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Amping it up

October 9, 2009

I’ve recently been playing little solo games with myself – it’s rather fun, and allows me to test whatever harebrained schemes that pop into my head. Two plays in a row had my original concepts go in really, really ugly directions – irregardless of the success of the early game, the groups have to use Chaos dice for an extra usable traits boost, which means that groups degenerate in-fiction as they gain these mechanical bonii. It’s pretty awesome when it happens once, but I certainly wouldn’t like every game of Change to end with crazy uglies barely managing to eke out an existance in a ravaged world. Clearly, the groups are not getting enough juice by normal means to be able to stay in the game.

Originally, Arenas were supposed to take care of this issue by knocking down the difficulty of certain tasks really low – after a 5-strength Arena is applied, a Medium Challenge of 7 is effectivelly at a rating of 2 – which likely means that you don’t have to spend a single perishable trait on it. Also, everyone would likely be doing the Challenges that have Arena-bonuses, meaning that every new trait created would be of a similar theme, giving some common theme between the different groups.  However, Arenas simply don’t work, and with that mechanic out the window, the groups face an uphill slope – you have to spend more traits on Challenges than you get from the Aftermath of the Challenges.

The answer here is simple – if the groups don’t have enough juice, give ’em more juice!

A few straigthforward adjustments:

  • whenever a winning aftermath die hits a trait, it is automatically upgraded to the level of good(+).
  • whenever a losing aftermath die hits a poor(-) trait, the old trait goes into the peripheral traits column as per the old rules, and the replacement trait starts at a level of good(+).
  • when a losing aftermath die hits a trait, it immediatelly goes the level of poor(-). This is mostly for a sense of symmetry, and doesn’t change things as much as it may seem – most regular traits in play are immediatelly used, which means they are at neutral(0) level anyway.

There’s also a defining trait rule change I made for different reasons (specifically, for taking pressure off of having to use all defining traits every other turn, thus allowing to make then less generic) that also makes life easier for groups:

  • Instead of having to use each and every defining trait by itself, you now only need to use one of them to achieve a full bonus. Say, if you had the defining traits Omnivore++, Poisonous++, Forest lore++, Pushovers–, Bickering–, you only need to use, say, “Poisonous”, to receive the full bonus of +3 (one for each good defining trait). Conversely, your rival only needs to use either Pushovers or Bickering to give you the full malus of -2 (one for each bad defining trait). There is no longer any cooldown period for any trait.

Not only does the above rule take the edge of having to narrate all those traits every time, it also gives a slight overall bonus to roll difficulty. 2 good d-traits you start out with – 1 bad d-trait you’re stuck with from the start / 2, the cooldown period = an average +0.5 bonus to roll every turn. With the system in place, it’s a fairly straightforward +1 bonus. The change may not seem like much, but it gets higher with every new good defining trait you get (which are now easier to get anyway), so it definitelly works.

Try and give these rule adjustments a whirl (even if for a quick solo game) and tell me how it went!

Oh, and I’ve done some work on Threats and Resources, and what I have so far seems to work well enough that I’ll be able to share it in a few days. Stay tuned!

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