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Infernal Wish-Granting and Grounded Games [Ex3]

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  • Infernal Wish-Granting and Grounded Games [Ex3]

    In recent discussion in the Ask the Devs v2 thread, Robert Vance expressed that while the Infernals book is still a long, long ways off, he was a fan of the Cecelyne wish-granting Charms. I didn't want to bog down that discussion with frantic Chicken Little-style running around, worrying about the sky falling in (as giving him and Eric the benefit of the doubt has proven very fruitful so far), but I nonetheless felt like I might need to make my voice heard regarding my experience with the relevant Charms.

    ​I once ran an Infernals game, where one of the players took mostly Cecelyne Charms; let's call him "Gene." Gene was admittedly something of an optimizer, so his capacity for wish-granting might've been something of an outlier - maybe other Infernal games didn't have players who delved quite so far, but I don't know, because I only ever ran the one Infernal game. Various elements in it, and other games I played in, put me off Infernals for a good while.

    ​But that's getting off-topic - in retrospect, it seems like the ability to pass out traits (Attributes, Abilities, Backgrounds, et cetera.) with the only significant restriction being an owed favor, seemed to increasingly untether the players from mundane aspirations; Gene seldom bothered to actually call in his "favors" when it came to the other players, so they tended to treat him like a portable Hyperbolic Time Chamber one could activate by having some XP handy and saying "I wish."

    ​(Except, of course, this Hyperbolic Time Chamber wasn't limited to making you stronger; Gene could grant Attribute or Ability dots, mutations and even merits. Want a pile of silver that'd make Jeff Bezos envious? Wish for it. Want five dots in Influence? Wish for it. Want six angel wings made of glittering obsidian? Wish for it.)

    ​Don't get me wrong, I don't want the Cecelyne-style wish-granting discarded in the dustbin of history, but I'd like it to be a little more difficult or costly to invoke this time around. I like how the new edition has scaled back the power level in a way that "get elected into Guild leadership" or "strong-arm my way into the Council of Entities" or "earn a place at the feet of the foremost martial arts master in the East" is a goal that even an Exalt can find worthy of their time.

  • #2
    It seems to me as though a more measured and limited approach is something that Third Edition has implemented across the board. Lunars seem to be a decent reference for that, such as how regeneration has been made more limited.

    After all, it's a system that has generally introduced limits per time period, something to empower through granting wishes seems prime for that.


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    • #3
      Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
      It seems to me as though a more measured and limited approach is something that Third Edition has implemented across the board. Lunars seem to be a decent reference for that, such as how regeneration has been made more limited.

      After all, it's a system that has generally introduced limits per time period, something to empower through granting wishes seems prime for that.
      You're not wrong, I just wanted to get my thoughts out before exhaustion took me.

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      • #4
        Huh, interesting; we had a wish-granting Infernal in both our games at one point, and I'm not sure any PCs ever asked for a wish. I mean, you get XP debt for it, so what's the point? It's just going to reduce the number of charms you can buy. The only benefit is to shorten training times. (That's the OOC reason. The IC reason is that they didn't 100% trust the Infernal, because she was an Infernal.)
        NPCs wished for stuff, and the Infernal(s) then demanded favours, but PCs never did.


        Not to say that there shouldn't be some restriction. Wasn't a problem for us, but I could see it being an issue for others.
        Certainly you probably shouldn't be able to get another one unless you've paid off your XP debt. Or maybe say it doesn't manifest straight away (fluff-wise, they didn't necessarily anyway), but that it only manifests when you actually have the XP to buy it, so all it does is get rid of training time.
        Or perhaps there's a limit on how many wishes a person could have? I feel that, while the wish-granting is very characterful, it seems quite reasonable for someone to get a total of, say, three wishes and no more. For NPCs it's probably not a big deal, but for PCs that makes sure they don't go nuts.
        Maybe one person can only benefit from it (Infernal's Essence) number of times, something like that?


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        • #5
          If I had to represent a Malefactor in 3rd edition right now, I'd lean towards how Flowing Mind Prana works for the base wish-granting power so the base effect is more impressive and worth owing the Infernal.




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          • #6
            I'm not planning to bring back Infernal wish-granting with the same mechanics it had in Second Edition (not counting whatever adjustments would be necessary to translate it to the new system). While the concept is really really cool, there are a few hiccups in the precise implementation I think we can avoid with the benefit of hindsight.


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            • #7
              Damn; if I'd rested before making this thread, I could've thought to name it "Chuubo's Infernal Wish-Granting Yozi."

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              • #8
                We've had it used in games I've played and yeah, I'd say it was a problem, but largely for a different reason, as it removed the story and journey of learning a new skill or ability and sometimes made people feel they had to watch what they said around the Wish-Granter in a kind of ugly, meta-ish way. I certainly wouldn't mourn to see them binned (as they're in my top three hated Infernal charms, only one of which I'd like to see stay) but I'm willing to see what a redesign looks like. It probably can be saved, hopefully by making it more of an obvious deal with the devil than the casual farting out of top tier stats and merits just because that it was, but I'd be lying if I didn't say it was one thing that makes me slightly edgy about Infernals.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by FODOR View Post
                  We've had it used in games I've played and yeah, I'd say it was a problem, but largely for a different reason, as it removed the story and journey of learning a new skill or ability and sometimes made people feel they had to watch what they said around the Wish-Granter in a kind of ugly, meta-ish way.
                  That's part of why I favoured the Flowing Mind method of training for my quick fix. It was worryingly easy for an Infernal to spend someone else's meta currency on something they didn't particularly want then go "I did you a favour, now you owe me".


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                  • #10
                    Here, I'll make it easy:

                    When used on Exalts and major characters, it works like Flowing Mind Prana or something similar.

                    When used on mortals and minor characters, you can replace that person's stats with those of a First Circle demon. (They don't actually turn into one or acquire demonic physical traits; they just get abilities suspiciously similar to those of a blood ape or a neomah.) Thus for minor characters, you can do the classic "Congratulations, bitter weakling! You are now a muscle man. Also, my slave!" which is so important for wish-granting villains.


                    Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine RPGJenna Moran's PatreonRobert Vance's Patreon

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                    • #11
                      One way to handle it would be to make it so the Infernal can only have so many unpaid favors out at any given time. Can't grant any more wishes until some favors have been called in.

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                      • #12
                        Flowing Mind Prana and its ilk seem a good inspiration for the Abilities, yes, but that's hardly the only problem with it.

                        One of the other aspects I dislike about the branch is being able to grant social Merits. A pile of money, I'd understand, but that's not Resources, which generally represents a steady income and notes that it carries certain social expectations. Likewise, a Green Sun Prince could rewrite reality to grant some nobody five dots in Backing and Influence, turning them into a power player overnight ex nihilo.

                        It's an altogether different beast from when a blue Robin Williams turned a bunch of bugs at an oasis into slaves and palanquin-bearers praising Prince Ali's mighty deeds as he enters the city, conveniently neglecting to mention what he's prince of, because it's all just fakery - Aladdin's not really a prince.

                        I dunno, is any of what I'm saying making sense? It feels weird to use Cecelyne wish-granting to generate a Guild membership from a GSP who might not even know what the Guild is.

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