Skill Frequency and Reset Thoughts

Vox Mundi is, generally speaking, likely going to have three different skill frequencies:

Per battle – These will be the kind of bread and butter skills you’re going to use in pretty much every fight. In most cases, you’ll get between 1-3 free uses per battle (depending on how many times you buy the skill), and then you can optionally spend Focus to use it again. This will include really standard stuff like basic damage and healing.

Focus – These skills cost Focus every time you use them. You’ll get about 50 Focus for the entire weekend. These will be bigger skills with more oomph to them, like takeout effects, big damage, Avoids, that sort of thing. There is no reset aspect to Focus or these skills… You just have your pool for the weekend, and when you use it up, it’s gone. It’s up to you how you manage your Focus budget.

Per Event – These are big explodey showoff skills. You save these for when the stuff really hits the fan, you need to try to solo a lieutenant or help take down a boss, really punch a line, half your mod group is down, etc. Some of these you might be able to use up to three times an event (depending on how many times you buy it), while others might be one only. There will not be a Karma style mechanic to use per event skills again, since most of them you can buy more than once.

I’m pretty happy with this general spread, though I may tweak how I execute it a bit to try to simplify and make it more consistent. I like the basic dynamic of always having basic stuff you can do every battle, but having to be strategic about when you use your bigger stuff, with the option to really pull out the stops and have a crazy badass heroic moment if you want to blow your clip all at once.

One thing I’m trying to decide is how to handle the per battle skill reset mechanic. I’ve seen this executed a variety of different ways in the games I’ve played, from a 5 minute reset anytime and anywhere, to a reset only in a specific location, etc.

Originally my thought was to have it require 5 minutes of rest in any situation where you are not near enough to a battle to be potentially involved in it, basically. I figured this would allow people to reset while just casually RPing around town without letting them reset in most mods or battles (unless we deliberately put in a break to give them the chance to do so).

However, now I’m wondering if I should just keep it simple and make that five minutes of rest anywhere, anytime, and if you really want to do that in a module, go for it. Honestly, if it’s the kind of encounter where you feel the need to spend 5 minutes resetting your skills, probably you need them. And since the heavier hitting stuff will all be Focus driven anyway and not require or be reset by a per battle reset, it doesn’t seem like getting your basic healing pool or a few 3 Damages back is going to unbalance anything. Plus, letting PCs do their per battle resets in a mod or field fight if they really want to ensures that no one will become completely tapped to the point where they’re just luggage… and it takes the burden off Plot to remember to reset PCs in really long mods or fights.

Am I overlooking anything? Is there a reason I’m not thinking of why making per battle resets REALLY per encounter rather than resetting with 5 minutes rest is better? Thoughts welcome!

33 thoughts on “Skill Frequency and Reset Thoughts

  1. 1. Anything with a Grant effect needs to be Focus or Per Weekend. Otherwise people like me will take shameless advantage of it.
    2. I’d avoid the ‘per battle’ skills resetting in the middle of a battle. In my experience that leads only to sad people getting tripped on when the line falls back moves. I really think you’ve got the situation of ‘this fight takes more oomph than my per-battle skills can deliver’ covered with Focus. Seems like that’s exactly what it’s for.
    3. Maybe add a specific effect that would let five-minute resets happen on the field in certain plot-appropriate circumstances or when/where designated by Staff?
    4. You might want to limit how much Focus you can burn in a single battle, too, or it will probably become very hard to stat up fights. In particular:
    – There was a huge difference in Endgame between fights where the PCs were fighting ‘normally’ and fights where the PCs wanted/could/had to burn through all of their attributes. If you take 10 PCs on a module it really helps to know whether the maximum called damage they can put out together is 100 or 1000.
    – I’ve also seen boss monster ‘arms races’ for games where PCs could and did save up all of their attributes to vaporize a boss monster they knew was coming. This led to the boss monsters having to be ludicrously overstatted in order to provide any kind of fight vs. that kind of PC output. This in turn made it _necessary_ for the PCs to save up their skills, escalating the arms race further, and also led to all the other, less important fights being much harder than expected because the PCs couldn’t burn any stats on them.


