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Gear: make me care about it, Blizzard Edition

“Warcraft 40k vol.1” by Dio-Dong

Less than a week ago, I wrote about how you could make me care about gear in RPG’s again. I think I made it quite clear that gear should be something personal and not just a sheet of numbers waiting to be replaced by bigger numbers. Well, today’s blue post from Crithto reminded me that there’s also another way of making gear interesting to me, namely by giving me choices.

Before I dive further into that, let us analyze the aforementioned blue post. As already announced during this year’s Blizzcon, Warlords of Draenor will bring significant changes to stats found on gear in World of Warcraft. We already knew that stats like Hit and Parry would go the way of the dinosaurs, and new stats like Movement Speed and Cleave would add some new colors to the itemization palette. Today’s post by Crithto went into further detail, explaining the differentiation between primary, secondary and tertiary stats, while also making clear that armor pieces and weapons will harbor different stats.

This post is the harbinger of great change, fundamentally changing the way gear will work in WoW. Especially the fact that primary stats will change depending on the specialization your character has active means that gearing will take less time, as one set of armor will most likely be enough. This leaves room for choices, which leads me to the reason for this post.

Many MMORPG’s participate in the gear treadmill, where every new dungeon forces you to slay a dozen bosses hundred times to get the better items with the better stats and the better looks (at least you hope they’ll look better). It’s not a matter of choice to go after these new stat-sticks: if you want to be part of the endgame, you’ll have to get them or you’ll underperform and hold back every raid you join. Imagine a world where, at every raiding tier, you would have a choice. Sure, you’ll need that basic set of items to keep up, but what if there was enough room for differentiation and hunting for unique variations of your items? I hope Warlords will bring WoW one step closer to that world.

The removal of stats like Hit and the end of reforging might be seen as a shot in the knee of customization, but what use is customization if you can go only one way? Why not give every character the necessary stats to be competent, while still allowing the powergamers to go that extra mile? Reforging could have a place in this world, offering a way to add tertiary stats, but I guess Blizzard does not see it like that.

We’ll only know how well the new itemization will work once Warlords hits (which I predict to be February 18, because I am an optimistic moron with no sense for reality), but I sure can’t wait to see the end of off-spec gear and the need to hit that hit cap (pun intended).

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Three reasons why I look forward to Warlords of Draenor

warlords of draenor

In case you’re living under a rock or have been doing your best to ignore it, but last weekend, Blizzard announced World of Warcraft‘s fifth expansion Warlords of Draenor at Blizzcon. And unless you’re just not involved with the MMORPG community, you will probably have an opinion about this. Everyone and their mom are writing about it, so it can’t hurt to join the conversation. So, what do I think about the announcement?

Freakin’ awesome.

And that’s coming from a guy who reacted to the previous two expansion announcements with one word: “meh”. I’m actually amazed that the announcement of Warlords got me so hyped, so in order to put some rationality behind the irrational fanboy raging inside of me, here’s my top three reasons why I’m looking forward to Warlords of Draenor.

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TSWoD – Anima stat, overlapping templates and more!

Another day, another post about my endeavour to dip the World of Darkness in the awesomesauce that is The Secret World. In the previous post, I talked about the basic premises of this project, and today, we will take a look at the only “homemade” rule, along with some ramblings about the material used. Get your spells and conspiracy theories, we’re going in!

Anima
In TSW, a creature’s Anima is its life force. It is something that runs through everything on this planet, but that can only be controlled by a few. Sorcerers control their own Anima to empower their spells, and hideous creatures from the Hell Dimensions seek this essence out to consume and devour it. While Anima is no resource in the MMORPG, it is an aspect that separates the player character from many other agents in his secret society. Swallowing a bee sent by Gaia gives one the power to manipulate Anima, which is quite helpful in the fight against draugr, vampires and the Filth.

