View Full Version : The beauty of combinatorics [Discussion]

2012-10-30, 06:05 PM
Alright, I'm going to throw this out here:

I am saddened by 3.5; most of this sadness stems from a single source.

Namely, the lack of things that mess around with descriptors.

"Wait, what?", I hear you say, as you look up from your screen in disbelief. "THAT's what upsets you? Get a life, chump."

But, I'll go on. To talk about my point, I would like you to go look at, let's say, Exalted's charmsets.

Now, count up how many times the descriptors of effects actually matter; I'll guarantee you that you'll see several things that interact with Crippling, at the very least, even though most of them are just "remove it."

Exalted is a strongly typed ruleset; then again, so is D&D. Every type of ability falls into one of 5 sets of "ability types" (Supernatural, Natural, Spell-Like, Extraordinary, and Spell). Then, on top of that, about half of the spells and such have Descriptors that indicate how they function (if something has the [Fear] descriptor, it inflicts Shaken or better; it's kinda obvious in that case.)

Now, that's how I like my systems, because it let's me write out stuff like "Being struck by an effect with the [Fire] descriptor affects you as the spell Haste for X rounds", or some equivalent, in my homebrew.

What saddens me is that, when you get down to it, all that 3.5 (and most homebrewers) have done with this system is stuff like "you are immune to it" or "you deal X extra damage of the proper type."

What makes this worse is that, every so often, you get effects like Adoration of the Frightful (anyone under the effect of a fear effect within the radius of the spell is treated as if they were Friendly towards you), Lionhearted (ignore fear effects, and you get a +2 to attack rolls), and several effects that alter what you treat as a suicidal order for the purpose of stuff like Dominate Person.

So you know that both the official designers and homebrewers have so much more potential for working fun effects in there with more mundane effects.

Seriously, be creative; hell, I'm going to start using Garryl's effect definition (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=10068.60) and damage descriptor (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=10068.0) concepts in my 'brew, just so that I can reference back to damage types for fun stuff.

Because I know that I just start smiling when I see stuff that let's me, for example, treat effect X as if it were effect Y.

Also, I do believe that this would help melee, for the simple expedient that you could more easily define synergistic stuff for them ("Hey... this ability let's me, a Paladin, make attacks with my Aura of Good that's treated like Smite Evil for the purpose of abilities; oh, I can see fun things with this...")

Alright, if you please would, add your own two small units of currency.

2012-10-30, 09:07 PM
Hey! Someone actually cares about that stuff, neat.

I've transferred those to minmax. They're replies 3 (http://www.minmaxboards.com/index.php?topic=1417.0;msg=12592) and 4 (http://www.minmaxboards.com/index.php?topic=1417.0;msg=12593) of this thread (http://www.minmaxboards.com/index.php?topic=1417), if you want a more current link.

I think part of the problem is that descriptor specific abilities generally have to be very specific by their very premise, and thus have to be very powerful (such as complete immunity) to compete against more general equivalent cost abilities. Not that you can't do that, just that it's easier to develop more general effects and harder to balance those more specific effects.

2012-10-30, 09:39 PM
True, but when you get down to it, how would you go about quantifying the power of, say, a spell that let's you transform any Energy damage you take into Positive Energy damage (i.e., healing)?

2012-10-30, 10:03 PM
That's just Energy Immunity++. The Energy Immunity spell is what, 7th level? So probably a 9th level spell.

Note that, technically, positive energy damage still damages living creatures (and non-living creatures, even Constructs). It's just that all existing positive energy effects specify that they heal living creatures (and only living creatures).

2012-11-09, 04:15 PM
Originally I had copy-pasted my extended signature here and was trying to edit it down to stuff that met your criterion.

Then I lost it in a computer crash.

This was probably a good thing, since most of what I would have posted would have been moderately relevant at most.

Instead I will make some general comments.

The first is that the kings of this sort of thing in D&D as it currently stands are golems. They get hasted, healed, etc by various sorts of damaging or effects.

The other thing I would say is that I have a LOT of oddball effects in my body of work*, and I STILL don't have a lot of what you describe exactly. What this implies to me is that the tags in D&D just aren't tagging the sort of things that are make the most sense to play off of for oddball effects.
*Due valuing vividness of concept over streamlining... seriously, NEVER ask me to cut anything directly (the answer will be a slightly annoyed "No"). Ask me to create a simplified version for those who don't want the roleplay hooks and world-building, and/or suggest more effective ways of saying things.

2012-11-09, 06:00 PM
I guess I'll have to look into rewriting how tags work in 3.5 at some point.

This is alongside my little project to back-convert stuff in the SRD to something like a midpoint between 2e and 3.5e. Yes, this includes descending AC and THAC0.

EDIT: I'll also be revising Diplomacy and the other social skills to something new and exciting; of course, since I'm back-converting skills into Non-Weapon Proficiencies...

2012-11-09, 06:26 PM
I guess I'll have to look into rewriting how tags work in 3.5 at some point.
If you ask me, don't think "rewrite", think "add more, and have these be the sorts of things that more can be done with".

2012-11-09, 07:03 PM
That phrasing looks good, too.