Arcane Experience?

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Cinn
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Arcane Experience?

Post by Cinn » Mon Oct 24, 2016 1:12 pm

There was a recent discussion about venue specific experience in the chat earlier, focusing primarily on Arcane Experience. The new Mage game was built in a way to put a lot of emphasis on magic, even making it so certain things could only be purchased via Arcane Experience, which is earned through Obsessions and general pursuit of Mysteries. Other venues seen to have similar sorts of experience points (I believe Pack experience was mentioned) and I was just wondering if there's been any thought as how to handle these systems in Wanton Wicked 5.0.

My opinion is that the idea behind Arcane Experience is a sound one, although I think it might translate poorly into a chat setting. What's everyone else's opinions on this?
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Post by Ephsy » Mon Oct 24, 2016 6:20 pm

Couple of misconceptions:
  • The notion that "some things can only be paid with Arcane Experience" is mistaken. The opposite is true - Axp can only be used to purchase Wisdom, Gnosis or Arcana, but normal XP is equally applicable to it.
  • Pack Experience is only useful to purchase pack-specific merits and upgrade periphery characters, whom are normally NPCs (as will be the case, since werewolf PCs won't bypass the Two-Character rule in order to allow troupe-play).
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Post by ChrisF » Mon Oct 24, 2016 6:29 pm

Ephsy wrote:Couple of misconceptions:
  • The notion that "some things can only be paid with Arcane Experience" is mistaken. The opposite is true - Axp can only be used to purchase Wisdom, Gnosis or Arcana, but normal XP is equally applicable to it.
  • Pack Experience is only useful to purchase pack-specific merits and upgrade periphery characters, whom are normally NPCs (as will be the case, since werewolf PCs won't bypass the Two-Character rule in order to allow troupe-play).
By default there are several things that MUST be purchased with AXP, at least according to the XP chart and a few other places; it's quite possible they've contradicted themselves in there somewhere, though, I admittedly don't have the book memorized.

Regardless, the staff is still discussing this, but the general concern is that special Experience types are difficult to account for, need special coding, and provide a distinct advantage in growth for those that have them (Mages, Werewolves, maybe Vampires) vs those that don't (Changelings, Mortals), and even if balance is already impossible mechanically, there's a difference between an inherent inbalance in powers and an imbalance in character growth options.
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Post by Retias » Tue Oct 25, 2016 2:36 am

The things that rely on AXP alone are praxis, legacy attainments (with no mentor), and Wisdom. As for pack merits, I think they're more relevant then that, especially with the Pack out and other supplements likely featuring pack centric merits and other aspects.

Maybe Mortals can have extra xp for things like social merits, to offset possible imbalance? Not that that makes life easier for you guys in a coding sense, but it's a suggestion to send out there.
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Post by Mephi » Tue Oct 25, 2016 12:10 pm

Mortals should get insanity beats! You lose your shit, you get stronger! :wu:

*cough*

More seriously, Arcane beats can be earned in a few ways: Make headway with an Obsession (magic-oriented Aspirations), turning failures (on a spell roll) into a dramatic failure, resolving (magically-based) Conditions, meaningful encounter of supernatural (rewarded at ST discretion), risking a breaking point (Wisdom instead of Integrity) and tutoring sessions (as student or teacher). With the exception of "meaningful encounters" and "tutoring," these are all just variations on what you normally get beats from. And, even then? We can just treat the "learn about magic from fellow supernaturals" as just another free pseudo-Aspiration / Obsession for mages in terms of coding.

So, when all is said and done? Arcane beats aren't that different from regular beats. If anything, it does nothing more than serve as a specialized form of justification for purchasing certain things (praxis, wisdom), which, frankly, is redundant with how things are handled here.

Now, pack beats and blood beats are completely different. For example, in Vampire? You get some for dramatic failures/exceptional successes on Disciplines and some for detachement (which is covered by regular beats), but the rest involve things like making new vamps, new ghouls, draining people and frenzying. Those are all problematic, given how scenes and player permissions work on a chat; I don't recommend implementing them. And in the case of pack beats? That has nothing to do with special XP growth - its just shoving everyone's regular beats into a common pot that's later redistributed. That's lots of effort for only benefiting people that play less and get involved in fewer stories, and could lead to bad feelings among players. Not worth the effort when an individual can buy up a dot and share them - we're already doing that with things like Safe Place and Library.


