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 Post subject: Tweaking OVA for a more loot-friendly campaign...
PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 3:59 am 
Worthy Tortoise
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Link: a sample character, for fun! :D

While I have run more roleplay-heavy games, I use OVA a lot to play D&D-style fantasy games. Crawling dungeons, killing monsters, searching for treasure... it's a little tough when equipment isn't really a thing. So here are some tweaks I'm implementing for a more loot-friendly game.

(Note: to clarify between the Attack Ability and the Attacks characters use in combat, I'll try to always refer to the former as "Attack Ability" and the latter as "attack technique." Technique isn't a term from vanilla OVA, I'm just trying to keep my stuff straight, haha.)

Refining Rules for Item-Based Mechanics
Several of OVA's mechanics overlap on the subject of gear, and it's generally left up to the player or GM to decide what's appropriate. In order to streamline that process and give a little more consistency to the way those mechanics are used, here are some guidelines I've invented.
  • Attack: To clarify Attack's purpose a little bit, we're going to define it as a skill that the character has learned, like a martial arts style, that they use to attack with -- a type of character knowledge (like Combat Expert), as opposed to a natural ability (like Agile.) Because of this, it is probably no longer appropriate to be contained in a piece of Gear, which solves the "Gear or Weapon?" problem.
  • Gear: The Gear Ability is a container for other modular Abilities and Weaknesses. The primary difference between Gear and other mechanics is that the contained Abilities and Weaknesses are properties of the gear, so it can be used by anyone.
  • Focus: If a character has the Focus Weakness for an Ability or subset of Abilities, that character can't use those Abilities unless they have the required item. The difference between this and Gear is that the attached Abilities belong to the character and not the item. If the Focus is picked up by another character, they don't gain the Abilities. If a character's Attack Ability requires a focus, none of the attack techniques derived from it can be used without the focus, not even a basic one without any Perks, so take care. If a character's attacks could best be described as "needing a weapon in order to use" then don't use Focus at all, just put the Weapon Flaw on any appropriate attack techniques.
  • Weapon: Weapon is different from the other mechanics here because it is a Flaw rather than a Weakness or Ability. This means that it affects attack techniques on a case-by-case basis. Since neither Gear nor Focus should be able to unfairly overlap anymore, the Weapon flaw should now be able to go on any attack technique that requires a weapon to use. (It's still possible that attack techniques that require a weapon could also require a focus -- in most of such cases... probably it's best to simplify and choose one, but that's up to the GM. If they absolutely have to overlap, the focus and weapons should be different objects.)

Starting Gear
We can make Gear more ubiquitous by putting a focus on it during character creation. Disallow Gear from whatever character creation guidelines you're using and give the players a certain number of "gear points" to spend specifically on Gear.

Starting Gear rules for Abilities and Weaknesses:
Inventor -- for each level of Inventor, your character starts with an extra gear point for Gear that matches their Inventor theme.
Walking Arsenal -- for each level of Walking Arsenal, your character may start with an extra gear point for Gear that matches their Walking Arsenal theme if appropriate.
Wealthy -- for each level of Wealthy, your character starts with an extra gear point.
Poor -- for each level of Poor, your character starts with one less gear point.

The attached sample character is built with the Power Ceiling rules from the main book, with an additional 5 points for Gear.

Item Impermanence
Not everything is built to last forever! While there are a few mechanics in OVA that allow for limited uses of something, all of these assume an ability to recharge about once per day.

New Flaw:
One-Time Use (-10) This item can only be used once before it's gone. This can not be used with the Ammunition Flaw or on Gear with the Limited Uses Weakness.

Gear Damage: a character's equipment is assumed to get the regular necessary maintenance it needs to last as long as the character wants to use it, however if an item is attacked directly or otherwise specifically damaged somehow, it has Health equal to its level x10. When a piece of Gear reaches 0 Health, it is "broken" and must be repaired in order to use it again. Gear can be repaired by characters with the appropriate Inventor or Knowledge Abilities. (Roll as the Heal Ability up to once per day.)

Grittier Attack Rules
(These tweaks aren't inherently about Gear, but are still built to interact with Gear.)

Thematic Attack: If we define a character's Attack Ability thematically (like the sample characters in the rulebook) we can rule that if an attack technique doesn't match the character's Attack theme, they don't get any bonuses from their Attack Ability. If a player wants their character to have varying levels of skill for different types of attacks, wants to start using a new type of Attack later on, or wants to apply Weaknesses like Focus or Endurance Use to only certain attacks (for example, if the character's attacks are explicitly magic), there's no reason they can't take more than one Attack Ability with starkly different themes.

