Perks, Powers, and Savage Worlds

Sword of Spirit
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Perks, Powers, and Savage Worlds

Postby Sword of Spirit » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:14 pm

Submitted for your approval...

Torg Eternity shares a lot of design elements with Savage Worlds. This makes sense, since Shane Hensley, the designer of Savage Worlds (a pretty cool game), is the first listed designer of Torg Eternity. I expect his influence shows in the design of a Perk such as Spellcaster initially granting 3 spells, and then only granting 1 on each additional Perk, as that is exactly how it worked in Savage Worlds.

Very few people like that particular mechanic. Some people defend the design, but very, very few people actually *like* it. And a lot of people dislike it. If just about everyone has a negative impression when they first hear of a design element, and it requires discussion to get a minority of people to agree with it, while most of the rest just say "whatever, you're the GM"...then I think there may be a problem.

When Mr. Hensley created the new version of Savage Worlds, it looks like he actually used some Torg Eternity design elements to influence it (back influence?) But here's something interesting. In the latest version of Savage Worlds (after the creation of TorgE), the Savage Worlds equivalent of Perks grant 3 spells/powers on the first Perk (Edge), and 2 on each additional Perk (Edge).

So the designer who is (presumably) the source of the design philosophy that an additional Perk should only grant 1 new spell/power, has now changed it to granting 2--which is much more palatable. It feels like a really good revision.

So why does that matter here? It's too late to change Torg Eternity to use that, right? Well...perhaps not. Here are my reasons for why it is worth changing this rule in Torg Eternity.

1) As of the currently published materials, this wouldn't throw off the value of Perks at all. The special Perks that grant additional spells grant you 2 spells + an extra benefit. So they are already more powerful. Allowing Spellcaster to grant just 2 spells and nothing else doesn't mess with the stuff that has already been published.
2) NPC statblocks don't seem to worry about the exact number of Perks used to purchase known spells, so no real issue there.
3) The designers aren't shy about making significant rules changes through errata when they think it's warranted.

So right now, before any other published Perks throw off the balance that looks good now, a very short errata to those Perks could make everyone happier, and restore balance to the Cosmverse. (Er, maybe not that last part.)

(The sole issue that I can see is with the (sorry guys) Spellbook Perk. It's just going to look particularly weak with this change. But...everything else looks completely fine with this change...so doesn't that tell us something about Spellbook? *ducks* If this change were to be considered, the Spellbook Perk should probably be addressed before it's published to accord with the change.)

Zackzenobi
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Re: Perks, Powers, and Savage Worlds

Postby Zackzenobi » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:25 pm

Spellcaster are already powerful enough. When you compare the Spellcaster Perk to the Prowess Perks that Warriors rely on, there is no way its equivalent. I think they are pretty balanced already.

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Gargoyle
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Re: Perks, Powers, and Savage Worlds

Postby Gargoyle » Fri Aug 09, 2019 8:18 am

Zackzenobi wrote:Spellcaster are already powerful enough. When you compare the Spellcaster Perk to the Prowess Perks that Warriors rely on, there is no way its equivalent. I think they are pretty balanced already.


Increasing spell list size does increase power, but only slightly. They can still only cast one spell per action. What it does for them is give them more variety and versatility, and I believe it makes the game more interesting more than changing the power level. I don't think it's a broken house rule, and when there is a revision of the rules someday I think it should be considered. Perks are very expensive when you start getting more and more.

All that said, there was a conscious decision to keep spell lists small, and I'm in favor of that. I had a player not read the rules thoroughly and he was selecting three powers every time he took a new psionic perk. To him that was a no brainer, and I didn't realize he had made a mistake for several sessions...I was like....how are you able to use so many powers? It was not a good effect on the game, he was too versatile.

IMO a nice sweet spot for a house rule might be giving them two more spells the second time they take the perk, then only one additional spell afterwards per the RAW. One additional spell isn't going to break anything and encourages slightly more diversity at the table. And after all, there are additional XP costs for every new perk beyond the third one, and giving them only one spell per perk feels like a double penalty and a bit harsh.
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Re: Perks, Powers, and Savage Worlds

Postby Istrian » Fri Aug 09, 2019 8:40 am

Another couple of things to take into account when increasing the number of available spells:
* Perks that require having X spells/powers/miracles will be much easier and cheaper to take.
* Certain types of players like to overanalyse their options, which slogs down the game. Additionally at some point some players forget their character can do things that are not in their list of spells/skills and just look for the correct button to press (the right spell to cast) in each situation, even the very simple ones that would not usually require a roll.