In the three examples of special XP we have for WanWic, one could easily be eliminated and have little to no impact on game play, one that serves no purpose on a chat format, and one that doesn't work well due to the nature of player agency. There's no real benefit for using any of them beyond "learn about magic from someone supernatural" aspect of Mage as a source of beats. And even then, I think we're better off using it as regular beats and a source of justification than anything.
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Post by praetor » Tue Oct 25, 2016 1:14 pm

ChrisF wrote:Regardless, the staff is still discussing this, but the general concern is that special Experience types are difficult to account for, need special coding, and provide a distinct advantage in growth for those that have them (Mages, Werewolves, maybe Vampires) vs those that don't (Changelings, Mortals), and even if balance is already impossible mechanically, there's a difference between an inherent inbalance in powers and an imbalance in character growth options.
This bugs me a bit. Not the response. But something in inherent in it.

Why is there any need whatsoever to call for balance? There isn't any.

You play the game you play for its mood and setting, you play it for the feel of the game. Not because its a more powerful creature type than the others (Or I suppose if you do.you would seem to be playing it for the wrong reasons).

This isn't an MMO, it's roleplaying. There's no need to search for balance between the super types. We really should have gotten past that "bug-a-boo" a long time ago as a concern.

I would have to say, do not bother to consider "balance" as an issue when deciding on these particular rules. Just go with what makes it easiest to run on the chat.

Possibly being inflammatory, but anyone concerned about "Balance" between the supers in mechanics is probably just a bit of a power gamer, at heart, even if they don't realize it. Or won't acknowledge it openly.
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Post by Ephsy » Tue Oct 25, 2016 1:28 pm

praetor wrote:
ChrisF wrote:Regardless, the staff is still discussing this, but the general concern is that special Experience types are difficult to account for, need special coding, and provide a distinct advantage in growth for those that have them (Mages, Werewolves, maybe Vampires) vs those that don't (Changelings, Mortals), and even if balance is already impossible mechanically, there's a difference between an inherent inbalance in powers and an imbalance in character growth options.
This bugs me a bit. Not the response. But something in inherent in it.

Why is there any need whatsoever to call for balance? There isn't any.

You play the game you play for its mood and setting, you play it for the feel of the game. Not because its a more powerful creature type than the others (Or I suppose if you do.you would seem to be playing it for the wrong reasons).

This isn't an MMO, it's roleplaying. There's no need to search for balance between the super types. We really should have gotten past that "bug-a-boo" a long time ago as a concern.

I would have to say, do not bother to consider "balance" as an issue when deciding on these particular rules. Just go with what makes it easiest to run on the chat.

Possibly being inflammatory, but anyone concerned about "Balance" between the supers in mechanics is probably just a bit of a power gamer, at heart, even if they don't realize it. Or won't acknowledge it openly.
You've missed the point. Glaringly. Chris straight out admits in the portion you quoted that mechanical balance cannot be achieved. What the administration is hoping to do, is to prevent such a thing as development imbalance between different venues.
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Post by JillA » Tue Oct 25, 2016 3:17 pm

In general when approaching the adoption of more fluffy mechanics like this that distinctly deviate from what we're building for everyone there are a couple of things that are taken into consideration:
  1. Can we? - Do we have the time/ability to implement this in a way that is sensible and easy to adapt for players?
  2. Can we do without? - Is there another tool or mechanic already existing that can be adapted to make do without having to build something new or separate?
  3. Should we? - Does this actually improve the game in a meaningful way in our CHAT environment? Often amazing tabletop concepts are harder to translate to a multi-user 24/7 chat environment.
  4. Can we do it later? - Do we want to try adopting this in the future and what are the impacts if we roll it in later?
For transparency, the first question is really the only question we're going to be asking regarding Arcane XP, because the answer to Question 2 is "Yes."
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Post by magus666 » Tue Oct 25, 2016 6:21 pm

