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Personal Resource Abilities


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Something I've been thinking about lately is leveraging the Community Resource property of risking depletion through use, being bolstered by overcoming appropriate obstacles, and generally fluctuating according to background events into character abilities. I flirted with fluctuating ratings in my Flaw variant post in the house rules thread, and I've come to dig the idea for abilities that represent some sort of personal resource or power reserve.

Here are some ideas:

  • Followers/Allies/Patrons - these are very similar to a Community conceptually. Repeatedly drawing on them to solve problems can tire them, hurt them, expend their resources, burn them out on helping you, etc. Taking actions to bolster them strengthens both their effectiveness and the strength of your relationship. Background fluctuation can give them a life outside of their interaction with the character.
  • Wealth - Major expenditures or leveraging assets to attain a goal can make one's fortune less effective meeting other challenges in the near term. Overcoming challenges may bolster one's financial position. Market forces and business activities can be responsible for background fluctuation.
  • Willpower - Repeated challenges to overcome personal Flaws, withstand mind-control, resist temptations, etc. can wear down the character's resolve. Actions that build you up can bolster it. Background fluctuations can represent day to day ups and downs during downtime.
  • Mana - Casting spells can deplete one's magical reserves. Overcoming challenges to gather spell components, bargain with entities, draw power from the Other Side, etc. can bolster it. Actions that build you up can bolster it. Background fluctuations can represent usage during downtime.
  • Vitae - Vampires augmenting their powers and abilities by expending reserves of blood gradually deplete it (and have a harder time resisting their Hunger flaw). Overcoming obstacles to feed  or increase one's mortal herd can bolster it.  Background fluctuations can represent feeding/usage during downtime.

This sort of thing would not benefit every game, and lingering benefits and consequences can fulfill a similar role at times. However, I think the resource dynamics could be a valuable tool for making mechanics focus attention on a particular aspect of play you wish to emphasize. 

In game design generally, one should ask "What is the core activity or play experience we are aiming for? How do the mechanics guide play towards and support those goals?" QuestWorlds's design remit of portraying story arcs and conflicts as we know them in fiction is a bit broad in terms of answering those questions. They are left open to the designer or GM to implement. Much like many generic systems, part of utilizing it successfully is artfully tuning and adjusting its tool-set to focus on your desired play experience. 

 

 

 

Edited by JonL
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Do you propose that the character's resource Ability will fluctuate with play, or that Resistance rating will fluctuate?  Or both?  I can see either in play, and I agree that they can add a lot to many environmental conditions, but they'd represent different axes of fluctuation.

  1. Increasing Resistance with overuse or disuse of a pivotal resource while the Ability remains unchanged represents the effects of critical use.  Your standard Depletion Penalty (HQ p.p. 88-89).
  2. Changing an Ability rating represents a chronic/permanent change in conditions.  Changes to Resource Ratings (HQ p. 91).

!i!

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13 hours ago, Ian Absentia said:

Do you propose that the character's resource Ability will fluctuate with play, or that Resistance rating will fluctuate?  Or both?  I can see either in play, and I agree that they can add a lot to many environmental conditions, but they'd represent different axes of fluctuation.

  1. Increasing Resistance with overuse or disuse of a pivotal resource while the Ability remains unchanged represents the effects of critical use.  Your standard Depletion Penalty (HQ p.p. 88-89).
  2. Changing an Ability rating represents a chronic/permanent change in conditions.  Changes to Resource Ratings (HQ p. 91).

!i!

One way to simulate a big dent in the resource ability is to impose a flaw based on the expenditure that may need to be bought down or quested against to regain full control over the ability.

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On 10/26/2019 at 2:29 PM, Archivist said:

Could someone write this up as a rules add on we can put in the downloads section? JonL do you have a more detailed description of how these rules would work?

I plan on a proper write-up of this and some other things knocking around various forum posts once the QuestWorlds SRD drops.

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Gah, I lost a big post here.

Yes, I have a sketch of using fluctuating personal resource style abilities and flaws to create CofD-esque tensions, using Classical Greek drama terms for maximum pretension. :)

Watch this space.

Edited by JonL
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A rule to illustrate that the characters don't have unlimited inner resources like mana, willpower etc. is not a bad idea at all. I think all Heroquests game masters have made their own rules in this regard. An official rule would be welcome in Questworlds.

 

Edited by Martigan
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5 hours ago, Martigan said:

A rule to illustrate that the characters don't have unlimited inner resources like mana, willpower etc. is not a bad idea at all. I think all Heroquests game masters have made their own rules in this regard. An official rule would be welcome in Questworlds.

I think it depends on the type of game you're running. In a game or world where attacking with a spell is no different than attacking with a sword, there's not really any point to restricting the use of either, unless magic is supposed to be especially draining or taxing, in which case using magic may inflict a penalty on future uses for a short while. Which one you use in Questworlds should depend entirely on what is best for the overall narrative. Instead of asking yourself: which should I use to make more effective use of my limited resources, like you would in D&D or Runequest, you should ask yourself: which one should I use to make a better story?

Edited by Richard S.
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2 minutes ago, Richard S. said:

I think it depends on the type of game you're running. In a game or world where attacking with a spell is no different than attacking with a sword, there's not really any point to restricting the use of either, unless magic is supposed to be especially draining or taxing, in which case using magic may inflict a penalty to future uses for a short while. Which one you use in Questworlds should depend entirely on what is best for the overall narrative. Instead of asking yourself: which should I use to make more effective use of my limited resources, like you would in D&D or Runequest, you should ask yourself: which one should I use to make a better story?

