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Losing instruments after 3+ arete, House rules you've used? M20

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  • Losing instruments after 3+ arete, House rules you've used? M20

    One of the only systems in M20 I really just don't like, other than the systems that are literally broken, is the way you lose instruments after 3 arete and higher.

    Losing instruments you /don't/ use just didn't sit well with me, as the Mage should be discovering that through their mastery they shouldn't rely on tools. Whether or not those tools are the one they use the most, or least, or somewhere in between I don't quite know.

    One House Rule I saw was that you just don't use instruments for effects under your arete. So 3 arete could use a Forces 2 effect with no instruments. I feel this works good for a street level game but becomes silly later and means most masters/6+ arete are just blinking and blowing everything up.

    Does anyone have any House rules or rules from other editions that they've used and found good?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Jihelu View Post
    Losing instruments you /don't/ use just didn't sit well with me, as the Mage should be discovering that through their mastery they shouldn't rely on tools. Whether or not those tools are the one they use the most, or least, or somewhere in between I don't quite know.
    I agree, that's a bad attempt at balancing - personally, I think that if you went to the effort of decoupling Spheres and Instruments regardless of the terrifying unbalances it adds to the game (say, having a few Instruments that can do everything) it's better to just embrace the insanity and allow players to surpass the Instruments that they want to surpass, according to their own logic based on their Paradigm/Practice

    But perhaps it's better not to decouple Surpassing Instruments and Spheres entirely

    Dataweaver has a very good houserule regarding this. It's like the one you mention of instruments under your Arete, but it's less OP: You can use w/o Instruments effects of a level less or equal to half your Arete. So, Arete 2 mages can cast lvl 1 effects w/o Instrument, Arete 4 can cast lvl 2...and so on until you have Arete 10 and can cast all the sphere levels

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    • #3
      Me and my ST are going to try that out.

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      • #4
        I'm not sure what the exactly problem is. You don't "lose" Instruments, you lose the requirement to use them (slowly at that). You still get a bonus for using them... and higher level Spheres means you need more bonuses to keep your difficulty down.

        I don't see people dropping the Instruments they don't use, because if they actually don't use them why bother? I see people drop the ones they use the most, because if they keep using them they get more bonuses than before.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
          I don't see people dropping the Instruments they don't use, because if they actually don't use them why bother? I see people drop the ones they use the most, because if they keep using them they get more bonuses than before.
          That's pretty much the quirk with the M20 rule as written: It states that the instruments the mage relies on the most are the ones to get dropped last, and vice versa. Which is way too generalized and simple given the sheer diversity of paradigms out there.

          The RAW makes sense for some paradigms that put stress on the importance of definitely-always-using their most powerful/traditional/holy/sacred/spiritual/etc instruments passed down through the teaching, but for others it should be the exact opposite;

          I forgot who it was, but somebody put a nice example in another thread about how Akashic training (And martial arts training in general) is all about internalization - an Akashic performing certain katas over, and over, and over, and over is training to put themselves in a certain state of mind through them, and it would make sense for them to drop the requirement for katas *early*, if not first. While it's an instrument they use the most, the very purpose of using it all the time is to make it unnecessary in the first place - allowing the practicioner to enter said state of mind without them, easily and automatically without them.

          Edit:
          Addin to that, on the other hand it will be very hard for an Akashic to let go of a basic instrument like 'Martial Arts' for a lot of effects they perform that way.
          To put it simple, it's not the *most used* instruments that should get dropped last. It's the *most fundamental* ones when it comes to a paradigm that should be the hardest to get rid of for a Mage.
          Last edited by Ambrosia; 07-17-2019, 06:43 AM.


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          • #6
            In earlier editions, technomancers get the ability to surpass foci later than mystic mages. Is it the same in M20?

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            • #7
              In M20 you start losing Foci at 3 for a mystic mage, and you lose one for ever Arete till about 9. That means at 9 you have 0 instruments
              For a technomancer you lose foci at 6 and higher, but you lose 2 per level after the first till 9.
              For Technocracy you never lose instruments ever because life is hard.

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              • #8
                "Losing" them is still pretty loaded.

                You don't have zero Instruments at high Arete. You have seven that are optional to use, but provide a bigger bonus if you do. They don't disappear from your character, or stop being of use to them.

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                • #9
                  You seem to be getting hung up by me using the phrase losing them so here, :You stop needing to use them.

                  I don't know why you care so much about the difference. The 'bigger bonus' is just a -1 to your DC, which is nice and all but not the biggest thing in the universe. I'm pretty sure, atleast in M20, it doesn't stack either. Literally nothing about my post changes if I replace 'lose' with 'you stop requiring them to cast magick but still receive a bonus'.
                  Last edited by Jihelu; 07-18-2019, 04:07 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Jihelu View Post
                    I don't know why you care so much about the difference.
                    Words matter.

                    The 'bigger bonus' is just a -1 to your DC, which is nice and all but not the biggest thing in the universe. I'm pretty sure, atleast in M20, it doesn't stack either.
                    It's mechanically pretty potent, especially for higher Arete mages as it can easily translated to +1 to +2 successes per roll.

                    And yes, in M20 it stacks with the other Instrument bonuses. So a Personal Instrument that you've surpassed means a -2 instead of a -1.

                    Literally nothing about my post changes if I replace 'lose' with 'you stop requiring them to cast magick but still receive a bonus'.
                    The fact that "lose" skips that you get a bonus that you didn't get before for using this is something that's lost in your phrasing. It's not "still receive," but, "get a new bonus," which is a pretty important distinction.

