically alter a Scene by themselves. These are the powers you can use without Ascending above Heroic level as well, so most of the subtler or more non-combat themed powers go here.

Some examples:
  • Mysterious Stranger: a power that makes you supernaturally unmemorable and difficult to recognize. 
  • Reflect Bullet: Spend a Strike and an EP after a successful attack to "bounce" the attack to another opponent. You keep the same roll result as before and all the same powers. Think Xena's chakram. 
  • Shapeshifter: Take an animal form and get a 1-die bonus to any rolls that the form would be useful for. Sort of a multi-tool power, allowing you to disguise yourself, get into weird places and so on. 
  • Spellbreaker: Spend a Strike and 1 EP to end the effect of one of your opponent's ongoing powers. 
  • Unbreakable Iron Spirit: A defensive power that lets you invest 1+ EP into an ongoing effect. While this power is on you ignore any damage that does not exceed your EP investment, but has no effect on attacks that inflict more damage. 

2 EP Powers typically require you to Ascend in order to use them, so they represent more dramatic abilities that can make major "background" changes or give you access to a significantly larger set of options in how you interact with other characters or your environment. This is also where powers that can provide large amounts of extra Strikes are situated.

Some examples: 
  • Cross Burst: The equivalent of a multi-attack power, after a successful fighting style roll you can spend 2 EP to then compare your second-highest die to your opponent's second highest, earning Strikes as though it were a second attack. 
  • Mind Crush: For 2 EP you can devour the memories of a KO'd opponent or an Extra, this renders them a vegetable and gives you access to everything they knew. 
  • Shattered Mirror: Spend 2 EP to declare whatever just happened was an illusion or ruse, this cancels the effects of the roll and forces both you and your opponent to reroll, giving you a bonus strike if you succeed. 
  • Skin of Black Iron: A more reliable damage-reducer than Unbreakable Iron Spirit, this power prevents any opponent from spending all their strikes on damage. 
  • Warp: Teleportation. In addition to the general utility of the power this lets you break engagements automatically by spending the requisite EP. 
3 EP Powers are the top of the chart for Signature Powers (at least in theory, I'm sure there's at least one or two 4 EP worthy powers out there). These let players dramatically redefine the current situation and using one will often dominate the current scene. Currently there are only 4 examples of 3 EP powers:

  • Absolute Radiance: Control the minds of any Extras within your vicinity, emitting a light that crushes free will and potentially mindjacking hundreds or thousands of people. 
  • Blade Of Ultimate Impossibility: Turn your Fighting Style into a conceptual weapon, letting you resolve situations that would normally not be possible with combat abilities. Some examples are cutting a curse free of someone's body, punching a tree into a chair or slaying a drought with your spear. 
  • Quantum Suppression Field: Cuts the EP of all other characters in the scene in half. A powerful, but selectively useful ability. 
  • Real Breaker: Lets you make retroactive Declarations. For instance, with a normal Declaration you can disarm someone, with Real Breaker you can declare they left their sword at home, even if they were just hitting you with it a moment ago. Can't undo damage or dramatically change circumstances for anyone who is not an extra. This might normally be a 2 EP power, but I'm adding an EP just because I bet there's some real shenanigans more creative players could get up to with the ability to rewrite reality. Just a hunch.  

Trump Powers
Trump Powers have been a bit of a rough area in the game. I started cripping from Exalted, limiting players to just one power at a time but permitting Trumps to serve as a combo of different powers. Then I decided that was too limiting and let powers be combined freely, so Trumps instead had a specific set of powers that unlocked access to your Tension meter for extra EP. The main problem there was it meant that you had to have all the "pieces" of the Trump already. If you wanted to launch a multi-attack power that steals EP you needed to have purchased both an EP-stealing power and a multi-attack power to combine them. This meant that just having a Trump with more than one Signature Power required you to invest almost all your Signature Powers in the individual "ingredients" of the Trump.

Well, my current solution is to allow Trumps to be purchased in two ways. "Blank" Trumps are the simplest...they simply provide access to your Tension Meter to fuel any combination of basic powers. These are your straightforward attack moves and powers...if you just want to launch a punch that punches much harder than normal, that's a blank Trump. Think something like your average Kamehameha, Wind Scar or Warnicorn Stampede.

Then you've got Trumps that do something special. When purchasing a Trump you can choose one or more Signature Powers (which you do not necessarily need to know as regular Signature Powers) which will determine the Trump's effects, and then combine their cost together to determine the minimum cost of the Trump. In order to use these Trumps, your Tension meter has to be high enough to pay for the cost of the Trump and if your Tension meter exceeds it the additional cost can only be spent on basic powers or to improve the effect of the Trump's powers (for effects with variable costs).

So, for instance say you want to build a Trump out of the Cross Burst and Reflect Bullet power, creating twin razor sharp energy disks you can sling from one opponent to another. Reflect Bullet costs a minimum of 1 EP and Cross Burst costs 2, giving your Trump a cost of 3 (let's call it the Dual Crescent Buster).

So, in order to use the Dual Crescent Buster you've got to get your Tension Meter up to 3. Just for the sake of argument let's say it's at 5 currently. Activating the Dual Crescent Buster nets you 5 additional EP, you spend 3 on the Trump and with the extra 2 you activate the basic powers Supercharge and Overkill (helpful, since it'll ensure there's at least a bonus strike to spend on the Reflect Bullet effect).

Just to go all out on the example, lets say you're rolling 6d10 right now from your Supercharge and Fighting Spirit/Knacks and facing 3 opponents who all roll 3d8 for their defense (all unworthy opponents)

Dual Crescent Buster gets an 16 on the first opponent, with the second-highest die being a 9. The hapless opponent rolls a 4 and a 3 as their two highest rolls. That's 6 Strikes! (3 from the 16 vs the 4, two from the 9 vs the 3 and 1 extra from Overkill). Easily KOing the opponent with 3 of them, spending one to trigger the Reflect Bullet effect and maybe spending the last two on a couple of Boosts.

Your reflect bullet lets you target another opponent, keeping the original 16/9 roll. The second opponent does a bit better, getting a 6 and a 5. But that's still 5 Strikes, letting you KO this guy, activate Reflect Bullet again and collect another Boost.

The second activation does require another EP, if you had saved some of the bonus EP from your Tension meter you could use that, but you can also provide it from your regular EP pool or even Overdrive. So that's the same 16/9, this opponent gets the best roll so far with a 7 and a 5, cutting the number of Strikes earned down the 4, but that's still enough to KO an unworthy opponent and activate another use of Reflect Bullet or use for a Boost or Declaration.

So yeah, Trumps are pretty darn strong if used right, if nothing else that guy just earned up to 4 Boosts (an 8-die bonus) for their next roll, so if there's another opponent left on the field they're screwed even though our character just fired off his Trump and emptied his tension meter.