View Full Version : Pairing non-combat and combat abilities

BeerMug Paladin
2019-05-24, 06:43 AM
For a while now, I've been tinkering with a tabletop game system of my own design. I wouldn't presume it will be anything special, it's mostly just a fun side-project. I anticipate it's a little to mechanically dense to be of much interest to other people.

One of my central conceits with the design is to make character progression consist of selecting new combat capabilities from a given list of abilities (sorted by "class"). The mechanic is generally structured so that each ability has 3 tiers of quality/potency. So the question a given player has when it's time to level is would they like to have one of their abilities grow in power, or add something new to their kit of options.

But since a game doesn't only consist of combat scenes, I want something else to add to this. What I would like to do is have these selections also add to a character's abilities for something not related to combat, but hopefully related to what the ability does in combat.

As one example, a melee ability that allows a character to strike at multiple surrounding enemies also allows the character to become more observant of their surroundings. Or an ability to strike at an opponent and force a shift in their position also improves acrobatic ability.

Pairing these abilities with skills directly as a flat bonus seems kind of boring to me, so for that capstone level (3rd), I'd like to think of ideas for what things could do that go beyond what the basic use of a skill normally does. So there's something extra special for a player who has focused their character on one particular ability. Assume that any general skill applicable to a fantasy setting could exist by some name here.

These are the "classes" and a brief description of the sort of combat abilities they have.

Warrior - Multiple-target strikes, heavy-damage strikes, counterattacks and improved critical chance.
Elementalist - Debuffer, ranged attacks, extended debuff strength. (This will likely be split between minor conjuration effects and skills.)
Medic - Healing, remove status effects, treat injuries.
Fencer - Impacts allies or enemies' positions on the battlefield, single target multi-striking.
Defender - Direct enemy attention, protect allies, improve defense/resistance to status effects.

This is largely for brainstorming purposes, so I'm just looking for ideas in what I could include.

2019-05-24, 08:01 AM
That's a cool idea. I quite like it.

If you're looking at non-combat abilities, you should make them as powerful and as unique as the combat ones. So, like, the three tiers of an investigation type power might be:

Search an area twice as fast as normal.
Learn the identity of anyone who left even a single clue about their identity.
Look at a scene and perfectly reconstruct everything that happened there.

If you want a lot of cool examples of noncombat powers, I suggest checking out Exalted (any edition, really). The game has extensive lists of powers for every skill from Archery to Burocracy, ranging from "strong" to "godly."

BeerMug Paladin
2019-05-24, 09:48 PM
Thanks, I'll look into Exalted and see if there's anything there that helps me.

In terms of skills' usages and the time involved, I'm not sure what I want to generally do. Certainly if there's information to be had, I already want the maximum outcome to result for anyone from the top category of success. And while taking less time to do something difficult is neat in an abstract sense, I'm not sure it feels special enough for my taste. However you just made me think of something I had not considered.

Sketch artistry. I think maybe I'll create a sketch artistry power with an investigation/interrogation ability. As it would technically still involve all the same information as an investigation skill, just create an extra little bonus ability a character wouldn't necessarily already have. And it would allow further check results in other contexts to be made easier in relation to that particular goal.

I had not been considering making it so a skill would grant a bonus to follow-up skill attempts on related matters. But now that I think of it, I think this could lead to a lot of diversity.