RE: Re: Question on a feat Deathsong Berserk

From: Mike Holmes <mike_c_holmes_at_...>
Date: Wed, 06 Apr 2005 09:22:49 -0500

>From: "nichughes2001" <nicolas.h_at_...>

>Its not mechanically the same, as per the conversion notes the augment
>is 1/4 of the rating and the character is in a berserk fury which
>requires high AP bids and calming down when the supply of enemies runs

Nick is correct. What's the difference between one ability used to, say, harm another, and another ability that does the same thing? Well, it's whatever you think the difference should be based on the vocabulary used to make the ability. At least the first time you use it. Once you use it a few times, you get a feel for what the ability is about.

For example, one character has a Smash Foe feat, and another has a Slay My Enemy spell. Mechanically these are identical, no? In fact, mechanically Intimidate and Slay My Enemy are the same. The only differences between any two abilities are in where you'd allow them to be used without improv modifications. For example, trying to use Intimidate in a sword fight to stop the opponent, or using Slay My Enemy to threaten an opponent in an interrogation might both get an improv modifier.

So what's the difference between Berzerk, and Sword Help as abilities (let's set aside the matter of secrets for a moment)? Well, they'll probably both be augments, and we may see very little difference in play, actually. But it's the fact that they *can* be treated differently that makes them distinct. For instance, if a character is tied up, I might allow Berzerk to help him escape from the ropes by breaking them, but Sword Help I'd only allow if they had a sword.

Further there's the matter of negative invocation. If a character is using Berzerk, I might throw a contest at him to avoid attacking his friend, with the Berzerk level acting as a negative augment. Sword Help won't cause the contest, much less be used against the character.

On a related issue, does that make Sword Help better? Well, sure, until such time as I use Sword Help as a negative augment after the character uses it in the presence of someone who hates people who use Sword Help who the character is trying to convince of something. The point is that it's up to the narrator to make abilities have positive and negative effects (and the players will help with that), and for the abilities to be differentiated from each other. HQ does this extremely well, by giving the narrator tools to do this in a dynamic fashion, instead of trying to have a bejillion rules that one has to memorize as to when X has a bonus over Y.

In fact, I'd argue that HQ is by far the superior system here, because no enumeration of rules can cover every situation. The difference between Flaming Hands and Magic Missile in OAD&D is just a matter of what die you roll for damage. In HQ with the same sorts of abilites, the narrator can allow a character in the water to have a higher resistance against the Flaming Hands, or whathaveyou.

So any ability is only "just like" another ability to the extent that the people involved let it be. It's probably OK, actually, to let some abilities work almost identically to each other - you don't have to work terribly hard on delineating abilities if you don't want to. But if an ability annoys you because it doesn't seem distinct, then make it distinct.

For Deathsong Berzerk give bonuses or penalties based on acoustics or something. "The echos of the song in the cave are confusing, so you don't feel Humakt's presence as much. Minus Five." I'm sure that some of the effect of the ability is based on the fear it creates in the opponent - so for, say, a sentient tree that can't hear, give a penalty. OTOH, if there's a race that has "Sensitive Hearing" you might be able to activate that ability negatively against them with Deathsong Berzerk, whereas Sword Help wouldn't give you that same advantage.

Simply put, make abilities as distinct from each other as you feel you need to using the excellent tools that the system gives to you.


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