Ability Damage in Echelon

After my recent posts about Ability Pools and their use, including as a resource opponents can target, I thought I would do a bit of simple analysis to see if things are sane or not.

So far, I think they are.

In this article I am exploring only the effects of ability damage in Echelon, not Ability Pool expenditures such as various talents use.  I am also not considering effects that can increase Ability Pool values, permanently or temporarily.  Also, I am not at this point considering the effects of being larger or smaller than medium size; that will be explored in another post.

Initial Resources

Ability Scores

As described in an earlier post, ability scores are expected to range from 1 to 9.  I originally planned to use the traditional 3-18 range, but ultimately decided that tradition was the only reason for doing so, since everything uses one-half that value.  I’ll accept the simplification as sufficient to warrant breaking with tradition.

Just as the random ability score generation I use (27-25-23) in D&D 3.x (and the best three of four method commonly used) averages slightly over 12 points per ability score, I expect ability scores in Echelon, for starting Expert characters, to average 6 (’36 point buy’, where you assign from 1 to 9 points per ability score as you will, to a total of 36 points).   Basic characters may get only 30 points (mean average of 5), but I have not decided that ability scores improve after Expert tier.

In fact, I haven’t decided how to handle ability score improvements.  Part of me expects to miss the improvements possible from D&D 3.x, but I think the Level Bonus goes a long way toward covering higher-level characters being generally better than lower-level characters.

For a number of reasons (that mostly boil down to simplicity, though my dislike of death spirals comes into it too) things that in D&D 3.x do ‘ability damage’ (or even provide ability bonuses) will now manipulate the associated Ability Pool instead.

Level Bonus

Each character has a Level Bonus equal to one half his level.  This gets added to almost every check the character makes.

This isn’t particularly a resource, in that you can’t actually spend it, but it is used in calculating the expendable resources (Ability Pool and Hit Points).

Ability Pool

Each ability score has an associated Ability Pool.  The Ability Pool has a base value equal to the ability score plus Level Bonus.  It will thus range from 1 (first-level character with an ability score of 1) to 21 (24th-level character with an ability score of 9).

Hit Points

Hit Points are a generic ‘staying alive’ resource.  Ultimately, creatures die of hit point loss, regardless of how it happens.  I have no intention of having ‘save or die’ effects, in that a single roll decides a character’s fate.  However, various methods of killing may have consequences after death, much like D&D 3.5 disintegrate does 2d6 damage per caster level, and if the target dies because of the damage he is reduced to powder).

A character’s Hit Points are equal to his base Constitution Pool times his Base Attack Bonus (Level Bonus plus Martial Training Bonus).  Yes, this means the Level Bonus comes into it twice.

Ability Pool Damage

I have made a spreadsheet with Ability Pool and Hit Point calculations for ability scores ranging from 1-12 and levels 1-24.  I have included the Ability Pool Table and the Hit Point Tables (for ‘Poor Base Attack Bonus’, ‘Medium Attack Bonus’, and ‘Good Attack Bonus’, per D&D 3.x progressions; I did not include Hit Point Tables for other values) in an appendix at the end of this post.

Look at the Ability Pool values it looks like making ability damage a function of six-sided dice should work pretty well.

Given ability scores between 3 and 9 inclusive (I don’t expect PC ability scores to often be less than 3, the equivalent of a D&D 3.x ability score of 6, or above 9, the equivalent of a D&D 3.5 ability score of 18) and levels of 5 (starting Expert), 13 (starting Master), and 21 (starting Legendary)

Number of Attacks to Reduce Ability Pool to 0

This table shows how many successful attacks would be needed on average at each damage rate (1d6, 2d6, etc.) to  reduce a character with a full Ability Pool to 0 or fewer points in the pool.  At this point the character starts to suffer conditional effects based on the lowered value (such as a character with a Constitution Pool of 0 being fatigued).  The columns indicate characters having (Ability Score, Level) — (3, 5) indicates a fifth-level character with an Ability Score of 3.

