Thrash 2.0: Destiny

I get happier with Thrash 2.0 the more I work on it. Things are just generally fitting together really well. The new maneuver design system seems to work just fine so far, and I’ve got the Special Maneuvers all taken care of (though there wound up being more Support Maneuvers than Specials, and only about 6 Supers, though most of them are meta-things used to make supers based on your special moves). Although I mentioned this before (a while back), the new AP system has allowed me to finally get combos and counters figured out in a way that looks fairly solid, for which I’m immensely glad.

I also keep coming up with rules options — three pages so far — that I’m sticking into the playtest version for people to look at and mess with to their heart’s content. I wound up creating a “power level” rule similar to Mutants & Masterminds, to set and gradually raise caps for various character traits.

The major thing I’m still working on figuring out is the details of the game’s more narrative-oriented aspects. I’ve added “Destiny points” to the game, which do double duty as XP and meta-game Drama Point type stuff. My inspiration for this melding of two elements is Truth & Justice. The game starts out with just adding clever rules for superpowers to the PDQ system, but its implementation of Hero Points goes a long way towards adding some of the feel of superhero comic storylines to the game. The question is, what do I need to do to give more of a fighting game/fighting manga feel?

Fighter Nature is sort of like T&J’s “Motivations” in that it’s going to describe the fighter’s reasons for fighting and affect the flow of Destiny points. I’m still working out what I want to do with Story Hooks though. These can be things like having a murdered family member to avenge (Chun Li), being famous enough to attract challengers (Ryu), or having been created by a secret organization as a fighter (Cammy). Stuff like that. I’m thinking of taking a cue from The Mountain Witch and giving the player the power to introduce things related to the Story Hook into the game (albeit with a Destiny point cost, and a potential for a Destiny point reward).

Some of the other uses for Destiny I’m thinking about include:

  • Second Wind (get some Health back)
  • Digging Deep (get a bonus on a roll)
  • Duel (force someone to have an uninterrupted one-on-one fight
  • Epiphany (suddenly figure out a new move pertinent to the situation at hand)
  • Fury/Quiet (reach a new plateau of rage or meditative calm to be more effective for one scene)

8 thoughts on “Thrash 2.0: Destiny

  1. I’m somewhat ambivalent about the same thing working both as XP and spendable resource. In my experience, it more often encourages hoarding the resource for development than not.

    How does advancement currently work in the game? Thinking about the genre, I’d say it could be fitting if it was connected with sudden power-ups after having one’s ass seriously kicked by the opponent. What if the main way to make the character stronger was to lose big fights, instead of typical rpg-ish XP accumulation from fight to fight? Consequently, facing stronger and stronger enemies would be required to advance, and there wouldn’t really be any point to challenge weaklings.

    At the same time, I think it could be interesting if it was possible for the character to rearrange his techniques through training montages and the like, but without really raising in overall power that way. It would allow for changing one’s tactical options without introducing the need to pump up the opponent’s powerlevel accordingly.

    Also, I’d be careful with having too many options for spending the same resource. Balancing them point-wise can be difficult, and that’s a whole lot of things for the player to remember. A summary on the sheet could probably solve the thing (but if the list becomes too long to include on a sheet, there’s a sign that a bit too much complexity entered the game somewhere on the way, I think).

    We playtested Raspberry Heaven, by the way. The report is here. Generally, I think the issues I’ve been mentioning in the e-mail got confirmed.

  2. I instantly react to that thought with “What are you possibly thinking?”

    XP for essentially losing fights would be a huge mistake. From a gameplay perspective it would be terribly unbalancing and totally remove the drive to win from the players. You have two guys who repeatedly lose to each other, each getting stronger in the process. They swap off losses long enough and you’ll have guys of impossible power and skill that didn’t do a *damn* thing to get there.

    While it’s possible to learn from your mistakes, it should not be the primary method of XP accumulation or advancement. Fighting is about winning. Losers get nothing. Having some kind of insight into why you lost or how to train yourself to overcome your weaknesses may result in regaining some of your lost reward, but should never exceed the gains from winning.

  3. My experience has been that players hoard any resource they’re given. When we played a long-running Fudge game where I assigned both FP and XP, some players accumulated 50 or more FP.

    In the source material, it’s not that losing lets a fighter become stronger. It’s that being close to defeat puts pressure on a fighter, which can in turn force him to rise to the occasion and come up with a new technique for the situation at hand. In part, that’s the purpose of the Epiphany rule.

    Thanks for the playtest too. I’ll be sure to read it when I have time. :3

  4. I’m also against haveing XP being expendable resources, but am for having them aquired in the same way for some things. Basicly some actions will give you both XP and Destiney Points; they’re seperate but still kind of linked.

