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Systems Chapter

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  • Systems Chapter

    The systems chapter went out today. I've only skim-read it, but it looks good. I'm just compiling a few of my thoughts here:

    Reaping - I like the systems here. Very roleplaying-heavy, but with some decent rewards both for getting yourself out of your Caul or helping someone else get out of theirs. It's a nice touch.

    Soak - I like how the various states of being are broken down. The addition of wavering corporeality to allow for the addition of bashing damage to the system is nice. I also like that the game clarifies that all damage can be soaked (both WTO and CTD seemed to suggest this in the core books, but CTD's ST's Guide later said aggravated damage couldn't be soaked, despite providing soak difficulties for fire, etc). It's not entirely clear whether damage from going Incorporeal is soakable or not, but the text implies it is (which I actually like, because it makes it less likely characters will be driven into a Harrowing in a crowd). The addition of the Rule of Excuse Me to complement the Rule of Ouch is also a good one.

    Healing - Wraiths are now even more hardy, but given their desperate situations, this is a good thing. Bashing damage heals on its own. Slumber is very effective at healing. The only thing that takes a lot of time is healing aggravated damage, which is fair.

    Maelstroms - The introduction of 'bells' to introduce an in-character analogue to the Maelstrom rating system is good (if this existed before I missed it). It makes it easier for wraiths to discuss such things without rulesspeak. Although the damage dice for higher levels make Maelstroms very dangerous.

    Transcendence - The systems for this are narrative-based, but the eight truths of Transcendence suggest their own steps towards this state which make it equivalent to the kind of write-up we've seen for Golconda. Nice and fluid, really.

    I'll add more thoughts as I read over the text in more details. The prose is pretty clean, although I spotted a couple of inevitable typos which are to be expected in such a draft document.
    Last edited by adambeyoncelowe; 11-04-2015, 04:46 PM.

  • #2
    Very happy with the clarity on systems in general, and on soak/damage specifically.

    This maintains the harshness and hardiness of the environment, plus it speaks to the granularity of having damage type (bashing/lethal/aggravated) being separate from the 'soakability' of said damage!

    This means we can look forward to hardy wraiths, gritty systems, and some impressive unique arcanoi remaining as symbolic, powerful and effective as they were (e.g. Obliviate)


    • #3
      After reading it again, other things I like include:

      Hysteria - This is great. It reminds me of the mechanics of Awakening the Slumbering Tiger from Unknown Armies. It makes sense and allows for games where the PCs haunt mortals, a key trope in ghost stories which wasn't always at the forefront in the first two editions (which sometimes focused more on Underworld politics and adventure as a kind of macabre fantasy world).

      Haunt Echoes - These are, again, very thematically appropriate and add narrative texture. They allow for more haunted house stories and give players a way to control the setting/mood in very subtle ways without relying on additional powers or stats.

      Anchoring - A good bonus that frees wraiths without fetters to interact a little longer in the Shadowlands.

      There are a few things that do need clarity:

      Corporeality - It might be worth stating that Harrowed wraiths don't take additional damage, except as psychological injury imagined during their personal psychodramas. The text implies it, sort of, but it's worth being explicit, since it begs the question of what would happen if a Harrowed wraith were injured further (I always assumed they can't be, being temporarily incorporeal even to Shadowlands sources of damage by this point).

      Lethal damage - Lethal damage is described as upgrading bashing damage to lethal, presumably (although not explicitly) when the Corpus track is full of bashing damage already. In other games, once a character has a full track of bashing damage, additional bashing damage upgrades this to lethal and additional lethal damage upgrades this to aggravated (IIRC). Furthermore, the Wavering state contradicts this somewhat by stating that a single level of lethal damage when Wavering doesn't upgrade the damage but instead sends the character into a Harrowing. So which is it? Upgrade (and to lethal or aggravated) or Harrowing? And does bashing damage applied to a Wavering wraith also upgrade damage?

      Maelstroms - I'm not sure whether the damage inflicted by Maelstroms is bashing, lethal or aggravated. I'd be tempted to make most of it bashing or lethal, due to the large amount of damage dice involved. It's better that way than, say, in the M20 Paradox rules, where you're either facing a small amount of bashing, even more lethal or a huge amount of aggravated, and nothing in between. Otherwise, it would make sense that you don't go from taking four dice of bashing to six dice of lethal (e.g., maybe it jumps to four dice of bashing plus two dice of lethal, before jumping to 4B/4L, then 4B/4L/4A, then 6B/6L/4A...).