Damage

(3, 5)

(6, 5)

(9, 5)

(3, 13)

(6, 13)

(9, 13)

(3, 21)

(6, 21)

(9, 21)

1d6

2

3

4

3

4

5

4

5

6

2d6

1

2

2

2

3

3

2

3

3

3d6

1

1

2

1

2

2

2

2

2

4d6

1

1

1

1

1

2

1

2

2

5d6

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

2

6d6

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

7d6

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

8d6

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

9d6

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

10d6

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

11d6

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

12d6

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

It looks like 6d6 is likely enough to reduce anyone’s pool to 0 or less in one shot (at least half the time), while 1d6 is enough to be a nuisance after a while.  So far, this looks pretty okay.

Number of Attacks to Reduce an Ability Pool to Next Cutoff

This table shows how many successful attacks would be needed on average at each damage rate (1d6, 2d6, etc.) to reduce a character with a full Ability Pool to negative Pool value equal to his base Pool Value.  At this point the character suffers a greater conditional effect based on the lowered value (such as a character with a very low Constitution Pool being exhausted) and cannot voluntarily expend points from this Pool.

Damage

(3, 5)

(6, 5)

(9, 5)

(3, 13)

(6, 13)

(9, 13)

(3, 21)

(6, 21)

(9, 21)

1d6

3

5

7

6

7

9

8

10

11

2d6

2

3

4

3

4

5

4

5

6

3d6

1

2

3

2

3

3

3

4

4

4d6

1

2

2

2

2

3

2

3

3

5d6

1

1

2

2

2

2

2

2

3

6d6

1

1

2

1

2

2

2

2

2

7d6

1

1

1

1

1

2

2

2

2

8d6

1

1

1

1

1

2

1

2

2

9d6

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

2

2

10d6

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

2

11d6

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

12d6

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

As might be expected, it takes about twice as long (at any particular damage rate) to reduce an Ability Pool to this point.

Number of Attacks to Exhaust an Ability Pool

This table shows how many successful attacks would be needed on average at each damage rate (1d6, 2d6, etc.) to reduce a character with a full Ability Pool to negative Pool value equal to twice his Base Pool Value.  at this the character may suffer an even greater condition effect (or not, I have not decided) and not only cannot voluntarily expend points from this Pool, any further Ability Pool damage is taken from his Hit Points at a fixed ratio.  This ratio is currently (and arbitrarily) 1 Ability Pool to 10 Hit Points, but it may be changed.

Damage

(3, 5)

(6, 5)

(9, 5)

(3, 13)

(6, 13)

(9, 13)

(3, 21)

(6, 21)

(9, 21)

1d6

5

7

10

8

11

13

12

14

17

2d6

3

4

5

4

6

7

6

7

9

3d6

2

3

4

3

4

5

4

5

6

4d6

2

2

3

2

3

4

3

4

5

5d6

1

2

2

2

3

3

3

3

4

6d6

1

2

2

2

2

3

2

3

3

7d6

1

1

2

2

2

2

2

2

3

8d6

1

1

2

1

2

2

2

2

3

9d6

1

1

2

1

2

2

2

2

2

10d6

1

1

1

1

2

2

2

2

2

11d6

1

1

1

1

1

2

2

2

2

12d6

1

1

1

1

1

2

1

2

2

13d6

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

2

2

14d6

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

2

15d6

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

2

16d6

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

2

17d6

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

18d6

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Note that it now takes 17d6 damage before it is expected that a legendary character with a top ability score will have the pool exhausted in a single attack.  It is possible happen earlier, but the expected value of 17d6 is going to be very close to the mean.