    • In the case if Issue #2 I would say that is a situation where those pc’s need to make better/safer decisions. There is no reason to sit down and rest 5- 10 feet behind the front line, move all the way to the back then another 5 – 10 feet behind that. Yes there are situations that would make this impractical or similarly unsafe, however we should encourage better decision making by players rather then try to design the system to catch every foolish thing someone might do. In addition people leaving the line to reset gives less forceful players a chance to be at the front, which can be a challenge for newer players.

      Regarding #4 I think limiting the amount of focus per fight or per battle diminishes the value of these skills. If a player decides they want to bow all their focus in one fight I say let them. This doesn’t have to turn into an arms race. This is preventable by providing a target rich environment, multiple tough lieutenants, or in the case of pc’s preparing for a particular npc let them know that they will also have to deal with another tough encounter later on in the event, then they have a real choice to make.


      • Re: resting behind the line – Mostly this was an issue in long, drawn out hedgehog fights or extended indoor modules where the PCs didn’t have the option to retreat, but had gone through their stats too fast due to mishap or misjudgement. It’s possible this just isn’t something to worry about in the current game climate, and it may just not be a fixable issue.

        Re: Focus per fight – I can’t think of a good way to do it and prevent that kind of arms race but that doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist. Here’s my thinking: to me, it seems just as problematic to give them too many targets / lots of huge lieutennants / whatnot. You’re still taking the ability to usefully impact the fight out of the realm of Per-Battle abilities, and simultaneously making the real boss relatively less dangerous and more fragile, which has other issues (premature fight ending, bosses that don’t want to engage the PCs, etc.)
        Obviously there’s the ‘burn Focus to look cool at other times’ factor. And this may also be a non-issue in some cases. Clever fight design can mitigate this stuff too. It’s just something I’ve seen go wrong before..


      • I really like the idea of PCs having to make strategic choices about how to use their resources. To me, it seems like if all the PCs decide to not use their Focus all weekend to dump it one one particular big boss they hate, and that boss is established to be vulnerable to just piles of damage, then the PCs absolutely deserve to destroy that boss without that boss needing any kind of arms race upstat. They earned an easier fight by having harder fights all weekend leading up to that moment. Afterwards, they may decide it wasn’t worth it and that next time they should spread out their resources more, or they may be like “That was great! Let’s do it again!”

        For Vox Mundi, it is absolutely my intent that PCs will have to dig in to per event or Focus skills for fight-changing stuff like taking out lieutenants or bosses, spearheading a door or line punch, doing a heroic rescue run behind the lines, etc. That’s what that stuff is for – your cool hero moments. It’s my hope to give PCs enough resources to be able to do that multiple times per weekend rather than having to save up for one big moment.

        My plan is to have per battle skills be what you use when you’re coasting through a fight on manual. They will be high utility but not high power. I am stepping away from per battle skills being the mainstay of combat (especially for fighters, since they have an inexhaustible resource already).

        The reason I want to step away from that is that I feel like it’s easy for combats to all wind up feeling the same in games which rely mostly on per battle skills. The PCs bring the same exact resources to every fight, so it’s harder for your stats to be varied. If I rely on per battle skills, then in every fight my PCs will be putting out exactly X points of called damage, be it versus crunchy rats or a cabal of demon lords, and all my stats forever have to reflect that. The burden on the GM to come up with creative fight dynamics to make things feel different is pretty huge, and I have to be honest that creative fight dynamics are not my best area of strength (I mean, I don’t think I SUCK at it, but it’s not in my list of top 5 best features as a GM).

