Ethereum mechanics

By Twofer Comments (12) (Tipped by 2 people!)

Combat

 

In general, most checks have a probability ratio of power_one:power_two, where ‘power’ depends on the type of contest and may not be symmetrical. While fighting, it is the modified combat and defence stats. One can think of this as rolling a d(p1+p2) and passing on a p1 or lower.

 

In a battle, first, the warlords roll initiative. The powers are the commanders’ levels, with a +1 bonus if it is their turn. The one who wins initiative becomes the attacker; if they would prefer to defend and they have a commander present, they may hold back whichever units they like; if both choose for all units to defend, there is no engagement.

 

The attacker decides who matches with who. This isn’t absolute; a defending warlord can keep some units (such as himself) behind a screen, as long as there are enough units in the front row that the attackers can’t simply go around the screen. Combat is in real-time, and larger units are better at screening, but a rule of thumb is that the screen should be at least four units.

 

Next is the violent part. Attacking units’ powers are set to their modified combat stats; defenders’ are set to their modified defence. In mêlée, there’s a chance of a mutual miss (or, depending on which looks coolest, a dodge or parry), usually something like 2*(p1*p2/(p1^2+p2^2))^2, but it doesn’t really matter because it means you just roll the next round; it’s mostly negligible mechanically. Failing that, one unit will hit the other, by a check of p1:p2. Whoever hits deals d(base stat) hits, where the stat is combat or defence depending on whether they are attacking or not. Most bonuses apply to both combat and defence, but only modify the to-hit chance, not damage; to improve damage, one usually has to increase the base stat by levelling, although some magic (mainly magic weapons/armour and Changemancy transformations) and some situational specials do too. A hit has a small chance (say, (damage-target_level)/(2*damage), but I’m iffy on this) to be a crit, additionally either incapacitating or instacroaking the target. If there are unequal numbers, multiple units can gang up on one other; this confers no mechanical advantage, and the one can hit all of the multiple others in one round.

 

Stack bonuses are +1 for 2, 3, or 13–16 units; +2 for 4, 5, or 9–12 units; or +3 for 6–8 units. Stacks may not have over 255 total base combat, and hexes may not have over 1,023. Warlords give a level bonus. Chief warlords give +level to units in their stack or the capital, +level/2 rounded down to others in the hex, and +level/3 rounded to others on the side; this plus the bonus of a warlord leading a stack is capped to the maximum of the CW’s level and the stack leader’s level, so if a CW is level 6 and a junior warlord is 5, units in the junior warlord’s stack will have +6, not +7 or +8 or +11.

 

Archery vs mêlée is different, but it’s not important in practice because it’s so one-sided that it never comes up outside of desperation attacks. When unsupported archery fights mêlée, archery gains a first strike, in which the check is the archer’s modified combat against the mêlée’s modified defence, and a fail has no penalty beyond the wasted arrow; the mêlée unit can immediately close, and they take turns attacking. If the mêlée unit then attacks the archer, the check is his attack against the archer’s defence; a fail has no penalty, but a hit both deals damage and stuns the archer for one round, giving the mêlée unit another attack. Between this and mêlée units’ generally superior stats, the result is usually a slaughter. (When fighting large or armoured units, arrows sometimes hit without effect; this is purely cosmetic and behaves like a miss.)

 

Archery can try supporting one’s own mêlée units as they fight mêlée enemies, but there’s a high chance of hitting one’s own units. When firing into mêlée, an archer first has to make a contest to even be aiming for the right target, of modified_combat_stat:total_number_of_units_in_the_scrum, this latter number typically being around 16 (every unit in both stacks of the engagement). If this fails, they instead perform the check on a randomly selected unit, with a bias toward ones physically closer to the archer; because the closer ones are generally friendlies, and 16 is a hard check, archers are often a liability. Alternatively, they can fire overhead volleys, in which case the target is chosen at random from an area without a bias toward nearer units. When firing toward all-enemy stacks, a miss has a small (I haven’t thought about exactly how small) chance to hit another unit they weren’t aiming for, but this isn’t a large enough benefit to balance their other disadvantages.

 

Archery is generally extremely effective against aerial units. They have a +2 bonus to all attacks and to damage (d2 rises to d4, not 2+d2), and incapacitating strikes gain even more effect from fall damage. Flyers will often target archers, but archers are often paired with screening pikers who can take point. There’s no penalty when firing into a flyer vs terrestrial scrum, so the archers have a big advantage.

