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Old 11-20-2019, 09:22 AM   #1
larsdangly
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Default Trying to understand self powered items

I was re-reading the rules on magic item creation and having trouble understanding the reasoning or system behind how self powered capabilities really work.

The general rule is clear(ish): cost in money, ST and wizards is at least 10x that of the standard version. What 'at least' means in this context isn't clear; the example a couple of pages before suggests it means you get 1 point of self powering. So what does it cost to get 2 or 3 or 4? Who knows.

More generally, quite a few items are described as having no ST cost, presumably meaning their default version is self powered. I can't make any sense of why one item has this capability and another doesn't, and judging from the costs in the tables it seems like in these cases self-powering was very cheap compared to the general rule for self powering.

Does anyone out there feel like they understand this?
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Old 11-20-2019, 10:16 AM   #2
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Default Re: Trying to understand self powered items

More items are "self powered" than is apparent in the listings, say Summon X gems. This makes them more cost effective than scrolls.

https://www.hcobb.com/tft/scrolls_suck.html
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Old 11-20-2019, 10:20 AM   #3
Skarg
 
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Default Re: Trying to understand self powered items

Yeah, I think I understand it, except for the edge cases that are not explicitly defined, or defined differently in the RAW versus the original Advanced Wizard errata. See this thread for house ruling discussion about details of enchantment use for multi-hex figures and the errata.

It sounds like mainly you're not noticing the mention on ITL p.154 where it gives further examples:
Quote:
Originally Posted by ITL p.154
If it powers itself at 2 ST/turn, it requires 20 times as many wizards; for 3 ST/turn, 30 times as many.

The issue of some items not requiring any ST cost to maintain is I think a case of the designer originally trying to make the right choice between having items that are very useful because you can keep them on without draining your ST, versus wanting the game not to be dominated and overpowered by easy access to items that have powerful effects that don't have any drawback. In my view, several of them marked as no cost should definitely have a cost of at least 1/turn, such as Stone/Iron flesh. In any case, the logic I think at work there is the idea that some spells aren't so powerful that the base version requires ST from the user to run all the time. But I'd say GMs may want to review that for each item to see whether they agree or not.
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Old 11-20-2019, 11:28 AM   #4
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Default Re: Trying to understand self powered items

IMHO a lot of magic items would be better balanced at 1 ST per X minutes. Like say a Flight ring which is rarely useful at 1 ST per turn and a game changer at 0 ST required.
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Old 11-20-2019, 11:36 AM   #5
Skarg
 
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Default Re: Trying to understand self powered items

I think many of the enchantments are GM calls, and may take experience to learn what the implications are. I have players who could make extremely good use of a Flight enchantment at 1 ST per turn. 1 ST per minute is a whole other category of ability.
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Old 11-20-2019, 11:42 AM   #6
larsdangly
 
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Default Re: Trying to understand self powered items

The whole thing is kind of a mess. Given the goals of these sorts of resource-management rules, it would be a lot better if there were just some formula relating IQ level and ST cost of spells to the ST cost of enchantment, and then a single rubric that always applies if you want to bump it up to self-powered status. It should be possible to figure out what sub-conscious algorithm was in the back of Steve's mind when he filled out the tables by just seeing what the central tendencies are. I'm not really worried about financial costs because I don't use them, but the costs in wizards and ST per day are a serious gate-keeper for players making new enchantments, so I'd like it to work in a sensible fashion.
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Old 11-20-2019, 12:21 PM   #7
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Default Re: Trying to understand self powered items

When I have time I'll run the numbers on alternatives to magic items. For example a wizard who could either spend 500 XP to learn a spell or buy a $5000 magic item that has the same ST cost.
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Old 11-20-2019, 02:32 PM   #8
Skarg
 
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Default Re: Trying to understand self powered items

Quote:
Originally Posted by larsdangly View Post
The whole thing is kind of a mess. Given the goals of these sorts of resource-management rules, it would be a lot better if there were just some formula relating IQ level and ST cost of spells to the ST cost of enchantment, and then a single rubric that always applies if you want to bump it up to self-powered status. It should be possible to figure out what sub-conscious algorithm was in the back of Steve's mind when he filled out the tables by just seeing what the central tendencies are. I'm not really worried about financial costs because I don't use them, but the costs in wizards and ST per day are a serious gate-keeper for players making new enchantments, so I'd like it to work in a sensible fashion.
In theory that'd be great. In practice, I think a GM with years of TFT experience seeing use and abuse of many of the magic items will have a more informed view of which enchantments are how powerful with what ST costs, than Steve's original instincts. I certainly have my eye on a few things that are bargains/easy-to-enchant, and that are very powerful to be having no ST cost, that I'd rather have a ST cost.

The immediate example that comes to mind is Stone Flesh at $4000 with no ST cost - that stacks with armor / shields/ toughness and can let anyone who can fight with a few more points of armor stacked on, dominate combat against all foes without very high-damage weapons. And as hcobb has pointed out several times, it's not well-balanced in terms of effort versus the less convenient Armor Enchantment costs.
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Old 11-20-2019, 04:14 PM   #9
larsdangly
 
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Default Re: Trying to understand self powered items

The most important question anyone has to ask about their TFT campaign is whether magic items and potions are available for sale at the suggested rates. There is no right or wrong answer to this, but it will dictate the power balance in your game.

We often discuss TFT as a low-powered, high-risk sort of system because of the deadliness of its combat system. And now that PC's have limited ranges of stats, that risk is always there, even after lots of experience. Personally, I think that is a very good thing. But the RAW also contains another path to another sort of game, through the ready availability of magic items.

For a surprisingly achievable amount of money, one can have a PC who has over 20 points of armor and doles out enough damage to reliably kill a normal combatant almost every turn. As a simple example: +5 plate, +5 small shield, stone flesh ring (21 pts of armor), and, say, a +5 flaming bastard sword (3d+7 damage). Such a character could pretty easily have an adjDX of 14 or more, meaning most turns he or she will dole out close to 20 points of damage. A character like this is functionally invulnerable to mundane attacks, even from things like giants and dragons. And they can't get nuked by missile spells because of the 3-point limit. So, they only have to fear very specialized threats.
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Old 11-20-2019, 06:09 PM   #10
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Default Re: Trying to understand self powered items

That very fine flaming bastard sword is $28k and so would take a Mercenary veteran four and a half years of salary to purchase.

The +5 fine plate is only $21k of course.
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