        Oh, incidentally, I also think that “premature fight ending” is not necessarily a problem. I feel like sometimes as staff it’s really easy to get into the mentality that you owe a certain length of fight to your players to entertain them. But if PCs put in the effort to really plan the hell out of an encounter and roll in and dump a ton of resources into hitting a fight with beautiful tactical execution, and they roll over something that was supposed to be a big hour long deal, then I think that is AMAZING. They will feel juiced about that fight and tell war stories about it for ages. If they’re doing that every time, then sure, you need to change things up. (Heck, maybe the next boss is immune to everything but Fire and suddenly they need an entirely different set of tactics.) But an occasional earned resounding victory is an awesome thing, not a failure of statting.

        All that said, yeah, it’s definitely something to consider. I certainly don’t want an arms race like that to occur, and being aware of a potential problem like that is important as I continue to work on and test the system.



  2. So, if you *don’t* go for the ‘can refresh anywhere’ thing (and honestly, I don’t have a problem with that), I’d make it be in specific locations that are fairly easy to get to (the ‘safe’ locations in MM seemed to work pretty well), and not tie it to combat or anything like that, because I was in another game where that was the rule and it was annoying to be told I couldn’t reset because combat was happening somewhere in the general viscinity.

    That said, I don’t have an issue with people resetting on the field. I guess it depends on how long you want your fights going regularly, and how important per-event skills should be. We did have people doing 5 minute resets on the field in Madrigal, and I don’t think there was any especially bad problem with that.


  3. Oooh, some really interesting and useful comments! Thank you!

    Excellent point on Grants. Though I have been considering making certain dumb defenses/shields be per battle, since I think for dumb shields vs. specific traits to be useful they have to be pretty cheap or basically free. (There are potentially other ways to avoid abuse on those, but I’d be glad to hear people’s thoughts on what to watch out for with any per battle dumb shield grants.)

    One of the reasons I’m considering letting there be no per battle limit on Focus spent is the nature of Vox Mundi. I mean, it’s no secret (see history post) that the PCs will sometimes be fighting actual gods. I want them to be able to fight a god in one battle and a bandit in another battle and have them both be fun and potentially challenging fights, because they can dump everything they have into the god fight but they really don’t want to do that vs. the bandit because what if they have to fight a god later? I want people to have different strategic approaches they can take to how they use their resources. And if you decide screw it, I want to showboat in this one fight and really murder the hell out of these bandits to make a point, you can do that, and have fun with it.

    That said, yeah, it does potentially make statting more of a challenge if you don’t know exactly what the PCs will have in each fight. But it also allows the fights to be much more varied, because the PCs have a wider range of flexibility…If PCs use the same abilities in each fight, then I kind of have to stat each fight the same, which is boring. So… I’m still leaning towards no Focus limit. However, some individual skills might possibly have limits. Not sure.

    I do see what you mean about the arms race thing, though, Dave. It’s my hope that having a combo of per battle/Focus/per event skills will mean that PCs won’t feel they have to save up everything for one big fight (so long as they save a certain amount), but it’s something to watch out for.

    One big question it’s hard for me to know the answer to in advance is whether I’ll be able to field enough combats to draw out enough Focus and per event skills to make everything balance nicely. I know in 7V we only had limited numbers of NPCs interested in combat, plus only a certain subset of staff who liked to run combat, so that put an effective limit on how much combat we could run. I’m sure there’ll be an awkward adjustment period while I calibrate (but that tends to always be the case). I’d be really curious to hear how many fights 7V PCs got into at an average event, actually. I know how many I put on the schedule, but that doesn’t tell me how many an individual PC would wind up taking part in.

    And yeah, JJ, in thinking of Madrigal, I mostly remember people only doing the 5 minute reset in times of dire need, because 5 minutes is a really long time and nobody wants to take that unless they’re totally tapped. I don’t remember seeing any abuse of it. Jesse made the point that people could potentially hold up a mod by doing lots of 5 minute resets on it, but I feel like with Focus skills available the motivation to do that is low? Good point on making sure that any definition on where/when you can reset should be worded in a way that doesn’t mean you can’t reset in the tavern because there’s some minor skirmish going on across the field that you’re not even vaguely a part of.

