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Author Topic: Talents / Skills for Wizards?  (Read 945 times)

Offline Historiker

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Talents / Skills for Wizards?
« on: September 10, 2020, 09:35:04 PM »
Fellow ladies and gentlemen exploring the frozen City,

back in the day I stumbled over this little gem of a game whilst googling some information about Mordheim and since first reading the 1st edition I am a fan of exploring Felstad.

I do think that it is one of the best narrative skirmish rulesets out there and I use it frequently to introduce non-wargamers to our hobby.

Yet there was, at least for me, always something missing and having just come back from a walk I think I have found what that is for me: Wizard individualization apart from spells, items and statpoints and the few injuries.

In my view in these types of games there needs to be a set of skills or talents which can be acquired either by choosing or by rolling on a random table. Mordheim excelled at this, as do other systems like This is not a Test.

I do fully understand that full-warband customization (like in Mordheim) is not in the spirit of Frostgrave, as the idea behind the game is to focus on the wizards and not the disposable henchmen and to make for a quick game. But wouldn't wizard / leader / captain customization be an attractive addition to the game? I would argue, it would.

Rangers of Shadow Deep shows that skills / talents could be easily implemented with the core-engine, so it would be possible to simply write up some fun-talents for the local gaming group.

Wouldn't it be amazing to have an "official" expansion which adds that much more flavor to the leader of the party? And then there is of course fellow players who only play by the official rules... most of us will have met some of those.

On top of Talents or Skills one could even think of further item tables (don't we all venture into the city for strange relics?) or even expanded injury / outcome tables (remember stuff like "sold to the Pits"?).

Having pondered this idea for a few hours, I think that it would make a worthy supplement, of which I hope there will be many to come for the 2nd edition.

If I am interpreting the fluff text / description for the upcoming Stargrave (a delightful piece of text which can be found on Amazon), we might even find some of that customization there.

In my opinion the core-engine and the strong interest in the game seen in the last couple of years are opening many possibilities for future supplements and I do hope that some of them get really experimental and tinker creatively, broadening the initial scope of the core experience.

So what does this esteemed community say - good idea, bad idea? I am eager to hear your opinion on this.
 
"The philosopher Didactylos has summed up an alternative hypothesis as: Things just happen. What the hell."

Offline Darkson71

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Re: Talents / Skills for Wizards?
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2020, 12:07:25 PM »
I don't think the game needs it, but I wouldn't be upset if it was added, in fact I'd be sure to buy and use it.

My only fear is that to make them worthwhile, they'd need an activation to use, taking away the raison d'Ítre of wizards i.e. spellcasting, and if they're made so 'weak' (for want of a better word) that they don't use an activation then would it be worth the hassle.
In RoSD it's not a problem as the skills/spells are all useful in their own way (and mainly one-use only), so I'm not sure the same idea would work for Frostgrave.

But the idea is definitely an interesting one, and one I'd be interested on hearing Joe's thoughts.
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Offline Historiker

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Re: Talents / Skills for Wizards?
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2020, 01:29:24 PM »
Thank you for your input. Much appreciated!

I wasnīt primarily thinking of "active" skills which can be used but more something akin to "traits", in Frostgrave terms these could be something like the bonuses from buildings but maybe with some of them having a more direct impact on the battlefield:

To give some examples could be:

Scrapper: The wizard leading the party always finds some odds and ends to sell andgains 50 Gold per game, no matter what.

Haggler: Whenever buying an item, the wizard rolls a Will-Test against a certain number. If successful, the item costs 10% less.

Expert Climber: The Wizard can scale walls at normal speed.

Sprinter: Once per game the wizard can move up to twice his normal movement. This also applies to double moves.

Giant among Men: The wizard has a permanent +2 on all melee attacks but counts as large target in regards to shooting attacks (no change of base size).

Big Boned: The wizard is robustly build. He gains +2 Amor and loses a movement of 1".