GeniusCodeMonkey
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Re: Perks, Powers, and Savage Worlds

Postby GeniusCodeMonkey » Fri Aug 09, 2019 2:42 pm

I like the idea of increasing it to 2, then 1. I think it strikes the right balance.
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pkitty
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Re: Perks, Powers, and Savage Worlds

Postby pkitty » Fri Aug 09, 2019 7:28 pm

One of my (relatively few) house rules is that repeat versions of an "arcane" perk grant you two powers, not one. That isn't even a big deal IMO, it just brings it in line with all of the sourcebook-introduced "specific arcane" perks like Optant and Pulp Sorcerer. Basically, you shouldn't be punished for just sticking with the "vanilla" version -- if there's one thing I hate, it's splatbook power creep, where the new stuff is just flatly better than the old.

We have a few other simple tweaks; see link in .sig for them.
Our group's Torg Eternity wiki page
  • House rules, indexes of all perks/spells/etc, form-fillable character sheet, and more

ZorValachan
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Re: Perks, Powers, and Savage Worlds

Postby ZorValachan » Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:12 am

Actually, if anything, Old Torg influenced Savage Worlds. Shane Hensley wrote Temple of Rec Stalek for OT back in the Early 90s.. so it's more like a circle.
Although I haven't used it, i did think of doing Spell/Miracle/Psionics differently. I would have skills spells, miracles, psionics that are bought as any skill with XP and with each add you get a new one. Perks will still work as they do, so you wouldn't be limited by 5 (or 8 with Mastery)
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Plageman
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Re: Perks, Powers, and Savage Worlds

Postby Plageman » Sat Aug 10, 2019 4:35 pm

A coupe of clarifications are needed I think...

First, if a Perk can be taken multiple times, then it is listed a feature of the Perk, which means that most of the new, specialized Perks found in the books can only be taken once. For example, because of their nature, the Nile Engineer and Nile Mathematician do not require/allow you to take the Spellcaster Perk and have a "New Spells" paragraph. On the other hand the Optant, Gotak, Amaatist Hem-Netjer and Pulp Sorcerer do reference Miracle or Spellcaster as the mean to learn new spells.

Usually these are exclusive by explicitly excluding you from taking another Perk giving you access to another Spell/Miracle list. Most of the specialized perks only let you learn from the regular (Core Rules) list and from the unlocked new list unlocked by the Perk and forever bar you from learning another one (with some exception like the Astrological Generalist but this one comes with other strict limitations).

Most of the time the Spellcaster/Miracle Perk is a prerequisite so the specialized Perk come as a nice alternative but is never meant to be used as a mean to forever take 2 additional spells/miracles per buy. It's a one time thing, period.

There's also a balance thing going on. Many later Perks require the character to have learned some number of Spells/Miracles. If you give 2 more Spells/Miracles per buy you will reach that entry barrier way faster.

What I'd do is to have some sort staggered reduction to limit the spell/miracle inflation; for exemple the first buy is 3 selections, the second a third is 2 selections and all subsequent are 1 selection.

I'd also allow for spell retraining in between adventures and limit this to 1 spell from the roster by in-between time period. And of course you still would have to get a teacher/mentor/library to get that new knowledge.

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Gargoyle
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Re: Perks, Powers, and Savage Worlds

Postby Gargoyle » Mon Aug 12, 2019 1:45 pm

Plageman wrote:A coupe of clarifications are needed I think...

-snip-

What I'd do is to have some sort staggered reduction to limit the spell/miracle inflation; for exemple the first buy is 3 selections, the second a third is 2 selections and all subsequent are 1 selection.

I'd also allow for spell retraining in between adventures and limit this to 1 spell from the roster by in-between time period. And of course you still would have to get a teacher/mentor/library to get that new knowledge.


Some good points, and I agree with these conclusions for a house rule.
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OldCoot
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Re: Perks, Powers, and Savage Worlds

Postby OldCoot » Mon Aug 12, 2019 1:50 pm

Given the potency of spells, psionics, and miracles, I'm not a fan of giving out more of them, either as a GM or player. It's too easy a slide towards power creep, and the non-caster gets the short end of the stick... unless you start giving away gear and cyberwear at a similar increased rate.
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