Title: Taxonomy as a game mechanic?
Description: The wonderful world of Cauldron
Orima-Kazooie - May 9, 2012 11:58 PM (GMT)
So I'm trying to get some general outlines for an RPG based on my Cauldron stuff, and one of the things I kept coming back to was an empathy sytem with animals. Which is odd, considering the hard science of the setting, and yet, it doesn't seem out of place.
The general idea was to give every handler and creature on the field a turn. Handlers could use items or some support options, or issue a command to one of their creatures. Your empathy is used to determine whether you can tell your creature what to do on its own turn. If you fail the empathy roll, the creature makes its own decision. One trick would would also allow to command an ally's creature, and you'd need to make an empathy roll for this as well, or else the creature will simply ignore you.
I figured that at character creation you'd choose a type to have empathy with, and if it didn't match your starting creature, you'd get empathy with your starter's type as well after sharing battles for a long time. This empathy would give you a base bonus to empathy rolls when dealing with creatures of the right type.
With the hard science theme, I figured it'd be based on taxonomy. More specifically, the standard empathies would be at Class level. This is where problems arise. Obviously some empathies would be more useful than others, as there a lot more insects than mammals, for example. I thought to handle it by number of species being inversely proportional to the strength of its empathy skill. For example you wouldn't get a lot of empathy at all dealing with insects, a little more if its maxillopeds, a little more for mammals, a little more for arachnids, who'd get less than asterozoads < cephalopods, and for some, like myxozoans, you'd practically dominate them from the start. Purely by coincidence this has the nifty side effect of making more intelligent creatures more likely to have their own plans, simply by coincidence.
But I don't really like the idea of there being such a drastic gradient of empathies available by default, I'd like them mostly to be mid strength (or humorously specific for those who want it) and am not comfortable with giving empathy over the entireties of classes
Insecta, Maxillopoda, Mammalia, Actinopterygi, or Sarcopterygi due to the breadth of their variety. I'm thinking to split it into subclasses by default, and allow the full class empathies as earned perks.
Of course, things that are sedis incertae are tough to deal with, too. My idea for dealing with these is to have an Esoteric Empathy skill for very high level characters to handle those and some of the ridiculously small classes.
I'd like to know what you guys think of this system, and any improvements or suggestions you have. One of the major things bugging me is how broad and how specific to allow empathies to become. Should you be able to empathize with all the arthropods or specify exactly which genus of ants to use? I'm thinking not, else the hypothetical book have an entire section dedicated to taxonomy.
...so, uh, yeah, what do you think?
Incidentally, my faith in humanity was restored after discovering that the International Taxonomy Project named their official online database the Taxonomicon.
Orima-Kazooie - May 13, 2012 10:00 PM (GMT)
Eh, you can ignore that last post if you want, but I'd like to see what you guys think of three the actual monsters:
Here's Candy Creep, so named for its bright colors and tendency to frighten foes away rather than fight if possible. Like a naturally occuring mantis, its eyes always appear to be staring directly at you, and it is partly snake, giving some bones for support but more noticably a massive body-spanning hood.
I've only really got a vague idea of what this one should do, separated by life stage:
At its youngest, 1st instar, the Lovecraft Child is merely jittery, spastic and hyperactive to creep out attackers, but can inflict a nasty bite if necessary. At fifth instar, in addition to being a twitchy menace, it's got the ability to flush part of its body with eerie glowing blood, and can blow a noxious smoke.
After 11th instar, it molts into a hardened, cicada-like shell that continues to twitch and rumble until molting into the adult form, known as a Buttermidge. The Buttermidge can fly clumsily and pop its fluffy shoulders as smoke bombs, as well as use a vampire attack on part-plants, and is mostly immune to inhaled poisons.
Tis is the Cieling Cat. While a catgirl monster is probably fairly common, the combination of skills I've given it certainly isn't: The Cieling Cat is named for its ability to walk along perfectly vertical or inverted surfaces via a combination of suction and piercing claws, but its more memorable (and only debatably useful) skill is the ability to store evry sound it hears to transcribe it onto to paper as a soundwave drawing, which could then be fed into a machine to recreate an MP3 of it. It can also learn very broken speech, and can release calming pheromones by rubbing its chest or haunches.
OuthouseInferno - May 13, 2012 10:08 PM (GMT)
OMG ITS A CATGIRL YOU ARE NOT ALT/NONMAINSTREAMCONFORMIST ENOUGH FOR THE WORLD OF BOGLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH
Orima-Kazooie - May 13, 2012 10:18 PM (GMT)
|QUOTE (OuthouseInferno @ May 13 2012, 05:08 PM)|
| OMG ITS A CATGIRL YOU ARE NOT ALT/NONMAINSTREAMCONFORMIST ENOUGH FOR THE WORLD OF BOGLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH |
YES I AAAAAAMMMMM.
The Cieling Cat was actually for a batch of web-inspired monsters to celebrate deviantArt's April Troll's Day last year. The other two were the FSM and of course a Trollface.
So it <i> is </i> based on a neko, but also on LOLCats, as well as various other cats from pop culture including the Wampus Cat, Catwoman, and the Chesire Cat.
...I really shouldn't bother dignifying that with a response, though.
OuthouseInferno - May 13, 2012 10:49 PM (GMT)
I'm not sure about the validity of a creature that's essentially I TROLL U in the same universe as actual more monstery things.
I can only comment on the game mechanics post you have there, and my first gut reaction is that it's confusing. I could probably parse it out given enough time and/or effort but I don't really want to, and that's not a feeling you should be instilling in potential players.
Simplify your pitch first and maybe more people would feel good enough to talk about it.
Orima-Kazooie - May 13, 2012 11:10 PM (GMT)
While the inclusion of the troll is sort of a joke, it definitely looks and feels right at home in the stting. I've got it basically as a mostly bald primate with a large mane of hair that can decode computer data that's transmitted wirelessly and is electroreceptive.
You're probably right about me needing to be more concise, I really need to work on that. Thanks for the input.
I'll simplify it down and repost in a moment.
Orima-Kazooie - May 15, 2012 11:30 PM (GMT)
Okay, let's try that again. Ahem.
I've been sketching up some outlines for an RPG based on my Cauldron setting, and one of most fleshed out ideas so far is an empathy system. I've hit a few snags, though, and could use some input.
First, here's the gist of the concept:
During battle, a monster trainer and his monster both get a turn. On his turn, the trainer can command the monster or use his own skills. On his monster's turn, he rolls for empathy and if successful, can issue a command. If he fails, the monster decides on its own what to do.
And that's what empathy's for. Instead of a coverall base empathy bonus, at character creation, players select one class of monster that their character can empathize with, adding to the empathy roll by a fixed amount for that creature type. Since Cauldron's setting is fairly hard science, these are actual taxonomic classes.
You can gain extra empathies by training with monsters of the same class, and there are a variety of feats for nonstandard empathies.
Problems arise where:
1. A monster's classification is sedis incertae; i.e. debated or unknown.
2. Not every class would have the same number of monsters, so some empathy types become more useful.
2.1 Some classes are incredibly diverse, or else highly saturated at class level, and thus would prove rather broken.
I don't think players should be able to choose Insecta, Maxillopoda, Mammalia, Actinopterygi, or Sarcopterygi at character creation.
Proposed solutions for said problems:
1. Add an Esoteric Empathy feat for these creatures.
2. Have the bonuses range in strength depending on the class chosen. (Not so sure about this.)
2.1 Split said classes into their subclasses by default, and allow class-level empathy for those as high-level feats.
Is this better? What do you guys think of this idea?