      Regaining Pathos - This is either more or less difficult depending on your interpretation here. Gone is the 'feel the core emotion of a Passion and roll at difficulty 9', but the unclear wording suggests this might be possible at difficulty 6 instead (which was normally only for instances where a wraith was specifically following the description of her Passion). It depends what's meant by 'performs a relevant action'. Does it mean that the wraith must be directly following her Passion (presumably) or that she must simply be engaged in any action that engenders in herself the core emotion at the heart of any one of her Passions? Thus, in the last interpretation, kissing someone she loves might be enough to regain Pathos with the Passion 'Protect my loved ones (Love)' (previously this would have been allowed at difficulty 9), but it wouldn't suffice in the first, stricter interpretation.


      • #4
        I like the Maelstroms, after reading how they might be like in the Orpheus book, End Game... I'm glad with the bells and the general feel I can link them more to the Orphean Maelstroms fluff-wise, I have a really good image in my head for them now.

        Also loved the talk on Passions and Fetters, this helped no end in thinking on what makes suitable Passions and Fetters by how they described for how they're important to a wraith (rather than why) and also how they're Resolved, the relationship analogy was inspired... I really liked it.

        Everything else I wanted to say has been mentioned above.


        • #5
          Did I miss it or there is still no actual benefit for resolving a Passion?


          • #6
            Originally posted by valismedsen View Post
            Did I miss it or there is still no actual benefit for resolving a Passion?

            Yep, looks like.

            This is what happens when an Abyssal Exalted ends up in H.o.L.
            (Also known as "Derpwraith" and "PretentiousFontsGuy


            • #7
              Originally posted by valismedsen View Post
              Did I miss it or there is still no actual benefit for resolving a Passion?
              Which kinda begs the question of how to acquire Pathos once that last Passion is resolved, particularly if that's not the kick off for Transcendence.


              • #8
                Now that's a fair point... Personally I'd houserule if the final Passion is resolved, Transcendance will be attempted with a Final Harrowing. Resolving a final Passion is a pretty big milestone to achieve, it's far easier for Passions to be destroyed and also strengthened when trying to resolve them.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ajax View Post
                  Which kinda begs the question of how to acquire Pathos once that last Passion is resolved, particularly if that's not the kick off for Transcendence.
                  Originally posted by wander View Post
                  Now that's a fair point... Personally I'd houserule if the final Passion is resolved, Transcendance will be attempted with a Final Harrowing. Resolving a final Passion is a pretty big milestone to achieve, it's far easier for Passions to be destroyed and also strengthened when trying to resolve them.
                  Yeah, it seems a bit... incomplete? Sure, I guess Usury would work to continue to gather Pathos after Passions are lost or Resolved, but if feels a little contrary to the theme. Also, the Resolution mechanics appear a little harsh. I mean,
                  This requires a Willpower roll against a difficulty equal to the Passion’s original rating + 5. If the wraith achieves successes on the roll equal to the Passion’s original rating, she succeeds in reaching Resolution and may remove the Passion from her sheet. This has no mechanical benefit, but is considered an important step for those wraiths interested in Transcendence
                  A wraith that botches a Resolution roll is immediately drawn into a Destruction Harrowing; instead of finding peaceful acceptance, she has opened her heart to the numbing cold of Oblivion, and must find some way to close the wound before it consumes her. Should she survive this Harrowing, the Passion’s rating is increased by one, and the wraith is not able to attempt to Resolve it again.
                  are pretty huge barriers to success. So a 5-point Passion means a Resolution roll at difficulty 10, where one would need 5 successes, and failure would increase the Passion's rating by 1, while botching would forever bar one from achieving Transcendence (because doesn't one need to effectively Resolve their Passions for Transcendence rather than just lose them?). Can a Willpower point be used on the Resolution roll? Before I would have thought not, but now... Can it be an extended action, or is it just one-and-done?

                  I think I'll amend it like Ajax and wander suggested - where Resolving the last Passion leads into a "goodbye" Harrowing. I'm definitely reworking the Resolution roll to reflect the Passion's current rating + 5 as a difficulty (though I'll probably keep the successes needed to the Passion's original rating) as an extended roll - I think this will give players an incentive to weaken their Passions before Resolution.

                  Last edited by nothing; 11-16-2015, 05:18 PM.

                  If you don't use an Oxford comma, I feel bad for you, son,
                  'Cuz I got ninety-nine problems, but clarity ain't one.


                  • #10
                    There does seem to be some missing text from that section (one of the sentences is unfinished).

                    Perhaps wraiths who resolve all their Passions can obtain Pathos through slumber or meditation? I'd probably allow a roll of Wits + Meditation, or whatever, with successes granting Pathos.

