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    Default Resource management systems: how many of them?

    This morning I was thinking about the Vancian system. Some hate it, others enjoy it, some others simply accept that it exists and play along. When talking about spellcasting, though, the Vancian system is generally compared to "resources pools" systems like mana, spell points or similar.

    This led me to wonder: how many resource management systems are there? Vancian could be classified as finite number of uses per time interval. Likewise, all the various "n times per short/long rest", "n times per encounter" and similar, are of the same category.

    Mana points would belong to the resources pool category: you have "n points" of something, that you can allocate as you see fit.

    Any other types out there? Could we consider the Crusader maneuver refresh method a new system by itself? How about some kind of at-will ability which has progressively increasing costs to it (thinking of the broken Truenamer from 3.5e)?

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    Default Re: Resource management systems: how many of them?

    Then spontaneous spellcasting is something in between the two examples you gave.

    What you get is neither specific abilities with a finite number on it, nor a homogeneous pool of mana points or motes. What you get is a pyramidal pool of "slots" of various levels, each of which can be spent in a number of ways.
    Last edited by ahyangyi; 2021-08-30 at 07:33 AM.
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    Default Re: Resource management systems: how many of them?

    You know, I was actually thinking that 5e has somewhat moved away from pure Vancian casting. Taking wizards, for example, sure, they prepare a certain number of spells and have a limited allotment of spell slots for each level, but the way they parcel them out is at their discretion.

    A hybrid of the two is then something we have. So rather than identify the specifics, we could look for the general paradigms, from which specific systems could be built.

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    Default Re: Resource management systems: how many of them?

    "Vancian" casting is just a resource pool with different units. Indeed, most manageable resources are reducible to resource pools with three variables: current pool size, pool growth rate and pool consumption rate. Most resources also have maximum pool size. Resource management systems are actually build on interaction of multiple resource pools with different traits and trade-offs between resources. As such, the number of different systems is unbounded: you can always make a new, more complex system by adding yet another resource to track with its own interactions. There is no point in trying to list them all.

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    Default Re: Resource management systems: how many of them?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    "Vancian" casting is just a resource pool with different units. Indeed, most manageable resources are reducible to resource pools with three variables: current pool size, pool growth rate and pool consumption rate. Most resources also have maximum pool size. Resource management systems are actually build on interaction of multiple resource pools with different traits and trade-offs between resources. As such, the number of different systems is unbounded: you can always make a new, more complex system by adding yet another resource to track with its own interactions. There is no point in trying to list them all.
    Good point.

    Perhaps we should focus on the interaction between the resources rather than the specific mechanics...?

    For example, both mana points and vancian spellcasting can be said to be "independent" mechanisms. You are out of mana points, you are just a functional human without mana points; you are out of spell slots, you are in effect a really clever and skillful commoner now; the barbarian has used up her rage counts, she is now a really strong and calm soldier.

    But then, if a mechanism says "you cast spells with diamonds worth 5000 gp each" or "you cast spells by consuming your own soul", then it's different, in that the very resource you are spending is outside the spellcasting mechanism itself. In other words, instead of the mechanism coming with its own resource pool, it eats your existing resources in a different way. Perhaps we call that "interconnected" or "parasite" mechanisms?
    Last edited by ahyangyi; 2021-08-30 at 09:14 AM.
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    Default Re: Resource management systems: how many of them?

    Honestly, the way I see it resource systems tend to have the following elements:
    -how many subdivisions does the source have?
    -what is the cap on each subdivision?
    -how freely can you move units between subresources?
    -what do you have to do for units to replenish?
    -how quickly do units replenish?

    So your classical mana system has one subresource, a cap, replenishes units with no action from the user, and refills slowly. To change that to Vancian magic as originally written you change the last two to 'must study spellbooks to recharge, refills instantly'.

    D&D Vancian magic has ten ranked subresources, each with their own cap, with no movement of units allowed. You have to test to recover resources, but in practice they recover instantly. To use a spell you have to spend a resource (either at preparation or casting, depending on edition) of a certain level or higher.

