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  • Wisdom Damage

    I am considering changing the systems for Wisdom and Acts of Hubris in my game to something inspired by Changeling's Clarity damage. I would like the input of you fine people if there may be mechanical issues I am overlooking or other tips you might have.

    In short:
    • Wisdom works like a Health track. Acts of Hubris deal "Wisdom damage" based on an "attack" dice pool determined by the severity of the Act and appropriate modifiers. Some Acts may deal a specified automatic amount of Wisdom damage without a dice roll.
    • Damage may be Mild or Severe, determining how easy or hard it is to heal.
    • Most Acts of Hubris deal Mild damage (unless the attack scores an Exceptional Success) with the exception of Acts that would be considered Falling level Acts of Hubris in the current system. Damage can "roll over" like regular Health damage, turning Mild into Severe.
    • In this system a Mage at the lowest levels of Wisdom could still take Wisdom damage from things like "casual use of magic", but since this would normally only have 1 die for the attack, it takes a couple instances for it to actually deal damage on average.
    • A character's effective Wisdom for other game mechanics (Paradox mainly) is equal to the number of undamaged Wisdom boxes they have. This means mechanically the character may have the Paradox effects of a Rapt by having all their Wisdom boxes filled with Mild Wisdom damage. This state is visible with certain Unveiling spells, showing the mage as just about to "crack".
      • Though this puts them on the brink as the character will almost always fail to Contain Paradoxes, quickly accumulating a lot of settled Paradox in their Pattern, or release them, which invites further Wisdom damage.
    • Hubris Conditions (e. g. Megalomaniacal, Rampant) are only inflicted when the Mage takes Wisdom damage in their last three Wisdom boxes.
    • A mage becomes Rapt once all their Wisdom boxes are filled with Severe Wisdom damage.
    • Wisdom damage heals slowly over time, if there are no Acts of Hubris committed during that time.
    • A character can speed up Wisdom healing by taking "Become Wiser" as an Obsession and performing Acts of Wisdom or learning about the nature of Wisdom (also earning an Arcane Beat and Mana in the process).
    • Resolving a Hubris Conditions also heals some Wisdom damage.
    • The default maximum Wisdom is 7. 2 Arcane Experiences may be spent to raise it by 1 dot, to a maximum Wisdom of 10. The only way for maximum Wisdom to be lowered is by Exceptional Success on attack rolls for Falling Acts of Hubris.
    • Arcane Beats from Acts of Hubris are only earned when Wisdom damage is successfully dealt by the roll.
    • Spells can be Inured as before, eliminating sources of Wisdom damage.
    This has a couple of effects:
    • Wisdom is in stronger flux, changing (usually falling) as drama gets more intense and compounding from there. On the other hand, it can be regained without being an XP tax if the character puts their mind to it.
    • Wisdom better reflects the mages recent behavior and thus their current ability to control their magic. This better suits dramatic arcs in which the mage loses control over their magic step by step as they get more manic in pursuit of some goal, without hamstringing them for the rest of the chronicle for their lapse of judgement in this instance.
    • Mages no longer turn Megalomaniacal from brewing their tea with Forces, unless they have done lots of other shit before, in which case this is the straw that broke the camel's back.
    • One unintended side effect is that raising maximum Wisdom paradoxically (heh!) gives such mages mechanically more room to Hubris around. Not sure how it would actually work out in play.
    Thoughts:
    • Max damage per attack may need to be introduced in order to rein in statistical outliers from bringing a mage to the brink for relatively minor Acts of Hubris or even turning them Rapt for a single Falling Act of Hubris. If yes, this should probably be based on the level of the Act of Hubris. I am thinking 1 for Enlightened, 3 for Understanding and 5 for Falling.


    Politeness is the lubricant of social intercourse.

  • #2
    I like it, though I think there needs to be a better way of determining maximum Wisdom beyond "spend XP on it."

    Maybe make maximum Wisdom equal to Intelligence + Resolve (the knowledge to understand, and the power to see it through; maximum 10 Wisdom)? This gives much smaller starting Wisdom tracts, generally, but with Wisdom being generally easier to recover/heal with this system I think it'd still work, especially if you add Touchstones to help ground the Mage.

    This would also give the Intelligent and Resolute more reason to engage in Hubris, because they have more capacity to weather the effects, which makes for an interesting gameplay loop: you've acted with Hubris in this situation before, when your Wisdom damage was empty, are you really going to throw aside your morals now, just because you're hitting the edge? What does that say about your Mage as a person rather than as one of the "Wise"?

    Conversely, you'd probably see those with low Int + Resolve acting more cautiously and following the established dogma, they lack the capacity and will to understand when flouting the rules might be necessary, so they're less likely to flout them at all.


    Yeah, I really, really like this idea.


