[MUD-Dev] Modeling spells/skills as collections of affects

Travis Casey efindel at io.com
Sat Aug 30 22:49:11 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

Jeff Kesselman <jeffk at tenetwork.com> wrote:
> At 05:21 PM 9/1/97 PST8PDT, Brian peirce wrote:

[about describing the Hero system]

> >Hmm.. looks like I'm SOL unless someone has a scanner and zips me a 
> >gif... sigh.  Would it be possible to post an abstract of the system 
> >that outlined in very general terms the approach used by the Hero 
> >system?   (I'm stuck _way_ out in the boondocks).

[Jeff does a very good job of explaining the system... I just want to
add a few things to clarify points that might be confusing.]
> Tehr are a handful of quanttaties defiend on charcters, such as BODY
> (demage for determinign death) STUN (damage dtermining unconciousness)
> such...
> Then there are a set of standard "powers" taht derfine effects on those.

Some powers affect things in other ways than through those quantities;
for example, telekinesis doesn't affect any attribute of a character,
but does allow the user to move objects around at range.

> A gun is a ranged killing attack.  A firehouse would do an energy blast
> (with possible advantages for area of effect, more on that below.)  A
> Phaser on Kil lwoudl do ranged killign as well, a phaser on stun woudl do
> energy blast (with perhapse the "STUN only" advantage again explaiedn

These general effects are used for powers, magic, etc. as well as items.
(I know, Jeff didn't say they could only be used for items... however,
using just items for examples could give that impression to some people.)
For example, a wizard's lightning bolt spell would be either an Energy
Blast or a Ranged Killing Attack, depending on whether the wizard's 
player wanted it to usually stun people or usually kill them.

> The defiference between the two is typed a "specvial effect".  SFX are
> defined by the judge and paleyr and do not effect the system except in
> extrem,ely monor ways delaign iwth interractiosn with limitations (see

Other interactions can be defined by the GM on the fly; for example, if
the Flame has a Ranged Killing Attack with the special effect being a
blast of fire, the GM is perfectly justified in letting the Flame use 
her attack to melt an ice wall -- and equally justified in saying that 
using her attack inside an explosives factory is a really stupid thing 
to do.

> This basic pwoers ar then given 'advantages' and "disadvanatges".  Both
> gun and the phaser have the disadfvantage "obvious accesible focus"
> is contained in an object that can be taken away with a successful grab)
> gun might have the disadvanmtage "charges" (in thsi case bullets i na
> and the disadvantage "doesnt work in water".  The stun pahser migth have
> the adbatnage "No normal defense" (goees rigth through armor) with a
> specil defnese of force fields.  Advatnages and disadvantages combine to
> create a single multiplier (or divisior) on the power.

To give a few more examples, our wizard with the lightning bolt spell
might have the advantage "no normal defense" (the lightning bolt isn't
stopped by most armor) with magical defense working against it, and
the disadvantages "incantation" (he has to say a few magic words to
cast the spell), "gesture" (he has to point at whatever he wants the
bolt to hit), and "requires a skill roll" (he has to successfully roll
on his Magic skill to cast the bolt).  Flame's flame blast might have
no advantages or disadvantages -- it doesn't do anything special, but
doesn't have any special requirements or limitations either.

The system would then determine a cost for each of these powers, based
on how powerful their effect is and the set of advantages and 
disadvantages the players have chosen for them.  Players buy powers for 
their characters with points given to them by the GM.

> Hero si extremely elegently baalcned and is a ery compelte simualtion
> system.  Thsi just scratches the surface of what its capable of.  Space
> Marines and Wizards can not onyl be built using the same components but
> thus fully interoperable.

Yep.  Hero is a wonderful example of a non-D&D system that already
addresses many of the problems faced by mud designers trying to simulate
something other than a D&D-style fantasy world.  The only complaints I've
seen leveled against it are:

- Designing characters takes a long time, because of all the options.

  IMHO, designing characters *should* take time -- this isn't a 
  throwaway game piece, it's someone you're going to spend a lot of
  time pretending to be.  On the mud side of things, automating the
  math can make it a lot faster to make characters.

- Combat takes too long to play.

  Again, this is because Hero allows for a high level of detail.  And
  also again, on a mud, much of this can be automated.

- The rules are too generic; they don't give any flavor to the world.

  I agree, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.  A good mud framework
  *needs* to be generic -- it's the job of the people creating the mud
  to decide on a flavor for the world and to put it into the world --
  not the framework's job.

- The point system for creating characters can result in players trying
  to "take advantage" of the rules to milk the most advantage they can
  out of them.

  This is true.  I'd recommend that anyone using a Hero-like system to
  allow players to build powers, items, etc. require approval from one
  of the mud admins before the thing can be put into the game -- this
  should block obvious abuses.  The code for creating things might 
  block some of these -- for instance, it shouldn't be possible to
  take the "reduced by range" limitation on a power that has no range.
  One thing to watch out for is to make sure that if there's more than
  one way to do the same thing, that they come out even.  Early editions
  of Champions, if I remember correctly, had a problem in that players
  could get an advantage by buying armor in a different way than the
  "normal" way.  That's been fixed in later versions.
       |\      _,,,---,,_        Travis S. Casey  <efindel at io.com>
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