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Quantifying/Fleshing Out Unleashing Rules

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  • Quantifying/Fleshing Out Unleashing Rules

    Unleashing is one of those ideas I find "cool on paper, hard to balance." While for most games, it's a non-issue, I've noticed that in crossover games, especially multi-ST servers where each ST is covering a splat or two, it gets problematic fast.

    So I started drafting up some houserules/clarifications in order to flesh out the system some more. This is a WIP, and admittedly some of the details will probably be subject to change, but let me know your views on it.

    ==Declaring an Unleashing==
    You may word a request as poetic as you want, but the request functionally follows the format of "VERB NOUN ?QUALIFIER?"

    That is, it must have one verb, one noun, and an optional qualifier. You cannot create an Unleashing with IF-ELSE statements, sub-clauses, or other similar levels of rule-trickery. (Kithain attempting to Unleash Contracts circumvent this ruling by creating "Canned" Oaths, assigning them suitable names, and using a variant of Done Deal/Liar's Bell to "Append The Oath of Probation to the Oath of Fealty for the Accidental Betrayal subclause).

    Example: "Stop that car", "Disarm the guns of my enemy," etc.

    ==Creating an Unleashing Effect==
    Unleashings let you "chain" two effects from an Art into a single combined whole. For example, if you wished to Unleash Primal to "Protect the Freehold from the invaders," then you could attempt to "Summon" a "rock elemental" by using Primal 2 to conjure up rock, with a subsequent Primal 5 effect to animate them. This is something you are unable to do "in advance" by time-triggering.

    Unleashing ignores Realms altogether, which is slightly different from having 5s in every Realm. The main thing this means is you can effectively "blind aim" Unleashings, and create "Wildcard" targets based on Noun/Qualifier pairings. This means Tattletale could let one "Show the person that last broke into this Apartment," an option which Actor 5 does not allow.

    The duration of any Unleashing effects whose baseline durations were not "one turn," or "permanent," are overridden to be the duration of the Unleashing itself, as the Mists work overtime to clean up irregularities.

    Because Unleashings do not use Realms at all, the Scene Realm itself cannot be used. Rather, the Verb/Noun/Qualifier dictates the "targets" so to speak. Likewise, the Time Realm cannot be used to create effects with delays or renewals that last beyond the duration of the Unleashing.

    (I am on the fence as to whether the "No Realms" rule would permit certain Cantrip effects to violate their normal rules. E.x. Legerdemain 2 cannot normally be used to take an object "in the open," since Realms dictate what you can steal from, but if the Unleashing ignores Realms altogether...)

    Each success on the Glamour roll counts as a success for both Cantrips.

    ==Succeeding Too Well==
    If the Changeling rolls more successes on Glamour than the Art rating in question, then add a token to a "FUN* pool" for each success over the Art Rating.

    Determine the "opposing party" of the Unleashing in Question. If it's a "neutral"/noncombat effect, this is either the ST or the Changeling players, depending on who cast. If it's a PVP event, the Changeling's rival is the opponent, and if it's group-vs-group, the players of the opposing group are the "opposing party."

    The opposing party may spend tokens from the FUN Pool in order to mess up the Unleashing. In the case of multiple players, they may discuss among themselves what they want to happen. The tokens may be spent to do any or all of the following: (Suggestions are appreciated!)


    =1 Token=
    Gnock Roll'em: The Unleashing works "as intended," but the order of the Cantrips is flipped. Thus, rather than creating rocks then animating them (Primal 2>5), an Unleashing might animate a smaller pile of rocks/a statue, and give it stones to throw.

    =2 Tokens=
    Eye of Groot: One of the Art effects, chosen by the Changeling, is replaced by another Art effect of the Opposing Party's Choice.

    =3 Tokens=
    Side Effects May Include: The Unleashing Kithain immediately suffers a random Bedlam Threshold.
    Fried my Lute...: One of the Art effects, chosen by the Opposing Party, is replaced by another Art effect of the Opposing Party's choice.

    =4 Tokens=
    Letter of the Law: The Opposing Party may screw up the intent of the Unleashing, while keeping the letter. "Disarm the guns of my foe," might literally have them explode, resulting in a pile of limbs. "Protect the Freehold from the Invaders" might encase its Balefire in layers of rock, leaving it inaccessable to anyone. This may require altering the Unleashing based on other effects.

    =5 Tokens=
    Slipped Leash: The Opposing Party may switch around two of the words from the VERB NOUN QUALIFIER phrase which was used for the Unleashing. "Protect the Freehold from the Invaders" could become "Protect the Invaders from the Freehold." Be careful with this one, especially when dealing with words that have multiple meanings.

    Let me know your thoughts. And remember to never attempt to Unleash "Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo," or "Will Will's Will."
    Last edited by MagicJuggler; 09-22-2019, 03:10 PM.

  • #2
    Are these rules based on heavy playtesting? Because otherwise I don't really see the advantage over how it works in C20. It seems to just add complication and confusion without actually providing balance with the other gamelines.

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    • #3
      With the current rules for Unleashings, there...aren't really rules. You get a very broad "do a thing" that is based entirely on ST fiat. Which, in a game where you have multiple STs, or PvP setups...just sounds like a messy situation, especially when you don't want to look like you're playing favorites or otherwise. Likewise, there isn't really any benchmark over what "the effect does not work as intended" looks like for one success versus five successes.

      One thing I have seen as a common side effect of the general vagueness/open-ness of the Unleashing system, combined with the fact that Inanimae Slivers in C20 are Unleashing-only, is that players that DO wish to play Inanimae characters...tend to ask for the ability to use the 2nd ed Sliver rules from Inanimae: The Secret Way.

      Can you clarify where the confusion lies specifically?

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      • #4
        It's a lot of different conditions, tied into each other. It reads more like a piece of code or logic puzzle than something in line with the other rules for Changeling.

        Personally I think it would be better to just get rid of unleashing entirely if it isn't working for your game. The basic point of treating it more like the rules from Apocalypse World than the Storyteller System seems at odds with your goals, so just ditch it entirely.

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        • #5
          Maybe I am interpreting Changeling a little differently and am dragging my Asimov into this, but aren't ethical dilemmas or contradictory oaths or logical paradoxes a classic part of legends, tales, or even Changeling? It feels like, especially compared to the relatively uniform nature of Werewolf, where the main drama is over *enforcement* of certain aspects of the Litany, Changeling has a lot more "dilemma/rationalization." For instance, how does an Unseelie Dougal Sidhe Baron Vassal of a Seelie Varich Count resolve his adherence to his personal code, his house, and his liege?

          Maybe I am missing something, out of playing around with "Verbnoun+Qualifier"?

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          • #6
            Ok, but current unleashing does that. It is just a case of the player explicitly putting the resolution of that dilemma into the hands of the ST, at least potentially.

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            • #7
              Which is creating a sort of gray area in one of the games I am assisting in ST'ing.

              Currently, the Changeling and Werewolf parts of the game are the most active, but there are a few people who have tried to tweak Demon to run on 20th as well. The groups...are stand-offish with each other, and each group is run by a different ST, the STs coordinating with each other to resolve assorted situations.

              The problem is some players *do* want Unleashing as an option, but the actual implementation doesn't gel well with the online format. Which is why I'm working on/planning to test & tweak some rules (again, "first draft") to give something that keeps folks mostly satisfied.

              Which led to some houserules which were "creative rule interpretation" (Unleashing ignores Realms altogether), the rest outright homebrew. And the idea for making "too many" successes a token pool instead of strict ST fiat was to add an element of agency for the other players involved.

              As a ST, you don't want to look like you're playing favorites.

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