My biggest concern with getting rid of Arcane beats/xp (Pack beats, Blood beats, whathaveyou) is not that we can't do without them, but how much will doing away with them affect the playability of the game. The quick answer is - not at all! We have regular beats and xp that do the same things! Yes, absolutely true...maybe. Or are they? On the surface, without taking anything else into account, they would seem so. It's the other things that might make it a little less so though. Exactly why is there even a mechanic for Arcane XP (other types) at ALL if it's just the same as using regular XP? Well, because, it isn't quite.
First, when you look at the traits that can be (or, by RAW MUST BE) purchased with Arcane XP, it makes sense that these are things that probably shouldn't be purchased with just "normal" XP (and if there is no differentiation, they all are normal xp since there's no way to specify, even if some ARE gained through supernatural experiences). Gnosis, Arcana, and Praxes definitely should require deeper delving into the -potentially deadly- mysteries. That's sort of the point, and those Arcane beats and xp should get more difficult to come by (or at least more DANGEROUS to come by) as you progress (Obsessions become more difficult to achieve, Conditions become more detrimental, etc. Of course this does require some ST supervision). It just doesn't really seem reasonable that a mage would be able to increase his Gnosis (or Arcana, etc), simply from spending the regular XP he potentially gained from purely mundane activities.
On the flip side of that, mages (and other supers) sort of NEED that extra source of XP, given the very low rate of mundane XP in the chat (as currently set) and the large XP drain for supernatural abilities. A dot of a merit costs 1XP (and that includes some quite powerful supernatural merits that are offlimits to non-mortals) a dot of an ability costs 2XP. A dot of an Arcana is 4xp, and a dot of Gnosis is 5xp. With an XP cap of 3 per month, this puts some SERIOUS limitations on their ability to grow. Sure, Arcana are VERY potent (and I still disagree with the flat rate system, it is NOT as easy to go from being an expert in ANYTHING to being a Master as it is learn the basics of the skill) but a mortal (or super if they wished) can go from being broke to one of the richest people in the city (resources 0 to 5), an unknown player to one of the most influential (Status 0 to 5),or even (for a mortal+) get 5 dots in Psychokinesis, Telepathy, or Telekinesis, etc, for the cost of raising Gnosis by 1 point. Even limiting to a single Arcane XP (5 Arcane Beats) per month, would go a long way towards compensating for this additional drain on XP. It's not a question of "balance", but of offsetting the effect which will otherwise reduce the "slow" progression to "painfully sluggish".
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Post by Ephsy » Wed Oct 26, 2016 12:46 am

magus666 wrote: First, when you look at the traits that can be (or, by RAW MUST BE) purchased with Arcane XP, it makes sense that these are things that probably shouldn't be purchased with just "normal" XP [...] Gnosis, Arcana, and Praxes definitely should require deeper delving into the -potentially deadly- mysteries. That's sort of the point, and those Arcane beats and xp should get more difficult to come by (or at least more DANGEROUS to come by) as you progress (Obsessions become more difficult to achieve, Conditions become more detrimental, etc. Of course this does require some ST supervision). It just doesn't really seem reasonable that a mage would be able to increase his Gnosis (or Arcana, etc), simply from spending the regular XP he potentially gained from purely mundane activities.

Here's where the argument falls apart: Difficulty doesn't really comes into it. Any kind of Aspiration, particularly short-term ones, are the domain of players and STs lack any veto power on them (assuming they follow the guidelines). It's literally down to what the player wishes to explore. If players are fine fulfilling obsessions which can be easily solved with mere interactions, without a single dice-roll, and they can find someone in which to engage these interactions with, they're due their beats.

Example: discussing spiritual matters with a werewolf. Also? Anyone can get the obsession "Become Wiser".

If the individual player wishes each obsession to be more difficult than the last? More power to them. But that will hardly be the case with a limited staff.
magus666 wrote:On the flip side of that, mages (and other supers) sort of NEED that extra source of XP, given the very low rate of mundane XP in the chat (as currently set) and the large XP drain for supernatural abilities. A dot of a merit costs 1XP (and that includes some quite powerful supernatural merits that are offlimits to non-mortals) a dot of an ability costs 2XP. A dot of an Arcana is 4xp, and a dot of Gnosis is 5xp. With an XP cap of 3 per month, this puts some SERIOUS limitations on their ability to grow. Sure, Arcana are VERY potent (and I still disagree with the flat rate system, it is NOT as easy to go from being an expert in ANYTHING to being a Master as it is learn the basics of the skill) but a mortal (or super if they wished) can go from being broke to one of the richest people in the city (resources 0 to 5), an unknown player to one of the most influential (Status 0 to 5),or even (for a mortal+) get 5 dots in Psychokinesis, Telepathy, or Telekinesis, etc, for the cost of raising Gnosis by 1 point. Even limiting to a single Arcane XP (5 Arcane Beats) per month, would go a long way towards compensating for this additional drain on XP. It's not a question of "balance", but of offsetting the effect which will otherwise reduce the "slow" progression to "painfully sluggish".
I do agree that supernatural characters have way, way many more XP sinks than Mortals.
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Post by Wolfpact » Wed Oct 26, 2016 11:06 am

Quick point:

To go, from unskilled (0) to basic understanding (1)?

