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Ok, now that the forums are back, what's this about a new edition of Deadlands??

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  • #46
    Originally posted by Jounichi View Post
    Okay, that helps. Looks like we had some miscommunication and depth of flavor was confused with depth of power.

    If memory serves, shamans used to work a lot differently before being "deluxe-ified." I seem to remember there being a ritual mechanic, but the restriction on needing the Old Ways Oath Hindrance wasn't fun and didn't seem to warrant the investiture. It both limited the posses options and shamans were unlikely to regularly perform rituals to gain the benefits. Personally, I'd flavor the appeasement points as their power points, which naturally replenish over time because of their constant communion. And the guardian spirit idea from Ghost Dancers was adapted into the Spirit-Touched Knack from Last Sons; which also got rolled up with Tempests and a few other old ideas.

    That being said, if they were to go back to performing rituals for appeasement points how would you structure it differently than a huckster's DwtD? Because, from my point of view, they're mechanically similar ideas. Both ask a favor, perform an action as part of striking a bargain, and then see if what they did is enough to get what they asked for. Should they just drag out the ritual into lasting more than 1 round of 6 seconds? Or do you have another idea in mind?
    Guardian Spirits aren't the same as performing rituals for appeasement points -- Shaman in core Classic performed rituals for appeasement points, but they were unplayably bad, because they had no ability to bank appeasement points and the only way to gain more than 1 appeasement at a time was to either perform a lengthy ritual and cast the very moment the ritual ended, or disfigure yourself. So anything costing more than 1 appeasement was off-limits without ritual casting (or maiming, which isn't a sustainable strategy).

    Guardian Spirit comes along in the Ghost Dancers book, and it offers an ability to bank Appeasement by saying: this is the spirit you are appeasing. This is what their personality and role are like. This is the type of Medicine (there were six spell schools for shamanism in Ghost Dancers) they're best at granting you, and you get some of it for free and your banked Appeasement spent on it costs double, because that's what the spirit is about. Here are special powers that you can spend Fate Chips on, and the White and Red abilities are unique to your particular guardian and how they see the world and how they act on the world -- they make you better at doing what that spirit likes. Here's the oath your guardian spirit wants you to adhere to, it's much more narrowly applicable than "be a good person as defined by the Bible", and you have many to choose from, so it's more flavorful and less straitjacketing. The generic became defined, and you had a relationship with this entity that granted you powers, it had mechanical weight, it helped you define your character and what they do.

    I'm all for being able to reskin things -- the group I am running now has a "Shaman" who doesn't truck with spirits but actually has contracts with the Fair Folk, I think that's great, I like that there's enough give in the rules that I can do that. But Spirit Touched just is too generic. It's just "a way to get extra power points", there's no definition of your patron, it doesn't give you power because you do what it likes. It can be shamanism, or a miracle, or magic, and it's identical either way save the backlash for a 1 if it's magic. There's no feel that you have this relationship that colors how you see the world.

    And the problem with trying to bring them back is, they're a whole package. You need like 5 pages minimum detailing "this is the outlook of Snake and Snake's place in the world, this is what Snake is good at, this is what Snake makes you good at, this is what Snake wants you to do (repeat everything someone says as a question?), this is the outlook of Spider and Spider's place in the world, etc etc." If every Arcane Background gets that level of treatment, then that's 40 pages of the book devoted to Arcane Backgrounds before we get to the list of powers. That's no good.

    I mean, if page count and focus were no issue, I'd definitely go with guardian spirits. They'd have a lot of Fate Chip abilities that altered how you interacted with your spells, like the equivalent of metamagic feats, or they'd grant abilities that supplement or are supplemented by spellcasting. But I don't think it's feasible because they take too much space and effort.

    So that's why I pitched some kind of "you are about the land and connection with the land, you can make a connection with an area, and you empower it and it empowers you" kind of thing. Or maybe it really is about ritual casting, and shaman have the ability to cast normally, but they can also ritual-cast taking much more time and effort to get a much better (longer-lasting, extended, cheaper, etc.) effect.

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    • #47
      Originally posted by IlzmerZolond View Post

      Guardian Spirits aren't the same as performing rituals for appeasement points -- Shaman in core Classic performed rituals for appeasement points, but they were unplayably bad, because they had no ability to bank appeasement points and the only way to gain more than 1 appeasement at a time was to either perform a lengthy ritual and cast the very moment the ritual ended, or disfigure yourself. So anything costing more than 1 appeasement was off-limits without ritual casting (or maiming, which isn't a sustainable strategy).