 

 

Units

 

Name

Combat

Defence

Hits

Move

Upkeep

Turns to pop

Specials

Level one city

Stabber

2

2

6

8

14

1/6

 

Piker

1

2

6

8

12

1/8

 

Archer

1

1

6

8

12

1/8

Archery

Scout

1

1

4

12

12

1/8

Scout

Generic heavy

4

4

12

8

90

1

Heavy

 

Level two city

Warlord

2

2

6

8

150

2

Leadership

Knight

6

6

6

8

90

1

Knight

Lancer

5

5

6

8

90

1

Knight, joust

Longbowman

4

4

6

8

90

1

Knight, archery

Valkyrie

7

4

6

8

90

1

Knight

Outrider

4

4

5

14

80

1

Knight, scout

Siege tower

-

-

-

-

-

4

Shelter; pops with 8 diggers

Digger

1

1

6

8

35

-

Digging

Generic mount

4

4

8

16

90

1

Mount

 

Level three city

Generic heavy flyer

6

6

10

24

240

3

Flying, mount, heavy

*Dwagon

7

6

12

30

300

4

FMH, breath

*Gwiffon

5

5

8

24

180

2

FMH, capture

*Megalogwiffon

6

6

16

24

400

5

FMH, mass capture

 

* are not universally available. Stats of the bigger units are much less certain. Dwagons have variable stats depending on colour. Warlords sometimes have extra specials, which affects (usually adding to) their upkeep.

 

Units’ shmucker values are 1,000 * turns to pop * level. Warlords with extra specials are somewhat higher. Croaking one shmucker-value is worth one XP; it takes base_value*2^(level-1) XP to level. Some unit types are stupid and take longer, twolls in particular. Training is worth base_value/10 per turn.

 

The above values are at level one. When units level, their combat and defence stats increase by one, and their upkeeps increase by about one sixth of their base. When popping warlords, there is a small (undefined) chance of getting a caster; casters’ stats are very idiosyncratic, and often do not rise with levelling.

 

Basic infantry may be promoted to their respective knight equivalents for 2,000 shmuckers per level. (Stabbers can become either valkyries or normal knights, or possibly other variants with slightly different stats.) They may alternatively be promoted to warlord for 4,000 per level. Promotion to warlord preserves stats and specials even when the above table disagrees, except that pikers get plus one combat and all get +1 hit per level past one; archer and scout warlords therefore have slightly worse stats at a given level, but keep specials. Knights’ stats are set to their correct values. ‘Knight’ usually refers to the unit, since they’re easily the most common in practice, but the others are sometimes described as knights regardless, or more formally as knight-class units or units with the knight special.

 

Natural allies generally look similar to city units. They are popped from cash; at night, a ruler declares how much money to give to their allies, who convert it directly into new/upgraded units that pop at the beginning of their next turn. They tend to have somewhat higher upkeeps per power than city units.

 

Specials

 

Archery: +2 to to-hit checks against aerial units and +2 to damage rolls. Distinct combat mechanics, as described above. Usually carry only 16 arrows, then revert to using their fists (not recommended). -2 to to-hit and damage checks while mounted.

 

Breath: variable and with interesting effects, but approximately equal to optional archery with a two-round cooldown.

 

Dance-fighting N: lead a dance, for which either all dancers gain a bonus of n or all their enemies take a penalty of n. Rocking out gives +1.

 

Digging: major bonus to breaking through enemy fortifications; say 10 times damage. Can mine for gems in gem-rich hexes, or dig tunnels.

 

Flying: while in the air, cannot be engaged by most units, and can selectively engage at will modulo enemy screens. Can bypass most fortifications. Has a good movetype. +2 move per level.

 

Heavy: cannot enter tunnels or ride mounts. +2 hits per level.

 

Joust: +2 base combat and can seize the initiative while mounted and fighting mounts or units riding mounts.

 

Knight: +1 combat, defence, and hit per level.

 

Leadership: level bonus to led troops; can direct them. Gains a bonus after each won engagement of one-tenth the total XP won. +1 hit per level. There is also a limited commander special, Leadership N, giving +n to led troops, which Archons can have; more precisely, all commanders have Leadership N, but for all warlords n=level, so they never bother stressing the difference. Leadership does not stack. Leaders apply their bonus to themselves, unless another unit with higher leadership is leading the stack.

 

Magic: it’s a long story. See below.