Marksman: The wizard can spend his move action to receive a +4 bonus to a ranged attack (instead of not receiving the malus by having moved).

Commanding presence: Units in a certain radius around the leader can use the Will-stat of the wizard when making a save.

Dubious Recruiting Tactics: The Wizard can attempt a will save when buying a new fighter. If successful, the fighter joins for free. If not, the fighter realizes he has been lied to and the wizard loses the amount of gold necessary to hire the fighter without recruiting him.

Charismatic Master: Recruiting a new apprentice only costs 100 gold for this wizard.

Cruel Master: Whenever the wizard is killed in game, the player can choose to kill the apprentice instead of the wizard (not always a benefit).

Animal Lover: Whenever encountering an animal (random monster or rival war band) a wizard can roll a D20. If he rolls above 15 the animal joins the party of the wizard for the remainder of the game.

Dreadful: Units wanting to attack the wizard have to make a will-save (with a small bonus to their usual result).

Vengeful: The unit which first injures the wizard will engender his wrath. Whenever targeting the unit via spell or otherwise the wizard gains a +2 but he has to attack this specific unit whenever possible.

Battle Trauma: Whenever a warband unit is killed around 5" of the wizard, the wizards has to successfully roll a will-check. If failed his next movement will be a fleeing movement away from the attacking unit (either opposing table side or rolled via scatter dice).

Second Wind: Whenever killed, the wizard can spend one action in his next turn to immediately revive with a HP of 5.

Stark raving Mad: Whenever attempting to cast a spell, the wizard has to roll a will-save. When failing the test he attempts to cast a randomly selected spell available to him (player can still chose target / direction).

Healer: Whenever attempting to heal a unit via spell or potion, the wizard receives a +4 on the roll and a D6 of HP for the target healed.

Arcane Prodigy (should only be allocated randomly): Whenever leveling up, the wizard can roll a D20. When rolling above 15 he gains an extra spell - randomly selected.

Cursed to entertain the gods: Some trickster entity has cursed the wizard and all his actions have a -1 modifier. This however also applies to actions brought against the wizard, as the trickster intends to be entertained by a living idiot wizard. The curse can be broken by a certain spell / item / objective.

Indebted (akin to a fill roll on the random trait chart): The wizard has to pay 25% of his profits to an unknown party for the next 5 games.

Hoarder: The wizard has to successfully roll a will-save in order to sell an item. If failed he can't sell it this phase.

A Favour owed (randomly allocated): The wizard can summon a Bowman to one edge of the table once. The Bowman stays for the remainder of the game and vanishes afterwards. He can only be summoned again when the wizards acquires another Favour owed.

Enemies in high places: Every wizard phase the wizard rolls a D20. When rolling below 2, two Knights appear at the edge farthest away from the wizard. These knights will try to attack / apprehend the wizards. The effect only takes place once per game and can be cured by paying 300 gold after any game.


These are just some I made up on the fly while thinking of a reply but I assume many more and many interesting ones could be thought of. And as you can see, these traits are yet very unstructured and they would have to be organized into categories / tables (for example specifying which traits could be chosen, which only randomly allocated, which only gained in a post-game sequence).

These traits also mix "skill"-like traits and post-game-sequence results but I think it is especially this combination which forges a narrative over the course of a campaign ("remember the time I was indebted and you were cursed by the baron closest to Felstad for seducing his wife?").


« Last Edit: September 11, 2020, 01:31:59 PM by Historiker »

Offline Corporal Chaos

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Re: Talents / Skills for Wizards?
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2020, 12:27:18 AM »
These are really well done. I agree that not necessarily needed yet would add some depth to the game. Sounds very intriguing.
I should be painting right now.

Offline LiamFrostfang

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Re: Talents / Skills for Wizards?
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2020, 08:39:13 AM »
 8) cool idea!!!