    Thanks, all! Super helpful.


  4. Dave hit the major points so I’ll piggyback my thoughts:

    1) I think the fundamental problem with Grants is that they can be laid on top of your normal build, which min-maxers use to stack their power. Even if Grants use Focus, this can be problematic to stat against, widens power gap between players, and disproportionally overrepresents the builds that can make use of it. For example, something as benign and non-stackable as Protection suddenly means you need to start statting for X extra hits per player if it’s per-battle/focus based. I’ve seen some serious shenanigans in CWS where this became an issue because we had nearly unkillable people, which is why I recommend caution here. 🙂

    2) If resets are location-specific, I like seeing it be used for narrative and/or strategic placement purposes. 5th Gate does a good job of tying the reset mechanic (Gates) to their narrative and it encourages people to congregate around two points (the Gate and the Tavern), which means field fights start at protecting the Gate rather than at door fights, more opportunities for smaller engagements with field pain, etc. This can also leave design space for player skills that allow you to reset elsewhere or loosen some constraints.

    However, there are lots of great stories of people resetting in the woods to mount a comeback, which wouldn’t really work well with the above. If you want to have those moments when the town is overrun and a subset of the playerbase needs to retake it, it’s better to have a 5 minute anytime anywhere resets. Also, this means that players can rest anywhere in town, whether it’s a private emotional heart-to-heart in a cabin or meditating at a local shrine people have built.

    As a battlefield option, 5 minute resets are super long so it isn’t all that gamebreaking.

    3) If a fight is super long/epic, I’ve seen calls like “By my voice, Refresh Per-Battle Skills”, etc. used to good effect.

    4) Capping Focus-expenditure may be an issue of how you want the game to feel? Without a cap on focus, player capability to Go Ham can be dramatic and it lends itself towards high heroics (for people who build for it). It can also be VERY hard to stat for/make for a challenging combat. I generally like the idea of a cap on Focus to give min-maxing players a soft upper boundary to their burst potential. 🙂


    • Good point on reset locations being an opportunity to create a narrative/tactical element, Albert! It’s true that having your ability to reset be something that can be tactically taken from you is scary in Fifth Gate. (On the other hand, the way I tend to run games I, uh, am not always great about giving the PCs down time, so I feel like making it easy as possible for them to rest is probably a good thing.)

      I actually think capping per battle Focus expenditure gives min-maxers MORE of an advantage compared to others, because then it all becomes about cherry-picking more per battle skills to find ways around that cap. (I noticed a bit of that in MM, for instance, where all skills were per battle or per event.) If there’s no Focus limit, even someone who has bought mostly RP skills can still explode beautifully in combat by, say, just using their one basic damage skill over and over again.

      That said, I know I need to run some numbers and do the math to try out different scenarios, and then do a bunch of playtests and stuff, because I am honestly not sure how this system will play out. I could see all kinds of possible solutions if it looks like unlimited Focus use will be too much… from a per battle Focus cap, to a per day/twilight Focus cap, to a limit on number of uses per battle for certain Focus skills but not others, etc. There are all kinds of ways to address problems, but I need to do more work to figure out what those problems are before I know what way will be best.


    • Oh, I should add, good point about Grants. VM is not going to be super Grant heavy… there’ll be some, but usually small stuff. But it’s good to ask myself the question for each one whether I would be okay with every player in every fight having that Grant, and if not, how I can limit it to make sure that won’t happen.


  5. Where do you see non-combat skills fitting into this? Things where you would normally “spend attributes” outside fo battle – like blowing a lock you can’t open, BMV Expose Mahori, Secret Keeper. Would those be expected to be Focus or Per Event?


    • Those are generally going to be either Focus or Per Event, yeah. Though some things might be unlimited use.

      Some skills might also require you to take negative effects to use them as a “cost.”