 

Mount: may take a passenger, who does not contribute to the stack limit. +2 move per level. Combat is as usual, except that mounts can screen for their riders. May not ride other mounts, even if not heavy.

 

Royal: +1 combat and defence; +10% XP. Commanders only, only in the capital and to royal sides, and +1 to pop time. Noble is similar.

 

Scout: good movetype. Does not autoattack. +2 move per level.

 

Shelter: of equipment, gives up to 8 units stationed in it +5 defence and -1 damage reduction (not below 1) while preventing them from engaging enemy units.

 

Terrain capable: move cost through that terrain is reduced to 1. Gain +level to combat and defence and can hit flyers while on that terrain. (Means a class of terrains; ‘mountain-capable’ applies to hills, low mountains, and high mountains.)

 

 

Cities

 

I get the distinct impression that these are supposed to be complex, so my rules are vague. Level seems based on an ill-defined rubric based on what buildings exist and how impressive they are. To a good approximation, though, a city is worth 2,500 * 2^level shmuckers. Upgrading/rebuilding a city normally costs twice the difference in value; sacking/razing gives the full difference in value. Cities produce 1,000 shmuckers/level-turn; if a side has over 40 city-levels, the total is instead 1000*sqrt(40*city_levels). They can be set to not pop anything, but given that peace is rare and they can also be set to pop harvestable heavies, this is not a common decision.

 

Gates normally act like screening units with 0 combat or defence and 1,000 hits per level above 1. Each short stretch of wall behaves the same, but with double the hits. There’s space for a few defenders on the wall, who can attack enemies trying to tear down the wall; while it is still intact, they always count as defending, and if they lose the check, the attackers don’t hit them in return. An army can therefore bash at it with makeshift battering rams, but this is unwise; even a level 2 city gate has 1,000 hits, so a stack of stabbers will take about 111 rounds to break through, which is probably long enough for any defenders to take them down by pot-shots. Two siege towers, on the other hand, will take just over six rounds, and after this any accompanying army can engage the defenders normally, albeit through a choke point. Archers can’t damage walls; they can shoot at defenders, who get +2 defence per city level past 1 if they’re holding walls against the outside.

 

Units who spend their turn in a city get 10% off their upkeep. Managed cities give +20% income.

 

 

Worked Example

 

A feral twoll has ended turn on a bridge hex near our prize goat farm, Milady. As the city manager, it is your responsibility to deal with it.

 

Lady Elpie doesn’t have any mounts available in Tropeville, but she has easily enough troops to deal with one twoll herself, particularly if it has no leadership or stack bonus. She stacks with six fresh stabbers and Sir Demo, and they march out. Everyone in the war party is level one.

 

Elpie and the stabbers all have two combat and two defence. Demo, as a knight, has six of each. All have six hits. Twolls, she recalls, have twelve hits, and four combat and three defence; they’re stronger on offence than defence, so she’d rather play this aggressively.

 

Her eight-stack leaves the city and enters the bridge hex, and immediately spots the twoll, a fearsome brute armed with a notched meat cleaver. As the superior commander (i.e. she is and it isn’t), she automatically wins initiative. She decides to attack rather than wait, and to send three of her stabbers forward as a first wave: Alice, Bob, and Charlie. They give a warcry and charge.

 

Since they’re attacking, their relevant stat is their combat, or offence. They have base combat of two, plus three from stack, one from Elpie, and two from the absentee Chief Warlord, Lord Confounder: two plus six. The twoll is defending so it uses its defence stat of three, plus two for terrain: three plus two.

 

Alice engages first. The odds of her landing the first hit are the ratio of her modified power to her enemy’s modified power, eight to five, or eight in thirteen. She succeeds; her spear goes in under the twoll’s guard, removing d(base power=2) hits, which comes up two. The twoll is down to ten hits.

 

Bob is next, with the same odds. He also succeeds, but his is a glancing blow, dealing only one hit, knocking it down to nine.

 

Charlie is third. He loses his balance for a moment, and the twoll clips him with its cleaver, dealing d(base power=3) hits, coming up one, taking Charlie down to five hits. This is most of why Elpie chose to attack; if the twoll were on the offensive, it would use its combat stat of four plus two, so it would have higher odds of a hit (six in fourteen) and would do more damage (d4).

 

The three stabbers trade another two blows each with the twoll. It is brought down to four hits, but connects twice with Bob, taking two and three hits from him; he staggers back, dazed. Elpie and Demo dash forward, swords drawn, screening for the stabbers to fall back, and pressing the attack.