Offline Historiker

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Re: Talents / Skills for Wizards?
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2020, 11:52:41 AM »
Thank you for the kind words and the feedback so far! I am coming from a background of having been a pen & paper player in my youth and nowadays being an avid fan of narrative skirmish games. Though I do enjoy some purely tactical / strategical games I am these days mostly interested to facilitate a great story experience and memorable moments on the table for all players. I especially like emergent-storytelling where there is no pre-set story (or a rather broad one) with the game interactions themselves being the superstar in shaping the narrative.

Every now and then I get the idea that I should write a game myself but to be honest: Frostgrave is such an excellent and elegant game that there is no need for another Ruined-City-Exploration-Style game. Because of this I think more along the lines of potential further narrative elements which could be offered as an option in official supplements or via a home-brew additions. As said before I hope that the 2nd Edition will be the start of many official supplements to come, opening many doors to strange and wonderful places in Felstad.

As hinted this could not only involve Wizard-traits but also other selection-tables or random-tables. It would for example be possible to expand the magical items list with more outlandish items. The adventuring parties are exploring the ruins of a once great and mighty and immensely strange city.

A unique Magical Item could be something like these:

Feather Staff: An oddly shaped staff with a rooster for a head. The wizards gains +3 on any spell involving animals or air, however there is a 20% chance that he will be turned into a chicken for the next turn. The chicken-wizard can not cast spells, not attack, but move (and as a very charismatic chicken group activate) and is very hard to hit + 4 fight defensively.

Box of Wonders and Horrors: The wizard gains a small box which can be opened after any game. Then he rolls a D20. On a roll from 10 - 19 he gains 500 Gold on a 20 a magical item. On a roll below ten a demon jumps out of the box and the wizard has to fight it on a table size o an A4 paper. If the demon kills the wizard, the wizard has to roll on the serious wound chart.

Unidentified Items: This is a small game-mechanism which I would like to propose and apply to some magical items. An unidentified item is just that: The wizard does not know the properties of it. In the post game sequence the wizard makes a Will-Check  -4 to identify the item. This could lead to especially fun situations if one throws...

Cursed Items: ...in the mix. A cursed weapon for example is a weapon that offers a hefty malus but maybe also a Bonus: think of a Vampiric Sword which drains the life of the wielder. The thing is: Once wielded the curse has to be broken by some specific action in order to let go of the item.

Wizarding Attire: Another concept I would be interested in is items which change the appearance of the character. This would offer some modeling / kit bashing potential. These wardrobe items could come in the form of blessed and cursed items.

As to how these items could be implemented beyond their game effect there are multiple possible paths. One limitation one has to circumvent is that one would usually "search" for things in a D20 Table. While 20 options are a lot and a great start, they might not be enough in terms of game which keeps on evolving and evolving and evolving.

A good way to solve this is to "Search" for the items in several steps. The first roll determines the BROAD TYPE of the item (for example: weapon / trinket / attire) while the next roll specifies the SUB-TYPE of the item (Weapon is for example specified to: 1 handed, 2 handed, Ranged, Heavy, Light). The third and final roll then determines the item out of a D20 list. This concept would enhance the feeling of exploring the city for loot, rummaging through debris to find something shiny (Ohh! A Sword! Ohhhh, A Glowing Sword!). 

And while we are at exploring, there is one last idea which I would add at that point and that is:

Special Ruins: In Mordheim this was called the "Exploration Chart" while in This is not a Test this element of exploration is covered by drawing face-cards of a deck of playing cards. Special ruins are little corners of emergent storytelling which are not tied to the grand scheme of a campaign-story but offer a little scene, a glimpse in the countless tales written by the Frozen City...

...an abandoned campsite, a house with a creaky floor and a hidden cache, a letter found alongside a dead messenger, a stray dog looking for a new master, a pack of wolves guarding a pile from a lost caravan, a traveling vendor peddling in long-lost books and scrolls, a circle of strangely glowing stones, a voice in a stairwell... you get the idea!