In order to measure all supernatural creatures on an identical scale, TSWoD could use Anima as a power stat and power pool. Like Vampire’s Blood Potency and Vitae, or Werewolf’s Primal Urge and Essence, TSWoD’s Anima would measure a creature’s supernatural capacity and ways to manipulate Anima. The latter should be interpreted in the broadest way possible. An old sorcerer would have have the same Anima rating as a vicious demon, but both would show their bizarre powers in different ways. Anima would be a unifying stat, that makes it easier to compare the rather varied palette of otherworldly beings in the setting.

In many ways, Anima would work like the Arete stat presented in Mirrors. It would provide characters with additional health, supernatural resistance, heightened Attributes and a way to heal bashing damage. Unlike Arete, Anima will also grant access to a pool of Anima points, which can be used to fuel the effects of Anima. Also, Anima might not grant any access to Masteries. I’ll get into the reason for that right…now.

The amount of cool stuff is too damn high!
As I have mentioned in my previous post, I’m trying to emulate the setting of TSW with just three books: the core book, Mirrors and Second Sight. Even though this is a small amount of books, it still offers a lot of options. If a player decides to create a character, both Mirrors and Second Sight offer treasure troves of powers, backgrounds and so-called “minor templates” (supernatural templates that do not have an own power stat and pool). I’m afraid that the both books, along with an Anima stat that grants additional supernatural power, will create far too mighty characters. Of course, additional rules can limit that, but I’m still not so sure about it. I guess the only way to see if it works, is to create a character…

Well, guess that gives away what we’ll be doing next time. In the meantime, please share your feelings about an Anima stat and the amount of cool powers found in Mirrors and Second Sight. I’ll be here to listen to your feedback. Stay alive!

The Secret World of Darkness?

 

At the moment, Funcom’s The Secret World is keeping me busy. I played the game for about a month after release, but lost interest and time when my new job started and the rest of my life demanded more attention. Now, however, I have given the game a second spin, and I am really enjoying it!

One of the things I like most about TSW is that it resembles White Wolf’s World of Darkness in many ways. Both settings feature a hidden, one might say secret, world full of supernatural creatures. In both games, players take the role of normal people who are plunged into this occult reality and have to survive one way or the other. The only difference is that in TSW, the player characters join a secret society to hold back vile and evil things, while in the WoD, they become one of the many otherworldly beings.

Because of their similarities, every time I launch the game and dive into the zombie-infested town of Kingsmouth or the vampire-haunted farmlands of Transylvania, my mind starts to think about ways to blend both games together. In other words, I think about how to run a TSW tabletop game, using the WoD rules. At first, it does not seem difficult, but there are some challenges:

  • In TSW, player characters are the chosen of Gaia. By swallowing a bee (do not think too much about this), your character gains the means to control his anima, which gives him the power to do some pretty nifty things. While those powers could be emulated fairly easily with the existing rules, the chosen of Gaia have another important feature: they are practically immortal. Some NPC’s in the game refer and joke about the fact that, when a “Bee person” dies, his corpse is carried off to the nearest anima well, where it is brought back to life. While a WoD game like Geist has a mechanic for returning from the dead, it is a challenge to make this feature interesting in a tabletop game.
  • Wait, is everyone a Bee person? While every player character in the MMO is technically a Bee person, it would seem unlikely that there would be so many chosen of Gaia in a tabletop setting. Before running such a game, there should be niches for characters who have not been chosen by Mother Earth, and who aid their society through other ways.
  • Even though they look similar, both settings are different. This is mostly a matter of re-skinning material. The WoD rules offer rules for practically every supernatural being you can think of. The only thing one must do to use them in a TSW game, is to give them a different look and feel.
  • One society or all? A legitimate question. In a game featuring the TSW setting, would player characters come from different secret societies, working together to save the world from some great danger? The setting would not forbid such a thing, but would a single-society setting not offer more chances to dive deep into the secrets of an organisation? A matter of flavour, but an important matter nonetheless.

While I keep thinking about this (and I will probably post more about a TSWoD), what is your opinion and / or thoughts? Feel free to share!