Thrash 2.0: The Maneuvers

It hadn’t occurred to me before, but it’s been a while since I played much in the way of fighting games. If my collection of old PlayStation, Saturn, and Dreamcast games is any indication I was really into those back in the day, and I have a good number of both import and domestic releases (Sega Saturn represent and all that). The point of all this is to get into the nitty-gritty of the special moves for Thrash 2.0, since I was getting a nagging feeling that there were some important moves I was missing. There were, though it was primarily the kind of stuff most people would overlook.

I played some of Touki Denshou: Angel Eyes, an obscure all-girl fighting game that Tecmo put out in 1999, with some of my favorite and most blatant fighting game characters (like Mysterious Power, a retro superheroine with bouncy breasts and a ray gun, or Chibiko, a loli P.E.-themed girl in bloomers), and an array of dashing and jumping moves that make for insane, kinetic fights (a homing jump!). I also finally actually played the copy of Asuka 120% Burning Fest. Final that I picked up for cheap during my trip to Japan like 3 years ago. That game is also a schoolgirl fighter, with each character using moves based on what club she belongs to (Asuka, the main character, is in the chemisty club, and has a special move where she tosses out a flask that explodes). The fighting in that isn’t as aerial as in Angel Eyes, but it’s still pretty insane. And I haven’t even gotten into the doujin fighters like Queen of Heart and Eternal Fighter Zero, which let you do off-the-ground attacks that most 2D fighting games studiously avoid. Unfortunately, my Saturn has seen better days (I think I need to try another RAM cartridge), so I didn’t get around to playing Vampire Savior or Marvel Super Heroes Vs. Street Fighter. And I ought to go borrow a few games from my friends too. I got plenty of Street Fighter in too. I still need to play:

  • DarkStalkers
  • King of Fighters
  • Capcom Vs. SNK
  • SVC Chaos
  • Waku Waku 7
  • Samurai Shodown
  • Last Blade
  • What else?

The maneuvers in Thrash are getting a bit broader out of necessity, and certain kinds of moves have become recurring. I’m starting to be able to look at most fighting game characters and define their special moves in Thrash terms, which is a Good Thing. There’s a definite need for the maneuvers in Thrash to not correspond to the number of “hits” in a fighting game (not that they ever did in the first place…). This isn’t just for stuff like the Tiger Uppercut doing 7+ hits (to say nothing of the triple-digit weirdness in MvC2); in Asuka 120% there’s a character whose rising uppercut has a slapdown hit at the end, and it occurs to me that this could easily be treated as a “special effect” rather than making life needlessly complicated with a superfluous modifier or mucking around with combo maneuvers.

Anyway, here’s the new maneuvers I’ve come up with so far:

  • Blast Knuckle: A heavy standing punch that sends the opponent flying backwards.
  • Death From Above: The character leaps high into the air and comes down on the opponent. Popular with ninjas.
  • Forward Leap Kick: The character somehow jumps/flips/whatevers forward to clock the opponent with one or both feet. Not the most widely recognized maneuver, but actually pretty common.
  • Intercept Counter: Not 100% sure what to call it, but basically the special counter maneuvers, Geese Howard’s being the most notable.
  • Justice Fist: A powerful standing punch that knocks the opponent down. Named (for better or for worse) for Allen’s move from SFEX, but Karin (SFA3) has what amounts to an open-palm version of the same thing.
  • Leaping Power Throw: The fighter jumps at the opponent, and grabs them while airborne to do a throw. Alex (SF3) has this maneuver a couple times over.
  • Stepping Power Kick: A powerful thrusting kick done with a short hop. As seen in Cody’s Ruffian Kick, amongst others.
  • Through Strike: The fighter whisks past the opponent, and delivers a lightning-fast attack whose effects are felt a moment later. A very anime-esque move, and Gen (SFA2) has a super version of this.

I’ve also found myself poking at the Thrash Companion a little bit, which’ll be the first sourcebook for the game, and a general collection of neat stuff. Weird Powers wound up divided into the categories of Freaks (cyborgs, robots, mutant animals, aliens, guys like Blanka and Dhalsim, etc.) and “Metapowers” (espers, magic, gadgets, “otherworld power” — like Dizzy and Jedah — and so on). Freaks will mostly just be a set of themed character traits (should you want stretchy limbs, or claws, or whatever), and I’m not sure how to handle metapowers just yet. It’s also going to be a repository for wackier maneuvers and other character traits. Whatever crazy rules options I come up with will also go in here; I have a vague notion of a universal Thrash variant and an FPS-themed variant. Plus I have this idea for a thing called The Fighter’s Soul which would bring in a sort of narrativist “layer” to the game, and replace the game’s boring character advancement mechanics in the process.

So yeah, I’m definitely in the thick of things with Thrash, and enjoying it. ^_^

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4 thoughts on “Thrash 2.0: The Maneuvers

  1. Obviously, having not seen the documents or the style you’re going for. When I was redesigning the powers for Deeds Not Words, one of the things I noticed was a massive overlap and duplication in powers and abilities. You could get bonus saves or HP from Feats OR Powers. You could get DR from Natural Armor OR Force Field. Natural weaponry was covered by 3 powers… Jaws, Spines/Quills AND Natural Weapon. One of the first things I did was to “bundle” related or duplicate powers into one. Same with Power/Feat crossovers… I picked one option and eliminated the other.