Number of Attacks to Exhaust Hit Points

My first guess, after looking at how many hit points characters have (especially at high levels),  was to convert Ability Pool damage to Hit Point damage at a 1:10 ratio (one point of Ability Pool damage after exhaustion causes 10 points of Hit Point damage).  This was very simple and looks like it will probably work, and would be viciously quick.  However, given the number of attacks needed to first exhaust the Ability Pool first, it is probably fine.

If Ability Pool damage is going to be converted to Hit Point damage after the Pool is exhausted the ratio probably cannot be fixed.  I have found that if the ratio is low (less than five or so) it tends to affect Hit Points very, very slowly, and if the ratio is high (5 or more) the Hit Points are generally exhausted after a round or two (if they are not consumed immediately by the attack that exhausts the Ability Pool).

Perhaps the simplest thing to do is have the last step of exhausting an Ability Pool simply keep going.  At an Ability Pool of 0 the target suffers a condition, at an Ability Pool equal to the negative value of the base Pool the target suffers a greater condition and can no longer voluntarily expend from the Pool, and after that the damage simply continues to accumulate.  Maybe at or below a value equal to twice the negative base Pool the target can no longer recover naturally (which might explain Lovecraftian insanity — the victim took such a massive hit to Wisdom that he suffers an insanity effect and needs help to get free of it).

Evaluation

Despite problems finding a good, workable conversion of Ability Point damage to Hit Point damage, I think the Ability Pool damage will work well.  It generally affords characters at least a few rounds to somehow escape a ‘killer’ effect.  When tiers are mismatched (very small damage against a high-tier character, or very big damage against a low-tier character) things will work slower or faster, as might be expected.

However, it may still be workable at different values than “number of dice equal to tier”.  When you can have half again as many dice per tier (so Master — fourth tier — may have an effect up to 6d6) everyone can still expect to have a couple of rounds before the affected Pool is exhausted.  Even when the number of dice may be twice the tier number (Legendary tier may have an effect up to 12d6) it is only those with low Ability Score values that can expect to have only a single round before being exhausted.  Again, those of lower tier will be more vulnerable, but that can be expected.

I suspect that setting ‘good major attacks’ to a maximum number of dice of effect equal to the tier number might be workable.  It may be suitable to have more limited effects (such as Turn Undead) might work at one of the higher damage rates.

Conversion of Ability pool damage to Hit Point damage may not be worth worrying about.  Being able to reduce a target’s other abilities (such as by draining a caster’s Intelligence) will reduce his capabilities without killing him, and the actual killing might be done with a stick instead.

This makes effects like petrification not work any more, though.  Simply damaging Dexterity doesn’t do it.  Perhaps the stoning gaze does straight damage as well (in addition to the Dexterity damage).  A target might suffer the effects of Dexterity drain until dead, at which point he is stoned.  And maybe if he’s lucky he will only be killed by Hit Point loss instead of being turned to stone.

Maybe the character being petrified will only suffer the effects of lost Dexterity Pool unless and until he dies, at which point he is turned to stone.  If he can recover enough of his Dexterity before this happens he can escape the stoning effect, but until then he is ‘terminally ill’ and will be stoned if he dies.  This looks like it might work, actually, and could make for a good ‘third step’ to the condition track in addition to being unable to recover naturally (which has effect whether the target dies or not).

Number of Targets

It is probably also worth considering the number of targets.  All of the above analysis assumes a single target.  If multiple creatures may be targeted it is probably advisable to decrease the number of dice of effect.  This might be a better approach for Turn Undead than increasing the number of dice of effect — rather than more dice of effect, the effect can target more creatures.  On the other hand, gaze attacks often affect an area (in addition to specifically targeted creatures, or creatures that attack the creature with the gaze attack).

This is worth exploring more, later.

Appendix: Resource Tables

Ability Pool

This table displays the Ability Pool values for all ability scores from 1-12 and levels 1-24.

