Thursday, 10 November 2016

Project Out Of Time – Energy

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I like the idea of resource management in my skirmish games – be it Soulstones, Momentum, Fury, whatever. I also like the idea of having a pool of action tokens that you can dish out to your crew, allowing them to do a differing number of actions each turn when their individual skill sets are most required.

So, how do I approach this aspect of a game without obviously lifting the process from somewhere else? As much as I'm wise enough to know the pitfalls of trying to reinvent the wheel just for the sake of it, I have been looking for a different angle.

Having given an overview of Project Out Of Time, and had a quick look at some ideas for the factions, I thought I'd outline my thoughts for Energy tokens. This is my take on resource management...

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My entire idea for Project Out Of Time revolves around the concept of the Nandrocite Energy. It's the lightbulb moment that occurred whilst sitting in my bath all those months ago and boils down to the fact that a character's  action token pool is also their wound count. With this system any character can take as many actions as you like each turn but you're using up wounds to do it and you could leave yourself very vulnerable in the process.

In-game this translates to each character starting the game with a number of Energy tokens. This is their Energy reserves that allows the character to remain in the time period they have jumped to – if they run out of Energy the character is removed from the game, snapped back through time to the present.

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When a character is activated they may take a single Walk action for free. That seems like a fair trade. Any additional actions will cost 1 or more of their Energy tokens. They may spend as many Energy tokens as they wish to, as long as at least 1 Energy token remains. Because the Energy is used before an action is executed, using the last token will cause the character to be removed from the game immediately without performing that final action (so you can't sacrifice yourself to achieve a game winning objective).

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Raw Energy deposits will be randomly dotted around the battlefield and can be claimed by individual characters. They can be used to either top up their own personal Energy reserves, pass on the raw deposit to a teammate so they can top up, or the raw deposit can be stored to claim Victory Points at the end of the game (cashed in with their employers). Any character choosing to top up Energy rolls a dice to determine how much Energy has been claimed from the raw deposit. If a raw Energy deposit has been rolled, and the amount of Energy determined, it cannot be subsequently passed on to a teammate.

Characters may never have more Energy in their reserves than they started the game with, unless they have equipment that allows them to do this in some way. Any excess Energy is lost.

If a character can get into base contact with a prone enemy character, they may attempt to harvest energy from the enemy character's reserves, if they have the appropriate equipment. In addition, when a character is removed from play they leave behind an Energy token that can be claimed by others.

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The idea with this whole concept is that, by every action costing Energy, characters need to pick up a refill to achieve anything in-game and not 'die from exhaustion' – sitting at the back of the board and shooting is not an option as you'll just waste away. One twist I've considered is at the end of every turn all characters lose a single Energy token – the cost of staying in this time period for another turn. This would force characters out into the gaming arena to claim raw deposits quickly in order to stay alive which would inevitably lead to more conflict (or the employment of very sneaky tactics to avoid conflict). Would this be too harsh or maybe restrict players strategic options? It should keep things fast paced for sure.

At this point in time the actual amount of Energy that characters start a game with is undetermined – playtesting should help with that particular challenge. However, it's unlikely that a character would have enough starting Energy to survive a game without a refill – players have to be proactive from the start (that's the thinking at least)!

Next time it's all about Melee!

10 comments:

  1. When I read the intro, the first thought that cam e to my mind was rather than having 'action points' auto-refill each turn the characters needed to regain them somehow.

    The only caution I would have with the idea is that if you are forcing models out into the field then you'll need to be careful about balancing their abilities when they do so - no point for example creating a sniper style creature with low movement or combat ability if it has to keep moving and get up close to survive the game.

    Other than that, I love it!

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    1. Absolutely. The idea is that this is the baseline way that Energy would work, but as characters become more specialised with experience they gain abilities or access to equipment that would allow them to work around this system.

      Alternatively, it would mean you'd need to have a 'carthorse' character on your team that could ferry energy to snipers (meaning there is a cost for such a potentially powerful unit).

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    1. I like the idea, it's a bit like Numenera where one can use ability points to get bonusses, but these same points are your wounds as well.
      Unless there's going to be something to counter the loss of a energy token a turn (like a depot you can buy for example) I would drop the rule. Not only do different people have different play styles, it also would limit you in the number of factions as you only have a few types of styles. With rules about going prone and such it would limit the model count to a maximum of 5 or 6 to keep it managable in my opinion.
      If you keep the 'lose one energy a turn ' rule it also severly limits you in the type of scenario's and it leans heavily towards a arena style of play.

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    2. Might be something to consider using to balance factions out, bigger more powerful gear leaks but the aliens just don't worry about it.
      Each faction should manage Energy slightly differently to help give each different play stiles.

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    3. Wouter, like the idea of a depot – I was thinking that taking an Engineer as one of your operatives might do the same trick. It would force people to make a choice between losing energy or using a slot on the team to counter it (the Engineer would have more uses than just that so it's not as harsh as it seems). I'm looking at players taking a team of 5 into each game, albeit from a roster that can be as big and varied as they like.

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    4. Daniel – very valid point about the aliens, like that. Yes, there's lots to consider when looking at the various factions. As Wouter says, it would be too easy to limit the possible factions with a lack of variety. However, I think once the ground rules and the baseline is set we can have fun breaking the rules, lol.

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  3. So, do I het it right you are working on a MERCZ type of faction build? Where you do not spend points or whatever on troops and gadgets, but have a limited amount of slots available you can fill in with the troops you like.
    I like the idea of the engineer, he could be one of the more versatile, yet less combat orientated, troops.
    Building defenses (like automated Guns and traps), scanning for stealth troops, bombs on Wheels, ... With the ability to recover energy he would also get a bit of a mix with a medic, as well as play a Key role in some scenarios like data retrieval and such.

    I've been thinking about what Daniel said and it would be cool if different factions used energy in different ways. Like one faction using it to operate their armour, with the possible disadvantage that it leaks (this could seriously mess up a stealth mission if the other faction is equiped with a scanner), another faction might need the energy to power their weapons in order for them to work (perhaps with an overcharge ability where one can choose to spend more energy tokens for a blast like effect at the cost of all energy tokens).

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    1. The basic idea is that players get a set amount of cash (points) to build a starting roster of operatives, chosen from a list of specialists (sniper, engineer, scout, gunner, etc.). There will be a core set of specialisms that all factions have access to but others that are unique, or cheaper to certain factions. From their roster they much choose a 5-man team for each game. I think of it a bit like blood bowl. You totally nailed the Engineer idea, he may not be so combat focussed, but in the right situation would bring a whole new range of options and abilities to the team.

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    2. Between you guys you've also second-guessed some of the ideas for the Alien faction, who are very Energy centric. They would have access to unique energy weapons that other faction would not (but could perhaps capture and research - there's a whole X-Com thing going on here too).

      Basically I wanted to be able to use Infinity models in a Necromunda style environment with X-Com after game research and development abilities, lol.

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