View Full Version : Mana Complexity Problems

2009-02-25, 10:38 AM
I have worked on a pencil and paper combat system (I think that's the right term) for a while now, and if it wasn't for the lack of motivation to finish working on the glossary, I'd be in the testing stage. Before I can explain the problem, I need to explain a few things about the system and my goal with the system.

Acies, the system, is built to be a quick moving combat system. A single turn with 5 people (4 players and 1 GM) should last at most 5 minutes (given nothing weird happens and that the players know what they want to do before their turn). There are 5 classes. All 5 classes, depending on how you build their skill tree, can come to depend on mana. The definition of mana here is "A pool of power from which the owner takes from to use various abilities." This is where the problem might be.

I've worked a lot to try to cut out as many annoyances that might slow the game as I've found a way to do. I'm worried that mana is too much work to keep the game moving fast. Health is complicated enough with various healing a damage (don't really want to talk about that), but to also keep track of mana might be too much for what I'm aiming for. Below is a list of things related to mana that would need to be watched.

-Mana regeneration each turn
-Mana lost from casting
-Mana gained from abilities
-Mana lost through enemy's abilities
-When temporary mana drains and regens end

It doesn't seem like too much, right? Let's look at the list of things the gm needs to keep track of (because they're supposed to be the responisble ones).

-When temporary mana and health drains and regens end on all players
-The health, mana, armor, and skills of all npcs
-The thought process of npcs of attack order
-Whatever weird enviromental things are going on
-Player health
-Player mana (special cases only)
-Careful attention to players prone to try to cheat

It starts getting to be a bigger list. Still managable, yes, but if I knew it was way too much, why would I ask other what other people thought?

If I do have to change the system, I have some ideas for what to do, but I've spent a lot of time putting Acies together with mana in mind, and I'd rather not have to rewrite half of the system (lots of abilities that use mana as a balancing factor would need a lot of work).

So is mana to complicated for a system that tries to be fast?

2009-02-25, 11:38 AM
I'd say just use a laptop or PDA ... hell you could do it as a mobile phone app.

2009-02-25, 12:24 PM
Didn't Magic: the Gathering card games simply track this by tapping land?

I don't see why that wouldn't work here. Just get a bunch of cards and have your players "tap" them as they are being used for spells or are being drained or whatever.

"Untap" them according to your mana regeneration mechanic.

You can even just use dice. Just set a d20 with the face up with the current mana total for the player and adjust on the fly.

2009-02-25, 01:55 PM
You still have to track durations too ...

2009-02-25, 09:52 PM
Tracking durations can also be done with dice. Just take a die that will fit the duration and count down on that. For example, if you've got an effect that lasts three rounds, set a d4 to three and reduce it by one every round. If your effect lasts 9 rounds, use a d10. Each effect has its own die, preferably of a different colour if you have enough.

Of course, tracking with dice does have a pair of downsides: someone might use one for damage or whatever by mistake, or a person might bump the table and send all your dice tumbling. However, it's still easier than actually charting everything with a pencil and paper.

2009-02-25, 11:27 PM
I suggest tokens in "available" (for each character) and a shared "bank" pile as being faster to manipulate for mana than cards.

2009-02-27, 07:40 AM
I suggest tokens in "available" (for each character) and a shared "bank" pile as being faster to manipulate for mana than cards.

Agreed, tokens would probably be the easiest.

If you have some abilities that use large quantities of mana, you might also consider using something like poker chips, with different colors representing varying amounts (1, 5, 10, etc). That way when your player uses a bunch of mana in a single turn, they don't have to waste time counting out 13 tokens...just a ten, and 3 ones.

Baron Corm
2009-02-27, 10:25 AM
You could also just change your abilities to function a certain number of times per minute, or per encounter, or per whatever. This tends to have the same effect as mana would. As the class builder increases the mana gained, he also increases the mana spent, so you wind up with a whole bunch of complication representing uses per X.

Gaining "mana regeneration" would be gaining back uses. It's just easier to track these small, consistent numbers than larger, arbitrary numbers.