Level Bonus

Ability Score

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

1

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

2

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

3

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

4

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

5

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

6

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

7

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

8

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

9

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

10

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

11

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

12

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

13

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

14

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

15

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

16

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

17

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

18

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

19

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

20

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

21

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

22

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

23

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

Hit Points, Poor BAB

This table shows the hit points a character has at each level for each Constitution score, for a character with ‘Poor Base Attack Bonus’ (no martial training, such as a wizard in D&D 3.x).

At first level (BAB +0) a fudge needs to be applied.  Perhaps the creature could be treated as having a BAB of “+1/2”, though a Constitution Score of 1 still means having 0 Hit Points.  I am inclined to just give first-level creatures a number of Hit Points equal to the Constitution Score.

Level Bonus BAB

Constitution Score

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

1

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

3

1

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

4

2

2

6

8

10

12

14

16

18

20

22

24

26

28

5

2

2

6

8

10

12

14

16

18

20

22

24

26

28

6

3

3

12

15

18

21

24

27

30

33

36

39

42

45

7

3

3

12

15

18

21

24

27

30

33

36

39

42

45

8

4

4

20

24

28

32

36

40

44

48

52

56

60

64

9

4

4

20

24

28

32

36

40

44

48

52

56

60

64

10

5

5

30

35

40

45

50

55

60

65

70

75

80

85

11

5

5

30

35

40

45

50

55

60

65

70

75

80

85

12

6

6

42

48

54

60

66

72

78

84

90

96

102

108

13

6

6

42

48

54

60

66

72

78

84

90

96

102

108

14

7

7

56

63

70

77

84

91

98

105

112

119

126

133

15

7

7

56

63

70

77

84

91

98

105

112

119

126

133

16

8

8

72

80

88

96

104

112

120

128

136

144

152

160

17

8

8

72

80

88

96

104

112

120

128

136

144

152

160

18

9

9

90

99

108

117

126

135

144

153

162

171

180

189

19

9

9

90

99

108

117

126

135

144

153

162

171

180

189

20

10

10

110

120

130

140

150

160

170

180

190

200

210

220

21

10

10

110

120

130

140

150

160

170

180

190

200

210

220

22

11

11

132

143

154

165

176

187

198

209

220

231

242

253

23

11

11

132

143

154

165

176

187

198

209

220

231

242

253

24

12

12

156

168

180

192

204

216

228

240

252

264

276

288

Hit Points, Medium Base Attack Bonus

This table shows the hit points a character has at each level for each Constitution score, for a character with ‘Medium Base Attack Bonus’ (enough martial training to give a “+3/4 BAB progression” similar to a cleric or rogue in D&D 3.x).

At first level (BAB +0) a fudge needs to be applied.  Perhaps the creature could be treated as having a BAB of “+1/2”, though a Constitution Score of 1 still means having 0 Hit Points.  I am inclined to just give first-level creatures a number of Hit Points equal to the Constitution Score.