    Compare that to Adopt magick in Unknown Armies. It has had a set of ranked resources, three in this case, and actually allows units to be moved. But you can only move down a level, and get ten units in your lesser pool for every units moved from the higher one (this is important as some Adepts find it easier to generate Sigs than minors). You recharge each subresource by engaging in an activity, and doing so takes time because you only get your charge on completion. But it also has no limit to how many resources you can hold, and explicitly points this out (while also pointing out that in practice those who don't use their magick are weird). It feels very, very different, and to me much easier to get my head around because I'm having too charge up the magickal batteries.
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    Default Re: Resource management systems: how many of them?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cicciograna View Post
    This morning I was thinking about the Vancian system. Some hate it, others enjoy it, some others simply accept that it exists and play along. When talking about spellcasting, though, the Vancian system is generally compared to "resources pools" systems like mana, spell points or similar.

    This led me to wonder: how many resource management systems are there? Vancian could be classified as finite number of uses per time interval. Likewise, all the various "n times per short/long rest", "n times per encounter" and similar, are of the same category.

    Mana points would belong to the resources pool category: you have "n points" of something, that you can allocate as you see fit.

    Any other types out there? Could we consider the Crusader maneuver refresh method a new system by itself? How about some kind of at-will ability which has progressively increasing costs to it (thinking of the broken Truenamer from 3.5e)?
    Crusader fits in the "unreliable access to unlimited use abilities" schema.
    Just where would fit a character that took the unreliable flaw on all his powers in mutants and masterminds.

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    Default Re: Resource management systems: how many of them?

    Quote Originally Posted by ahyangyi View Post
    For example, both mana points and vancian spellcasting can be said to be "independent" mechanisms. You are out of mana points, you are just a functional human without mana points; you are out of spell slots, you are in effect a really clever and skillful commoner now; the barbarian has used up her rage counts, she is now a really strong and calm soldier.
    It is incorrect to label the current D&D system as Vancian. I keep having to make this point. Vancian casting involved taking each spell and charging up that spell, and that spell only, for release at a later time. There was no swapping spells between slots.

    The current D&D system is a spell slot system, not a Vancian system. The prepared classes (paladin, cleric, druid, wizard) still swap spells in and out, while the known spell casters (rangers, sorcerers, warlocks, arcane tricksters) cannot. Please don't call the current system Vancian - it isn't - it is at best vestitial vancian but really deserves its own name. To understand Vancian, please review this. See also this.

    Spell slot system versus spell point system is a far better pair of categorizations, as would be a mana pool system ...

    As an aside, the HP systems in various games also represent resource management systems. (Crap, I have forgotten how the health/wounds system in original Traveller worked, now I need to dig the boxes out again).
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2021-08-30 at 10:53 AM.
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    Default Re: Resource management systems: how many of them?

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    It is incorrect to label the current D&D system as Vancian. I keep having to make this point. Vancian casting involved taking each spell and charging up that spell, and that spell only, for release at a later time. There was no swapping spells between slots.

    The current D&D system is a spell slot system, not a Vancian system. The prepared classes (paladin, cleric, druid, wizard) still swap spells in and out, while the known spell casters (rangers, sorcerers, warlocks, arcane tricksters) cannot. Please don't call the current system Vancian - it isn't - it is at best vestitial vancian but really deserves its own name. To understand Vancian, please review this. See also this.

    Spell slot system versus spell point system is a far better pair of categorizations, as would be a mana pool system ...

    As an aside, the HP systems in various games also represent resource management systems. (Crap, I have forgotten how the health/wounds system in original Traveller worked, now I need to dig the boxes out again).
    The original sense is actually what I had in my mind when I used the term "Vancian".

    Ironically, it is also how we handle spell-like abilities in 3e/pf/pf2 and racial spells (such as Drow High Magic) in 5e. Think about it, you take the feat, you learn Levitate and Dispel Magic, but you can use them only once, then you have recharge them when you do a long rest. Very Vancian.

    It's a bit weird that "spell-like" things are actually closer to what spells were than spells are...

    And yes, I agree you that the current prepared spellcasting is already one step away from Vancian.
    Last edited by ahyangyi; 2021-08-30 at 11:14 AM.
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    Default Re: Resource management systems: how many of them?