  6. I’m definitely on the side of “reset anywhere”. While I do like the 5G mechanic of resetting at the gate as much as you want, having a limited amount of places to reset means that players are forced to congregate there regardless of other circumstances. At the first 5G event, my team had a whole cooking/hangout set up by our cabin because we weren’t on the meal plan (plus, we and a lot of our friendly neighbors also liked to hang out together in a place with actual chairs). The gate was all the way across the field, which made it kind of a pain in the rear to walk over there, go re-set, then walk back. I know it wasn’t the intention of the plot staff, but it basically meant there was only one “approved” place to hang out and anywhere else meant serious inconvenience.

    I also agree with Angus on re-setting during battle (and the “rules can’t account for a lack of common sense” angle). As a player, it’s hard to know when to use your limited resources because we lack precognition. Too soon and we can be screwed when the battle ramps up or our fellow PCs run dry. Hang onto them too long and you could end up never using them and feeling kinda silly. A 5-minute reset means that the option is on the table, even if it means you have to clear the area and sit things out for a good chunk of time. There’s a cost to the choice (missing out on part of the fight), but it’s good to have that choice. Plus, as Angus said, it means other people get the chance to step up to the front line, so everyone gets a turn.

    Re Focus: if you have a finite amount of Focus and it’s used for the “big guns” rather than per-battle skills, I like that (unlike the per-battle skills) you have to decide how to allocate your resources. If the players decide “goddamn it, Captain EvilPants is going down when we fight him this evening!” and decide that’s more important than decisively addressing the issue of Contessa Sketchy’s Fighting Fan Dancers, then it’s okay that the EvilPants fight ends quickly and decisively. That’s not a slam on plot or on the NPCs, it’s a statement that the players are really invested in the outcome of a situation – like the time in Madrigal when we went to rescue Lady Kordova and blew through an entire re-set in about half a minute because we were all so furious that she was being tortured. In other words, not every fight has to be a pre-determined amount of time and go at a pre-determined pace regardless of what the PCs do. I like that the players can plan and burn resources when need be and it will have a marked effect on the game.

    As for the arms race, as a player that’s historically spent my CP mainly on non-fighting skills, I totally get it. It kind of sucks to load up on RP-type stuff, get hipchecked out of combat by people who loaded upon fighting skills, and have those people jump in for equal time on the non-fighty encounters where I’ve focused my stats. It can make you feel like fighting skills are the only legitimate, useful place for your CP. But that’s an issue that should be addressed in the plot/event planning/encounter running stages, maybe not so much the rules stage. And Focus sounds like a good way to counterbalance that as well, so that when Virginia Valkyrie has used up all her Focus in earlier battles, Catalina Courtier has the chance to have her own rockstar moment in the Sunday fight while Virginia is tapped.


    • It will shock you to know I agree with you on all points, Treska. I’m definitely leaning towards “reset anywhere” at this point because people have made some great points about that, and it’s also simplest.

      I’m also hopeful that I’ll be able to cultivate an atmosphere that is less arms-racey, though I do need to think through Focus pretty carefully, since there are a bunch of potential pitfalls. I am definitely leaning towards having no per battle Focus cap (I mean, if I want to cap it, at that point I might as well just make everything per battle… the whole point is to have substantial burst capability for when you really need it), though I think I do need to watch out for what that will mean mathematically, and some individual skills may need per battle caps.

      One example is that I was looking at a header that has a melee Disarm. Which is not cool enough to be a per event skill, but wow, it would be super annoying for the NPCs if it were 1 Focus and everyone started just Disarming all the good fighters every time they came out. So I need to think through what to do about skills with high annoyingness potential that are not powerful enough to be per event skills like that. And I need to run a lot of math to figure out statting implications in various scenarios, and probably do a bunch of playtests.

      Good thing I have years to prep this!


      • Disarm can be countered by a Parry, which would reduce the chance of a Mass Disarmament situation. It also might be useful to consider which *types* of battle skills might be better as per-battle and which might be better as those Focus skills.

