Author Topic: malfunctioning items  (Read 5688 times)

Hi

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malfunctioning items
« on: October 08, 2015, 04:54:14 AM »
I am thinking about making a game where items accumulate malfunctions similar to how our everyday objects like cars and laptops do.  Currently I have a scheme for magic wands and would like to make similar schemes for other items.

A wand is composed of
  • charger: refills the battery
  • battery: stores charge
  • regulator: determines power, range and charge usage
  • aim: how it is aimed
  • trigger: causes the wand to fire

a malfunctioning battery can spark, causing the wand to fire, or lose charge over time
a malfunctioning regulator can lose range, discharge the full battery into one shot, or release several shots at once
a malfunctioning aim can veer to the left or right, or refuse to let you change targets
a malfunctioning trigger can be stuck on, or require several uses to fire.

Malfunctions start by only causing trouble in extreme states (or conjunctions of extreme states) and gradually get worse over time.
relevant states are:
  • hot, warm, cool, cold
  • very charged, normal, drained
  • wet, normal, dry
  • vibrating, still

How should I extend this to items that aren't wands, so they too can malfunction in sensible ways?
« Last Edit: October 08, 2015, 04:57:18 AM by Hi »

Avagart

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Re: malfunctioning items
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2015, 08:44:47 AM »
Wands make me thinking about generic fantasy. Wands are probably the easiest to devise because they can be a bit similar to present devices. Even so, other items can malfunction in sensible, but another, less-modern way.

It should be quite simple with weapons, but it would require detailed, complex fighting system.

For example - swords (or other blades - making assumptions as '[rather] long, double-edged cutting weapon').
Parts of sword are: pommel, grip, cross-guard, fuller, edge, central ridge and point (I take names from this, I don't know english words for these parts).

Pommel: improves balance; if damaged: - to-hit
Grip: gives a firm, hmm, grip; if damaged: - to-hit, weapon can fly out of hand
Cross-guard: gives protection; if damaged: - defensive value / evade / + to-hit for enemy
Fuller: imparts sort of flexibility... but I cannot imagine, how this can be damaged... but is possible to make blades with and without fuller; these with fuller will be more resistant to breaking in half
Edge: to cut; if damaged: - damage, - armor penetration
Central ridge irrevalent in this context
Point: ability to 'sting'; if damaged (for example - point can be broken off): ability not available

I know that this isn't exacly what you have in mind, but... it fits ;) and I don't know how so simple items can malfunction in another way.

Hi

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Re: malfunctioning items
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2015, 01:51:53 PM »
That is an excellent analysis, I will use it in my game. 

mushroom patch

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Re: malfunctioning items
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2015, 02:28:01 PM »
Suggestions:

Optional replacement agreement for malfunctioning wands -- if you buy a wand, you can additionally purchase a maintenance/replacement plan to have it repaired or replaced in the event of malfunction, provided the player has valid proof of purchase (receipt) or a credit card with the vendor they can use to look up the purchase in their database.

Insurance for wands -- similar to the above, but purchased from a third party and available for wands found in the wild. Requires that the player fill out forms and affidavits attesting to the condition of the wand and circumstances under which it was acquired. In the event that the player provides false information, civil and/or criminal sanctions may apply. Insurance can be paid for on a monthly schedule or all at once in yearly or bi-yearly lump sums.

In-dungeon wand garages -- when wands are damaged or otherwise on the fritz, the player can enlist the help of the dungeon's wand experts. All such wand monkeys have three kids and two of them are in college, so they aren't running charities. Depending on charisma, wisdom, and intelligence checks, you may be charged between 75 and 450% of the base price of any given repair and may additionally be charged for repairs your wand doesn't need at all.

Anyway, just thought this might help you produce the highly realistic and immersive gameplay experience you're after!

AgingMinotaur

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Re: malfunctioning items
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2015, 07:12:13 PM »
For an unusual idea like this, you can probably find some inspiration in different 7DRLs.

Are you envisioning a setting where wands use actual batteries, or is that just an abstraction? I'm thinking you might be better off not worrying so much about details of realism, and running with more abstract ideas. Although analyzing the workings of a particular kind of object is definitely a smart way to get concrete ideas, I'm happy enough to know that my sword has -1 to hit because it's sub par quality, I don't care so much about what exactly is wrong with it.

