Earth Delta Design Diary 5/31 — K3w1 P0w3rz
So I’m finally working on the Savage, and so far, I’m happy with it — "so far" being pretty relative and it’s almost hilarious how many times I’ve edited the same class feature, and I’m not just talking about going from 1d4 to 1d6 or something, I’m talking about completely changing the entire thing around. I should do a screen capture movie of my writing/editing process sometime, it’s likely to be hilarious.
Anyway, starting to do Savage Powers, and I figured I’d present two of them, since I happen to humbly think they’re amusing and visually distinctive, which is what I’m usually going for.
(The Savage, BTW, is a martial defender for Earth Delta, Earth Delta being Lizard’s take on Gamma World style mutant adventuring.)
Violent Fury FTW!
I am a very visual person. I write because I can’t draw. Or express myself in any other way, really. Can’t sing, can’t act, can’t dance, can’t paint, can’t sculpt, can’t make furniture, can’t do anything creative except to write, and my mind is simply overflowing with things I have to get out, somehow. Writing, to me, consists of putting down on paper all the things that crawl through my brain, and there’s a lot of such things.. this, for instance:
One of my critters for Mongoose, the charcharodoom. Or, the correct pronounciation, charcharodoooom!!!!. Exclamation points mandatory.
So, anyway, I tend to think visually, which might be unusual for a writer — I don’t know. Allegedly, the visual and verbal parts of the brain are different, but to me, they’re very much connected — I write by describing what I see. I’m more of a journalist than an author in some ways, if you follow me.
One technique I use when trying to come up with things is to focus on a few key words or concepts. In the case of the Savage, the dominant concepts are speed, power, fury, fear, savagery (duh!), brutality, force, action… you get the drift. I sit back, focus on those ideas, and let my mind wander a minute or two until something crystallizes. Then comes the hard part — turning an image, or sometimes the idea of an image, the sense of something, into a set of mathematical equations, with the hopes that, at someone’s gaming table at some point in the unknown future, these equations will turn back into an image that will stick with someone for years. My dream? hope? goal? is to give to other people those "Hey, do you remember that time when….?" moments that define what gaming is and why it’s fun and why it’s something I’ve kept on doing for over 30 years.
All of which ultimately boils down to these powers, which may or may not end up in the final version and may or may not be edited to hell and gone when all is said and done.
A fair number of the Savage’s powers do psychic damage based on the Savage’s charisma — this is basically the "Oh my frakking GAWD that guy’s an INSANE LOONEY and I just (bleeped) myself!" effect. The Savage is the "rip your arm off and beat you to death with it" character. His entire shtick is being too insanely violent to ignore — he’s a "defender" because you don’t dare attack anyone else when he’s on the field, you have to focus everything you’ve got on him or he’ll tear you to pieces, then take the pieces and shove them down someone else’s throat.
One of the problems with 4e is that the endless pages of "Attribute vs. Defense and Effect" can very easily blur together into a MEGO mess, and while the more 4e work I do, the more I respect the designer’s design skills, I remain critical of how little the 4e rules text does to aid people in visualizing and imagining what all this stuff means. Powers like "White Raven Assault" certainly don’t help — quick, what the hell does that mean? I dunno! Since Earth Delta has no page count limit and no worries about meeting commercial expectations, I can use as many words as I want, and sometime when the actual rules are more solidly done, I am tempted to go back and expand the power descriptions to make it more clear what’s being modeled and what it might look like, while giving the players and DM the freedom they need to imagine it however they like.
Even so, I think Vaulting Strike is pretty clear. Dude uses his weapon to jump over your head and whack someone hard, unless he screws up, in which case he ends up on his ass and you laugh at him while kicking him in the ribs. And if you don’t think that’s just plain cool, Earth Delta probably isn’t the game for you. Go back to the Forge and pretend you’re a teenage girl dying of cancer and every turn you roll 1d6 and you die if you roll a 6 or something like that.
I’m totally fine if you want to tell me its unbalanced, broken, or poorly implemented. But you can’t tell me it’s not cool.