        I’m not a combat stat person, but I’m thinking things like a single Disarm and whatnot would be better as the former and the latter would be big stuff like “I plant my feet and can swing unlimited Slams” (or better yet, unlimited Agonies, which would mean you’d have to rely on other players to actually capitalize on said Agonies by attacking instead of standing there being all “ooohhh, lookit the pretty screaming NPC”, not that I’m bitter about wasted Agonies, hahahahaha….*weeps softly*)


    • Yeah, the issue Treska mentions is what’s tended to concern me about the per-battle system. Pirate Island used an early version of this which really screwed non-fighty characters: your Air, Earth, Fire and Water would automatically reset after five minutes of not fighting, and your Void was like Resolve/Karma for per-event skills… which included just about all the non-fighty skills, so you had to spend a ton of CP on attributes to get those. I think the Focus/Endurance system gets rid of that particular pitfall, though. I haven’t actually played a game with this system so I don’t know how well it works in practice; I think I may just get concerned about it because I tend to associate it with very fighty games like Mirror Mirror.


      • I suspect you know me well enough to know there will be PLENTY of non-fighty skills. 😉

        Most of the RP skills will be in add on headers (of which there will be many), so you may not hear me talk about them for a little while, since I’m doing the core combat classes first. But I assure you, there will be lots of them.

        Also, given my own proclivities and those of my plot staff so far, I think it is safe to say that VM will be an RP-rich environment. Like, REALLY safe to say.

        Focus will not be something you can buy up, and Vitality can only be bought up a little bit, and there are no other attributes… I’m trying to avoid having any giant CP sinks you need to pour into in order to be effective. (I’m also giving a bunch of base core skills for free with each Class, and you get a bunch of free headers at creation, for this very reason.) I am really excited about the wide variety of flavoriffic mini-headers and such I have for VM, and I really want PCs to feel like they have the freedom to put together unique concepts by picking up interesting combinations of headers and skills, so I’m working hard to try to avoid a situation where you need to dump tons of CP into a hole to get basic necessities and have nothing left over for fun stuff.

        That said, it remains to be seen whether I will succeed! Thus, I particularly value feedback from players who are RP-driven, since I think they tend to be less likely to be vocal about rules than people who look at them from a purely combat perspective. Thanks!


      • Yeah, I was certainly imagining an RP-heavy game, just wondering about how that plays out in the mechanics.

        One of the things I really like about the “standard” Accelerant attribute system (whether Body/Mind/Heart, Air/Earth or whatever) is there’s a way it effectively rewards RP-heavy players. That is: the fighters wind up needing to pump a lot of their CP into attributes in order to be effective. By *not* spending on attributes, you suddenly get a ton of CP to pour into non-combat skills by default. So my Shadows of Amun character was able to branch out into a whole lot of different non-combat things because he never bought any attributes until the penultimate event. (Well, except Sanity, because he was a seeker of forbidden knowledge in a Lovecraftian game. But that’s another story.) When attributes are not something that can be bought by the fighters, RP-heavy players no longer have that relative bonus. Which I suppose you could look at as just levelling out the playing field for the fighters, but I think the fighters themselves would like to be able to pay for the attributes to do more fighty stuff. Or maybe buying multiple uses of Per Battle skills serves that purpose for them? I guess that’s the part I don’t know because I haven’t played a Per Battle game – how common is it that fighters buy up multiple uses of a skill the way they would buy up attributes at a normal game?

        Incidentally, I would highly recommend looking at the Shadows rulebook for ideas if you haven’t already. I thought they did an exquisite job of providing a wide variety of cool non-combat skills – to the point that many characters began the game with no combat skills at all, not even healing, because there was so much else for them to do.