    Also, instead of having Epiphany as something you buy with DP you could just make it so you’re allowed to spend XP whenever you want, with GM permission. So let’s say you’ve saved up some points, then you’re in a fight and you realize if you were just able to use this maneuver you don’t have yet or just were a little stronger in one stat you could win. Then the GM would let you spend the XP then instead of waiting for down time.

    As for gaing XP, I think you should be reward for roleplaying, being fun in the group, having your character learn new things, do somehthing new or interesting, being able to accomplishe a goal, and having some style while doing it all. I’m against just giving XP for winning a fight, that is the path of munchkinism. XP just for rolling well is something I think should be avoided; it should be given out based on what the player makes their character do.

  5. Well, for the time being I’m going to go with what my prior gaming experience tells me and let Destiny points do double duty. Although I want plenty of feedback, I’m definitely interested in feedback that’s informed by the results of actually playing the game.

    In the older versions of Thrash, Epiphany was simply spending XP during play rather than downtime, and nothing more. My present idea for Epiphany is that it (1) lets you improve your character on the fly, and (2) can provide a discount on the cost of doing so, depending on how much pressure the fighter is under (e.g., low on Health/Ki, girlfriend/teammates/relatives in serious danger, etc.).

    I can see why you’d be leery of rewarding victory with XP, and I’m not necessarily going that route, but in terms of the source material it is VERY appropriate. It definitely shouldn’t be the only thing, not by a long shot, but it probably should be a thing nonetheless. Of course, ideally the fights themselves should be *about* something in the first place, and winning takes more than just rolling well (though making good tactical decisions helps too, you know).

  6. The old DC Heroes roleplaying game uses Experience/Hero Points as both an expendable resource to improve the character’s chances to succeed at tasks in-game, and what the player spends to improve the character’s abilities between games.

    It was a disaster, and after a few months we house-ruled a split between the two awards/uses. In that time, we observed all of the following:

    1) One player who had a run of good luck early in the campaign, so didn’t have to spend many points on tactical considerations, giving him a leg up on capability by being able to spend most of his points on character improvement. After that, the fact that his character was better then the other characters meant he was able to keep doing it, and the problem just got worse and worse.

    2) On the other hand, another player of the “famously bad dice luck” variety who still wanted to be able to pull her weight amongst the PCs was spending all her points in-game, and her character was hardly improving at all.

    3) Then there was the player that really wanted to improve his character, to the point that he hated spending points in-game, even when his character was faced with a critical task, which drove the other players crazy.

    4) Lastly, there was the player who spent all his accumulated points between games without keeping any for tactical use. The next game the PCs got into a combat situation that went rather badly, and his character ended up surrounded by the enemy, he had no resources to help him out, and the PC died.

    So I’d be leery of spending the same resource for both tactical and permanent improvement.

  7. More stuff to think about. I am listening, but, again, playtesting.

    I never played DC Heroes or Blood of Heroes (so admittedly I don’t know how the points work there), but my group played a long Truth & Justice campaign. The game uses its Hero Points both as XP and Drama Points, and I think one of the keys to why it works quite well is that the game encourages a freer flow of points. You can gain 1d6 points during a game session by bringing your character’s Motivation into play, rather than waiting until the end of the session when the GM doles some more out. With Fighter Nature and Story Hooks, that’s kind of what I’m going for.

    The other thing with T&J, though, is the MAX points. MAX is your maximum stored Hero Points, and it goes up every time you earn as many HP as your current MAX. It’s MAX, not HP, that you spend on character advancement, which makes improving your character (which costs 4 for Qualities and 8 for Powers) expensive yet desirable, since the lower your MAX gets the faster it goes up again.

    Also, the common thread in all of your examples with DC Heroes is that the characters apparently NEED to burn Hero Points in order to succeed sometimes. #4 apparently reached a point where no amount of help from friends or creativity on his part could have saved him from death, and he was punished solely for poor resource management. The other thing about T&J (and Thrash) that makes a difference is that it’s not especially lethal. In T&J an incapacitated character only gets killed if a villain walks up and very deliberately finished them off.

    At the other extreme, there’s OVA, which lets you spend your Endurance to enhance die rolls. This is wholly separate from XP, but at the same time you’re basically burning up your magic points/reserve health (though you can get back 5 per turn spent resting).

  8. It’s good to see you working on Thrash 2.0 again ;) !

    These Destiny Point system sounds interesting. If you can manage to find a balance between character advancement and quick power boosts, this could work nicely.

    Oh, and XP (or DP, or whatever…;) shouldn’t be granted just because of losing or winning a battle. Winning or losing is not important. It’s more important to LEARN from the fight.

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