I hope to have offered some idea of the modular approach to expanding the game could take and maybe provided some inspiration. The same principle could be applied base-building, post-game-sequences, henchmen-variation (a more impactful change, even without experience-gaining for henchmen). Frostgrave is a paragon for narrative creativity (Oh, those fantastic Ulterior Motives... the Pacts ... the non-player Wizard Schools) and I am certain it will continue to be a bubbling cauldron of narrative and gaming joy!

« Last Edit: September 12, 2020, 11:54:55 AM by Historiker »

Offline Corporal Chaos

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Re: Talents / Skills for Wizards?
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2020, 02:10:34 AM »
A bit late to respond here again... your ideas are really wonderful. I do hope that something is put to paper. I will likely try to barrow some of what you have presented here. Though Iím a bit of a Turtle 🐢 in getting anything done.

Offline BZ

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Re: Talents / Skills for Wizards?
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2020, 07:24:42 PM »
I like the idea, and your skill list is very well elaborated! As a houserule, I think its practically ready. For getting it to something official, a investigation of the balance would be necessary.

Offline Historiker

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Re: Talents / Skills for Wizards?
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2020, 10:26:34 PM »
Many thanks!

These lists eventually led me to almost developing my own ruined city-genre game (there is another post somewhere here which was the starting point for the setting) which was a project I abandoned because it went on to become a) real work for which I was not being payed and which kept me from doing other thinks I like b) further proof that the stuff I am most interested in is narrative and fluff and not balance or rules technicalities.

I fully respect people who are the opposite sort of gamer and therefore like intricate balancing and complex, well engineered rules (I think I read in some thread that you like detailed rule systems because of you being an engineer). In my opinion both types of gamers can easily brought to the table when playing ready-made rules, but it would be a real hassle if gamers with a different focus would try develop one game together  lol

Offline BZ

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Re: Talents / Skills for Wizards?
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2020, 10:50:20 PM »
These lists eventually led me to almost developing my own ruined city-genre game (there is another post somewhere here which was the starting point for the setting) which was a project I abandoned because it went on to become a) real work for which I was not being payed and which kept me from doing other thinks I like b) further proof that the stuff I am most interested in is narrative and fluff and not balance or rules technicalities.
I understand, if something requires too much effort, then after certain ammount of time, it cant be done for free...
I fully respect people who are the opposite sort of gamer and therefore like intricate balancing and complex, well engineered rules (I think I read in some thread that you like detailed rule systems because of you being an engineer).
Yes, Im an engineer, and I wrote this to the siege rules topic. Many gameplay/rule problems can be solved with narrative/fluff/common sense, but I think a siege not... There must be balanced rules, or it wont working. And any other game has to be more or less balanced, because without that, it can be either to easy or to hard, to be enjoyable.
In my opinion both types of gamers can easily brought to the table when playing ready-made rules, but it would be a real hassle if gamers with a different focus would try develop one game together  lol
I must disagree. I think, that a real good game can only be made with cooperation of these two types of people:
- one has to bring the fantasy, the story to make the people want to play the game
- the other has to make system in it, to make the people not only enjoy the story, but the game itself to
Only the first one is a book to read, and only the second one is an abstract puzzle.

Offline Historiker

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Re: Talents / Skills for Wizards?
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2020, 10:59:53 PM »
For a really well designed game with staying power and commercial appeal you are absolutely correct! I think this is why the "middle phase" of Games Workshop and Warhammer Fantasy Battles was such a smashing success.

I only meant that it would require tremendous effort to bring these different aspects together in game design in a hobby context. The fictitious example in mind was one of my engineer friends playing one of my pen & paper RPG friends and / or them designing a noncommercial game together...it would work...poorly  lol.

I myself am fine with both types of players to a great degree. The only crowd I never clicked with from the first moment were the competitive Infinity players.

Offline BZ

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Re: Talents / Skills for Wizards?
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2020, 05:38:01 AM »
Yes, starting to get really (because I want to win too, but not at all cost) competitive is the end of having fun, for me at least.

 

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