  7. People who prefer to be combat focused will have plenty of combat skills to buy as well (including things like multiple uses of per battle or per event skills, yes). The VM system will encourage people to buy both combat and RP skills, since you’ll get free headers in both arenas, and I’m a big proponent of not having to sacrifice RP for combat effectiveness or vice versa… I think it’s great to be equally invested in both. It’s certainly my hope that everyone who plays a fighty character in VM will also want to roleplay, because, uh, if not, they may not be playing the right game.

    That said, there will be enough stuff to buy that everyone should be able to find their own preferred balance. If someone wants to spend all their CP on fighty skills, they will have no trouble doing so. If someone wants to really focus on noncombat skills, they will be able to do that, too.

    Thank you for the tip to go look at the Shadows rulebook! It’s always great to check out what awesome innovative stuff other games are doing. I can come up with like 100 different ideas for info skills (though my staff will punch me if I do), but at-event ones that don’t require a ton of plot prep/support are trickier, so I’ll be curious to see what they’ve got.


    • Shadows has had some really fantastic ideas. On non-combat skills, the obvious one is envelope-opening skills (you must have this skill to read this text prop), of which there are a ton. But a bunch of others too: fingerprinting, destroying evidence, an intriguing tweak of the Accelerant Speak mechanic to represent diplomacy and/or Jedi mind tricks…


      • I took a quick look, and they look interesting! A lot of them look way heavier prep than I’m looking to do, involving making what sounds like a TON of envelope skills and text props and special tags and stuff. Definitely some neat stuff, though!


    • The other thing I’d note about Shadows is the text props in the envelopes tended to be short and to the point, like a paragraph, getting across the relevant detail (“this frieze is a depiction of Queen Meketaten, so this spot must be her tomb”, “this inscription is written in Latin when those you’re looking for spoke Greek, so it’s probably a fake”). And it was usually in a plain envelope with “Historian Only” (or “Medical Investigation Only”, etc.) scrawled on it in hasty handwriting. They didn’t seem like they’d be hard to produce; if I were a staff person, I’d find those WAY easier to write than a typical PEL info skill. And they probably averaged one or two per module (ie many modules had none, some had several) – the game wasn’t littered with them, just enough to provide PCs with the clue/hook they needed for whatever came next in that particular plot arc. Perhaps if your staff revolt against excess info skills you could bargain them down to additional text props? 🙂


      • Well, as you know, I had envelope skills in 7V and do expect to have them in VM. About 2-3 envelope skills is about right for the amount of use I tend to find for them in the plot I like to run.


      • Occam’s Razor has something similar to Shadows – we have tags that require certain skills to read such as Clue (yes, I have a skill that literally lets me get a clue), Psychic Taint, Medicine, Tracking, etc. Usually, we run into them at crime scenes, but they can be good in any RP setting. Some are just a sentence or short phrase, so they’re not as writing intensive as info skills, but they add flavor and additional information to an encounter (and make those of us who have the skills feel cool).


  8. One thing I’m thinking of doing is having sticker skills. Where there aren’t even any words, just a symbol on the sticker that tells people with the skill something about the item. For instance, a “see magic” type skill might mean magic-y stuff glows in a different color depending on the type of magic, and we have a sticker on it to represent that. Requires no advance prep and super easy to do onsite, so long as we keep stocked up with stickers.


    • As in, the skill gets you a briefing/writeup on what kind of magic each colour/symbol represents? It’s a cool idea, but I could imagine it being frustrating in practice. PCs do have a tendency to share stuff they’re not supposed to share, and I can imagine myself paying for that skill and getting annoyed at someone else effectively getting it for free because someone told them what it is. Or even if people do play legitimately, others will still probably be able to infer the meanings from what the people with the skill do, so that after the game has been running for a while they effectively get the skill for free. If you’re going that route, I could imagine some sort of enforcement mechanism being helpful: the rulebook specifying “you can’t actually know this if you don’t have the skill”, and possibly NPCs taking notice of people using the skill when they’re not supposed to (as they would take notice of people who take head shots or the like).