Level Bonus BAB Constitution Score

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

1

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

3

1

2

4

6

8

10

12

14

16

18

20

22

24

26

4

2

3

9

12

15

18

21

24

27

30

33

36

39

42

5

2

3

9

12

15

18

21

24

27

30

33

36

39

42

6

3

4

16

20

24

28

32

36

40

44

48

52

56

60

7

3

5

20

25

30

35

40

45

50

55

60

65

70

75

8

4

6

30

36

42

48

54

60

66

72

78

84

90

96

9

4

6

30

36

42

48

54

60

66

72

78

84

90

96

10

5

7

42

49

56

63

70

77

84

91

98

105

112

119

11

5

8

48

56

64

72

80

88

96

104

112

120

128

136

12

6

9

63

72

81

90

99

108

117

126

135

144

153

162

13

6

9

63

72

81

90

99

108

117

126

135

144

153

162

14

7

10

80

90

100

110

120

130

140

150

160

170

180

190

15

7

11

88

99

110

121

132

143

154

165

176

187

198

209

16

8

12

108

120

132

144

156

168

180

192

204

216

228

240

17

8

12

108

120

132

144

156

168

180

192

204

216

228

240

18

9

13

130

143

156

169

182

195

208

221

234

247

260

273

19

9

14

140

154

168

182

196

210

224

238

252

266

280

294

20

10

15

165

180

195

210

225

240

255

270

285

300

315

330

21

10

15

165

180

195

210

225

240

255

270

285

300

315

330

22

11

16

192

208

224

240

256

272

288

304

320

336

352

368

23

11

17

204

221

238

255

272

289

306

323

340

357

374

391

24

12

18

234

252

270

288

306

324

342

360

378

396

414

432

Hit Points, Good Base Attack Bonus

This table shows the hit points a character has at each level for each Constitution score, for a character with ‘Good Base Attack Bonus’ (maximized martial training, such as a fighter or barbarian in D&D 3.x).

Level Bonus BAB

Constitution Score

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

1

0

1

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

2

1

2

4

6

8

10

12

14

16

18

20

22

24

26

3

1

3

6

9

12

15

18

21

24

27

30

33

36

39

4

2

4

12

16

20

24

28

32

36

40

44

48

52

56

5

2

5

15

20

25

30

35

40

45

50

55

60

65

70

6

3

6

24

30

36

42

48

54

60

66

72

78

84

90

7

3

7

28

35

42

49

56

63

70

77

84

91

98

105

8

4

8

40

48

56

64

72

80

88

96

104

112

120

128

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16 Comments

  1. hadsil

    Because poor and medium BAB has levels where it doesn’t increase, naturally hit points being based on it won’t increase for those as levels as well. That might just be a feature for you and be ok with it. I’m not outright against it, just concerned admitting leaning towards the negative but willing to be convinced it’s ok.

    In D&D spellcasters having lower hit points were considered a balance factor since spells > fighting attack. In Echeleon do you think spells will still be greater? Attack forms will be improved through the tiers. Warriors will be able to do nifty things as the level progress. Are they spell equivalent?

    On the other hand, spellcasters usually aren’t in the midst of hand to hand combat. Warriors need the hit points because they will get hit a lot often. Also, spellcasters having lower hits points means they want warriors around to protect them.

    The lower hit points concept is fine. Whether poor BAB characters have “enough” is subjective, and I’ll leave that to your judgment. Bias: I am glad Pathfinder gave spellcasters d6 hit points instead of keeping them at d4. It’s the static hit points between levels that’s the clutch. “Dead levels” are a pain in 3E. Pathfinder did well enough to get rid of that as much as possible. Echelon characters may not have any either because of the Tier System, but a “dead level” in getting hit points might be a significant frustration.

  2. Doug Lampert

    I’m not worried about dead levels with this system, odd levels give significant talent upgrades, and are hardly dead. In any case I don’t personally believe any PC at heroic level or higher will have no trained BAB with the system as currently being developed. There are simply too many lower tier talents available for it to makes sense for a PC to NOT spend a couple of low tier ones on BAB given that it also boosts HP.

    My worry with Kieth’s math is that he keeps assuming that “medium” BAB or “Half” spellcasting are meaninful within the tier system and that what happens if you spend one highest tier talent on BAB or spellcasting and no lower tier talent on the advanced boost is relevant to how the numbers will actually look.

    I just don’t see that happening for a PC, ever. Characters interested in being a gish or “cleric” for example will spend two tier-1 talents on BAB, and be BAB=Level-2 at all relevant levels (or maybe BAB=Level-1 if they are actually willing to spend a highest tier talent). Characters almost completely disinterested in weapon use will probably still spend two tier-2 talents on BAB and be BAB=Level-4 or so at all levels from heroic tier on.

    Ditto for characters interested in having only a bit of utility spellcasting (ala ranger or paladin in 3.x), they will not spend one top tier talent on a secondary spellcasting ability, instead they will spend two tier-1 talents and be better at the secondary ability than any single talent would allow while not spending any top tier talents outside their main focus.