2 Experiences

To go from unskilled (0) to world-class expert (5)?

10 Experiences

Multiplicative costs were a needless piece of Stormwind nonsense.

And honestly, complaining about the cost of raising a power stat versus what those dots can buy, then saying balance doesn't matter?

Mortals buy merits and skills. Its what they do. That's their 'power' as it were.
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Post by magus666 » Wed Oct 26, 2016 2:05 pm

And honestly, complaining about the cost of raising a power stat versus what those dots can buy, then saying balance doesn't matter?

Mortals buy merits and skills. Its what they do. That's their 'power' as it were.
Yes, that's what was said. It's not about balance, it's about the fact that supers have serious, large additional XP sinks in order to simply be what they are supposed to be and do what they are supposed to do. In addition, Supernatural characters need to buy merits and skills as well, unless they are content to let their supernatural powers carry them through every single task they have and aspect of their life (which, to be fair, is possible in some cases, but generally not a good idea overall). That was the point. Supers have MOST of the same mundane things to spend XP on, and then the supernatural requirements on top of it. Sure, it makes sense that if you are spending large amounts of your time studying dusty old tomes or consulting with supernal beings to increase your Gnosis, you aren't doing as much going out and making Contacts or learning to be better at a Skill or Attribute (or are you? Academics, Occult, Intelligence would all fit WHILE you were learning those Arcane abilities, or even Persuasion,Intimidation or Presence while dealing with that supernal being?). But the RATE at which those supernatural abilities drain XP is the issue, given the very slow rate of XP earning. And again...yes, it might make sense under other circumstances, but the conditions of the chat environment with its time frame have to be taken into account. It might be entirely reasonable in a TT game to say that a character is spending a few weeks or months studying that rare book to the exclusion of everything else, but that doesn't usually happen in a 24/7 chat setting. We are working with a much stricter time frame of maybe a couple years game time, and I think that most players, even if we DON'T want godlike PCs by the end of end, DO want to see their characters grow and advance in meaningful ways. For Supernatural PCs, that usually means an increase in their supernatural abilities IN ADDITION to more mundane growth (whether that is building a bigger cult following, becoming more learned, or mastering their favored weapon without powers), and there is a significant difference between watching a PC grow slowly, and watching them come to a near standstill. Yes, the game is about moods, themes, and roleplay, not who gets the most dice. But part OF those Moods, Themes and Roleplay is guiding your PC so that they become more able to face the threats and dangers of the setting, and THIS setting seems to be particularly dangerous. That means that the PCs need to grow, learn, and become more potent at whatever skills and abilities they bring to the table. (Honestly, if your OOC motivation is to just run around encountering things until your PC dies or goes insane, you might as well be playing Call of Cthulu - a great game in itself, but not the one we are playing here.)

As a side note, I'm not sure if Changelings have any type of supernatural XP in the new system (like arcane, blood or pack), but honestly, if they don't, they really SHOULD. Next to mages, changelings probably have the most avenues for experiencing new and wondrous (or horrific) things, completely outside that of normal mortals, and if mages, werewolves and vampires can gain additional supernatural XP to aid in their supernatural progress, Lings certainly should as well.
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Post by Ephsy » Wed Oct 26, 2016 2:39 pm

Again, pack experience is a glorified form of group XP. Quit using it as if it was the equivalent to Blood XP or Arcane XP. It's not going to be implemented.
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Post by JillA » Wed Oct 26, 2016 3:06 pm

Just as a note, and I understand that a large part of the argument is the desire to fluff the monthly XP gain, but Supernatural characters already start with a significant XP pool over mortals to cover their templates with an err for more XP where there may be a potential spending variance.