                    ------------

                    Also, I'm still not sure what the problem is besides M20's suggestion for what order you overcome Instruments is; which isn't even a rule. The text just says, "typically." Besides a disconnect between the incentives (which the characters don't actually know about because it's game mechanics not their reality), and what typical mages do... what implies there's a need to change the rules?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Heavy Arms
                      Also, I'm still not sure what the problem is besides M20's suggestion for what order you overcome Instruments is; which isn't even a rule. The text just says, "typically."
                      It may be worth to note that Book of Secrets FAQ uses a more imperative language when discussing this, and the answer it's placed in a much more visible place than the short text in the M20 core. Probably that's why people treat this as a rule (it's certainly why I did so).

                      It can be argued that the "typically" in M20 core it's still valid (it's not a retcon) because the FAQ reffers the reader to it. I think there's a comunication problem here, the FAQ says something along the lines "as it's stated in M20 core p.x", but unlike that section it doesn't mention anything about "typically". That could make one think that it's a rule

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                      • #12
                        Besides the -1 to difficulty, I would also imagine that using a "surpassed" practice or instrument could give you success threshold bonuses for certain Effects based on your paradigm.*

                        Say you ascribe to the Gaia Hypothesis--the Earth is a living goddess, and the natural world and landscape is her body. Say that to teleport, you undergo a brief rebirth ritual where you submerge yourself in a natural body of water and reemerge in another natural body of water. Because it's all part of Gaia, the success threshold is the same if you're teleporting from Lake Eerie to Lake Michigan, as going from Lake Eerie to the Yangtze River. Say you've surpassed the need to use this practice for Correspondence, and you wanted to go from Pennsylvania to Hunan Province without doing the submersion thing. You would then be subject to the normal Correspondence distance rules.

                        *Edited to clarify: you'd still get this kind of bonus using the practice even if it were not surpassed.
                        Last edited by Faradn; 07-18-2019, 03:49 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Aleph View Post
                          It may be worth to note that Book of Secrets FAQ uses a more imperative language when discussing this, and the answer it's placed in a much more visible place than the short text in the M20 core. Probably that's why people treat this as a rule (it's certainly why I did so).
                          I can see that. Though the FAQ still says, "The specifics will depend upon your character and how you play her."

                          Even if you treated it as a rule by the FAQ, it's phrased to only apply to one of your Instruments (the one you designate as "primary") or maybe two if your primary and personal ones aren't he same thing... but since you can use multiple instruments using a surpassed instrument is still a -1 even if it's on top of using a still normal one. I mean, it seem a pretty minor adjustment to add that characters discard less used Instruments first because they're used as supplementary to their most used instruments and this lets them rely on their main instruments with less complications and gain greater bonuses when they still supplement with ones they've moved past.

                          My question still feels unanswered though: besides the text saying mages act in a fashion that's not mechanically optimal, is there an actual problem? If a group feels the need to agree on the rules being a suggestion not a hard rule, OK, but this thread's also talking about completely different frameworks for handling this rather than just having the in-character actions described as typical match the mechanical incentives.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                            My question still feels unanswered though: besides the text saying mages act in a fashion that's not mechanically optimal, is there an actual problem? If a group feels the need to agree on the rules being a suggestion not a hard rule, OK, but this thread's also talking about completely different frameworks for handling this rather than just having the in-character actions described as typical match the mechanical incentives.
                            Well, that was the only reason given by the OP 'til now.

                            Can't answer for others, but another nitpick *I* have about the rule it's that surpassing instruments it's somewhat linked to the idea that a mage it's going to have 7 Instruments. That's the number the rule uses to determine the Instrument surpassing ratio.

                            The Instruments rule (correctly, in my opinion) suggests that you could have more Instruments. 7 it's a minimum that Satyros thought to press players into fleshing out their style, but it's not the maximum. There are even rules to use Instruments you're not yet accustomed to, that can be used to model the learning of new Instruments - which it's nice to represent opening or developing your Focus.

                            I like those ideas, and while there's not a direct conflict with not being able to surpass all of them, it feels odd (to me) that you can have as many Instruments as you feel like (as long as there's at least 7), but not surpass more than 7. Dataweaver's rule doesn't have that limitation.
                            Also, not a problem of the actual rule, but another reason I like that houserule better it's that it feels right to surpass first low level stuff, like perception magic, while still needing all your Focus to cast effects that require a greater command. The easier to learn it's a spell, the simpler it's to cast w/o Instruments. I think it goes very well with the reasoning of the One Inch Punch: your mage *knows* that ALL types of magick come from himself, but man, spells can be soo hard (true to the RAW, since high level spells do increase the casting Difficulty).

                            But I can see preffering surpassing to be related to Instrument use or importance. Say, the aforementioned surpassing of katas because you practiced them so much that you've *internalized* them (and not other parts of your Practice). I could still argue that diligent martial artists practice with *all* their instruments, and would internalize simple techniques quicker than complex ones. But I *can* see an argument here.
                            Last edited by Aleph; 07-19-2019, 09:44 AM.

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                            • #15
                              I also don't have a problem with this rule, and I believe thr player should choose which instrument to drop first. As heavyarms said, it isn't something overpowered to have this kind of House rule. It's just -1 on Arete rolls.

                              Also, after the mage drops about 3 instruments he already is able to cast the great majority of his effects without instruments, probably..

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