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A card-style system of spellcasting

 
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Lago_AM3P
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 3:40 am    Post subject: A card-style system of spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Okay. Here's how it works.

Everyone eventually gets 9th level spells. As in, all of the slots are there.

However, there really isn't a 'spellcasting', such as it were. Instead, all of the spell slots are filled with one card. Individually, the cards don't really do much of anything. Even the really high level cards are something that'd indepedantly as good as a 3rd level spell in D&D.

Okay, so. There's a huge pile of cards with varying effects, sort of like the effect cards in Yu-Gi-Oh. The combination of levels you have entitles you to the kinds of cards you can select. For example, if you have a lot of levels in fighter, you could select the 'crushing attack' card, which bypasses damage reduction. If you have a lot of levels in rogue, you get the 'backstab' card, which does additional damage if the opponent is flatfooted. Wizard levels give you the 'bypass spell resistance' cards. Whatever.

These are also combined with 'effect' cards. For example, there's an 'area' card, which makes your spell affect an area. There's also a 'range' card, which increases the range, an extension card which increases the duration of legal effects, soforth.

The point is, when you do an attack, you add up spell cards from varying levels. The value of the cards is limited by your character levels. For example, take three characters. A fighter 4, a fighter 2 / wizard 2, and a wizard 4. They want to attack from a distance. The maximum number of card values they can add is 3. The fighter gets a better access of fighter cards than either; he combines an 'area' card with an 'added affect: strike' card and then makes his attack. It slashes all of his opponents in a circle. The fighter/wizard can combine a 'elemental: +1d6' card with an 'added affect: ranged attack' card and shoot a flame arrow with a heightened damage save. The wizard wants to cast a buff spell for his party. So he combines a 'soak: +1d4' card with an 'area effect' card and gives weak protection. All spells by default last for 1 round, without the extension card.

I dunno. I'm already starting to see pitfalls, like making it extremely hard to price. But I was thinking that it could balance spell slot multicasting.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 6:10 am    Post subject: Re: A card-style system of spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The basic idea is one which I think is basically inevitable. The problems that card-based systems inherently have are:

1> If cards can modify other cards, then being the guy with few cards and a bunch of power-modifier cards is basically always going to kick the crap out of being the guy with an entire deck of base-only cards. After all, if you take 2 base cards and 2 option cards, that's 6 potential combos even if you can't use both options on the same base card - and it's only 4 potential combos if you have 4 base cards, and of course zero combos if you only have 4 modifier cards.

solution A: So what? Deck-construction is the game. So choosing an optimal arrangement of cards of the various complimentary types is also the game. Suck it up.

Solution B: Limit the ratios of card-types available. This way, everyone has a certain number of power modifiers, and a certain number of base options. So the total number of options available to everyone is fixed.

Solution C: Limit the card types to only one kind. This way everyone just has cards that do something by themselves and there are no combos.

Solution D: Make each modifier card choose what base card it modifies when selected. This way when you get the "area" card, you have to choose whether it can attach to your Ice or Fire card as soon as you put it in the deck. Note that this is actually exactly the same as solution C.

2> Wizards already kind of work this way. They are also very complicated to play.

Solution A: Tough shit. If you lack the mental fortitude to play this game, play another game. Like Munchausen. Even you should be able to master those rules.

Solution B: Part of the Wizard Problem is the whole daily selectability thing - which can severely slow down the game. This could be alleviated by forcing people to keep their hands indefinately.

Solution C: Part of the Wizard Problem is the whole charges/day thing. If instead every card in your deck was just usuable indefinately, the whole dynamic would be a lot easier to understand (and balance, since you wouldn't need to make sweeping generalities about how many total rounds of combat people were going to be in to balance things).

---

Now, whatever you do with a card-based setup, you're going to want it to be simple to use. And that means that the only variables called for by the cards should be static stuff of your character. So a "Crushing Attack" card should have a total attack bonus and damage bonus based on your character level and stats - not on how many untapped Red Cards you have in the ready stack.

It is important that people be able to write down what their actual bonuses on their character sheet. Even if it take integral calculus to figure out those bonuses, you should still be doing that work when you level your character, not between rounds of combat. I would rather do integral calculus once than have to stop and do simple addition and subtraction every round in the middle of combat.

-Frank
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User3
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 9:03 pm    Post subject: Re: A card-style system of spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
1> If cards can modify other cards, then being the guy with few cards and a bunch of power-modifier cards is basically always going to kick the crap out of being the guy with an entire deck of base-only cards. After all, if you take 2 base cards and 2 option cards, that's 6 potential combos even if you can't use both options on the same base card - and it's only 4 potential combos if you have 4 base cards, and of course zero combos if you only have 4 modifier cards.