      Guardian Spirit comes along in the Ghost Dancers book, and it offers an ability to bank Appeasement by saying: this is the spirit you are appeasing. This is what their personality and role are like. This is the type of Medicine (there were six spell schools for shamanism in Ghost Dancers) they're best at granting you, and you get some of it for free and your banked Appeasement spent on it costs double, because that's what the spirit is about. Here are special powers that you can spend Fate Chips on, and the White and Red abilities are unique to your particular guardian and how they see the world and how they act on the world -- they make you better at doing what that spirit likes. Here's the oath your guardian spirit wants you to adhere to, it's much more narrowly applicable than "be a good person as defined by the Bible", and you have many to choose from, so it's more flavorful and less straitjacketing. The generic became defined, and you had a relationship with this entity that granted you powers, it had mechanical weight, it helped you define your character and what they do.
      I never said that guardian spirits were the same as performing rituals. Heck, I don't think I ever implied it. That being said, banking appeasement points has been translated into the shaman's regular daily rituals and the usual pool of power points. It's a more passive approach than before, but it fits their lore and is consistent with the rules for other ABs. And guardian spirits weren't unique to shamans, either, which is why I imagine that concept was later rolled in with Tempests to create the Spirit-Touched. If you want a more personal connection to a singular spirit, then Totem Spirit is probably where it's at. It's not a perfect 1:1, but no adaptation is.

      But Spirit Touched just is too generic. It's just "a way to get extra power points", there's no definition of your patron, it doesn't give you power because you do what it likes. It can be shamanism, or a miracle, or magic, and it's identical either way save the backlash for a 1 if it's magic. There's no feel that you have this relationship that colors how you see the world.

      And the problem with trying to bring them back is, they're a whole package. You need like 5 pages minimum detailing "this is the outlook of Snake and Snake's place in the world, this is what Snake is good at, this is what Snake makes you good at, this is what Snake wants you to do (repeat everything someone says as a question?), this is the outlook of Spider and Spider's place in the world, etc etc." If every Arcane Background gets that level of treatment, then that's 40 pages of the book devoted to Arcane Backgrounds before we get to the list of powers. That's no good.

      I mean, if page count and focus were no issue, I'd definitely go with guardian spirits. They'd have a lot of Fate Chip abilities that altered how you interacted with your spells, like the equivalent of metamagic feats, or they'd grant abilities that supplement or are supplemented by spellcasting. But I don't think it's feasible because they take too much space and effort.
      That "backlash" with the manitou taking control of the power is always there, regardless of which AB the power comes from. But that's not the point. Having too much of a good thing is a problem. And when dealing with game mechanics, this can easily lead to bloat and a loss of focus. Guardian spirits were always an optional mechanic even in classic. So while I get the temptation to include them here, it's not necessarily the right thing to do. And if they're ancillary, then any inclusion should not obscure what they're intended to compliment. Maybe re-writing Patron Spirit and Totem Spirit to allow either the Spirit-Touched Knack or their respective AB is a step in the right direction. But, coming back to adaptation for a moment, lots of things changed. Hucksters no longer learn hexes from studying copies of Hoyle's. Lower grade Agents make less money per month in salary, but they're no longer prevented from taking side jobs. (I imagine that had something to do with not honestly being able to support themselves on basic pay.) And I can't think of a single firearm which didn't experience a tweak, no matter how slight.

      So that's why I pitched some kind of "you are about the land and connection with the land, you can make a connection with an area, and you empower it and it empowers you" kind of thing. Or maybe it really is about ritual casting, and shaman have the ability to cast normally, but they can also ritual-cast taking much more time and effort to get a much better (longer-lasting, extended, cheaper, etc.) effect.
      Make them too much about "the land" and they're like a D&D ranger outside of their favored terrain. I think the flavor you're looking for might already be there. It just might be presented in a way you're unaccustomed to; which can lead to rejection or blindness. And if that reads like a criticism of you, it's not. We all get tunnel vision or put on a pair of rose-colored glasses from time to time. That being said, I would love to see proper ritual casting rules (even if they're just reprints of what's in the Horror Companion). And I can think of several ABs which would benefit.
      Last edited by Jounichi; 05-14-2018, 08:16 PM. Reason: Needed some cleaning up I missed in the initial post (darn lots of text)

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      • IlzmerZolond
        IlzmerZolond commented
        Editing a comment
        "Because manitous are so unpredictable, tempests with this knack take a bigger risk than other spirit-touched heroes. If a tempest rolls a 1 on his Spirit die (regardless of the Wild Die) the manitou takes control of the power."

