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What Damage Means

What Damage Means: An Idea From Kamui That Can Be Applied To Any Game

We’re all familiar with unexpected PC death. You would have had enough HP to survive the monster’s tail swipe, but then it criticaled, knocking you into a spike pit trap and breaking all but one of the seventeen acid flasks you were carrying. So there you sit, watching your carefully crafted alchemist drown-burning in a pool of failure and stab wounds. You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, but c’mon, that prophecy was just saying that you were the one to save the kingdom from inevitable doom! Where’s the heroics here? How will I avenge my family/hometown/pet turtle now?

Some will say that it’s the DM’s job to prevent this sort of thing from happening, but that only serves to diminish the excitement by removing the danger of death. However, is it really the danger of death that gives the adventure that edge?

Let’s use the video game Prey for a brief example. In Prey, whenever you would be killed, you are transported to a spirit realm where you hunt spirits and regain your strength to return to the land of the living. You are literally unable to be killed. This differs from the arcade game style “lives” system where when you die, you lose a life and begin at the start of the level. The reason it’s different is that “lives” present a sense of failure by reducing the amount of remaining chances you have to succeed, unlike Prey, which presents no penalty for failure at all.

So that’s mainly what HP and its ilk do for your character: present a way for you to determine if you fail or succeed during combat, at least in a personal level. Death is the penalty for failure. However, why don’t we try keeping a failure state without it implying death?

Heroic Perseverance and Flaws

Characters are meant to grow over time, hence leveling systems and storyline development. However, in most stories, heroes fail at some point, or at least suffer huge setbacks. It’s how most traditional stories work: the Three-Act structure. Act 1 sets the stage, Act 2 puts the hero in a seemingly unwinnable situation, Act 3 sees the hero win (usually).

So here’s a basic proposition. Instead of death, why not have your character fall unconscious temporarily and also suffer some sort of permanent mental or physical disadvantage when their HP becomes zero? This allows your character to keep living, but forces them to live with the consequences of their failure. This also prompts some character growth, not in terms of levels and powers, but in roleplaying terms.

My poor alchemist above could have potentially escaped this situation, but not without problems. Perhaps he now has a significant fear of acid, and needs to change class. Perhaps the acid took his eyesight. Maybe he also gains a vengeful hatred of those tail-swiping monsters, and vows to destroy each one he comes across. Maybe he is saved by some sort of deity, and now must obey the deity’s commands or lose the new gift of life he was granted.

It also lends curiosity to NPCs and PCs with these disadvantages, since now most people will wonder how those flaws were acquired, giving a touch of flavor to your characters. Also, recurring villains are now much more plausible, since you can give them the same power of tenacity that the PCs have. After all, ever since the PCs melted his face with holy light, his vengeance may be the only thing keeping him alive. Just make sure he stays dead when the time is right, and make sure the wounds the PCs inflict on your villain are significant and memorable.

Death Isn’t All Bad

Sometimes, though, PCs need to die. Whether by heroic sacrifice, plot convenience, or sheer stupidity, death needs to happen to continue making the story work. Either give the player the option of choosing death or flaws, thereby putting his PC’s life in his hands instead of yours, or simply let the players know that when you say that someone dies for good, they die for good. Being transparent with your players on their character’s death is the best option, as they now can choose what they want that to mean, and often times their idea for a death that makes sense to their story can be more dramatic and insightful when done on their own terms.

Finally, death is like an arcade game’s “game over” screen. It provides closure. It’s an end state. At the very least, it is a cue to make a new adventure with fresh characters. After all, who knows what will happen next time? Just make sure to avoid those acid flasks.

Categories: Uncategorized

Skill Trees

Here’s an example of a Skill Tree I’m working on for the Blades skill, just to show you that I do actually work on my game. The formatting will be terrible, so bear with it. All techniques within the tree have been developed yesterday, so there’s been absolutely no balancing, testing, or even editing.

Blades Skill Tree

==Tier 1 Techs==

Name: Feint
Tier: Blades 1
Type: Active Attack
Stat: AGI
Effect: Instead of inflicting damage, your target loses AP equal to your roll’s margin of success.

Name: Draw Cut
Tier: Blades 1
Type: Active Attack
Stat: AGI
Effect: You may simultaneously draw your weapon and attack.

Name: Backstab
Tier: Blades 1
Type: Active Attack
Stat: AGI
Effect: If you are flanking your target, damage increases by 1 stage for this attack only.

==Tier 2 Techs==

Name: Engarde
Tier: Blades 2
Type: Passive Support
Effect: When using your Blades skill to defend, you may move 1 hex away from the attacker after the

attack is made.

Name: Essence Slash
Tier: Blades 2
Type: Active Attack
Stat: AGI
Effect: This attack costs +1 AP and adds a Progression Effect.
Progression: Increase damage by 1 stage.