What if you made it so that you HAD to have a base card and several modifiers (the amount of modifiers you can use for a card go up as you advance), and the only way you could use another base card in a time frame is as a reward for attaining high level. For example, a high level monk could shoot a really strong Hadouken and then use a Chakra in one round or a wizard could throw off a mass-blindness spell and then a fireball to pick off the stragglers?

Or each card was actually a set of two; one side had a base attack thing and the back had a modifier.
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The_Hanged_Man
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 10:56 pm    Post subject: Re: A card-style system of spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

That's a nice idea, Lago. But why does it have to be cardbased? Maybe I'm missing something, but couldn't you set this up as a feat-based casting system?

You could vary between base powers and modifiers by level. Say, eveyr 3rd level was a base power, the other levels were modifier powers. Or something.
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User3
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2005 12:31 am    Post subject: Re: A card-style system of spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I could, but the distinction is essentially meaningless.

I'm monkeying around with Frank's FF d20 system, and I also want characters to have class features and feats that don't resemble cards.

I mean, while it's very easy to emulate a weird or a fireball even brokeness like the 3.XE polymorph spell and shadow magic with a card-based system, out-of-combat stuff is a lot tougher. Like a commune. Or bardic knowledge. Or animal empathy. The system I eventually dream of combines Mutants and Mastermind's power genericness (where you can literally have a character create Buicks out of thin air and drop it on an opponent have it be balanced against someone who blasts someone with radiation) with D&D's wild and weird non-combat spellcasting selection. I mean, non-combat utility is the whole reason why the wizard is just so awesome to play--and oftentimes, the wizard's worst brokenness or overpoweredness comes when the line between combat and non-combat spells becomes blurred (major creation, simacrulum, dominate, etc.).

There will always be a place for both feats and class features and I want a card-based spellcasting system to be the crutch for combat while making sure that everyone gets to have a wizard's huge array of schticks.
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The_Hanged_Man
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2005 12:35 am    Post subject: Re: A card-style system of spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I see the kewlness of that. I also see set after set of WotC card packs being sold. . .
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User3
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2005 1:08 am    Post subject: Re: A card-style system of spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
I see the kewlness of that. I also see set after set of WotC card packs being sold. . .


NO

The cards will not be a separate physical assembly in my system. They will be included in the game for free, not unlike the spell section we have in the current edition.

If you assholes want to cajole some sucker into buying cards that are exact copies of spells in the book, feel free, but that shizzle is going to be included in any set freeizzle.

Jesus. I'm scared that now you said that. Maybe I should call the system something else.
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The_Hanged_Man
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2005 1:17 am    Post subject: Re: A card-style system of spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'm just saying, most game companies would see a card-based system and immediately decide to put some "basic" (i.e., usable, but not extraordinary) cards in the game, and then follow the MtG model of printing up money. I mean, new cards.
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Lago_AM3P
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2005 1:52 am    Post subject: Re: A card-style system of spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Then I'd better call it something else.

Rune-style spellcasting system. There we go. Like in Rudora no Hihou.
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MrWaeseL
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2005 9:22 am    Post subject: Re: A card-style system of spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Where can I read up on FF d20?
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Boulie_98
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2005 9:27 am    Post subject: Re: A card-style system of spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Go here for FF D20 *and* Pokemon DND rules! Round and Round Yes, it says Jaunary 12th at the top, so I guess it's almost a year since it (or at least the front page) was last updated.
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Lago_AM3P
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2005 4:10 am    Post subject: Re: A card-style system of spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'm about to give up on this idea.

It's really hard to think of enough cards that represent a huge range of fantasy abilities. Or rather, it isn't hard, it's just that the deck of possibilities is really small. It makes the multiclass-based system seem kind of poo.

Maybe I should add in duplicate cards (like a cleric gets 'holy fire' and a wizard gets 'fire ball') but the whole idea driving this is that you should mix and match cards and someone who just chooses classes randomly shouldn't be that far behind someone who builds his deck in the best possible way.

Maybe I should add some unique cards that each class gets. But like I said, I'm running out of ideas. Coming up with out-of-combat abilities or weird bonuses (such as a +5 bonus to spot checks) is easy for classes. And it's also teaching me that most classes should be a lot shorter than they really are.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2005 1:34 am    Post subject: Re: A card-style system of spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

There's a number of basic strategies you can go to on this.

But let's imagine, for an example, that you're going to start from the standpoint of hanging everything off of an established set of attack and defense methodologies.

