Starting to get back into writing for Lost Heroes but the first thing I do isn’t writing. I end up re-evaluating everything in front of me – I’m currently working on a character creation guide and despite having actually written up the rules for creating Magic Practitioners, I’ve decided to remove all mention of magic and non-Chosen types (including Magic Practitioners) from what ever thing I make public. I’ll keep the stuff I wrote, but this creation guide will be specifically about the Chosen only.
That isn’t really a radical change. I’m just moving some of the stuff aside. And it was something I had already considered for a while. But then it lays the seed of a change much more fundamental.
I am of the opinion that in game design, mechanics should follow flavour and setting and help re-enforce it or expand it. But I’ve always felt that the current power-system of Lost Heroes does not do that. I’ve invested a lot of thought and design effort into it, built elements of the system around it, but it always felt a little disconnected from the rest of the setting and the other rules which all otherwise have their place in relation to the setting. I did have a design goal way back when I started, not to have a distinct magic system but one that shared it’s core with the basic power system. That however I think is holding back a more refined vision of the RPG.
Currently a character can have gifts and faults, some of these are mundane and some supernatural or divine. Chosen with different Patron Gods will have different gifts and faults. Then there is abilities. There are psychic abilities, which have their place within the setting (a good example would be visions), and then there is the supernatural and divine abilities. These are powered by the character’s passions. Magic then aligns with these abilities (instead calling them paths), using the basic same rules but with a few extra restrictions and some broader concepts, example; Magic always takes time but Abilities are instant, however Magic can be used to create magical items but Abilities cannot. And so on. Abilities have ratings which can be increased via experience points and I’ve built them up using the mythos and elements of the setting.
But I felt they never really reflected the source idea of Lost Heroes. While characters in mythology often gain powers, they don’t work like abilities. They don’t get supernatural skills as such but learn specific tricks and powers. It’s not really something that’s part of the theme of the setting. I think I pulled the ideas for abilities from existing RPGs and martial-art based fantasies where characters only purpose is to train and build on a supernatural martial art (including all the flashy light shows).
I’m considering ripping out abilities completely, replacing them with just a set of gifts and faults. This suits the setting much more, as in the characters are human but have some advantages. They don’t have these supernatural abilities that would make them truly distinct (i.e. alien) to human characters. They are simply different. Another angle on this is to wonder how that these sort of supernatural abilities would affect how one would sees the world. It’s not just gaining an alien sixth sense, but also a new limb to control the world within that sixth sense. It would be not possible to describe how or what that would mean to some without it.
Magic of course can still use the stuff I devised for abilities, but I shall put it aside until later.
The question then I have is, does this make sense from a player perspective?
The current gift system in Lost Heroes allows for tiered gifts and faults. Some gifts and faults can be stacked up to three times, increasing their scope or power. But there is no gift or fault tree. Players can buy new gifts, learning them from gods or other supernatural beings. But anything then with an ability is not a player character and can’t really be. Does not having powers-based skills like abilities weaken the system?