 

Demo attacks first; his modified power is his base of six plus the same bonuses as the others, six, giving him twelve to the twoll’s five, over a seventy percent chance of winning; he does, landing d6 damage, which comes to three, leaving the twoll with one hit. Elpie follows through with a beautiful swing that comes short, leaving her open to the twoll’s solid riposte. Minus three hits; she’s down to three. One more good hit could end her, but she’s either brave or stupid. She doesn’t call for help.

 

Demo takes another swing, which goes wide; the twoll hacks into his chest, taking off three hits and leaving him with three. Elpie hefts her weapon and rolls the dice. Her sword sweeps up under the twoll’s guard and slits it open. It falls. She twirls her blade and sheathes it, as her men cheer.

 

 

Observations

 

Basic infantry are the most effective units there are, in terms of power per turn or per upkeep. If a critical battle of annihilation is coming up, they are simply the best there is (other than possibly casters, who cannot be popped deliberately). Compare knights or generic heavies, which, with small and equal bonuses, equal about four stabbers in battle but cost six. When conquering or deciding who to defend cities with, mixed basic infantry should therefore be the meat of an army.

 

They have two major weaknesses. One is their lack of flexibility: they are slow and telegraph their movements to basic scouting, and they can’t do clever tricks like Parson’s siege raids. All they do is swarm enemies. The other weakness is their lack of long-term value.

 

When infantry fight an inferior enemy, they usually win, but they take losses. Even high-level basic infantry are fragile because their hit pools don’t increase. When heavies or knights fight an inferior enemy, they win without losses; they merely lose hits that they recover at the beginning of the next turn. Their hit pools increase, and they become much stronger. They are weaker for the battle but stronger for the war. They also have utility as riders, bodyguards, and shock troopers. Warlords are similar, with the added quirk that they are boosters rather than fighters in their own right. They inflict less damage than knights, but they direct fights and level faster. Popping them also has a chance to give a caster, which is extremely powerful.

 

Most sides therefore favour a build of mostly infantry but with a small number of larger units, with the idea that the big units will cut through the enemy screen to take out their commanders if applicable, then fall back to let the infantry duke it out, before returning to mop up when they can do so safely. This way, they combine most of the power of infantry with most of the reusability of big units, gradually building up a core of elite units. These elite units will usually either attack or hold the capital, not be used to defend cities. The reason for this is that a smart enemy won’t attack a city unless they’re confident they can take it, so a big unit in a city will not survive to be reused. It’s better value to leave an equivalent power of basic infantry, because they are more replaceable. However, any basic infantry that manage to level will usually be rotated out to defence of a safe city, while an equivalent power of level ones will replace them on the front. Basically, a level two might equal two level ones in power, but two level ones a) will level faster and b) are more expendable, so it’s best to put them where they’re likelier to level or die.

 

A few alternatives exist. Stanley favoured piker/dwagons. He had a cheap source of dwagons, but it’s not actually a bad idea. Pikers are best on defence, so they can form a wall while dwagons breathe over them; enemies can either charge, which is a bad idea in the face of enemy pikers, or let the ranged units duke it out, which is even worse when the enemy uses massed dwagons.

 

Don King uses bats, which are basically infantry but weaker and faster; this is worth it given his mountainous terrain. Other rulers similarly double down on terrain-appropriate units.

 

Jillian worked as a mercenary, so mobility is highly important to her. (Similarly Charlie.) She therefore favoured fast flyers. Flyers are under the curve in terms of combat power, balancing their mobility, so it’s more efficient to give them riders. Knights don’t get a mounted bonus per se, but they pack the most power possible into expensive saddle space, so they’re a logical choice. Mounted knights are the best build in terms of fast firepower, except hot casters. Hence KISS. I’m not sure why Jillian wouldn’t use knights too, or why Stanley does if my mechanics are off; my shrugful explanation is that King Banhammer disliked them for personal reasons (“Units who embody aggression with no redeeming features? Intolerable!”) and refused to pop them on principle, and Jillian got into the habit. She’s introverted enough that she quite likes the excuse to pop extra gwiffons, even if tactically gwiffons plus stabbers are not as powerful per turn as gwiffons plus knights.