    Mentats - a 2e Free Council Obrimos Legacy (Mind/Forces) built around being a human computer; Thaumatech Engineers - a 2e Free Council Obrimos Legacy (Matter/Prime) focusing on the creation of Imbued items and the enhancement of Sleeper technology

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    • #3
      Originally posted by proindrakenzol View Post
      I like it, though I think there needs to be a better way of determining maximum Wisdom beyond "spend XP on it."

      Maybe make maximum Wisdom equal to Intelligence + Resolve (the knowledge to understand, and the power to see it through; maximum 10 Wisdom)? This gives much smaller starting Wisdom tracts, generally, but with Wisdom being generally easier to recover/heal with this system I think it'd still work, especially if you add Touchstones to help ground the Mage.

      This would also give the Intelligent and Resolute more reason to engage in Hubris, because they have more capacity to weather the effects, which makes for an interesting gameplay loop: you've acted with Hubris in this situation before, when your Wisdom damage was empty, are you really going to throw aside your morals now, just because you're hitting the edge? What does that say about your Mage as a person rather than as one of the "Wise"?

      Conversely, you'd probably see those with low Int + Resolve acting more cautiously and following the established dogma, they lack the capacity and will to understand when flouting the rules might be necessary, so they're less likely to flout them at all.


      Yeah, I really, really like this idea.
      Glad that you like it.

      I thought about tying it to Attributes, just like Changeling's Clarity, and I generally like the idea of making mundane Traits more valuable in Mage. However, one issue is how easy mundane traits can be raised by some Awakened. This could be fixed by saying that only unaugmented Intelligence and Resolve (or whatever pair is chosen) count for maximum Wisdom. Increases as through use of the Mind Arcanum do not count, unless done through Imperial spells. Narratively, this could reflect that for all the things that the Mind Arcanum can give you, it cannot give you Wisdom.

      As an alternative to simply buying it with Experience* or using Attributes as base, it could be similar to gathering Icons in Changeling: Only momentous insights into the nature of Wisdom raise maximum Wisdom, but then they do so at no Experience cost. This will usually be the climax of a whole (sub)story.

      *: To be clear, I as ST would still require narrative justification for raising maximum Wisdom, but I can see the point that tying it to Experience can "cheapen" something so amazing.


      Politeness is the lubricant of social intercourse.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by saibot View Post

        Glad that you like it.

        I thought about tying it to Attributes, just like Changeling's Clarity, and I generally like the idea of making mundane Traits more valuable in Mage. However, one issue is how easy mundane traits can be raised by some Awakened. This could be fixed by saying that only unaugmented Intelligence and Resolve (or whatever pair is chosen) count for maximum Wisdom. Increases as through use of the Mind Arcanum do not count, unless done through Imperial spells. Narratively, this could reflect that for all the things that the Mind Arcanum can give you, it cannot give you Wisdom.
        I actually feel like it should just require a Reach and a Mana to allow it to boost your max Wisdom through traits (up to 10), now you're just one Dispellation against you away from a cascade of Severe Wisdom Damage, since the damage would "wrap" just like Health damage does if you lose your temporary health boxes.

        As an alternative to simply buying it with Experience* or using Attributes as base, it could be similar to gathering Icons in Changeling: Only momentous insights into the nature of Wisdom raise maximum Wisdom, but then they do so at no Experience cost. This will usually be the climax of a whole (sub)story.

        *: To be clear, I as ST would still require narrative justification for raising maximum Wisdom, but I can see the point that tying it to Experience can "cheapen" something so amazing.
        Would you still start at 7, with a max of 10? Or would you start lower or have a higher max?



        [edit] And I chose Intelligence + Resolve because it's both thematic and not used enough; it seems like Wits + Composure is overused for things.


        Mentats - a 2e Free Council Obrimos Legacy (Mind/Forces) built around being a human computer; Thaumatech Engineers - a 2e Free Council Obrimos Legacy (Matter/Prime) focusing on the creation of Imbued items and the enhancement of Sleeper technology

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        • #5
          Another question that comes to mind is how this would interact with temporary Wisdom damage spells. In the core book it says that certain supernatural effects can reduce it, but it has never come up so far as a dedicated spell.I imagine a Fraying of Death is the simplest way, albeit every subtle Arcana must have an equivalent. Normally I would see it as a Potency primary diminishing of the rating, similar to an Attribute, and resisted by Composure. But this homebrew implies it could be seen as a damage spell, meaning the effect from multiple sources could stack.

          In theory, a rival with a vendetta could hire a strike team to cripple a target's power base by rendering Rapt with an ambush. Not only does this not create a power vacuum, the unfiltered raw might of the Rapt would actually introduce a powerful imbalance to whatever organization they are in, one which can be both difficult and highly dangerous to track.