Elemental Types: There's going to a be some number of elemental types. These might as well be the Magic colors of Red, Blue, White, Black, and Green. They could include the Chrono-Cross colors of Yellow and Purple if you wanted. It's not actually important. The preactical difference is that people are going to have a different defensive bonus against each of these elements/colors/descriptors. Let's assume that we are going the safe route and having only 5 to worry about.

Templates: There's going to be at the very least single target attacks and area attacks. I would say that there should also be no-range attacks and probably indirect attacks as well. You can add as many templates as you want (for example, Wall-based attacks that sit around and restrcit enemy movement unless they accept being attacked by your thing). Let's assume that we cut things off there, and just have 5 templates of potential attack forms.

Damage Type? Some attacks inflict status ailments, some just try to kill people. There's lots of ways you can split that up, but in the simplest case the status ailments are defined by the element color, so there's only going to be 2 types of damage. You could have more, but let's assume that we don't.

Brain or Brawn? Some attacks roll to hit against someone's dodge. Some attacks roll to hit against someone's mind. D&D tries to make it more complicated than that, but it can be reduced to this level of simplicity. Let's assume we do that.

---

What do we have? We have 5 colors, 5 templates, 2 stat assignments, and 2 damage types - or Six Hundred Attack Cards! We haven't even talked about Healing cards (example: cure damage, remove status effect), Manuver cards (example: dimension door, wall of force), Trap cards (example: Misdirection, Contingency), Summoning cards (example: animate dead, animal companion), or Defense cards (example: Circle of Protection: Red, mindblank).

Now, is there any particular reason why these cards have to go into classes? No. Not at all. This could just as easily be classless, where players just take whatever combat cards they feel like. Or it could be set up so that your "class" affects what non-combat cards you have. Or you could put all the cards into class set-ups to ensure the associated flavor you want out of things. Or whatever.

And we haven't even really brought in "Super Cards". These are cards which function in an unbalanced fashion because they have a disadvantage. We've done this a little bit with our Templates. I mean, our single target ranged red physical damaging attack (flaming arrow) is going to do more damage to an individual target than our area of effect red physical damaging attack (hail of stones), but is going to do less damage than the no range single target red physical damaging attack (power attack) - but there's plenty of room for unreliable single target ranged red physical damaging attack (Power Surge) that has a lower chance of working, but does more damage.

-Frank
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RandomCasualty
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2005 4:30 pm    Post subject: Re: A card-style system of spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Lago_AM3P wrote:
but the whole idea driving this is that you should mix and match cards and someone who just chooses classes randomly shouldn't be that far behind someone who builds his deck in the best possible way.


The more I think about it, the more I think that it's basically impossible to make this happen wtih open multiclassing, whether you're using cards or normal class abilities or what.

You basically have two options neither of which are great.

A) eliminate ability synergy entirely. That is every manuever is separate. Nothing builds off of anything else, except your character level. So in other words all attacks, whether fighter/mage or whatever have a damage and attack bonus solely based off your character level wtih no modifier abilities. There isn't a weapon focus for a +1 to hit or a spell focus for more DC, nor are there buff spells to make your combat ability better. You have one move or spell, and that's it.
Basically the game becomes having (and choosing) the right ability for the job. So against an ice creature you'd pick a fire attack for instance.

B) Everything has synergy. All your abiltiies are written such that they help you no matter what it is you do. So you've got cleric spells solely written wtih the intent of helping wizard/clerics, and feats that help you fight AND cast spells.

Now, A tends to have the problem because at some point you max out on versatility, and additional versatility just isn't helping you that much. The combat system also needs to be very complex to handle all the attack and defense types needed to keep versatility based combat as a viable strategy.

For B, the main problem is that it's unbelievably complicated to balance, because everything is interconnected. You end up pretty much writing a small fixed number of classes and never being able to add anything to it, ever, since the number of extra text for each class increases exponentially.

After considering all the options, I just don't think it is feasable to have balanced multiclassing in an open multiclassing system such that you can pick random classes and still be reasonably competetive. I think you're always going to suck, no matter what.
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User3
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2005 7:45 pm    Post subject: Re: A card-style system of spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Okay, forget the casters for a second.

Here's the pool of classes you can choose from: Swashbuckler, Samurai, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Fighter, Barbarian, Scout, Ninja, and Sohei.

If we tweaked the suckier classes abilities (i.e. giving them level-appropriate abilities every level on par with the strongest base non-caster class), are you telling me that we could not have a multiclassing system such that even a random selection of classes will not be way worse than an optimally selected one?