Limited Attack Techniques: Having a large pool of varied techniques to deal with any situation can be a powerful asset. As OVA is, there's really no limit to the number a player can make, so what if we change that?
  • Characters can have a number of additional attack techniques (past the first one) equal to their their level in Attack. (If they have more than one Attack Ability, they can have more attack techniques.) These attack techniques should ideally fit the themes of the Abilities they come from.
  • Characters can have an additional attack per level of Combat Expert. These attack techniques don't have to fit any theme.
  • Characters can have an additional attack per level of Walking Arsenal, where appropriate. These attacks must fit their Walking Arsenal theme.
  • Characters don't have to have this many attack techniques -- and shouldn't, in fact, if they want to learn more attacks during the course of a game session.

Learning new attack techniques:
Attack techniques (like their mother Ability) are a type of character knowledge. In order to use an attack technique in battle, the character should first learn it. This could be as simple as picking up a new weapon and using its basic attack or as complicated as seeking out a legendary swordsman for training.
  • Characters should probably only be able to learn about one new attack technique per game session unless there's specifically a period of training or something.
  • Characters can spontaneously learn or invent an attack during gameplay as long as they aren't at their maximum number of known attacks. (Some tweaks don't need to be considered learning a new attack -- for example, the Adjusting Attacks section on page 108 of the OVA book.)
  • A player can choose to have their character "forget" an old or seldom-used attack technique between game sessions.

  • I'd really only use different Attack Abilities if the two are significantly different skills that the character is developing separately.
  • "But Laura, how will I get MORE DAMAGE out of these weapons if I'm not allowed to put Attack on them??? Strong doesn't work for that!" Option one: accept that the amount of damage a weapon does is largely based on the skill of the character wielding the weapon rather than the weapon itself. Option two: make a new (or unique) Ability (called Power maybe) which does nothing but raise the character's DX and is intended for use on container Abilities like Gear or Transformation or as a buff from Arcane Magic. Option three: no judgement but stop trying to weasel out of paying Endurance costs for strong attacks. Just give your giant laser cannon an Endurance Reserve lol.
  • "Why is One-Time Use a Flaw instead of a Weakness?" By definition, anything that's "one-time use" needs to be used or activated, which means it can be altered with a Flaw.
  • If you're going to allow players to come up with attack techniques during combat, there should be rules in place to make sure they can't disrupt play. A player who wants to invent a new attack should say so at the beginning of the round, and if the attack isn't ready to go on their turn, they should act at the end of the round (or lose the turn, if it's already the end of the round.)
  • I wanted to make a couple more sample characters but honestly this draft has been sitting in an open tab for like a month. If I don't hit submit I'm never gonna.

Last edited by StarRaven on Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Tweaking OVA for a more loot-friendly campaign...
PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 12:09 pm 
Exalted Amphibian
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I'll need a bit more time to read all the details. The only thing that I immediately noticed is that "One-Time Use" is already in the book as Ammunition 3 (which is worth -15).

Over-the-Top Idea: Monstrous/Mecha scale Abilities.

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 Post subject: Re: Tweaking OVA for a more loot-friendly campaign...
PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 7:25 pm 
Worthy Tortoise
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The Ammunition Flaw (and the Limited Uses Weakness) can both be recharged -- either under particular circumstances or after a day of rest.

This works just fine for bullets (which can be "recharged" at any place where bullets can be bought) or effects that can be used once per day (which are recharged after 24 hours or so) or spells that must be prepared before use, D&D-style (which can be prepared whenever the wizard has some down time.)

However, it doesn't work for a one-time use potion of invisibility that your character buys from a merchant, or a couple of grenades they pick up off a dead enemy, or a ring that grants a single wish, or a magical arrow imbued with the light of the sun goddess, or anything else that a character might reasonably pick up but that they can't expect to have a continuous stream of.

Essentially, there needs to be a way to distinguish actual one-time-use items from daily items.

At any rate, I wanted to clarify that it wasn't something I forgot/didn't notice. I'm pretty sure I mentioned it in the original post. Now that I think about it though, Ammunition and Limited Uses probably do need sorting out. Added an additional note to the original post.

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 Post subject: Re: Tweaking OVA for a more loot-friendly campaign...
PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2017 7:48 pm 
Worthy Tortoise
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I ran the first session (introduction + character creation) of my new OVA game using these tweaks!

The character creation tweaks worked really well! Players had fun designing their character's starting gear. Everyone took a different, interesting approach. One guy made a mage with few points' worth of standard stuff he hoped to replace as he went, one made an inventor with some gear she could upgrade later, and one dumped all his points into one amazing magic staff that was important to his backstory.

It's great -- all of them basically gave me different ways I can feed them loot to upgrade their characters. They can all get typical rpg loot of all types, but I can also give them spare parts with interesting effects for the inventor to use to make new things, I can give the mages spellbooks full of attacks they can learn, etc.

I will do plenty of experimenting. For science. :3

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 Post subject: Re: Tweaking OVA for a more loot-friendly campaign...
PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 5:22 pm 
Dangerously Sane
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I hope you've continued to have fun with your experiments! You should share when you have time...for SCIENCE!

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