Something like magical rings may not be as easy to break down into components as a wand. But it could certainly be cool if magic is a bit unstable and dependent on the level of expertise of the wizard who made the original item. A ring could for instance only work under certain conditions, eg. in daylight or at least N turns after your last kill. Say you find a ring of invisibility that stops working for 6 turns whenever you slay a monster – still good, but you'd love to lay your fingers on (and inside) a higher quality ring. A potion could be unevenly mixed, either lessening the effect or adding some unpleasant side effect. Again, who cares if a ring malfunction is caused by a fissure in the metal or a disturbance in the Force. Ideally, perhaps, malfunctions should reflect the intended effect of the magic, but that might just lead to a slightly more fleshed-out version of good old "cursed items".

Above all, be sure to design this so that it turns into an interesting challenge, and not a pure annoyance or something that causes the player to grind. I'm envisioning possible boring situations like an adventurer with a slightly "off" wand of knocking, just zapping it a hundred times to open a single door. Yawn. Then again, an unpredictable wand of knocking could have gameplay ramifications if you're chased by a hungry ogre and come across a locked door, and start pondering whether to try your luck with that wand or to chug your potion of healing (which you suspect might give a slight case of diarrhea and/or hallucinations, although you haven't fully identified it yet).

Actually, something like what mushroom patch suggests could be hilarious. A world where magic is commonplace, but quite trashy, and where people are constantly buggered by their own magical items. Most amusing of all would be when your opponents have magic blowing up in their faces as they try to destroy you :D

As always,
Minotauros
This matir, as laborintus, Dedalus hous, hath many halkes and hurnes ... wyndynges and wrynkelynges.

akeley

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Re: malfunctioning items
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2015, 07:34:46 PM »
Y`all forget the Hewlett Packard Way - a wand will only work for a certain amount of time, regardless of its actual charge state and can be only recharged with branded charge packs. Usage of kobold-manufactured replacements will void the warranty and might get you in all kinds of trouble (it won`t but our shareholders would get mad if we didn`t say so).

Seriously though, it`s nice to see this kind of complexity - hope your other systems will be as deep. Sure, the pitfalls AM mentions are worth remembering about but this is something that can be tweaked during testing.

The only thing that doesn`t sit too well with me is that machine-magic mix - your wand blueprint is pretty exact and all-mechanical, but where`s the magic bit then? It has been done before (Arcanum for example) but I`m not sure it really does work out all that well.

So, any more info on the game itself or is it too early for any reveals?

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Re: malfunctioning items
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2015, 01:42:59 AM »
Right now the game is at the stage of collecting ideas that give the right feeling of immersion and interesting decision. 
Mushroom_patch: I'm pretty sure you're joking but those ideas do feel immersive.
AgeingMinitaur: It is true that if there is only one way for the player to deal with it, it doesn't matter if it is a fissure in the metal or a disturbance in the Force.  But if a fissure in the metal could be temporarily closed by freezing the ring, and a disturbance in the force could be temporarily calmed by placing the ring in an anti-magic potion, then the origin of the defect matters.  The "battery" is abstract because it isn't user serviceable.
Your mention of unevenly mixed potions is interesting because it suggests a alchemy system where mixing potions matters.
Some conditions:
  • daylight
  • at least N turns after your last kill

akeley: The wand uses a mechanical metaphor because I don't have enough personal experience with magic to know what components a truly magical thing is made of.  I would be happy to hear any analysis you have.

akeley

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Re: malfunctioning items
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2015, 02:35:03 PM »
I don't have enough personal experience with magic to know what components a truly magical thing is made of.

Well, neither do I, though still hope it might change one day ;) However, judging by the works of some learned authors who certainly were luckier than us, a magic item is just an item infused with magic. So, a "wand" does not have particular components, it`s just a common stick or some such made to be magical.

They could still malfunction in your game though, with some good ideas being already mentioned above.  Environmental factors, personal stats or characteristics, particular monsters - this could all affect an item`s behaviour (which you already described in the 1st post). A long as it follows some logical and consistent rules don`t see why it couldn`t work out nicely.

Alternatively you could ignore all that and just go with the original plan, no big crime either. Like I said it has been done before, and you can tie magic to mechanics in some sort of electro/steam/whathaveyou- punk fashion.