          New experiences are the font of creativity, when seeking inspiration, break your routine.

          The Agathos Kai Sophos, an Acanthus Legacy of strategists (Mind/Time)
          The Szary Stra┼╝nik, an Obrimos Legacy of Scholars of the Glyphs of Fate (Fate/Prime)

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          • #6
            Some related thoughts:

            Intellect and Gnosis would seem the attributes most linked to the concept of Wisdom. Resolve and Composure really only figure in to staying the course.

            Actually, if peeping at things like a health track, using Gnosis works pretty well. You don't have a Size equivalent, in there, so the numbers start to look similar. If you expect to be carting around extra damage on the regular as described, that might keep the numbers in similar ranges.

            Instead of using the unwounded levels of Wisdom as the rating straight, you could do something like the health track and wound penalty. You hit a certain level of damage on your track and you count as Failing, say. The highest wisdom states should probably require a certain minimum level of wisdom AND be relatively uninjured. As you go up, the benefits of the highest Wisdom might expand, then, but still require maintaining relatively high levels, regardless. That would reduce the "high Wsdom = license to be a dick" issue a bit.

            ed. Some more thoughts:

            As Proindrakenzol pointed out: To play a high power and evil magus, you go with sufficient Gnosis and play it evil. I actually prefer the amoral Wisdom. (I also like the idea of adding Morality back in via some scheme or other, such as a mental merit, but that's a different discussion.)

            If increasing Gnosis increases power and the ability to tolerate acts of blindness before mechanical effects bite you, the model sounds fine.

            Could describe Wisdom damaging acts as "rash" acts. Calling such damage "wounds" seems off, and "blindness" seems more of a Condition. "Blind Spots" might serve, but sounds a bit more like inuring, specifically. "Adding a new level of rashness" works pretty well linguistically. "Aggravated" equivalent could be "Habitual" or "Internalized".

            Even using a wound model, you could vary the difficulty of improving or vulnerability to acts of blindness.

            You could also just set maximum Wisdom equal to 10, fixed, and simply start the game with damage dropping you to some reasonable starting level. The most severe damage could require the big effort to patch up.If you set the details correctly, that could work extremely similarly to the book. Still, the narrative distinction between raising Wisdom and restoring it could have some interesting effects.
            Last edited by thenate; 02-23-2021, 05:35 AM.


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            • #7
              I like the shape of this system overall. I don't have much useful feedback on the biggest stuff since I don't fully understand Changeling's system and it's been a while since I've played Awakening.

              Originally posted by saibot View Post
              A character can speed up Wisdom healing by taking "Become Wiser" as an Obsession and performing Acts of Wisdom or learning about the nature of Wisdom (also earning an Arcane Beat and Mana in the process).
              Wisdom is generally reactive, rather than proactive, so I'm not sure what an Act of Wisdom would be.

              Originally posted by saibot View Post
              2 Arcane Experiences may be spent to raise it by 1 dot, to a maximum Wisdom of 10.
              Suggestion: use the Social Manuevering mechanics against yourself. Work with the ST to come up with vignettes during which you can reflect upon Wisdom and Hubris and act those out as opening Doors, hinged on a relevant roll. Set the number of Doors to a ridiculous current Wisdom + 1 (or Wisdom / 2, rounded up, for something saner). Spend up to 2 AXP to force a Door. I'm inclined to say 1 week intervals for high Wisdom, and 1 day intervals for low Wisdom, as at low Wisdom, I feel like relevant opportunities to learn would come up more often.

              Originally posted by saibot View Post
              The only way for maximum Wisdom to be lowered is by Exceptional Success on attack rolls for Falling Acts of Hubris.
              I would suggest additionally that you can cannibalize maximum Wisdom dots for 2 AXP each. Let a Mage mess themselves up deliberately. :P

              Brownie points to anyone who cannibalizes a dot to gain a dot. Because, just... why did you do that to yourself.

              Also, I'm inclined to say creating a soulstone should be more permanent than even the slow-heal you've described; every soul stone created should be a big deal.

              Originally posted by saibot View Post
              One unintended side effect is that raising maximum Wisdom paradoxically (heh!) gives such mages mechanically more room to Hubris around. Not sure how it would actually work out in play.
              Yeah, I think that's the main problem. I think... I would suggest that every point of Wisdom above 3 grants you a temporary Mental or Social Attribute bonus. You can spend however many you like on one roll, and then they're gone until the Wisdom-healing mechanic kicks in. If you take Wisdom damage, you lose those any unspent points. But that's a lot of extra bookkeeping and I'm not sure it fixes the problem. The idea is to provide a carrot for not doing Acts of Hubris, but I think I mostly just came up with yet another reason to perform Acts of Hubris, so...