Name: Puncture
Tier: Blades 2
Type: Active Attack
Stat: AGI-1
Effect: Adds a Progression Effect.
Progression: Inflicts an additional Light wound.

==Tier 3 Techs==

Name: Stinger Lunge
Tier: Blades 3
Type: Active Attack
Stat: AGI
Effect: Move forward 1 hex and attack simultaneously.

Name: Helmsplitter
Tier: Blades 3
Type: Active Attack
Stat: STR-2
Effect: Increase damage by 1 stage.
Progression: Finisher.

Name: Nerve Cut
Tier: Blades 3
Type: Active Attack
Stat: AGI-3
Effect: In addition to the normal damage, target is forced to either drop a weapon or fall prone.

==Tier 4 Techs==

Name: Parry-Riposte
Tier: Blades 4
Type: Reactive Defense
Stat: AGI
Trigger: When you are attacked.
Effect: If the defense is successful, make a basic attack. This follow-up attack uses no AP.

Name: Tsubame Gaeshi
Tier: Blades 4
Type: Active Attack
Stat: AGI-3
Effect: If the attack is successful, make an additional basic attack. This follow-up attack uses no AP.

Name: Throatslitter
Tier: Blades 4
Type: Active Attack
Stat: AGI
Effect: If target is prone, paralyzed, asleep, or otherwise unable to defend, increase damage by 2

stages and ignore armor.
Progression: Finisher.

==Tier 5 Techs==

Name: At Weapon’s Point
Tier: Blades 5
Type: Reactive Attack
Stat: AGI
Trigger: When the target attempts to move out of your weapon’s range.
Effect: If the attack succeeds, the target’s move is unsuccessful.

Name: Spiraling Slash
Tier: Blades 5
Type: Active Attack
Stat: AGI
Effect: Adds a Progression Effect.
Progression: All other Effects in the Progression are increased by 1.

Name: Insane Bloodletting
Tier: Blades 5
Type: Active Attack
Stat: AGI-2
Effect: This attack costs -1 AP.

==Tier 6 Techs==

Name: Effortless Parry
Tier: Blades 6
Type: Reactive Defense
Stat: AGI+3
Trigger: When you are attacked.
Effect: Attack is canceled. This defense costs -1 AP.

Name: Spellbreaker
Tier: Blades 6
Type: Reactive Defense
Stat: AGI-4
Trigger: When you are attacked by a projectile spell.
Effect: If the defense is successful, the spell is canceled and your next attack will inflict the

canceled spell’s effects in addition to the attack’s other effects.

Name: Assassin’s Blade
Tier: Blades 6
Type: Passive Support
Effect: When you attack an unaware target, damage is increased by 1 stage.

==Tier 7 Techs==

Name: Pierce Through
Tier: Blades 7
Type: Active Attack
Stat: AGI
Effect: If this attack is successful, you may also inflict the attack’s damage on a target behind the

first.

Name: Impending Ruin
Tier: Blades 7
Type: Active Attack
Stat: STR
Effect: Target’s position changes to Aerial. Adds a Progression Effect.
Progression: If any target in the Finisher is Aerial, the Finisher costs -3 AP.

Obviously, the tree is incomplete, since there will be 10 levels of Techs for each skill. However, I hope you have an idea of what I’m trying to achieve here.

Combat playtests are still upcoming, provided I can get more Skill Trees to an acceptable level in time. That is literally the only thing hindering progress right now.

Also, expect updates now every Tuesday or Wednesday. Next week, I’ll be on vacation, but the week after I’ll be back at it. I just figure if I’m going to update this thing, I should make it regular. Keeps me on track, too.

Until next time.

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Kamui combat playtests upcoming

Hey everyone. The site’s been dormant, but I have not. I’m going to be running some combat playtests soon, and while I’m intending on running them solo, if anyone would like to participate in any fashion, please feel free to let me know. The reason they’re not full playtests is because I don’t have many techniques created in detail that aren’t combat related. One step at a time, right?

What I’m looking for when conducting these tests are:
1. How quickly do characters go down?
2. How much of a difference do high skill/attribute levels make?
3. How well do techniques mesh in combat?
4. Will 20 Action Points suffice for a round of attacks, movements, and defenses?
5. How fast does combat feel?
6. Is the new skill check mechanic superior to the old one?
7. Is armor overpowered when layered? (Example: I have a current character who layers a Psi-Static Aura over a Line Shield over a Yuacite-Weave Plate Carrier with Lodestone inserts.)

Anything else will be posted in the updates later next week.

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Aggravated Beer Damage

Aggravated Beer Damage is now available for beta review. Check it out above by the “About” page. The “Aggravated Beer Damage” page is to the right of it, and the download link is there. And here, for good measure. Please read and review!

-Kyle

 

EDIT: The game is now updated. Everything is in place except the Monsters’ Special Abilities and some Tactics’ Special Effects. Thanks for taking a look, and enjoy! Here’s the new link: Aggravated Beer Damage

Categories: Uncategorized