If you said YES to this question, then you are a proponent of my card-based spellcasting system, which shouldn't be called spellcasting because people are insisting that spellcasting is better than non-spellcasting. Card-based ability system.

If you said NO, then why not?

Quote:
B) Everything has synergy. All your abiltiies are written such that they help you no matter what it is you do. So you've got cleric spells solely written wtih the intent of helping wizard/clerics, and feats that help you fight AND cast spells.


Why does it have to do that?

The basic idea is that you get to choose from a large pile of cards--not just base cards, but cards that add to them. Whenever you get a new card, you get a new base card AND a modifier card.

If you made the pile of cards a class can choose from varied enough so that the Engineer class can choose a card that will either help him survive generically (i.e. Mecha Suit, which adds an armor bonus but a movement penalty--an armor bonus is useful to all classes) or can be applied to a wide variety of cards (i.e. Mana Drive--it amplifies the power of abilities that force a will save or Golem Arm--which increases the power of abilities that force a fort save).

You make enough cards like that and eventually a random selection of cards isn't uselessly worse than an optimized deck. Like how Starfire, even though she's worse than her four teammates (who are all about equal in power), still contributes meaningfully to battle.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2005 8:36 pm    Post subject: Re: A card-style system of spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Your modifier cards don't seem to be working. Take for example the concept of the Mana Drive:

You wrote:
Mana Drive--it amplifies the power of abilities that force a will save or Golem Arm--which increases the power of abilities that force a fort save


Now, let's assume for the moment that you have a setup where every attack form allows a save. Let's also assume that roughly half the available option cards are, in fact, attack cards. That means that randomly speaking, Golem Arm or Mana Drive will do anything for about 1/6 of your base cards.

Do you see the problem here? By the time you had 10 cards, if one of your options was Mana Drive, you would have a 5^10/6^10 chance of having no abilities that could benefit from Mana Drive at all! That's over 16 percent. Or to put it another way, in a six person party of randomly assembled heroes, one of them is going to have a Golem Arm that doesn't do anything. Or to put it another way, since such a person will also have 10 option cards, the chances of a randomly assembled hero to be able to use all of their modifier cards is just over 17 percent. So in a random party of six, statistically only one of those players is going to actually be firing on all cylinders. Every other character in the party is going to be carrying one or more albatross that don't do anything.

Lago wrote:
If we tweaked the suckier classes abilities (i.e. giving them level-appropriate abilities every level on par with the strongest base non-caster class), are you telling me that we could not have a multiclassing system such that even a random selection of classes will not be way worse than an optimally selected one?


That is what I'm saying. Because randomly, characters are going to end up with a lot of abilties like "Weapon Finesse" that would add to their attacks if they were configured differently but actually don't do anything. By assembling characters randomly, the Super Strong man is going to randomly end up with a level of Swashbuckler one out of every eleven times he levels up. And that level doesn't do anything for him, because the bonus is a dex depedent one.

Now, if the classes were Assasin, Sorcerer, Wizard, Shaman, Shugenja, Wu Jen, Warmage... that could be balanced. You simply have to arrange for the spell lists to be a little different and yet add together in a meaningful fashion while continuously scaling to character level and you're golden.

But when the cards you are picking up are "+2 to Green Attack Instants" - that's inevitably going to make the characters wo are "well designed" shine over the characters who are assembled randomly (or according to flavor text, which amounts to the same thing). There's no guaranty that you have any Green Attack Instants, so the well designed characters are continuously pushing the random number generator vs. the rest of the people.

---

Now, you could potentially have a situation where you could throw in a module that gave you +2 to Green Attacks or +2 to Green Defense. That could potentially work out, because the people who took a bunch of crazy crap would actually be able to default to defenses on the modules that otherwise did them no good - so a flavor-driven character would end up being a defensive specialist. You'd have to tweak the math for a while to make that decent, since normally Offense is inherently superior to Defense because you choose it (possibly defensive modules could be swapped around after people declared their attack...? I'm not sure).

-Frank
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RandomCasualty
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2005 10:42 pm    Post subject: Re: A card-style system of spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Any time you have situational modifiers, you are catering to the well built character, and screwing the random character.

And that's the synergy paradox. Either you have no synergy, that is , no modifier cards. Or you have universal synergy, like a modifier card that grants "+2 damage to any attack"

Anything inbetween those is situational synergy and inevitably helps out the well built character.

Either can work, so long as everyone has the same ratio of normal cards to modifier cards. Since you're handing them out on a 1:1 basis, I don't see that as being a huge problem though.

Also, expanding off what Frank said, I think it might be cool to have all your cards be capable of attack or defense. Mostly just because it gives the person more options.
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