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  • Alternate Paradox mechanics

    So I read an interview concerning V5, and one thing that was mentioned was how the Blood Pool is being replaced by a Hunger Dice mechanism (where some of the dice in your pool get replaced by Hunger Dice, and Bad Things Happen when any of them get 1s). It was mentioned that they were planning on adapting that mechanic to the subsequent gamelines; e.g., Paradox Dice for M5. So, what do people think of the idea of implementing Paradox in this way?

    Something like: each point of Paradox you acquire replaces one of your dice in your casting pool with a Paradox die; whenever you cast, count the 1s that come up on the Paradox Dice and suffer a Backlash of that strength. A single success still prevents 1s from causing a botch; but it has no effect on Backlashes — you could roll all success save for a single 1 on a Paradox die, and you'd still get a 1-point Backlash along with your successful casting.

    Or maybe not just 1s. If you want Backlashes to be more frequent, you could have Paradox Dice contribute to a Backlash on a roll of 2 or less, or even higher. You might even say that instead of Witnesses giving you more Paradox, they instead set the Paradox Threshold for Vulgar castings: e.g., no Witnesses, Threshold is 1; one Witness, Threshold is 2; a few Witnesses, Threshold is 3; a lot of Witnesses, Threshold is 4. For Coincidental castings, the Threshold would almost always be 1; but the Storyteller could decide that the Domino Effect gradually increases the Paradox Threshold (to a maximum of whatever it would be if the effect was Vulgar) instead of increasing the target number. In the unlikely event that the target number and the Paradox Threshold overlap, I could see the rule being that Backlash trumps Success: 3s and 4s on regular dice would still count as successes, but 3s and 4s on Paradox Dice would count toward a Backlash instead.

    You might even use this Paradox Threshold as a way to determine how much Paradox you acquire: e.g., any regular die that rolls at or under the Paradox Threshold adds a die to your Paradox pool — though this would have the counterintuitive effect of Paradox Dice insulating you from gaining more Paradox (in exchange for making Backlashes more likely). Coincidental castings would restrict this to failed rolls — which, barring the Domino Effect, would mean that you only acquire Paradox Dice on a botch.

    This would completely replace the business of tracking Paradox Points. In addition, I'd remove Vulgar and Coincidental from the target number calculations, further streamlining it.




    So, in a nutshell:

    1. Paradox is tracked by a Paradox Dice Pool that sits next to you at all times. When you make a casting roll, you draw from your Paradox Pool first, then complete it with regular dice.

    2. Set a Paradox Threshold for Vulgar Magic based on the number of Witnesses present, ranging from 1 for No Witnesses to 4 for a crowd of Witnesses. For Coincidental Magic, the Threshold starts at 1, and creeps up toward what it would be for Vulgar Magic as the Domino Effect comes into play.

    3. Paradox Dice that roll at or below the Threshold are spent on a Backlash and then go away; Paradox Dice that roll above the Threshold have their usual effect and then are returned to the Paradox Pool. On a Vulgar casting or a failed Coincidental casting, regular dice that roll at or below the Paradox Threshold become Paradox Dice and are added to the Paradox Pool, and regular dice that roll above the Threshold have their usual effect and then go away. On a successful Coincidental casting, regular dice have their usual effect and then go away.

    Thoughts?
    Last edited by Dataweaver; 08-01-2018, 03:09 PM.



  • #2
    Thoughts:

    The casting pool is going to have to be larger by default for this to work. Starting dice in the 1-3 range is too low for this to work.

    The threshold idea is neat, but might be a bit to clunky in play... hard to say with just theory-crafting.