      • Yup, I’ve considered that factor and have a few possible solutions in mind. Haven’t decided which to implement yet, so I won’t go into details, but suffice to say I’m planning to try to make sure it’s at least not something people will accidentally pick up by osmosis (and deliberate cheating is still cheating, whether it’s for RP skills or combat skills).


  9. Nice. I do think it’s a really cool idea – being able to go in and tell everyone “I sense that this particular place is full of demon wooj, not astral wooj” is fun. If there are ways to control the cheating and osmosis, I like the way it would let you do this immediately instead of by fumbling in the dark to open an envelope.


  10. Hey everyone, good to see such great conversation!

    My .02:
    I ran several years of a LARP with five-minute reset-wherever-skills, with void-powered skills as well (where void was limited to 7 for the weekend).

    Re: Focus. A very interesting idea that I had seen put to work at CS, though it was used for practically every skill use. In combination with the per-event and per-combat it could be very useful, though I would suggest at a lower total than 50 (like 20-30). This way, you can raise the total by ten every year and they have somewhere to go, power-level-wise. If there weren’t per-event and per-combat abilities, I’d say that 50 points would work pretty well. Regardless of what you go with, I agree with you that some definite metrics will need to be carefully gathered at a play test (how many focus points per hour/hours/day are used, then applied to a whole weekend).

    If you were to decide to limit the amount of Focus-powered skills per combat, you could take another route: a resettable Focus pool. Drastically reduce the amount of Focus to a fraction (5,10, or 15) and then have *that* be the stat that you have to go and reset at a certain spot (unlike the per-battle-reset-wherevers). However, you limit it so that they can only reset the Focus pool X amount of times per day/per weekend/only at midnight/whatever. The idea being, is that at the end of the weekend, they still don’t have more than the original 30-50 Focus points; it’s just parceled out over the weekend instead.

    Honestly, either works, but I figured an alternate idea wouldn’t be terrible to toss in (I’m not at all saying it’d work better, just different).

    Re: per event skills. It lends towards a more action oriented fighting style, where the players feel less reticent about ‘wasting resources’ and more focused on a combat that makes them feel as a useful contributor (especially for 2nd line fighters and healers). I can say that I have not noticed any problem whatsoever with people resetting and causing issues during a fight… at least not any more problematic than say a PC rooted in the middle of the field or unconcious/dead. Most players would retreat to where the healers were based and out of the way.

    Also: Something that was introduced at the LARP I ran were abilities/magic items that allow a character to reduce their five minute rest count, to no lower than 3 minutes. These were late-build and tiered skills/items. However, you could also say these skills/items are Focus-powered. There’s something to be said about getting back into the fight rather than watching the grass grow.

    Re: Grants. I love the idea of a character who can buff, though given the system, it is easily abused. Grants give someone the ability to help another, which is super cool, though! I would hope that these are not gotten rid of, just curtailed to be not broken.

    In the end, I think resetting skills is a great thing. I really hate having to play the conservative character where I have to carefully count and parcel out my stats. So, good on you!

    Hope this was helpful.


    • Thanks, Jeff! Good thoughts as always.

      Yeah, I am not at all married to 50 Focus. I need to do a bunch of math to figure out how much PCs will likely need to make it through the weekend, and then do playtests and stuff to figure out if my math is vaguely on target.

      I actually am going to have an Open free skill for everyone reducing rest time for resting off effects from 5 minutes to 2 minutes. Skill reset rest will still be 5, because I don’t want people doing it during a mod/battle unless that mod/battle really just is that long/intense that a 5 min break is worth it… mostly I want per battle to actually be per battle. But for resting off a root or a drain or what have you, where you don’t have the choice to just say “screw it” and jump in with what you’ve got, 2 minutes is plenty in my opinion.


  11. Re: the question of trying to balance out how much Focus you can get PCs to expend vs. combats you can run, you might consider starting the PCs with a low pool of Focus to begin with, and have it grow over time, which would allow you do do mid-stream course corrections. Additionally, you could link that growth (or even decreases!) to cool world/plot events.


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