      • Jounichi
        Jounichi commented
        Editing a comment
        I had a feeling I should have double-checked the book. Ceste la vie.

    • #48
      Are we going to see two books to make a character (SWB & DL) and a non reckoner related PPC?

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      • #49
        Ppc?
        Like what you have read in someone's post? Hit that like button and let everyone know.

        I run Deadlands Reloaded. One of my players writes an incharacter blog here --> http://ballgownsandbattleskirts.blog...deadlands.html

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        • Jounichi
          Jounichi commented
          Editing a comment
          Plot Point Campaign

      • #50
        It's true that Martial Artists don't have to deal with lynch mobs as much as Hucksters do, but neither do Blessed or Mad Scientists. While Martial Artists have fewer weaknesses than the other ABs, they don't really have any huge strengths, either. They have higher starting power points, and they can use two powers in the same round (albeit with a multi-action penalty).

        However, the huge cost in skills means they need to be much more selective in picking their powers. It also means that they're going to be able to contribute less in non-combat encounters, since they have to put more skill points into their powers and fewer into skills that help in other situations. Since a martial artist isn't really any better in combat than a mad scientist or a huckster who also focuses on it, it's a pretty harsh penalty.

        I don't know if you consider this a problem, necessarily, but I found that the AB was actually much stronger if you just had the practitioner use guns instead of martial arts. There are plenty of powers that are just as useful on a gunslinger as on a martial artist, and guns tend to be a little more powerful in Deadlands than melee. Not as bad as in futuristic settings, but enough that they have to really think about terrain and cover.

        I'd love to see some more synergy between Chi Mastery and Martial Arts. Maybe let them use certain powers in the same round they make a melee attack, similar to a hexslinger's ability to use aim, boost/lower Shooting, and smite for free. I don't think that would be too powerful, given the other limitations of the AB and melee in a gunslinging setting.

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        • #51
          Originally posted by JackMann View Post
          It's true that Martial Artists don't have to deal with lynch mobs as much as Hucksters do, but neither do Blessed or Mad Scientists. While Martial Artists have fewer weaknesses than the other ABs, they don't really have any huge strengths, either. They have higher starting power points, and they can use two powers in the same round (albeit with a multi-action penalty).

          However, the huge cost in skills means they need to be much more selective in picking their powers. It also means that they're going to be able to contribute less in non-combat encounters, since they have to put more skill points into their powers and fewer into skills that help in other situations. Since a martial artist isn't really any better in combat than a mad scientist or a huckster who also focuses on it, it's a pretty harsh penalty.

          I don't know if you consider this a problem, necessarily, but I found that the AB was actually much stronger if you just had the practitioner use guns instead of martial arts. There are plenty of powers that are just as useful on a gunslinger as on a martial artist, and guns tend to be a little more powerful in Deadlands than melee. Not as bad as in futuristic settings, but enough that they have to really think about terrain and cover.

          I'd love to see some more synergy between Chi Mastery and Martial Arts. Maybe let them use certain powers in the same round they make a melee attack, similar to a hexslinger's ability to use aim, boost/lower Shooting, and smite for free. I don't think that would be too powerful, given the other limitations of the AB and melee in a gunslinging setting.
          I think you're underestimating chi masters. They only need two Edges and four Skill points to be considered even moderately competent. And between the 11 remaining Skill points and two floating Hindrance points, they're pretty solid. I ran Murder on the Hellstromme Express last year (maybe in the last 18 months) and one of the players was a chi master with Thief; essentially she was a ninja. That being said, I'm not going to lie and say a gun-toting chi master isn't a powerful hybrid build. No gang-up bonus or unarmed defender status means you can wade into melee more easily than others. It does take some serious investment to really get going, though. And you can't benefit from Superior Kung Fu without some house ruling from the Marshal. (The official word is they're only for unarmed fighting; even the ones which don't affect unarmed damage.)

          I proposed a twist on Jack-Of-All-Trades for chi masters which just let them ignore the unskilled penalty for untrained powers. But that was years ago and having d10+ Spirit is so niche I'm no longer convinced it's good enough.

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