    The gain/loss method feels like it could get unfun over time. You get rid of Paradox dice by casting magic... which generates more Paradox dice. It's very random and lacks player inputs. Magic is dangerous and random... so don't use magic... so why are we playing mages? There isn't a hook for something thematic to the struggles mages go through.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Dataweaver
      So I read an interview concerning V5, and one thing that was mentioned was how the Blood Pool is being replaced by a Hunger Dice mechanism (where some of the dice in your pool get replaced by Hunger Dice, and Bad Things Happen when any of them get 1s). It was mentioned that they were planning on adapting that mechanic to the subsequent gamelines; e.g., Paradox Dice for M5.
      Interesting. I was expecting to hear that

      So, what do people think of the idea of implementing Paradox in this way?
      I'm very curious of what are they going to craft. I like the general idea. Hunger exists to avoid the blood pool becoming a gas tank. I imagine a similar system for magick will have a similar goal: Magick shouldn't be a gas tank. I think it's a heavy change that will need lots of playtest.

      Thoughts?
      As Heavy Arms said, It won't be sufficent with changing Paradox, the whole rules of magick from Arete to Quintessence will need to change with it. And there needs to be more reliable means to get rid of Paradox.

      Ironically, if the dice discharged more frequently then it wouldn't be such a bet to cast Coincidental magick to get rid of them. Perhaps in the new system it would be better to not tie Paradox with a Botch. Perhaps there could be different Paradox "outcomes" depending on the result of the dice (success, failure, botch, critical), and only failure makes you keep the dice.

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      • #4
        I think some of the issue, is that mages (and most of the WoD games really) might have 'gas tanks' in the sense of pools of points to spend on things, but they don't "need" them nearly as much as vampires do. A mage with no Quintessence is barred from some powerful magical effects, but can still cast most of their magic even if the difficulty might be higher if they can't reduce it some other way. A werewolf that spends all their Rage and Gnosis points might lose access to some powers, but still has quite a suite of effects to use. Etc.

        As well, mages don't face more serious Paradox backlashes when their Quintessence is low, and werewolf Frenzies don't get worse if your temporary Rage or Gnosis get drained.

        A vampire without blood is in serious trouble if they don't fix that before sunrise. And their Frenzies get worse as their blood goes down. It seems like a major issue to work on if they want to keep things similar between the games.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
          The gain/loss method feels like it could get unfun over time. You get rid of Paradox dice by casting magic... which generates more Paradox dice. It's very random and lacks player inputs. Magic is dangerous and random... so don't use magic... so why are we playing mages? There isn't a hook for something thematic to the struggles mages go through.
          To be fair, the above was meant strictly as a replacement for the current system of gaining Paradox based on whether it's Coincidental, Vulgar, or Vulgar with Witnesses, what the highest required Sphere is, and whether you succeed, fail, or botch; and of losing Paradox by rolling a separate pool equal to the amount of Paradox you've accumulated, with the number of successes determining both the strength of the resulting Backlash and the amount of Paradox removed. That system also has the flaws that you describe, and addresses them by providing other ways of getting rid of Paradox (e.g., spending Quintessence, taking a break from magic, etc.). This system swaps that complexity for the complexity of having two target numbers for each die and of deciding where to put a Paradox Die after the roll has been resolved.

          But yeah; if the above is the entire system, it's both incomplete and potentially annoying. Some of that latter bit comes from Mage's premise where Paradox is concerned: magic is dangerous and random, at least Vulgar magic is; and even Coincidental Magic isn't entirely safe. I'm not sure how you'd change that without undermining Mage's premise.

          That said, though, my thought on that matter is that if you keep your magic use away from prying eyes, magic should be significantly less dangerous than if you try to use it in Times Square — thus the Threshold depending on how public or private you're being with your magic. And if you're staying away from Witnesses, Vulgar magic is almost as safe as Coincidental magic.

          Another point in that regard is that it's somewhat self-correcting: the more Paradox Dice you have, the less likely you are to gain more and the more likely the ones you have will go away (albeit in a painful explosion, figuratively speaking). As well, this approach limits the size of a Backlash to the size of your casting pool: you don't get a case where you build up 20 points of Paradox and then they all come crashing down on you at once. If you're rolling five dice, you won't get more than a 5-point Backlash; and odds are that even if you're filled up with Paradox Dice, you have to be reckless with your casting (i.e., mass out the threshold) before you're likely to get more than a point or two of Backlash.


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