Proposal - Some Utility Items

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Inox
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Proposal - Some Utility Items

Post by Inox » 2013-03-13

I am going to work up a before/after as well, but here are some changes I think could be helpful for utility powers in the game.

I would like to be clear that absolutely NONE of the things changed here have any effect whatsoever on how powerful a character is on the field. These are all entirely RP elements that can add flavor to the game in dungeons and with NPC interaction.

EDIT: Since the Google Docs link seemed not to be working, I redid things here. Old rule with proposed areas to make the changes in BLUE, new rule with the proposed changes shown in RED:

COMPREHEND LANGUAGES SPELL

OLD RULE

Comprehend Languages3

Mage – Rank 2 Adventure Only
Warrior Mage – Rank 2 Adventure Only
Length: 75 words
Duration: 1 question
Range: Caster
Area of Effect: Caster
Energy Cost: 1 spell point
Material Component: Arcane symbol

This spell magically translates any spoken or written language. Although this spell allows the Mage to understand the language, this spell does not give the Mage the ability to speak or write any language. Only the casting Mage can understand what is heard or read.

NEW RULE

Comprehend Languages

Mage – Rank 2
Warrior Mage – Rank 2
Length:75 words
Duration:1 hour
Range: Caster
Area of Effect: Caster
Energy Cost: 1 spell point
Material Component: Arcane symbol

This spell allows the caster to understand a single language. The caster need not know what the language is called, but a spoken or written example of it needs to be present at the time of casting.

When this spell is fully reduced (11th rank), the caster is also able to speak and write the language.

At 20th rank, the caster may understand, speak, and write any language she encounters, and no example needs to be present when the spell is cast.


RATIONALE

The rule as written is confusing, saying that you cannot speak the language, but allowing the duration as "1 question". This can be interpreted various ways, but none of them really facilitate RP the way that this spell could.

If people are putting NPCs in that specifically do not speak the common tongue of Darkon, it's a huge RP element to have a translator. It's not so interesting to have everyone standing around while a Mage is continually recasting a spell to ask one question at a time.

Similarly, the ability to read ancient texts and the like is a huge RP opportunity for Mages in general, as they are the arcane scholars of Darkon. Not having any mechanism to allow for this misses the mark, imo. This fixes that.

---

THIEF READ LANGUAGES

OLD RULE

At 6th rank, a Thief may ‘Read Languages’ other than the common Darkonian tongue, due to his increased worldly knowledge. This skill allows a Thief to translate any written text into Darkonian by studying the writing for one full minute without interruption. This skill is adventure‐only, and an Elder may be needed to divulge the knowledge obtained from the translation. Thieves may not use this skill to converse with, or understand the spoken word of, others; only written text may be translated.

NEW RULE

At 7th rank, a Thief may ‘Read Languages’ other than the common Darkonian tongue. This skill allows a Thief to immediately translate any written text that she reads.

This understanding is generally plain language only; it does not automatically solve any puzzles or riddles, decode ciphers, or uncover hidden meanings.

However, a Thief of 20th rank and above is even savvier at deciphering, and may receive additional clues or hints at an Elder’s discretion.


RATIONALE

Really, who likes to wait around each time a Thief wants to read a single inscription on a wall? Things that kill momentum in mods subtract fun with each delay. While some spells are going to take a while to read for balance reasons (like Res), there's really not a lot of joy in making the minor details like translation stretch out. Hey, this used to be 15 minutes, and was used almost never. The more we make these things easy to use, the more we'll see them in adventures.

Also, adding in the bit about ciphers and riddles is to encourage adventure hosts to give a high-rank Thief additional clues about what they read, reflecting the cunning and experience that such a character would possess. This is a tidy way for an Elder to provide information to specific classes (like Druids with Commune or Mages with Legend Lore).

---

THIEF FIND & REMOVE TRAPS

OLD RULE

At 5th rank, a Thief gains the adventure‐only skill ‘Find and Remove Traps.’ This skill allows a Thief to uncover potential traps on doors, locks, chests, etc., and disarm them. The Elder of the adventure will determine exactly what procedure a Thief must follow in order to use this skill.

NEW RULE

At 5th rank, a Thief gains the skill ‘Find and Remove Traps.’ This skill allows a Thief to uncover traps and disarm them.

The Thief should visibly hold her skeleton key in an outstretched hand when using this ability, and should always inform an Elder prior to its use.

