A continuation of last week’s post, where I explored replacing classes with relationships.
Banner art by Klaher Baklaher. I’m enamored with these fun lads.
The Problem: It’s twofold. First, there are certain relationships that need a bit of additional input (Master//Student, what is the master a master of?). Second, there are certain group archetypes defined by their difference from one another (Warrior, cleric, wizard, rogue), and making a specific relationship for each pair is a very clunky solution.
Perhaps the boldest solution is to just excise such things from this kind of game entirely. And as a game based around this concept comes together, those more traditional character archetypes might filter out. But I’d like to figure a way to include them, because I think part of the value is looking at something traditional in a different lens.
A Solution: Mix and match relationships. We let players take what at first appears to be a normal class. However, the most crucial and powerful abilities only work when two of these classes are brought together. I’ll be using the traditional party of four as an example.
Some background. There are three types of actions:
- Actions. You get one per turn, on your turn.
- Reactions. You get one per round, they can be used on any character’s turn.
- Collective. Takes your Action and the Reaction of each other character participating.
The way we’re going to create mix and match abilities is by splitting them into a Condition, a Maneuver, and possibly a Modifier. One half will bring the Condition (and the Modifier, if any), and the other will bring the Maneuver. Either character can initiate these abilities, and they are always Collective actions. Here’s an example.
|Condition||If you and your counterpart are hidden, they can burst out and…|
|Maneuver||…make an attack against one enemy, then move and make an attack against a second enemy.|
|Modifier||If the move deals any Wounds to any characters, they become Poisoned.|
Each different “half-class” will have a selection of all three, to add variety to situations. The idea is that The modifiers will mostly be added in at higher levels, so that the complexity increases naturally over time.
The “half-classes” would also have other abilities that function when they’re alone, but they’re not particularly necessary for this thought experiment. I think it’d be important for each one to have ways to set up their conditions, like rogue helping others sneak.
These are conditions and moves that any character can use. The conditions are difficult to achieve, but allow Moves to be used by solitary characters in rare occasions.
- Prone: The target is laying on the ground.
- Incapacitated: The target is paralyzed, restrained, or otherwise incapacitated.
- Grand Improvisation: Improvise a combination move. It can include a regular attack roll (with no additional bonuses), unorthodox movement, and/or clever use of environmental objects.
The rogue has relatively complex conditions but fairly powerful maneuvers. The disappear maneuver specifically helps set up further maneuvers.
- Hidden: Both you and your counterpart are hidden.
- Flanked: You and your counterpart are on opposite sides of the target.
- Backstab. Attack the target. If you would deal a wound, deal two instead.
- Disappear. You become hidden or move behind the target. (You must have a reasonable spot to hide)
- Poison. If the maneuver would deal a Wound, it also Poisons that target.
- Cloaked. You cause a distraction, and your counterpart may become hidden at the end of the maneuver (They must have a reasonable spot to hide)
The warrior has two options for conditions: one for an aggressive playstyle and one for a tanky playstyle. The maneuvers are simple but powerful.
- Taunt: The target is able to attack you. They may make a free attack on you before the maneuver.
- Domination: The target is Off Balance
- Running Blows: make an attack against the target, then move and make an attack against a second character.
- Sunder: Break a nonmagical object. (If it’s wielded or worn, the wearer counts as the target)
- Rush: Move your full speed in a straight line (up to one turn allowed). Anyone in your path may make a contested Strength check as you reach them. If they succeed, you stop and make an unarmed attack against them. If they fail, you carry them to the end of the movement and then toss them an additional five feet.
- Thrown: You throw your counterpart to their destination. If the maneuver deals a Wound, it also knocks the target prone.
- Lockstep: You move with your counterpart, and are assumed to be between them and nearby foes for the duration of the move.
The cleric has the weakest/most situational maneuvers, but has the most straightforward condition. In addition, they get a wider variety of modifiers. This sets them up as a support class.
- Blessed: You have blessed your counterpart (Blessing is an Action that lasts until the end of your next turn)
- Drive Out Evil: If the target is Undead or Demonic, they become Afraid of you. If any effects have been placed on them by an Undead or Demonic source, those effects end.
- Drive Back: Your target and any foes near you or your counterpart are driven ten feet back.
- Shield of Faith: Your counterpart cannot take damage at any point during the maneuver.
- Sword of Faith: If the maneuver would deal Wounds, it deals an additional Wound.
- Wings of Faith: Your counterpart can move twice as far during the maneuver.
The wizard is the odd one. They have certain spells which give opportunity to your allies, and act as conditions. They also have spells that require an opening, which are their maneuvers. They don’t have modifiers in the same way as the others, but the other effects of their condition spells act in a similar way.
Also important to note, while a whole spellcasting system hasn’t been built just for this example, there would be more limitations on the use of spells than the conditions of other characters. Imagine using up spell slots for now.
- Flashflare: The target saves vs one round of blindness. The maneuver continues either way.
- Teleport: You and/or your counterpart teleport to somewhere you can see. The maneuver begins from there.
- Hold: The target saves vs one round of paralysis. (Paralysis implicitly allows a maneuver)
- Deny Gravity: Gravity in a 50 foot cylinder around you ceases until the end of the maneuver.
- Polymorph: The target saves or turns into a Sheep, a Frog, a Bluebird, or a Pig, at random.
- Baleful Teleport: The target saves or is teleported to a location of your choice that is within 10 miles and that you have seen before.
I’m not sure if this would go into a system with the other relationships, or if it’s just an alternative way to approach the same idea. Either way, let me know any comments you have about a system like this.