    Quote Originally Posted by ahyangyi View Post
    The original sense is actually what I had in my mind when I used the term "Vancian".
    Ah, thanks, you threw in the spell slot bit and given a recent convo on the 5e sub forum, I suspected something that wasn't there.
    It's a bit weird that "spell-like" things are actually closer to what spells were than spells are...
    Yes. Recharges at dawn, once a day, stuff like that?
    And yes, I agree you that the current prepared spellcasting is already one step away from Vancian.
    We have an accord. (Are we allowed to do that? I mean, this is the internet!)

    (Now I need to go and look up how spells were done in Empire of the Petal Throne; I think they reset once per day, but it's been so long that I need to refresh my memory).
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2021-08-30 at 11:51 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malifice View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenstone View Post
    Agency means that they {players} control their character's actions; you control the world's reactions to the character's actions.
    Gosh, 2D8HP, you are so very correct!

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    Default Re: Resource management systems: how many of them?

    I'd say there are multiple axis to this question:

    The level of flexibility:

    This one is what you are probably the most interested in. I see it as a scale, with non-exhaustively:
    + Specific fixed power (most D&D class features with limited uses)
    + Power chosen in advance in a limited set (Vancian spell slots in 3e and before)
    + Power chosen on-the-fly in a limited set of powers of similar strength (5e Vancian spell slots)
    + Power chosen on-the-fly in a limited set of powers of varied strength, balanced by varied cost coming out of the same pool
    + Power chosen and customised on-the-fly with potentially complex rules.

    Common VS Exceptional resources:

    Ammunition, "per encounter" special powers, and many others, all of those resources are common in the sense that the character is expected to spend them as soon as they are actually useful. Their limitation is here to prevent abuse of some mechanics, or give more realism. Obviously, in some scenarios, their limited number will actually be significantly limiting, but those are exceptional circumstances.

    On the other hand, a scroll for a high level spell will be an exceptional resources. If possible, one will avoid spending them.

    Some resources are more difficult to place on this scale, like Vancian spell slots, as it highly depends on how often the party is resting to recover them. Hit points, depending on whether the RPG has fast or slow healing, will also be of one kind or the other.

    A tangential question is to which degree you can accumulate the resource over time, so whether it has a maximum capacity and/or an expiration date. (This might tie to carry capacity for material resources).

    Level of meta:

    You have in-universe resources, that character are actually able to count (ammunitions, spell slots). You have abstraction resources, that stand for something which is observable in-universe, but isn't truly quantified and is only given a number for the sake of having a RPG simple to play (main example is hit points, but most limitation on martial class features also qualify). And then you have meta resources like "fate points" that represent interaction of the player with the narration or the game system, which has no ground in-universe (unless the universe is self-aware of being a RPG universe).

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    Default Re: Resource management systems: how many of them?

    Quote Originally Posted by ahyangyi View Post
    But then, if a mechanism says "you cast spells with diamonds worth 5000 gp each" or "you cast spells by consuming your own soul", then it's different, in that the very resource you are spending is outside the spellcasting mechanism itself. In other words, instead of the mechanism coming with its own resource pool, it eats your existing resources in a different way. Perhaps we call that "interconnected" or "parasite" mechanisms?
    That is what I was thinking about when mentioning the Truenamer: some kind of power for which the type of resource needed is not tied directly to the character level, but more to external factors, like his welath or the availability of their soul.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Honestly, the way I see it resource systems tend to have the following elements:
    -how many subdivisions does the source have?
    -what is the cap on each subdivision?
    -how freely can you move units between subresources?
    -what do you have to do for units to replenish?
    -how quickly do units replenish?

    So your classical mana system has one subresource, a cap, replenishes units with no action from the user, and refills slowly. To change that to Vancian magic as originally written you change the last two to 'must study spellbooks to recharge, refills instantly'.

    D&D Vancian magic has ten ranked subresources, each with their own cap, with no movement of units allowed. You have to test to recover resources, but in practice they recover instantly. To use a spell you have to spend a resource (either at preparation or casting, depending on edition) of a certain level or higher.
    This sounds accurate. I am not familiar with the example that you bring, but I trust that it follows your paradigm.
    So to create new systems we would have to tweak the sliders on each of the settings you mention.