Thieves of 5th-10th rank can detect and disable small physical traps such as poison needles, trapdoors, etc. They can also detect larger, full room physical traps, which may include even incidental things such as a tunnel near collapse.

Thieves of 11th-19th rank can also detect (but not disable) magical traps such as glyphs, stone guardians, etc.

Thieves of 20th rank can detect and disable any sort of trap. They may also elect to bypass a trap they could disarm, leaving it active after they pass by.

The effect of this skill is subject to the discretion of an Elder; the use of this skill should facilitate and not supersede plot development.


RATIONALE

Right now, there's no guidance at all for how to use this skill. Everything I've written here could be done by Elders today; this just gives them a uniform framework and makes their jobs easier. It also gives the people playing Thieves some idea of what to expect from this ability.

I added the "key in outstretched hand" to give an easy visual indicator that this skill is being used...as well as when it's not.

Also, specifically stating that high-ranking Thieves can bypass traps while leaving them armed gives them an advantage in passing through mods and such without leaving a path for others to easily follow (though presumably still a Ranger could Track them :D).

---

THIEF OPEN LOCKS

OLD RULE

4th rank, a Thief gains the ability to ‘Open Locks.’ This is a skill that allows a Thief to open, or pick, locks or barred doors. Locks are rated from 1 (easy) to 15 (absurdly difficult). An Elder will determine the difficulty of the lock to be picked. This is a timed skill, in which the Thief must have his hand on the lock he is attempting to open for a base of three minutes. For every difficulty level above the Thief’s rank, the Elder will add one minute to the time of the skill, up to a maximum of ten minutes. If the timed difficulty of a particular lock exceeds ten minutes, it is considered to be beyond the Thief’s ability and he may not open it. The Elder may reduce the timed difficulty by 30 seconds for every difficulty level of the lock below the Thief’s rank, to a minimum of 30 seconds.
Times on the chart are in minutes, except for listings of ‘30’, which refer to seconds. If there is only a black field, the lock cannot be opened by a Thief of that rank.


<SNIP LENGTHY CHART>

At 20th rank, the Open Locks ability of a Thief improves. The Thief may now open or bypass any magical lock or portal (even items affected by Hold Portal). The Thief must have his hand on the lock for 60 seconds before it can be opened.

At an Elder’s discretion, this ability does not function against locks and portals for which a specific means of entry is part of the Adventure plot.

NEW RULE

At 4th rank, a Thief gains the ability to ‘Open Locks.’ This is a skill that allows a Thief to open, or pick, locks or barred doors.

The Thief should visibly hold her skeleton key in an outstretched hand when using this ability.

At 4th-10th rank, the Thief may open a non-magical lock in 15 seconds.

At 11th-19th rank, the Thief may open a non-magical lock in 10 seconds. She may also unbar the unmanned gate of a fortification, allowing the gate to be opened from the outside. An unmanned gate is one with no one within 10' of it who wishes it to stay closed.

At 20th rank, Thieves may open a non-magical lock in 5 seconds. They can also bypass magical locks or portals (including items affected by Hold Portal), and can choose to automatically lock or “re-bar” anything that they bypass.


At an Elder’s discretion, this skill does not function against locks and portals for which a specific means of entry is part of the Adventure plot.

RATIONALE

The rule we use for this results in very long wait times, and necessitates a large chart (or a bunch of math) to figure out just how long. As I said above, long waits for minor actions on mods is a joy killer. If you had an 8th rank Thief in your party for opening locks, while they could open even the most difficult of non-magical locks...well, if they picked a 1, a 5, a 10, and a 15, they'd add 17 minutes to the wait time for the next group. That's four locks. Say they picked a bunch of middle-level locks; eight of the level 7 locks would add 20 minutes.

None of that time is in any way enjoyable for the party or the next group waiting.

This rule speeds it up considerably, using the same timeframes as for Pick Pockets, making it easier to remember by orders of magnitude.

Also, the rule mentions barred doors (gates are barred), but makes no mention of how or when these can be opened. The new rule addresses that, while making clear that a manned gate cannot be so opened.

Similarly, the rule is silent on relocking. As someone who can pick locks for real, this is generally a trivial thing. This rule now addresses that for high-rank Thieves.

And, like with Find & Remove Traps, the outstretched hand with the skeleton key makes it clear that the skill is being used. In actuality, the Thief would have picks and tools that would be equally obvious, if not more so.

