Telegraphed Attack Powers

What do you think of the following mechanic for the "ultimate attack powers" of PCs in a 4e-inspired RPG? Each PC has only one or two of them, the game is calibrated for three or four PCs, and these powers refresh after a "scenario" of three or four combat encounters.

• You cannot use a Telegraphed Attack Power (TAP) during your first turn in a combat encounter.
• You can use a TAP only while it is charged up. A TAP is expended only when it is actually used, not when it is merely charged up.
• During any of your turns in a combat encounter, you can charge up one specific TAP that you know and have available. Everyone in the battle immediately understands what you have declared, and exactly what the TAP does. The charge lasts until the end of your next turn.
• You are not actually obligated to use the TAP while it is charged. You can always elect to perform a different Attack Power instead. However, failing to use the charge incurs some damage.
• While an ally has a TAP charged, you cannot charge up any of your own TAPs.
• Certain monsters/NPCs have TAPs as well.

This mechanic prevents PCs from immediately unleashing their big moves right at the start of combat. While TAPs are extraordinarily powerful, enemies know what is coming, and can try to debuff and/or knock out the character trying to perform one. (This makes defender-type PCs all the more important. For context, this hypothetical game assumes that monsters can and will focus fire on a PC anyway, short of a defender's intervention.) The same goes for PCs facing an elite enemy with TAPs of their own.

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  1. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    I think the "1 round to do it" model is easier, where it goes off at the start of your next turn rather than consuming actions from two turns. Still responded to, but doesn't HAVE to be covering two turns of results and then a bit more for the risks to be worth using. That level of output is hard to pin down without becoming ridiculously swingy.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Oh, sorry. I forgot to specify: charging up a TAP is done for free at the end of your turn.

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        Oh, so it's committing to your next turn's action without impinging on the previous turn's. One per side does answer more of the "burst" issue, and the "Scenario" refresh makes it sound like a revamp to Daily powers that finishes separating it from an explicit timeframe.

        I don't see why it wouldn't work for forcing "proper" engagement instead of habitually simplifying the encounter by bursting away obvious suspects, but it does come across as painfully "gamist". Which is pretty typical of 4e-based things.

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          >"gamist"
          It's moronic just how many people actually care about this meaningless bullshit.

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            It's not meaningless in the slightest, the game mechanics having clean in-universe basis does a lot for the setting consistency, and by extension DM workload when somebody wants to do something not covered by existing rules.

            • 4 weeks ago
              Anonymous

              How do you explain it in game?

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                Encounter powers have a lot of ways to explain "not viable to refresh in combat" like casting setup (literally short-timeframe spell preparation) or abstracting stances that'd be inordinately complex to model directly (I like mentioning Heron-Marked from MinMaxBoards for that one).

                Scenario powers are much weirder, in that you need to somehow have an in-universe logic to scenarios. This is why D&D 4e still clung to "Daily" powers, as a minor verisimilitude thing, and why 5e has an encounter schedule guideline everyone ignores to the Monk's eternal torment.

                Only one person per side being able to use it is most easily explained by collective energy expense, where something about the output draws from all members of a side in a way that can only go one direction at a time. That'd need adding a scaling value by number of allies, but that keeps the relative contribution more consistent across party sizes and lets you weaken the boss that'd usually need to be very difficult to get a hard shutdown on by going after minions.

                Thats a fair point about lore coherency. But mechanics that are in universe coherent and are sometimes seen in games arent exclusive at all. I still dont like using the term gamist because most pepole will just repeat the buzzword without nuance and could dismiss a good idea just because it somehow overlaps with a game that exists. Wich is logically meaningless. Seems like its more about making pepole feel smart than having a point. Would be better to just give criticise things for lore coherency or roleplay unfriendliness when its relevant regardless of any resemblance to something else.

                "Gamist" isn't about resemblance to vidya, it's about "Game" at the expense of "RolePlay". "Thing happens because I have a button that says it does" versus "thing happens because I'm a wizard that has a spell for that", especially as the requirements of casting that spell grow towards a proper magic system.

                If something isn't covered by the rules agreed upon before play, that something shouldn't be happening. This is due to the fact that such a decision is made by arbiter whim, as opposed to player skill or luck.
                To be mad about "gamist" elements in a game is tantamount to being mad about wheels being on a mode of transportation, or about your soup having broth.
                So I guess it is meaningful to the point where such people should be finding a different activity instead of operating on the false pretense of running/playing a game, but it's overall meaningless to a game itself.