    The biggest thing I did was to take the basic system of Power Enhancements and expanded them like mad… and added Limitations. I rigged each power to be a minimal functional level, and then used Enhancements to get all the good stuff.

    Drain Life as an example. You choose whether you can drain HP or PP (Power Points). The basic version lets you do X damage with a touch attack, and gain that many points. Then the various enhancements allow you to…
    Gain more than your max HP/PP
    Use it as a ranged attack
    Extend the max range
    Drain either HP or PP (not just one) or both simultaneously
    Drain Ability scores (Str, Dex)
    Drain Levels

    I felt this a better approach than making separate powers for each of those abilities.

    The point I’m working up to is that you may find it easier to take a similar approach. Rather than making a “Knockdown Punch” maneuver (Justice Fist), just make a Knockdown enhancement you can slap onto relevant maneuvers. Why can’t you have a knockdown kick, or jump kick, or even a knockdown grab (trip slam)?

    Plus… what if a villain wants a knockdown punch? Are they really going to have a JUSTICE punch?

    The other thing I did (that may be of use to you) is that I divided all the powers in DNW into “Powers” and “Traits”. Powers require an activation time, usually require concentration (if they’re sustained), and cost PP (though some can be reduced to no PP cost with enhancements). They do flashy or supernatural things, and like spells, can be interrupted. Energy blasts, flight, teleport, etc fall under here.

    Traits are simply super qualities. They are “always on”, cannot be interrupted, cost no PP and take no concentration. This covers things like extra arms, blindsight, regeneration and stretching.

    Feats, you’re familiar with.

    The key mechanics involved are
    Feats can be had by anyone.
    Powers and Traits are only possessed by non/superhumans. If you have even one Trait, you’re not a normal human.
    Powers can be affected by Metapowers, like Nullify and Steal Power (ie Rogue). Traits cannot be affected.

    It seems like your ideas thusfar would fit what I’ve got. Freaks have traits, and Metapowers (bad name, IMO. Metapower means “Power about or relating to powers”) would be powers. And all our normal chi blasting characters… I guess Chi Blast is a Feat? :)
    (Different universe, different standards of “normal human”)

  2. I’m specifically trying to avoid making too much of a power construction system. With superpowers you’re dealing with a *much* wider array of possible character abilities, with a zillion possibile variations, so you generally need either an M&M/Hero System style means of constructing and tweaking what you want, or a fuzzy system like Truth & Justice or BESM that lets players define new powers with relative ease. Attributes get affected by this too, since the upper limit of strength is going to be the likes of Zangief rather than the Incredible Hulk.

    Thrash is meant to be more like a less baroque version of Exalted: pick moves from this list, write down what they can do, and go use them to kick some ass. There are a lot of things that people found ways to very badly abuse in the previous versions of Thrash, and maneuver modifiers were the prime suspect. I’m going to be keeping a very tight rein on those, and trying to make it so that anything that makes a maneuver more powerful also gives the character an opportunity cost of some kind during play.

    Multipowers. That’s what it was supposed to be. I knew it started with an M. The concept is similar to Hero system in that they’re grouped around a particular theme. Vital points stuff is going to be one of these too.

  3. Oh yes. A completely open power construction system is pretty well always a bad idea IMO. It leads to endless twinkery and 6 hour character creation times. On the flipside, really restrictive systems (Heroes Unlimited, anyone?) leave WAY too much to be desired.

    I went for a middle ground. I made a clearly defined “shopping list” of powers, with clearly defined effects. Clarity is a major design goal. Then (as appropriate) I added enhancements and limitations to them. Rather than leaving power stunts wide open (adjudication nightmares), I took most expected ones, and power variants, and codified them. Almost every enhancement is specific to the power it’s listed for. Some are for multiple powers (like reduced PP cost), but might have different costs or effects. And the key point is that unless a power has an enhancement, it CANNOT be applied. This helps head off some almost all potential abuses right there.

    Thrash had a crapload of universal modifiers, and they could be stacked like mad.

    Restricting modifiers to maneuvers can give you a lot of flexibility, but avoid problems. There’s no real issue with having “knockdown attack” availiable for the Basic Strike maneuver… but if you can’t add knockdown to a multi-strike, the abuse is gone.

    One mechanic I’m using a lot is that of power “levels” increasing capacity, not effiency or potency.

    If you have 1 level of Energy Attack, you can spend 1 PP to make an Energy Attack that does 1d6 damage. If you have 3 levels of it, you can spend 3 PP to do 3d6 damage. Or 2 PP for 2d6, or 1 PP for 1d6. You have a higher capacity for damage, but the cost of doing so rises with it.
    This is contrary to the D&D norm where increasing your power (caster) level increases the potency of your spells, but not the cost. A Lv 5 caster uses a 3rd level spell slot to cast a Fireball for 5d6 damage. A Lv 10 caster still uses a 3rd level spell slot, but now does twice as much damage. Moreso, instead of being the same cost, it’s marginal cost has gone down. The Lv 10 caster has more Lv 3 slots, AND higher spells.

    So there’s one easy way to rein things in. Add stepped levels of potency, and escalating activation costs to match them. Even AP is a relevant cost. Using Knockdown on a Basic Strike might take 2 more AP than normal AND 2 Chi.

    If you want me to take a look over crunchy bits and weigh in on them, just sned stuff over to palmer@shinraonline.com

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