    I don’t object to being “level-2” at secondary abilities and “level-4” at things you only barely care about, this is a feature not a bug. The abilities stay relevant and useful. The problem is things like the tables above seem to indicate that Keith actually expects “Poor” BAB to be somehow relevent at level 24 and expects “Medium” BAB to be 3/4ths level rather than Level-2 or so.

  3. Doug, I figured the same thing a while ago, but didn’t consider it a particular flaw. I was using ‘poor’ and ‘medium’ as data points to see what existing D&D classes might look like. I fully expect a Wizard might burn some of his lower-tier slots for martial training, for the hit points if nothing else (since he’ll probably be using his Caster Level for attack rolls with his spells). I wanted to see what someone ‘untrained’ would look like, and someone ‘partially trained’ would look like, and these made decent data points.

    I’ve considered making a talent for being unusually tough and hard to kill… but decided that since that is likely to be taken by *everyone* who expects to fight (i.e. ‘good BAB characters’) it made more sense to lump them together. As a rule, almost any time benefits are tied that closely I’d rather see them combined rather than require a tax for what you should be doing. Only if it seems overpowering do I split them again.

    As far as hit point calculation is concerned, I have explored other formulae. I want to incorporate native durability (Con), level (level or level bonus) and combat training (since combat guys should be tougher than non-combat guys). I’d prefer a simple formula; one of the better-looking ones was

      (Con + level)*(level + BAB)/4
    

    but that gets to be a bit of work. It looks lovely if you can interpolate BAB, but I’m not really happy doing that — by and large I like to stick to what is actually there. The numbers work out to be more or less in the ranges I want, too… though I like the totals given by

    I’ve also considered the very simple

      (Con + level + BAB)*5
    

    Which means everyone gets hit points every level… but the totals work out more linear than I really want. Mind you, that makes it a little easier to design around because I can predict that the hit point total will be vaguely proportional to level rather than to the square of the level.

    I think they’re all workable. The linear model doesn’t do it so well, but the non-linear models do a good job of making it possible to model high-level monster hit point totals at reasonable levels and BAB and Con scores.

    Not that I feel the need to be tightly bound to a particular mathematical model if it doesn’t play well.

  4. GreyKnight

    I tried seeing if it was possible to replicate something along the lines of 3.5 psionics using ability pools, but I couldn’t make the numbers work out (essentially it’s not “quadratic enough”; even if you multiple the ability pool by the level bonus to get a quadratic progression, the static value of the ability score in the ability pool flattens it too much).

    I did produce some psionics stuff however. I’m wondering if you can combine this with the points-based SLA system you were talking about to get a general system. I also note that if you had a character with the ability to “reserve” some power points for a particular power at the start of the day then, well, that’s quite a lot like preparing spell slots really, isn’t it?

  5. GreyKnight

    Ah, Unearthed Arcana had that spell point system, knew I’d seen something before. The difference here being that Wizards still prepare spells in advance (just they spend points rather than slots to do so). Metamagic is easily handled of course, just pay an extra +2 points per level of adjustment; so quickening a spell would cost +8 points.

    You currently have a one-size-fits-all spell slot progression (unless that changed), so I assume you’re not interested in distinguishing slot access between “classes”; given that a “cleric/wizard” can get full benefits of both his kinds of magic (he can access the same slot levels as an equal-XL “wizard”), it would be nice if “cleric/sorcerer” could get full benefits too (i.e. full slots for the “cleric” and full uses/day for the “sorcerer” SLAs). I think having SLAs and prepared spells run off the same central source (points) is a good way to do so, but then I’m biased!

  6. I’ll have to come back to SLAs; I’m still working on them but I think it’s doable. It’s important to remember that you recover ability pool between encounters (and can exceed your normal limit if you’re willing to suffer for it). The total per day can be rather higher than simple addition suggests.

