Saturday, June 6, 2020

Lighthouse Design Corner: The Core Mechanic

These posts on twitter are always popular with folks, but twitter is a burning garbage fire on a good day and there haven't been many good days of late. So have the bigger version.

The Core Mechanic

I'm trying to get everything roll under on a d20.There are five stats, which are generated by rolling 4d4 (and so your success range, barring modification, is between 20 and 80% - if something would raise it above that level, it's just automatically granted advantage).

Body - Raw strength, endurance, gross motor skills, pushing your limits.

Reflex - Reaction, finesse, fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination.

Mind - Recall, deduction, computation, conceptualization.

Spirit - Willpower, empathy, charisma, gut checks.

Combat - The ability to commit violence against another being

So far so typical. These are general, and I'm not planning on doing a formal skill system ("eh, you'd know how to do that, roll with advantage" is the phrase of the day).

My main divergence is that I'm going to treat as much else as I can as stats on their own, rather than as modifiers to your own stats (in most cases - those modifiers will still exist here and there.)

This is where the lateral advancement comes into play, with Insights.

Every Lighthouse character comes with a number of Insight slots. Some backgrounds might start you with a few filled by default, but ordinary folks will start with a blank slate. Each slot costs 1 Insight to open, and then you can fill it with any of the Insights that you've unlocked for yourself.

A Confession: This is whole-heartedly stolen from the Thought Cabinet in Disco Elysium)

An Actual Quandary: Insight has morphed into both "special thing about your character" as well as "currency used to buy / unlock those special things". This is likely to pose problems in the future, so I need to figure out which one is what and find a replacement for the other.

So say you get a nifty new power, or a new magical item, or a new ally - you'll pencil that in on your character sheet with whatever number is associated with it, and whenever you're going to call on that resource you'll roll a d20 and try to get under, or burn off a point of its stat, or sometimes both. And if you happen to get a lot of Insight burning a hole in your pocket, you can upgrade the stats of your Insights (oh no the quandary!)

Most group insights will likely not take up a slot.

Some Insights, the ones that just are the way they are and there's no chance they can fail, do not have a stat.

Some generic Insight structures can include:
  • Burn point > get effect, no roll required.
  • Burn point > get effect, roll stat to determine if complication occurs
  • Always works, no roll required
  • Always works, roll stat to determine if complication occurs
  • Roll stat to determine success / failure

    Or in more practical examples:
    • Convocation Call (5) - Burn one point to send a voice message of under a minute via sparrow. Regain a point by taking time out of your day to go feed the birds in the park. You can increase points in storage above 5.
    • Blunted Knife (X) - A chipped butcher's chopper, heavy as lead and possessing a permanently dull blade. Completely useless against wood, flesh, or bone, but can cut metal and stone without resistance.
    • The Blue Notebook (4) - The creature it calls forth hovers, crouched, indistinct and tense, in the corner of your vision. It is very hungry. It hates you in particular, but cannot yet strike back. It will hunt down and kill a target if you offer it one of their possessions. You will always gain a point of Hamartia for its use. Every time you roll above this Insight's score, increase it by one. If you roll successfully, increase it by two. If it reaches 16, the creature will be freed from its binding. It will go after your contacts first.
    • Angry Tom (Minor Contact 10) - Activist, freelance layout guy, specialist marijuana gardener, very, very angry acquaintance. Roll under 10 to see if you can get some help. Rolling over means he is too busy, or getting the help would require you to provide something else to him.
    Tune in next time when I talk about how combat is going to work, and the cost of committing violence.

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