Tuesday, May 8, 2012

ICT: Distinction, Plot Points and Gear

Index Card Tactics made use of distinctions - 3 per characters. For the unfamiliar these are descriptors without die values.  Some of the ones we had in play included "Poor sense of direction" and "Very good at WANTING to be a knight".   Players may add a single distinction to a roll: if the player thinks the distinction will help, then it adds a d8 to the pool. If the player thinks it will get in the way, then he gets a plot point and adds a d4 to the pool.

Distinctions can also come up out of combat, though that's a little fast and loose. They're much more aspect-like in that context (albeit with no compel) and in practice a distinction can substitute for a die roll, for good or ill, when relevant.  Not for every die roll, but for that whole range of not-critical-but-seeing-how-things-unfold kind of die rolls.  For example, the characters might roll to try to find their way out of the forest or may opt to point out one character's terrible sense of direction. If so, that character gets a PP and the party gets lost.

Plot Points
The number of things plot points can be spent on is greatly limited by default in ICT. A plot point may be spent to:

  • Create an asset at d6. 2 PP makes it d8. 4 makes it d10 and 8 makes it d12.
  • Keep an extra die when tallying your result.  2 PP lets you keep 2 extra dice, 4 PP lets you keep 3, 8 PP lets you keep 4 and so on.

This may seem a bit limited at first glance, but there are two reasons for this.  First, it simplifies the default, which is important to a game like this.  Second, it frees up space to move a lot of these effects over to character classes to allow for more interesting mechanical differentiation.

Gear falls into 3 categories: weapons, armor and potions. There are a few other oddballs (like shields, which only matter to some classes), but those are the heart of it.

Every character has one weapon and one piece of armor, and over time, those can get replaced with better versions.  This is blatantly a video-game model, and I own that. If you want to expand it to allow more weapons, the model for that is relatively self explanatory.  If you do that, make weapon choice happen the same time a character picks his stat, and make him stick with it until his next action.

Weapons provide a bonus any time you act in combat.   Weapons have a category (for example, "Sword") which has some relevant interactions with classes in terms of what classes can use which weapons.  They also have a die value (starting at d6 usually) and often have some sort of distinguishing name (like "Knight's Sword").

As they adventure, they may find or buy more powerful weapons, which are represented in two ways. First, the base quality may improve.  The Training Sword d6 may get replaced with an Iron Sword d8, then Silver Sword d10 and finally Knight Sword d12.   This improvement is pretty straightforward - it makes the die pool bigger, and these are the big-deal upgrades.

Weapons may also have descriptors with a mechanical effect.  This is an intentionally wide scope, and while there will be some common ideas (like situational bonus dice) there is no concrete limit that things must adhere to.  

For Example:
Stone Sword d8
- On success, player may opt to inflict Petrified status in lieu of damage.

Fire Sword d6
- d10 vs ice creatures.

Jester's Sword d4
- On success, in addition to the outcome, roll d6

  1. Attacker Recovers d12
  2. inflict Sleep d12
  3. Inflict Stone d12
  4. Inflict Confused d12
  5. Inflict Toad d12
  6. Roll again, but swap attacker and target

Armor works basically the same way as weapons do, but the bonus is applied when you're defending in combat.  Like weapons, armor has different types, die values and descriptors.  The main difference is that while weapon F/X are about increasing damage or adding effects, armor bonuses are about reducing damage or mitigating effects.

Robe of Shielding d6
- Effect: Shield d8 (Apply damage to shield before character)

Titan's Armor d8
- Double benefit of selecting Resolve.

Potions are basically canned effect dice that spare you the trouble of rolling.  Right now there are only 2 kinds, healing and Remedy. They have a die value (usually d6 or d8) and they're applied as recovery against damage and conditions respectively.

More specialized potions exist that get a +2 step effect, but only work against specific conditions.  So a d6 remedy potion operates at d6, but a d6 Soft potion works at d10 vs. Petrification.  To simulate the "always works" element, I may demand that any specialized potion be built on a base of d8 (effectively d12) but I might also like the idea of cheapo potions that kind of work.

Ok, that's a lot. Probably enough for today. Classes are probably next.


  1. What are your plans for this design. I'm hoping they involve actually publishing it, at least as a PDF.

  2. At the very least there will be a PDF when I'm done.

    1. I wanted to play this as soon as I read your first ICT post. I can't tell you how excited I am that you're going to put out a PDF.

  3. Excellent.
    Especially if you manage to describe the cortex+ system (or at least a hack of it) in an actual organized fashion.

  4. Yeah, I'm 2/3 through the class posts and realizing how much system really needs to be explained to make them make sense (which, I should add, I'm kind of failing to do for the blog posts) and it's very much clarifying what needs to be explained in what order.


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