Game Design: Building From the Bottom Up
Ugh, to think it’s already been more than two months since I wrote about “the character chassis.” I thought it was a lot more recent than that. I feel old somehow. *shakes head* So, yeah. I’m thinking about the character chassis again, because I’m thinking about skill interactions and class powers. As I was walking home yesterday, I thought I should really have some base that skills build up from.
While I’ve been working on developing the class concepts for Norvendae, I’ve run into a couple issues with what the skills do, and how the classes utilize their skills specially. I’m trying really hard to avoid shoehorning classes into particular roles, apart from a pretty nebulous “offense,” “defense,” and “support,” along Team Fortress 2 lines.
So, I’m looking at these basic powers and trying to get a feel for what a character should be able to do, without a class at all. This is a great place to start, I think, because it’s forcing me to look at the cards a different way. How would I define a “second wind,” really? Actually thinking about that gives me cause to hearken back to the second wind mechanic of Borderlands.
Second Wind [Skill, Basic] (Probably 1, 3, or 5 of Swords)
Standard; commit to return target persona from your Flux to your Stockpile.
Depletion (Flux) — If you successfully deplete an opponent’s Destiny, return this card from your Flux to your Stockpile.
There you go. That’s an example of a basic action card. It should be able to affect any persona, regardless of class. There isn’t a special condition on it, and in fact, it doesn’t really matter how the persona got into your Flux in the first place. Maybe it’s been there since your opponent used Divination. It doesn’t matter.
It’s just one of those basic powers that any player should be able to utilize, that might be found at a lower value in the Swords suit. Why Swords? Well, because it utilizes the Depletion power to bounce back from your Flux to your Stockpile. Nice and easy. It’s a great utility card in general, kind of like Raise Dead is for Magic. But it raises itself.
It might seem odd, but actually it works out that if you activate one of your personae to deplete your opponent’s resources, this card stays in your Flux. It also stays in your Flux if you activate your persona to banish an enemy card. Its bounce-back condition isn’t difficult to achieve, but it can be a bit tricky unless you play carefully.
Now, this card fulfills all of my basic requirements for a card (er, before playtesting, anyway), which is primarily to have more than one use or utility. Obviously, the card already fulfills the basic points of being A) worth a “life point” in your deck, and B) being capable of activating other cards, namely ones of a lesser value. If you get one of these as an Ace, … well it’s just funny to think about.
Now, from a design perspective, I could honestly see this card as being a great foundation for either the Athletics or Discipline skill, since it seems to work well with either skill thematically. While this would be a pretty generic Swords card, I could see Athletics- and Discipline-skill cards building on this same concept in future editions and expansions. There’s definitely a lot of room to grow.