Master Mines

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Dealing with excess chips

Hey all, So one of the issues I was dealing with is solved I think. I just wanted to put it out there and see if anyone felt one way or the other about the solution.

The issue dealt with survival and lucidity. Each character has a permanent score in these traits as well as a temporary score. The temporary score goes down when the character takes damage of some kind, but it can also go up through xp expenditure or gambling more on a roll than you need to and winning.

Up until this point a player could only bring the temporary score up to whatever their permanent score was, but that wasn’t working because it wasn’t as fun as it could be, as the gambling mechanic makes it very likely that a player will in fact go above their max at some point, and the gambling is a lot of the fun of the conflict resolution. What I’ve got now is that the player can bring their survival and lucidity above their permanent score, but it gets exponentially more expensive to do so. So lets say I have a permanent survival score of 4. It will take 5 excess points to get the 5th point in temporary survival, 6 excess to get the 6th point, etc. The in-game rationale for this (for now) is that their echoes allow them to push their limits, though that might be an unnecessary explanation…maybe the characters are just pushing their own human limits.

The other idea I had about what to do with the excess is that it would contribute to a seperate echo pool that would allow the players to do things like affect the story in a small way that’s beneficial to them or have the echoes use some kind of magic to help them…maybe even act as a kind of ‘mana pool’ that the characters need to tap in order to use their Knack (subtle magical power to the newcomers). The first two options don’t work, as Survival already acts as story-affecting currency and the second option brings in too much magic.

…However, I just came up with the mana pool thing as I was typing it. I’d still to an exponential price increase as it went up, but this might be an interesting way to limit magic (when magic is limited, it makes it more of a special commodity and, hopefully, more interesting). Having an unexhaustable resource seems contrary to the theme. On the other hand, this could be an unnecessary mechanic just for the sake of having a mechanic. Overuse of power hasn’t come up as an issue in playtesting, and you know what they say about stuff that “ain’t broke.”

Anyway I’d love to hear your guys feedback on any or all of the solutions posted up here, or if you guys have any ideas of your own.


December 9, 2007 - Posted by | Kingdom of Nothing


  1. Your solutions sound interesting to me. How would the excess magic be different from what they can ordinarily do? Would you have a time limit on using it before it dissipated? That might make for some interesting/fun tactical decisions. What about too much of a good thing? If you go too high, win too well, mightn’t it be interesting to suffer some kind of burn or loss of control?

    Another idea might be to have these surfeits of power be used to different kinds of things. Perhaps these points could be spent only at a meta level, for the player to make non-magic-fiction based changes to the world, such as to say, “My character went to high school with the security guard.”

    Comment by robertbohl | December 9, 2007 | Reply

  2. I really like the two ideas about the time-limit and going too high.

    I hadn’t thought about what different kind of magic the echoes could provide because I think I’m writing that idea off.

    Comment by jhimmelman | December 9, 2007 | Reply

  3. Well, if the idea of having them cope with the consequences of having too much power is an exciting one to you, you may want to tinker with the design such that they may occasionally win “too well.”

    Comment by robertbohl | December 9, 2007 | Reply

  4. On the other hand, this could be an unnecessary mechanic just for the sake of having a mechanic. Overuse of power hasn’t come up as an issue in playtesting, and you know what they say about stuff that “ain’t broke.”

    This is a very, very key thing to remember. I just want to emphasize that point. I’m chewing on the rest of the post right now, but no comments immediate come to mind. I’m sure they will later, as I think on it.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | December 10, 2007 | Reply

  5. I’ve been shooting some emails back and forth with the playtesters from philcon, and I think I’ve settled on having the players be able to increase their survival and lucidity with diminishing returns. It’s a much cleaner solution for a resolution system that already takes a long time.

    Comment by jhimmelman | December 13, 2007 | Reply

  6. I like the exponential cost, but I felt like pushing the limits of what it means to be human felt better than pushing the limits of their echo.

    For some reason, the part about winning too well sounds intriguing, too.

    Comment by commondialog | December 14, 2007 | Reply

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