Edit: meant to edit my last post not quote it, oops

Edited by Richard S.
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5 hours ago, Martigan said:

 

 

A rule to illustrate that the characters don't have unlimited inner resources like mana, willpower etc. is not a bad idea at all. I think all Heroquests game masters have made their own rules in this regard. An official rule would be welcome in Questworlds.

 

I've never used such or seen the need for such a rule in my HQG games, and would not want to see that limited.  It's really no different than adding fatigue in for combat - another factor that tends to get in the way of the story.

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In Heroquest 2, there is a community resources chapter. If we do not take into account that the characters may also had some kind of internal resources, why take into account the resources of a community if that does not help in any way to make '' better stories'' ? If everything should always be infinite, why not remove the health levels as well ? 

 

 
Edited by Martigan
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13 hours ago, Martigan said:

A rule to illustrate that the characters don't have unlimited inner resources like mana, willpower etc. is not a bad idea at all. I think all Heroquests game masters have made their own rules in this regard. An official rule would be welcome in Questworlds.

 

6 hours ago, Martigan said:

In Heroquest 2, there is a community resources chapter. If we do not take into account that the characters may also had some kind of internal resources, why take into account the resources of a community if that does not help in any way to make '' better stories'' ? If everything should always be infinite, why not remove the health levels as well ? 

Can you give an example(s) of where this has appeared in your games.

If you have stats like mana and willpower as abilities or keyword breakouts, they are limited by their value. Likewise if a character has an ability of Mana 10M, that does indicate that compared to a normal person they have a huge resource. That in turn then is governed by credibility tests when framing their use in a contest.

Bear in mind that the credibility will vary based on the genre. John McClane in die hard has a very high Tough Action Hero rating (once shoeless and in a vest), compared with Weedy physicist Sheldon in BBT (who is unlikely to take his shoes off or appear in a vest).

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16 hours ago, Martigan said:

In Heroquest 2, there is a community resources chapter. If we do not take into account that the characters may also had some kind of internal resources, why take into account the resources of a community if that does not help in any way to make '' better stories'' ? If everything should always be infinite, why not remove the health levels as well ? 

I've used the community resources as factors for the characters, either augments or other bonuses, particularly on significant quests.  And the results of the quests either benefit or penalize the community in turn, which is part of the story (and continues to drive further stories).  

The resources for the community for me function like any other characteristic for an individual.  The primary difference is that the community resources are largely standardized whereas the heroes are largely unique.  

What I do not do is use the community resources as something like money or magic points (as in RQG) that is reduced by specific, explicit use.  (Nor would I want to - and I wouldn't look to have a rule do so - that seems foreign to the style of play in QuestWorlds.)

Edited by jajagappa
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On 1/17/2021 at 8:56 PM, Martigan said:

 

 

A rule to illustrate that the characters don't have unlimited inner resources like mana, willpower etc. is not a bad idea at all. I think all Heroquests game masters have made their own rules in this regard. An official rule would be welcome in Questworlds.

 

In QuestWorlds, the credibility test and penalties serve this function.

One of the most important parts of an extraordinary powers framework in QW is the description of the 'rules' for these powers. But I recommend against simulating these 'rules' with new mechanics in the game engine. All abilities work the same way in play, but an in-universe description of how those powers work should provide enough to rule as to whether such a use is credible in many situations, and the GM should make a ruling in others.

Let's say you have a magic system were magic use is tiring. Glorantha btw is one such place. Can I go on casting magic all day without a rest? If it comes up in play as part of a story, we would ask 'is that credible?' If it is not, we have a couple of options. If this is a single contest describing your efforts, to heal all the plague victims coming into the hospital, it's just a higher resistance - it's unlikely you could do this all day. If we have a series of contests in close succession it might be a situational modifier from the GM to preserve suspension of disbelief: you're too tired to keep doing that without cost, take a penalty. Or, in QW I might give you a consequence on a victory where you used a lot of magic, a penalty that applies to future use of magic until you rest. (In QW we let you apply a consequence on a victory and vice-versa).

Always ask: what story am I trying to tell? If this was a movie or a book, is this the moment that the protagonist's exhaustion from magic usage would come up? If you think that is something that should come up in this story, then apply it as above.

But vanilla QW is not a resource management game. We don't track arrows, bullets etc any more than the pulp genres the game emulates do. QW emulates genres where the hero brandishing their revolver never seems to run out of bullets, until the writer decides in this scene, the framing will be that you are out of ammo. It's the rule of Indiana Jones's hat. He may seem to have lost it a lot, but its always back on his head in the next scene.

If you want to add gritty resource mechanics, it's a toolkit and you should feel free to do that. That's the reason for an SRD, so you can drift the vanilla game for you. But the vanilla game is not designed around that.

PS The Community rules have been simplified in QW, for exactly these reasons, they were an outlier

 

 

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What I've done once in a HeroQuest game set in the Star Wars universe is this: The players are a comando from the New Republic and they went to a backwater world trying to find a hidden man. They received some money from their superiors to use in their mission, but once they were in the planet, which was in Hutt space, they were effectively cut off from external resources, so it's finite. They had a new skill at a set rating and every use of it (to pay an informant or bribe a custom officer, for example) would give a cumulative penalty to the skill until they leave the planet.

I've only feel the need to do it once.

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