                    However, a wraith who resolves all her Passions will probably be very close to Transcendence anyway. While working on resolving those Passions, they'd presumably also be working to resolve Fetters, which tend to be less enduring than Passions are (things get destroyed, people die, but a wraith's Passions can burn for several lifetimes).

                    I imagine it'd be quite hard to resolve Passions without also working to resolve some of the ties to those things that might act as a focus for those Passions (Fetters).

                    I might also allow wraiths who've resolved Passions to regain Pathos in circumstances where they actively follow their own path to Transcendence.
                    Last edited by adambeyoncelowe; 11-16-2015, 10:17 PM.


                    • #11
                      A Wits + Meditation roll during Slumber seems fair, or even while actively pursuing Transcendence, yeah. It just... maybe it's because the mechanics for Transcendence are so grueling, detailing ways to gain Pathos after Resolving all ones' Passions wasn't a big concern for the author? Perhaps because it's so unlikely? I agree that a Wraith chasing Transcendence would end up Resolving (or even losing) Fetters in the process, and now Resolving ones' Passions, while the text explicitly mentions that it carries "no mechanical benefit," now seems like a mechanical detriment. I don't know. I was originally going to just edit my above post with an addendum, but this got all a little too involved.

                      I mean, I want players to actively engage with the game, both though mechanics and narrative, and I can understand trying to balance the two. I don't want to paint a giant "I WIN" button on the setting, but at the same time, I don't want to make something so statistically unlikely that it might as well be impossible. Not including the 3-month Spectres game I've run, I've only ran Wraith twice (a 4-month and a 13-month chronicle), and out of that, I've only ever had one player seriously consider pursuing Transcendence (he eventually decided to put that on the back burner, and his new interest became helping and rescuing new Wraiths). I don't know, guys - this is knocking around in my head, figuring out how to hone this. Even if I don't ever have another player who wishes to seek Transcendence for their character, I now I'm going to at least need an answer for them when they ask me about it.


                      If you don't use an Oxford comma, I feel bad for you, son,
                      'Cuz I got ninety-nine problems, but clarity ain't one.


                      • #12
                        Maybe it's like Golconda, so that a wraith who resolves all their Passions becomes unfettered by their own limitations somewhat. In this case, perhaps they generate their own Pathos at a rate of one per hour? It's a similar amount to some spirits/chimera.

                        I strongly feel there should be a mechanical benefit here, but preventing a wraith from getting Pathos at all would be too punitive for such an onerous quest.


                        • #13
                          In 2nd edition they solved this problem by having a Wraith who resolved his last Passion gain a new 5 point Passion: Achieve Transcendence (I forget what the emotion was). Still somewhat limiting, but without Passions, what is a Wraith really going to be doing other than pursuing Transcendence or falling to Oblivion.

                          Mage: The Ice-ension: An Epic Game of Reality on the Rink


                          • #14
                            Also in 1st edition, Wraiths who lose all their Passions (I don't believe there was a resolvement mechanic in the original corebook) went straight into Oblivion, being unable to survive without any Passions. That's why I felt if their last Passion gets resolved, they should go into a special Harrowing. If they complete it successfully, they Transcend.

                            I think it's fair to keep the difficulty of the roll as 5+Passion rating, though the successes should be what the current Passion rating is. It's a roll of dice dependant on how much Willpower the wraith has, having to get for example four 9s on a Willpower of 6 is near impossible. Of course you can say seeking Transcendance is a way for a wraith to increase their Willpower to make resolving their Passions easier, though five 10s on ten dice is still pushing it.

                            As it currently stands, I'd begin a game with two Lv.2 Passions and two Lv.3 Passions and place freeby points into something more useful (there is a note also that 4 & 5 Passions are very exceedingly rare, so the book seems to support this type of starting character).

                            In regards to Adam's comments, I wouldn't allow a wraith with any Passions left to exist outside of Oblivion tbh. If they fail their Transcendance Harrowing, they'll pop back out with their Passion one rating higher as the W20 rules state. I wouldn't ban that player from every trying to Transcend again though, that seems unneccessarily harsh for a player's main long-term aspiration. It'd be so easy to lose a player like that.

                            Also, I believe the emotion for the 'Achieve Transcendance' Passion was (Hope) as a wraith with this Passion appears in a fairly early book, possibly the Midnight Express. I'd have to go look to make sure, though I have seen an NPC early in the game have Hope as the emotion for that exact Passion.


                            • #15
                              I forgot about 'Achieve Transcendence (Hope)'. It's the perfect solution. Then, once they've resolved their last Fetter, they can attempt to resolve that last Passion and move on to whatever awaits them.

                              I think there should be some kind of final harrowing too. I'd only call for the roll, though, if the resolution was ambiguous. Roleplaying should take precedence here.