              I call the Integrity-analogue the "subjective stat".
              An explanation how to use Social Manuevering.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by Errol216 View Post
                I like the shape of this system overall. I don't have much useful feedback on the biggest stuff since I don't fully understand Changeling's system and it's been a while since I've played Awakening.

                Wisdom is generally reactive, rather than proactive, so I'm not sure what an Act of Wisdom would be.
                It is an overly dramatic name, translated simply as "actions that earn you an Arcane Beat (and Mana) when pursuing the Obsession of 'Become Wiser'". Some of these could include actions that Scelesti have to worry about as Refutations (NaA, 95).

                Originally posted by Errol216 View Post
                Suggestion: use the Social Manuevering mechanics against yourself. Work with the ST to come up with vignettes during which you can reflect upon Wisdom and Hubris and act those out as opening Doors, hinged on a relevant roll. Set the number of Doors to a ridiculous current Wisdom + 1 (or Wisdom / 2, rounded up, for something saner). Spend up to 2 AXP to force a Door. I'm inclined to say 1 week intervals for high Wisdom, and 1 day intervals for low Wisdom, as at low Wisdom, I feel like relevant opportunities to learn would come up more often.
                The idea is very cool. I do like creative reuse of existing systems. Exact translation would need some testing.

                Originally posted by Errol216 View Post
                Also, I'm inclined to say creating a soulstone should be more permanent than even the slow-heal you've described; every soul stone created should be a big deal.
                I was tempted to say that creating soulstones in this system would cause persistent reduction of your maximum Wisdom in the same way it does Gnosis, but that would make it a more inaccurate translation. In the original system, creating a soulstone is only an Understanding-level Act of Hubris, passed more often than not. Having soulstone creation reduce your maximum Wisdom would be a very harsh translation (which I personally happen to like though).

                Originally posted by Errol216 View Post
                Yeah, I think that's the main problem. I think... I would suggest that every point of Wisdom above 3 grants you a temporary Mental or Social Attribute bonus. You can spend however many you like on one roll, and then they're gone until the Wisdom-healing mechanic kicks in. If you take Wisdom damage, you lose those any unspent points. But that's a lot of extra bookkeeping and I'm not sure it fixes the problem. The idea is to provide a carrot for not doing Acts of Hubris, but I think I mostly just came up with yet another reason to perform Acts of Hubris, so...
                Yeah, it is a tricky issue. The only idea I have come up with so far is introducing a minor Hubris Condition that is always on while you have any Wisdom damage whatsoever. Characters with a high maximum Wisdom still have more room to maneuver when necessary, but resolving this Condition is more arduous for them, as it takes them longer to heal all Wisdom damage again, assuming they went full ham with exploiting their expanded "health track"


                Politeness is the lubricant of social intercourse.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by thenate View Post
                  Some related thoughts:
                  Intellect and Gnosis would seem the attributes most linked to the concept of Wisdom. Resolve and Composure really only figure in to staying the course.
                  While it may fit mechanically, I wouldn't tie Wisdom to Gnosis. Gnosis is a measure of how powerful a mage is (besides Arcana), regardless of "morality". What if you wanted to make a very powerful and "evil" mage? For instance, a high-ranking Seer?

                  Originally posted by Errol216 View Post
                  Suggestion: use the Social Manuevering mechanics against yourself. Work with the ST to come up with vignettes during which you can reflect upon Wisdom and Hubris and act those out as opening Doors, hinged on a relevant roll. Set the number of Doors to a ridiculous current Wisdom + 1 (or Wisdom / 2, rounded up, for something saner). Spend up to 2 AXP to force a Door. I'm inclined to say 1 week intervals for high Wisdom, and 1 day intervals for low Wisdom, as at low Wisdom, I feel like relevant opportunities to learn would come up more often.
                  This is a really cool idea. It could be used in many other situations across other games as well, whenever there is some need to represent some kind of character introspection, like Vampire Humanity or, well, anything with Touchstones. In my experience, it's the kind of thing that sounds cool on paper but is not fun to play for some players, so framing it as a Social Maneuver against yourself would probably help.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by moonwhisper View Post
                    While it may fit mechanically, I wouldn't tie Wisdom to Gnosis. Gnosis is a measure of how powerful a mage is (besides Arcana), regardless of "morality". What if you wanted to make a very powerful and "evil" mage? For instance, a high-ranking Seer?
                    I want to push back on the idea that Wisdom is "morality", it very much isn't; it's a measure of how well they control their Magic and their impulses. A high-ranking Seer has greater latitude to have high Wisdom because they can push the risky tasks onto their subordinates.


                    Mentats - a 2e Free Council Obrimos Legacy (Mind/Forces) built around being a human computer; Thaumatech Engineers - a 2e Free Council Obrimos Legacy (Matter/Prime) focusing on the creation of Imbued items and the enhancement of Sleeper technology

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