 

I suspect that the metagame would be scout-heavy. For two normal evenly-matched sides or empires with at least two cities each, either could concentrate enough forces to overwhelm one opposing city, but if the opponent matched them in numbers, they’d win courtesy of the city defence bonus. There’s therefore a massive advantage to knowing where the enemy is deploying their armies. Because flyers are expensive and basic scouts have fairly short range, it follows that one would need to keep a large number of scouts afield, relaying intel back. I’d therefore conjecture that most war would be searching and destroying enemy scouts, while they do the same, trying to gain enough of an advantage to be able to bring forward a surprise attack on an unprepared city. This is why Lookamancy is worth it; it doesn’t create valuable golems or other powerful effects, but it frees up so much production on scouts.

 

 

Magic

 

Magic is like knights v bishops in chess, balanced but with situational strategic advantages allowing the stronger player to eke out a win. Assuming my balance is right, all casters are roughly equal, in the sense that they are worth about 1,000 shmuckers per level-turn if used properly and that a top tournament player of Artefact Hoard (see below) would have equal odds no matter what their first caster was; however, they have different playstyles, not all of which are equally intuitive, and some counter or complement others effectively, depending on conditions. Hot and otherwise inconvenient magic is more powerful, but less usable. Also, the natives don’t know how to use all of them well, and there are cultural biases, so some are much poorer than others; something like a Dirtamancer might be more valuable purely because you can loan it to an AI for more.

 

Casters generally have 100 Juice Points per level. They don’t know this exactly, only getting a vague full/high/medium/low/empty reading of their own levels. Some Mathamancers have tried to demonstrate this in laboratory settings, with limited success; most disciplines have spells with variable costs depending on how much effort you put in, and casters are diverse, it’s common for one or another to have ±10 JP or so. Casters with special units generally provide a level bonus while leading them; like leadership, this does not stack if there are multiple casters of one discipline. Casters do not usually change stats other than JP by levelling, except when they level by fighting rather than by casting.

 

Spells cast from a tower top are 5% more powerful (or cost less) per tower level; this does not apply to golem crafting, but includes almost all other magic. Scrolls have a 100% JP surcharge and must be written entirely within one turn. Masters can fabricate wands, if they have the correct raw material, usually wood from a certain geographically restricted tree or metal of a certain lode, which must be harvested by a caster; most kinds go on the Magic Kingdom market for a few hundred shmuckers. Wands cost 500 JP to fabricate and begin empty, keyed to any one spell of the caster’s discipline; they may be charged for a 20% JP surcharge and hold up to ten charges. Towers may be charged, costing 100 JP for an autohit attack dealing d3 damage against one flyer. (Yes, this is feeble.) Hoboken is d4 for 50 JP.

 

Adeptness and mastery are relatively minor benefits, acquired randomly on getting insights. Some disciplines get greater breadth of application; others simply give bonuses.

 

The following list is wildly incomplete and indicative. I say ‘look like’ to denote that it’s especially approximate. This needs play-testing far more than the basic combat mechanics do; in particular I have no idea do what extent cold and hot magic are balanced, and that feels like there’d be a very deep metagame.

 

Findamancy

 

Projects units that last until night and transfer all XP to the caster. One full-power projection looks like 8/8/8/12 combat/defence/hits/move for 100 JP, with +2/+2/+2/0 per additional 100 JP spent. Projections receive a level bonus (the caster is sort of leading it), and the caster can search for other forms if they don’t want a tank.

 

Turnamancy

 

+50% passive production bonus to cities in which they spend the night. Can turn a unit, with a check of 10*JP:target_monetary_value, or a mass spell with JP:target_value; any given unit may only be attempted once per turn. Can fabricate constructs which look like a generic mount for 150 JP/level.

 

Dollamancy

 

Fabricate golems, looking like a generic heavy, for 100 JP/level. Golems do not level. Fabricate gear; a +n sword (that is, +n to both to-hit and damage rolls when attacking) costs 60*2^n JP or 100 if n=1, which may be spread over multiple turns, where n level; can make items with more interesting effects. Lead golems for a level bonus; heal golems for 25 JP/hit; unravel golems for 10 JP/hit.

 

Weirdomancy

 

One-turn flying costs 15 JP for the first unit and 10 for each subsequent if a mass spell. Terrain-capable is 10 and 5. Breath specials are 100 and 75. Permanent costs five times as much. Removing specials is half off.

 

Dirtamancy

 

Do golems, similar to Dollamancy, but with lower move and higher defence. Reduce cost of upgrading city by 20%. Spend juice to make buildings directly, increasing the value of a city by $10/JP and so reducing the cost of upgrading, up to half the value difference to the next level.

