October 7th, 2011


Anti-Skill. (100)

A Certain Scientific Railgun Volume Two by Kazuma Kamachi & Motoi Fuyukawa.

is the key to rivaling
the Tree Diagram.

Both this volume & the previous volume in the A Certain Scientific Railgun series kick off with a little flesh for seemingly no reason, but then proceed tickety-boo from there, almost like there was some checklist with "put some skin up front to draw in the readers" on it. Here, it is the awkward (but of course, beautiful) scientist Harumi Kiyama, socially challenged, who can't understand the social mores as to why she can't take her shirt off when it gets hot inside. She could wear the same amount of fabric at the beach! This issue has more detective work & supernatural brawling in it, reminding me more of Fullmetal Alchemist than Hayate X Blade. The same kind of "this world accepts psychics/alchemists as an aspect of science" logic, paired with responsible users of those powers fighting against those who have "cheated" to gain or improve their powers. Kuroko Shirai is the big winner in this issue, with her clever use of teleport powers & her cool ninja darts (kept in the hem of her stockings, of course) resulting in a well choreographed fight against an opponent whose powers make for a really interesting illustration challenge for Fuyukawa. This volume ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, which gives me an opportunity for introspection-- how well do I like these, really? Well enough that I am looking forward to getting my hands on Volume Three, which means I like 'em plenty.


Oubliette: You've Got the Touch!

I think about Willpower in Oubliette a lot, from a lot of different angles. I request a lot from it-- people use it for its main purpose of an extra three dice, but they also use it to fuel powers. Most over, I think about squeezing it even harder-- tying it into character traits, for instance. I've considered a second track-- you know, "mana" or something-- but if I've already got a resource, why abandon it? No need to make things more complicated. In fact-- if I'm worried about charactersnot having enough Willpower to play around with, maybe that would be a possible place to solve my problem with attributes. That is-- I've always been bothered by the fact that Presence, Manipulation & Intelligence don't have any derived attributes-- maybe I could slide them into the niche there? Willpower derived from the best of your Composure or Resolve plus the best of your Intelligence or Presence? Something like that, give a little boost to the pool available? Just an idea. Another factor in all this is race, or more adroitly put, species. I've toyed with the idea of using Willpower to differentiate Human, Alpha, Demi & Karnak-- more than just attribute & skill point spreads, giving them something that makes them play differently. There are also...weirder species floating around in my head, & I've thought of potential ways to handle them, in the off chance I ever make them available as Character option. Conversely, I could always award extra Willpower uses or ways of gaining Willpower to Characters based on their affiliation, too. To that end-- either end!-- I've brainstormed a bunch of different tweaks:
  • Extra Virtue: an extra Virtue, which either gives a point back in a scene where it is fulfilled (like a Vice) or gives back all the Character's Willpower at the end of a session where it comes into play (like a Virtue normally does).

  • Extra Vice: same as above, only with a Vice.

  • Flip Virtue & Vice:this is what Karnaks have in the current draft. Meeting the requirements of your Vice gets you all your Willpower back at the end of the session, & using your Virtue gets you a dot back in a scene; just the reverse of the way it currently is.

  • Anti-Vice: instead of a Virtue, you would get the opposite of a Vice. "Anti-Greed" would make you a communist crusader, or "Anti-Wrath" a pacifist, potentially. Sort of a reactive creed. Doesn't really work in reverse: Anti-Virtues?

  • Vampiric: lets you get Willpower back by drinking blood from a victim; one point of lethal damage translating to one point of Willpower gained.

  • Blood Doll: doing a point of lethal damage to yourself will get you a point of Willpower. Conversely, this could be an internal alchemy, which avoids the squicky bit, but seems less evocative.

  • Regeneration: spending a point of Willpower will heal a point of lethal damage. Or if you made it bashing damage, it would be perhaps less useful but also less unbalancing to the game. You could always mess with ratios, as well-- two Willpower to heal a point of lethal damage, or what have you.

  • Create Ghoul: well, Vampire: the Requiem already has the rules, so why not port it over?

  • Flaws: instead of netting a point of experience for bringing a Flaw up, you get a point of Willpower. I think this is a good idea anyhow, since experience is much more upsetting to game design, at least in a campaign, & if you are playing a one-shot, who cares about experience?

  • Derangement: a modification of the "Flaw" idea-- I think Alphas have it in the current race blurb, but I've considered giving it to Demi instead (because I heart Derro). You've got a Minor Derangement, & when it flares up-- under Player instigation-- you get Willpower back.

  • Spirit Ban: pretty easy-- select a ban, as though you were a spirit from Werewolf: the Forsaken. Whenever the ban comes into play, you get a Willpower point.

  • Two Points a Turn: let a Character spend two points of Willpower a turn. You could specify that it has to be on different rolls-- which would mean an active use & then resistance, in practice-- or just let there be a character who can summon up six extra dice. Yikes.

  • Extra Dots: I guess the simplest idea is just to give someone extra dots of Willpower. Just a straight up bonus.

  • Different Statistics: touched on above-- rather than Resolve plus Composure, you could use any remix of statistics. Maybe those big headed alien-looking guys use Intelligence plus Composure, for instance. I like this idea, but maybe I like it enough to broaden beyond just a small little option.

  • More Dice: four dice instead of three.

  • Stalwart: plus two dice to active rolls, plus three dice to Resistance. Compare to how it stands currently, where a point of Willpower adds three dice to active rolls, but only two to Resistance.

  • Dreamless: best if paired with some other Willpower hack, Dreamless means you don't get a point of Willpower for a night of rest. Ever. Could be reflected in a character that doesn't need to sleep?

  • Extra Action: spending a point of Willpower gives you an extra action in a turn, but with a maximum cap of three dice. One of my favorites, since I can see it being coveted, but also is pretty severely capped.

  • Ignore Penalties: spending a point of Willpower lets you ignore dice penalties from a single source. This could mean it negates up to a minus five, but compared to a reliable "plus three," that seems balanced. If it seems too weak, it could negate all penalties, within reason.

  • Extra Successes: spending a point will net you two extra successes. No extra dice-- if you can't get one success, then the extras are spent.

  • Bonus for a Scene: spending a point gets you a plus one to an attribute (or, alternatively, a skill), but for the whole scene.

  • Idol: lets you store Willpower in an object like a battery. You'd have to then set rules like how much can be in the idol-- equal to the maximum?-- & how hard it is to withdraw-- maybe you can spend freely from it as long as it is in your hand?-- as well as what items would be acceptable-- only non-combat items?

  • Probability Control:Turn a dramatic failure into a regular failure; a more potent alternative would let you turn a success into an extraordinary success.

  • Jinx: by choosing to turn a regular failure into a dramatic failure, you get a Willpower point. Rewarding Players for screwing over their Characters is my favorite thing.

  • Communalism: select a Vice (or a Virtue, depending) & whenever someone else in your party fulfills that vice, you get a point of Willpower back.

  • Cosmic Friends Forever:Y your Character can share Willpower with other willing participants-- letting them use yours, & using theirs, if they'll let you.