                Beyond the above definition of "gamist", the game designers cannot cover all eventualities. Clear explanations of the qualitative boundaries rooted in how things work in-universe means the arbiter has guidance on obvious possibilities not precisely covered. The other important thing to this is explaining the math so that the arbiter has an accurate gauge of how much mechanical result an "out of the box" action ought to have.

                Permutations cost a lot of page-space, setting things up for homebrew and house-rules to leave that detail-work to the end user makes RPGs MUCH better.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                >game designers cannot cover all eventualities
                The cool thing about games is that you don't have to do everything, and often times the options that are in the game are there because that's how the mechanics are balanced, and part of the fun of the game is working within those limitations as a test of skill. Kinda like how you could just play basketball with a three foot tall basket, but that is neither fun nor challenging, so that's why we have baskets as high as they go.
                Sure, it might be fun to beg daddy DM for things that aren't in the book and aren't balanced around the mechanics, but that's as much a part of the game as it is when a coach buys the umpire a pizza and his team gets a point for it, you know?
                Establish the rules, agree upon the rules, and adhere to them. Challenge player skill and luck, instead of molly-coddling them or making them beg or other meta, non-game bullshit.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                RPGs are not supposed to be a pure mechanical exercise. The things happen in a world with things going on beyond the mechanics, because it is simply impractical to have a full simulation. Establishing the setting expectations establishes boundaries to the possible, exposing the game math establishes the boundaries of the reasonable-to-the-players.

            • 4 weeks ago
              Anonymous

              Thats a fair point about lore coherency. But mechanics that are in universe coherent and are sometimes seen in games arent exclusive at all. I still dont like using the term gamist because most pepole will just repeat the buzzword without nuance and could dismiss a good idea just because it somehow overlaps with a game that exists. Wich is logically meaningless. Seems like its more about making pepole feel smart than having a point. Would be better to just give criticise things for lore coherency or roleplay unfriendliness when its relevant regardless of any resemblance to something else.

            • 4 weeks ago
              Anonymous

              If something isn't covered by the rules agreed upon before play, that something shouldn't be happening. This is due to the fact that such a decision is made by arbiter whim, as opposed to player skill or luck.
              To be mad about "gamist" elements in a game is tantamount to being mad about wheels being on a mode of transportation, or about your soup having broth.
              So I guess it is meaningful to the point where such people should be finding a different activity instead of operating on the false pretense of running/playing a game, but it's overall meaningless to a game itself.

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            >moronic
            Verily, I say unto you, the sheer degree of care and attention offered by plebeians to such ambiguous mantra is truly a thing of great foolishness, and is worthy of the most profound scorn.

            • 4 weeks ago
              Anonymous

              The word "moronic" actually means something, though.

  2. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    This sounds like it adds a couple of layers to tactical considerations, and seems like it would be pretty fun, too.
    I may adapt something like that to my own game, and see how it works in practice.

  3. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Blud thought he could post in two websites and not get caught (0_0)

    https://www.reddit.com/r/RPGdesign/s/Lut0O7uWJY

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      This isn't the first or last time this has happened. Hell, it's pretty common at this point for Edna.

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        >Edna
        oh boy

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Extreme newbie. That's Touhougay.

  4. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    I want this honkaiposting homosexual to fricking die already.

  5. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    I'd TAP that ass, y'know?

  6. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    (1/2)
    I really like the idea, but the sheer amount of caveats to remember makes it a bit clunky in execution.

    In essence, you try to limit 4e daily powers (maybe an even more powerful version of those to be fair) to not be used on turn 1 as to prevent complete nova stomps of fights. Which is fair, but the intended balance mechanism behind dailies is more that they allow you to go nova on a big threat to conserve other ressources, mostly HP and healing surges.
    So keep in mind your health and healing system, and wether the difficulty is supposed to stem from surviving the fight and being fine afterwards or surviving the scenario/"adventuring day" in a decent condition.

    Furthermore, you can take a bit from other 4e-successors or high power games like exalted.

    13th Age uses an escalation dice that steps up every combat turn (from none to d4, d6 ... up to d12) and daily powers there use it as a bonus to damage, accuracy or other stuff to encourage use of powerful moves for later turns without entirely preventing them.
    The flaw here is that it discourages proactive use because not waiting to power up more feels like "wasting" the abilities potential and thus leads to some people hogging their dailies hard.