Also, I think the assumption that implementing Arcane XP, for example, would also mean an XP gain above and beyond the standard monthly cap would probably be inaccurate.
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Post by Xyld » Wed Oct 26, 2016 9:46 pm

My knee-jerk reaction is to vehemently say "No" to Arcane Experience, but any argument based on negative emotions such as greed, envy, jealousy, selfishness or anger, stand upon a very shaky foundation and do nothing to bring about a logical and just conclusion. Since no one convinced me one way or another, I cracked open the PDF, reread the rules and took some time to think about it.

I am not going to go over trodden ground. The things that can only be bought with Arcane Experience have been listed above, but the ways that it can be earned have not and that is far more relevant...

Arcane Beats are granted for following a Mage's Obsession.. The whole "Beat Economy" is based upon rewarding behaviors that move the story forward or make it interesting, not body-counts. The rules incentivizes players to actively pursue their Obsessions, to give them direction and purpose, to give them reason to work with the smarmy Seer who should be killed or to be tempted to read that forbidden Tremere grimoire or to walk into an obvious trap the Banishers are staging to attain the shiny artifact that they're going to destroy at sundown.

There are some minor mechanical effects that exploit a Mage's Obsessions (+1 in Social Maneuvering and Mage Sight rolls where appropriate), but when you remove that reward from play, the motivation to roleplay such details diminishes and it becomes just another trivial character detail such as eye color or favorite color.

Resolving a condition caused by spell casting, Paradox, or magical effect earns Arcane Beats. Again, the "Beat Economy" is not about "winning" or showing how awesome your character is - it is about actively promoting player participation in storytelling by letting the characters overcome or even fall to obstacles. Considering many conditions can be easily overcome with the proper Arcana, it becomes far less interesting to resolve a condition with magic than actively suffering through it to gain a bit of hard-earned experience. Not only that, in an environment where players characters have free reign to be jerks to each other, the reward of playing out an imposed condition helps soothe ruffled feathers.

Making a failed spell casting roll a dramatic failure earns an Arcane Beat. Again, considering the 5.0 setting crafted by the Storymasters, what motivation is there to voluntarily botch a spell? Not only does the Mage have to worry about the GoV or the Banishers (or perhaps the even Seers or Abyssal entities), but now there is a secret police faction waiting to pounce on anyone who does obvious Supernatural stuff. Take away the carrot of Arcane Experience and it is unlikely that anyone would opt to risk botching a spell and making things more interesting in character when there are so many other rolls that could generate normal Beats.

Risking an Act of Hubris against Wisdom. Again, there is no incentive to risk penalizing oneself if there is no possible pay off for doing so. Choosing to Ignore rules when they are unpalatable undermines the integrity of the game and the overall experience for everyone.

Being mentored/mentoring others in a Legacy.There has been no official announcement about Legacies, but I am fairly certain that they will not be included in this iteration of Wanton. From an AXP point, that makes things easier if we are doing away with the concept altogether, but it also takes away from the Storytelling aspect of the game. Players will have less reason to become introspective about the path that their characters travel to shape their souls. That may not be such a big deal to some, but for those who view his or her character as more than a bunch of dots and a strategy to murder opposition, it is a loss.

New and meaningful encounter with the supernatural. This is the one that I am most skeptical about, because it has the greatest potential for abuse, both in terms of players making up bullshit reasons for earning AXP and/or staff providing trumped up reasons to award or deny it. But it ignoring it altogether undermines one of the core concepts motivating Mages on a primal level - the drive to discover, the urge to explore, the obsessive irrationally to risk one's life to glimpse secrets that have been hidden away from the ever-encroaching Fallen world.

All of these things have something in common, to incentivize players to actively bring them into play. Beyond that, however, there is another, more subtle reason to include Arcane Experience.

Funny enough, Sleepers CAN get Arcane Experience too! It says so in the Mage book. They CANNOT, however, spend that experience unless they Awaken. The conclusion that can be drawn by that is that spending Arcane Experience is something that is an unadvertised and understated power present in all Mages.

Fluff-wise, it could be said that Mages benefit greater from seeking out magic, exposing themselves (for better or worse) to its effects, actively study, and contemplate their own mysteries because to do so brings them one step closer to Supernal understanding, and thus, they come closer to embodying and mastering magic itself.

To do that, means effort, engagement and risk beyond the minimum required by characters in other venues, and thus, more work by players to get. Regardless of explanation Arcane Experience is still part of the rules as written and it serves a deliberate purpose.

Include Arcane Experience, but don't make it trivial to attain, nor give players more than enough to keep people interested and hungry for it.
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