    I’d be satisfied with a character or creature having the opportunity to use a handful of his possible SLAs in a single encounter. That’s all he likely has time for, so if he only gets to pop off one or two top-level SLAs and a couple of lower-level SLAs it’s probably just fine.

    As for slot progression I expect to use a core table (or mechanism, at least; I’ve drawn up at least one magic system for Echelon that looked to how much magic you knew to determine how many of what slots were available). There are lots of ways a character might make use of “different slot counts”. Off the top of my head:

    • Specialized talent, ‘extra slots’
    • Derived from number of spell talents taken to an appropriate level; the more you know, the more capacity you have. This might e dangerous, balance-wise.
    • Spend from ability pool to exceed base limits.

    I’m sure there are other possibilities.

  7. GreyKnight

    Good news! I have a power point system which works with a point pool that grows only linearly, meaning it’s much more suited to Echelon. I actually made the system for NH-alike gaming so you may want to change some parts. In Echelon I suppose you would want (a) bonus Pw based on Charisma, (b) DC based on Wisdom, (c) bonus memorisation slots based on Intelligence.

  8. My first thought is that I’m not really fond of the changing costs per caster level… but if the costs were flatter (say, 10+2*level pool per spell, remembering that all spell levels are increased by one) and mitigated by ability pool (to a minimum of 1)…

    A normal Expert (5th level, 5 Int, +2 LB) would spend 7 points for a first-level spell (a really smart Expert — 9 Int, +2 LB — would pay 3 points). A tenth-level spell such as time stop (minimum caster level 21, +10 LB) would have a base cost of 30… reduced to 20 by LB alone, then 15 or 11 by Int 5 or 9.

    This is much flatter (20 pool is a huge amount, 15 is still pretty stiff but manageable at that level, 10 lets a high-Int Legendary caster get two off before running his base pool out).

    10+level would be dead flat (maximum level castable goes up at the same rate as Level Bonus) but makes Int overpowering — 5 points if you have Int 5 vs. 1 point if you have Int 9, that makes for a lot of spells.

    It might be worth having different types of magic draw on different ability pools, even. Divination might be Wisdom, Enchantment and Charm might be Charisma, Evocation might be Constitution, Illusion could be Dexterity, and so on (to use 2e specialist requirements, as I recall them).

    And yes, I realize the costs for casting are generally higher than for the spell-like abilities associated with the talents I’ve written. The talents are pretty specific in their effects, casting is relatively broad.

  9. GreyKnight

    One property of that approach is that, for each extra point you put in the ability, you get your spells two experience levels earlier. Does that put too much importance on a single point? There’s a double dependency on pool size (it mitigates the cost and also gives you more to pay towards those costs).

    I poked around a bit and found that spell costs of (2*spell level), mitigated by level bonus rather than pool, work a bit better, but still not ideal; it now takes 2 ability points to get spells 2 levels earlier, but it’s discrete (the odd-numbered ability points just improve the distribution, you can’t afford the spells any sooner).

  10. btw, would it help if I upgraded you to Contributor? You could then write your own posts (for now I’d maintain editorial control — primarily for consistency purposes, really; I trust you) rather than holding conversations in comments. It might help with finding things later, too.

  11. GreyKnight

    I didn’t know that was an option, I guess it would stop me going off-topic in the comments all time same.

    By “get spells earlier” I should have said “can afford at the same cost earlier”. I just wish it jumped one level at a time and not two. :-(

  12. Register as a user here and I’ll bump you up. I think you’ll get access to the full editing suite, too (tinymce enhanced) so it may get easier to write posts.

    The formula used here will need some tweaking and experimentation. I’ve tried a few variations in my head and they don’t seem to work really well at all levels.

  13. That would make sense, since I had the meta box hidden (where you find the login and register links) because I had the admin pages bookmarked. Look at the bottom of the nav bar to the left, you should see it.

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