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    It is incorrect to label the current D&D system as Vancian.
    Yeah indeed. I recognized that in my second post in this thread. Still, we can still elucubrate on the nature of the Vancian system as we know it from 3/3.5 Edition.

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    Default Re: Resource management systems: how many of them?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cicciograna View Post
    Still, we can still elucubrate on the nature of the Vancian system as we know it from 3/3.5 Edition.
    Just not while the kids are watching. (Nice use of a $64 dollar word ).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malifice View Post
    (paraphrased) Rulings are not 'House Rules.' Rulings are a DM doing what DMs are supposed to do.
    Quote Originally Posted by greenstone View Post
    Agency means that they {players} control their character's actions; you control the world's reactions to the character's actions.
    Gosh, 2D8HP, you are so very correct!

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    Default Re: Resource management systems: how many of them?

    My favourite is the resource/risk management magic subsystem from Blade of the Iron Throne. It works similarly to Shadowrun (dice pool mechanic, with implemented fatigue system) but with a lovecraftian twist:
    You have your dice pool for spellcasting (dice pool varies based on type of spell). Basis is your characteristics + rating of the spell school.
    Wide spell schools (e.g. direct damage combat spells are all under one discipline, another one is mind control, another one is mending - which heals & speeds up natural healing, ...) allow for flexibility.

    For the resource management:
    You split your dice pool into two parts - the spellcasting and the containment roll. To cast a spell successfully, you need to roll enough successes on your spellcasting roll (so that one determines power). To resist the negative effects of magic (called Taint), you need at least as many successes on containment roll as on your spellcasting roll. So more power you put into the spell = more risk of Taint.

    If you roll badly on your containment roll, you will get Taint equal to the difference (so a spell with 5 successes on casting and 3 successes on containment roll means 2 points of Taint). Taint will slowly decrease your dice pool (there are thresholds, so 1 point of Taint decreases your pool by 1, 2-3 by 2, 4-6 by 3, 7-10 by 4...etc.), and will increase the difficulty of positive social rolls (basically, almost nobody wants to exchange pleasantries with the guy with glowing eyes, veins pulsing with raw magic...) but will work as bonus for intimidation (because most people do not want to make the guy with glowing eyes and veins pulsing with raw magic too angry).

    If you roll extremely badly (you have already more taint than health + get 3+ points of taint in one roll), you get a backlash (the magic just discharges itself, giving you either a temporary deformity or curse, and reducing itself by half).

    And the spellcasting regulates itself - so you can be careful and cast as many spells as you want, or you can go all in, unleash the terrible powers, but at a cost.
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    Default Re: Resource management systems: how many of them?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cicciograna View Post
    This morning I was thinking about the Vancian system. Some hate it, others enjoy it, some others simply accept that it exists and play along. When talking about spellcasting, though, the Vancian system is generally compared to "resources pools" systems like mana, spell points or similar.

    This led me to wonder: how many resource management systems are there? Vancian could be classified as finite number of uses per time interval. Likewise, all the various "n times per short/long rest", "n times per encounter" and similar, are of the same category.

    Mana points would belong to the resources pool category: you have "n points" of something, that you can allocate as you see fit.

    Any other types out there? Could we consider the Crusader maneuver refresh method a new system by itself? How about some kind of at-will ability which has progressively increasing costs to it (thinking of the broken Truenamer from 3.5e)?
    Allocation systems with a maximum rate of change. E.g. ship power divided between weapons, shields, engines, repairs, life support and it costs actions to move points.

    Currency systems - spend X tokens to get Y tokens, but refunding Y gives you less X back, with potentially uncertain costs.

    Positioning/stateful systems where you build towards the position to be able to take certain actions. Things like lands in MtG, or stuff like a 'tides of battle' tug of war. Edit: or in Chrono Cross how abilities influence the elemental alignment of the field.

    Edit: Card/deck management systems where what you do controls the probability of desired things coming up in the next draw. Space Food Truck is an example of this. You can suffer setbacks in the form of bad cards being forcibly added to your deck.
    Last edited by NichG; 2021-08-31 at 03:56 PM.

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