    Exalted has a system called Anima, where spending character ressources makes them literally glow with power.
    In that particular game it's more of a narrative beat to make people decide between using their powers vs revealing their identity as demigod.
    But it still tracks how much total power has been spent in an encounter.

    You could implement something similiar, but make use of it in a different way.
    Any ongoing battle can generate tension (or whatever you may call it), either by passage of time, using certain abilities or fullfilling some other condition.
    You can experiment with it being tied to a character, a party fighting in the battle (so usally player vs enemy tension), just an open pool everyone can access, or any combination of these.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      So what are the advantages of doing it this way?
      - less hard coded rules for a single subsystem, as more things can access and work with it, glues the overall game together.
      - to keep the "no turn 1 Nova" thing, you can rule that you can't generate and use tension in the same turn. That still leaves the edge case of players generating tension for a party member to use (unless you use strictly personal pools), but prevents the whole party from going nova all at once.
      - variable tension costs between powers. Some TAPs need to gather a lot of tension and maybe a coordinated team effort, while others are more personal scale. It also allows you to differentiate between Powers with one large immediate effect vs sustained ultimate abilties that spend a bit of tension per turn.
      - "upcasting" with extra tension for extra power, similiar to the escalation dice. Maybe optional or only on certain powers to make people wanna use their stuff.
      - rewards tactical play both as a team and in prioritising what needs to be done.
      - the power is still telegraphed as everyone clearly sees the tension rising, but it avoids the whole awkward "well i charge now, everone moves out of range and now I either whiff or take damage"-issue
      You can still use the part about having to declare your TAP beforehand, but a turn is a very long time in TTRPGs and lots of things can happen that just ruin a perfect shot, and thus a lot of fun for players or GMs running monsters.

      Lastly, if you really wanna home in on the angle that you can knock people out of their TAPs or debuff them, you can have people lose tension gradually while under control effects, and thus delay a TAP from getting charged for one more turn.

      TLDR really don't wanna bash your idea but I think a more nuanced, gradual approach might be worthwhile.
      Make people work a bit for their flashy powers, but make them wanna use them (and let them do so) when the stars align.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      So what are the advantages of doing it this way?
      - less hard coded rules for a single subsystem, as more things can access and work with it, glues the overall game together.
      - to keep the "no turn 1 Nova" thing, you can rule that you can't generate and use tension in the same turn. That still leaves the edge case of players generating tension for a party member to use (unless you use strictly personal pools), but prevents the whole party from going nova all at once.
      - variable tension costs between powers. Some TAPs need to gather a lot of tension and maybe a coordinated team effort, while others are more personal scale. It also allows you to differentiate between Powers with one large immediate effect vs sustained ultimate abilties that spend a bit of tension per turn.
      - "upcasting" with extra tension for extra power, similiar to the escalation dice. Maybe optional or only on certain powers to make people wanna use their stuff.
      - rewards tactical play both as a team and in prioritising what needs to be done.
      - the power is still telegraphed as everyone clearly sees the tension rising, but it avoids the whole awkward "well i charge now, everone moves out of range and now I either whiff or take damage"-issue
      You can still use the part about having to declare your TAP beforehand, but a turn is a very long time in TTRPGs and lots of things can happen that just ruin a perfect shot, and thus a lot of fun for players or GMs running monsters.

      Lastly, if you really wanna home in on the angle that you can knock people out of their TAPs or debuff them, you can have people lose tension gradually while under control effects, and thus delay a TAP from getting charged for one more turn.

      TLDR really don't wanna bash your idea but I think a more nuanced, gradual approach might be worthwhile.
      Make people work a bit for their flashy powers, but make them wanna use them (and let them do so) when the stars align.

      Fair enough. Thank you for your input.

      I have run quite a bit of 13th Age and its 2e playtest. I can safely say that its escalation die (which is not actually a die, but rather, a static number) is in no way a meaningful incentive against a turn #1 nova.

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        Ah dang yeah, I always forget that 13th age does it that way and only uses a die to track it.
        Played to many other games with actual die step mechanics...

  7. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    I think this helped with my own game I'm slowly piecing together, thanks. It's a cool idea, and I don't think anything about the rules hurt verisimilitude besides not being allowed to use it on your first turn. Some in-universe explanation for why this is would be nice.

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