---

DETECT TRAPS SPELL

OLD RULE

Detect Traps
Druid – Rank 2 Adventure Only
Mage – Rank 3 Adventure Only
Warrior Mage – Rank 3 Adventure Only
Length: 100 words
Duration: Instant
Range: Caster
Area of Effect: 10 ft. radius
Energy Cost: 1 spell point
Material Component: Class symbol

This spell allows the Druid to detect any sort of traps within a 10’ radius in a woodland setting.

This spell allows the Mage to detect any sort of trap within a 10’ radius.

This spell does not reveal the nature of the trap, only the trap’s location. The Elders of the event will determine the exact effectiveness of this spell.


NEW RULE

Detect Traps
Druid – Rank 2 

Mage – Rank 3
Warrior Mage – Rank 3
Length:100 words
Duration: Concentration
Range: Caster
Area of Effect: 10 ft. radius
Energy Cost: 1 spell point
Material Component: Class symbol

This spell allows the caster to detect the location of any traps within a 10’ radius of her position. She can continue to detect as long as she concentrates, but she cannot run, cast another spell, fight, or take damage, or the concentration is broken.

When this spell is fully reduced (11th rank for Druids, 12th for Mage & Warrior Mage), the caster becomes aware of the specific nature of any traps detected.

At 20th rank and above, the caster may choose to cast this spell to disable a single known trap within the radius.

Druids are limited to using this spell in natural surroundings.

The effect of this spell is subject to the discretion of an Elder; the use of this spell should facilitate and not supersede plot development.


RATIONALE

As it stands, it's perfectly obvious that a dungeon is going to potentially have traps most everywhere there's not already a monster or obvious obstacle. As such, this spell is almost never cast.

This change allows the spell to be useful as a makeshift trap finder, and even, if one wants to spend the points, as a way to get a party past traps absent a Thief. As it takes one point to cast initially (and concentration is easily broken), and then another point to disable a trap, it would quickly get costly to go through a dungeon in this way. Basically, each trap is going to be at least two spell points to get past.

In short, we should have even more traps on adventures, as they are great flavor elements, but we can't have just one way of dealing with them unless we want total party kills to be a regular source of frustration. This addresses that.

---

HOLD PORTAL SPELL

OLD RULE

Hold Portal3
Mage – Rank 4
Warrior Mage – Rank 4
Length: 100 words
Duration: Permanent
Range: Touch
Area of Effect: 1 portal, chest, or other closeable item
Energy Cost: 1 spell point
Material Component: Arcane symbol

This spell allows a Mage to magically seal a door, chest, or any other item able to be closed. Nothing can open the sealed item except the casting Mage, or casting the Release Portal spell; but the item can be physically destroyed through the use of a battering ram, catapult, Fireball, etc. The casting Mage may open and close the item freely without recasting the Hold Portal spell. A Mage may have only one Hold Portal in effect at any time.

NEW RULE

Hold Portal3
Mage – Rank 4
Warrior Mage – Rank 4
Length:100 words
Duration: Permanent
Range: Touch
Area of Effect: 1 portal, chest, or other closeable item
Energy Cost: 1 spell point
Material Component: Bright green ribbon at least 1” wide

This spell allows a Mage to magically seal a door, gate, chest, pouch, or any other item able to be closed.

To show that the spell is in effect, visibly tie a bright green ribbon on the closure, or at the center of a gate.

Nothing can then open the sealed item except the casting Mage, the Release Portal spell, or a Thief of at least 20th rank.

Attempting to use Pick Pockets on a pouch or other worn item that’s sealed by this spell automatically fails unless the Thief is at least 20th rank. Even then the magical lock effect of Hold Portal adds an additional 5 seconds to the attempt (for a total of 10 seconds required).

However, the item can still be physically destroyed through the use of a battering ram, catapult, Fireball, etc.

The caster may open and close the item freely without recasting the Hold Portal spell. A caster may have only one Hold Portal in effect at any time.

RATIONALE

First, this addresses the issue with Pick Pockets. As it stands now, a high-rank Thief can bypass Hold Portal. However, the rules are unclear as to how this works when the item in question is a pouch (which is implied but not explicitly stated in the rules that Hold Portal can be cast on it).

Also, in times past, Hold Portal was often depicted with thin green string that make it hard (especially with gates) to tell that it was in effect. This makes it easy to know when the spell is in effect; this is important so that people do not bypass it incorrectly without realizing it, and create arguments and "do overs".
Last edited by Inox on 2013-03-26, edited 1 time in total.
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Inox
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Re: Proposal - Some Utility Items

Post by Inox » 2013-03-18

Really? No comments?
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Re: Proposal - Some Utility Items

Post by fingers630 » 2013-03-18

Sorry Ive had pink eye =P
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Re: Proposal - Some Utility Items

Post by Lord Valfryn » 2013-03-18

Sorry, I've been waiting for fingers to post so I could disagree with him.

Fingers didn't have pink eye.
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Re: Proposal - Some Utility Items

Post by Inox » 2013-03-25

Hiss to you both.
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Re: Proposal - Some Utility Items

Post by Sir Sturmbjorne » 2013-03-25

I will comment I suppose.
I like the idea of expanded use and growth of abilties as the character levels up (eg, Detect Traps for Thief becoming better and into more ornate or supernatural types of traps as the character levels), but I see these new changes being hard to remember, and the need for people to carry rulebooks around for a while, at least in the beginning.
But I do like what you've done here.
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Re: Proposal - Some Utility Items

Post by fingers630 » 2013-03-25

Hmm I only got the first page to open for me, but don't see any issues with it. Id like to get some clear I guess "uses" for a lot of these adventure abilities. None are particularly game breaking and can be kinda cool. Like Rangers tracking, Druids communing with Nature, Legend Lore, etc.
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Re: Proposal - Some Utility Items

Post by Inox » 2013-03-26

Well, for Open Locks & F/R Traps, there's nothing saying they can't work that way now. There's not really much said either way. This puts things into clear tiers, and removes the old mechanic of someone maybe sitting there for 8 or 10 minutes to open a lock. That's not fun for anyone, especially since no one's ever even picking an actual lock. It's idle time, usually in a mod, where idle time is poisonous to momentum and frustrating to those inevitably in queue.

People don't use some of these other utility powers much (if at all) because as written, they are pretty useless. Comprehend Languages doesn't let you SPEAK the language, but it lasts for "one question"? What?

Detect Traps tells you if there IS a trap, but nothing else. Well, duh. We can pretty much assume there are going to be traps in any lengthy stretch of mod without a monster, on basically every chest or door, etc. If not, how crappy would that mod be for a Thief? :D
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Re: Proposal - Some Utility Items

Post by Inox » 2013-03-26

I edited my initial post since people were having issues with the doc. This should be a lot easier to read now. Looking for cosigners.
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Re: Proposal - Some Utility Items

Post by Siren » 2013-03-27

I really like these changes. For the most part, they just clarify things. Besides, I am all about anything that streamlines the thief abilities to make them easier to use during events.

Were you planning on this being separate proposals for each class, or just one big proposal to go to senate with all of the changes?
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Re: Proposal - Some Utility Items

Post by Lord Dubh » 2013-03-27

* it...

Ill' co-sign.
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Inox
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Re: Proposal - Some Utility Items

Post by Inox » 2013-03-27

Siren wrote:I really like these changes. For the most part, they just clarify things. Besides, I am all about anything that streamlines the thief abilities to make them easier to use during events.

Were you planning on this being separate proposals for each class, or just one big proposal to go to senate with all of the changes?


Separate votes for each ability, I was thinking.
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Re: Proposal - Some Utility Items

Post by Inox » 2013-03-27

Lord Dubh wrote:* it...

Ill' co-sign.


Thank you, John.
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Re: Proposal - Some Utility Items

Post by Lord Dubh » 2013-03-27

Good ideas are good ideas.
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Re: Proposal - Some Utility Items

Post by fingers630 » 2013-03-27

Yep I have no issues with the above. Once all hashed out I will include in the Scoundrel/Rogue proposal.
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Re: Proposal - Some Utility Items

Post by Siren » 2013-03-27

Cosigned from me as well.
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Re: Proposal - Some Utility Items

Post by Sir Sturmbjorne » 2013-03-27

Cosign.
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Re: Proposal - Some Utility Items

Post by Tsukebe » 2013-04-02

Question for detect traps - why can druids only use the ability in natural surroundings? To make the rules smoother, and more streamlined why not just make it the same for every class? What if the surroundings happen to be part cave, part dungeon? Just a personal pet peeve of mine is making druid spells different and less powerful then other versions of the same spell.

Otherwise, awesome ideas.
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Re: Proposal - Some Utility Items

Post by Inox » 2013-04-03

Well, part of the balance for Druids seems to be limiting the spells they share with Mages (e.g. Mending is significantly weaker).
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