 

Changemancy

 

Reduce cost of upgrading city by 10% if there’s no Dirtamancer present. Spend juice like a Dirtamancer on city upgrades worth $8/JP, up to one quarter of the value difference to the next level. Give one target unit’s base combat and defence stats +3 until end of turn for 50 JP (not repeatable on one unit until next turn); at higher levels and classes, change their shape and give specials. Fabricate items similar to Dollamancy with 20% JP surcharge, but can’t apply Motion effects; also does headwear, without Hat Magic abilities; also does miscellaneous items. 20% off promoting units in the same hex; at higher levels and classes, can promote units off own juice, at 100 JP/level. Create rands from shmuckers (where do those things come from?).

 

Lookamancy

 

1 JP to scan one hex for units, having about 1 chance in 4 of spotting each of them independently, 2 or 3 chances in 4 for adept or master.

 

Shockmancy

 

Tower spells go for d12/100 JP, not d3. Shock one target at range for d12 hits for 36 JP, no saving throw. Mass blast a stack with to-hit of caster_level:target_level for d12 apiece for 60 JP. Mêlée attacks have +12 to-hit and +d12 damage for 12 JP.

 

Croakamancy

 

Level bonus to led uncroaked. Mass-uncroak for 20 JP + 1 JP/unit. Halve this cost if adept, quarter if master.

 

Healomancy

 

Heal one hit for 20 JP, 17 or 15 at adept or master. Full heals are better value for high-hit units. Mass heals are slightly better value if done on a large enough group.

 

Moneymancy

 

+1% passive income for all cities, 2% or 3% if adept or master. 20% off upgrading city when present, 10% off promoting units in the same hex if no Changemancer present. Buy target units for their value. Create gems; use gems to create gold golems, which can recover hits from treasury. Drain money from target’s treasury, 5 shmuckers per JP (not usable on prisoners).

 

 

Miscellaneous

 

Farms

 

Each produces about five meals per day, depending on the type of farm, each of which can half-feed two humanoid units. This is generally given to the most expensive ones, meaning casters and warlords, and possibly knights. These can also be pillaged, which might give five turns’ value up front but leave it fallow for the next ten turns.

 

Ruins

 

These may be explored once per day by any commander. A d20 is rolled. On 1-10, nothing is found; on 11-16, a gem worth 1000*d6 (d12 if a Findamancer); on 17-19, d8 heavies of level d3 apiece; on 20, a magic item. If a magic item, the die is rerolled. 1-10 is a random low-level scroll; 11-16 is a random piece of low-end gear (e.g. a +1 sword); 17-19 is a piece of good gear (e.g. a +3 sword); 20 is an artefact if any are lost, or a piece of good gear if not. A Findamancer finds a magic item of one rank higher, except 17+ is unchanged.

 

There is a finite pool of artefacts in the world. If one is abandoned in the field (the capital/ruler falls and the one carrying it disbands, it was on a ship that sinks, denialism, some idiot just forgets it), it becomes lost. Most artefacts are less dramatic than the Arkentools; it takes an average of 400 warlord-turns to unearth one at a cost of $60,000+ from upkeep, and while this will find a lot of other treasure, it will also result in a large number of dead warlords unless he has an escort large enough to at least triple the cost, so most sides don’t bother searching outside of prolonged peace.

 

 

Justifications

 

The check rule of p1:p2 is annoying to perform with Euclidean dice because it so often yields fractions with inconvenient denominators (“What the hell is a d23?”), but it’s mathematically simple and gives a constant incentive for maximising one’s power. It’s similar to Clay Dice’s model; for his, if the weaker and stronger dice have w and s sides, the hit ratio is w(w-1)/2:ws-w(w+1)/2 = w-1:2s-w-1 ≃ w:2s-w, which slightly favours higher powers relative to mine. Mine is in fact derived from an incorrect cancellation of this. I ran with it because the maths is easier: if a unit’s challenge rating is defined as (base_power+1)*modified_power*hits, then battle outcomes are easy to spitball by comparing sum CR. For example, if two armies of 1-power 1-hit units fight, with no bonuses except that one has a level n warlord, then the warlord’s side will have a kill/death ratio of n+1. It also makes levelling easy to visualise: within a normal range (1 to 8 or so), most units’ CR are close to linear in level. It’s asymptotically quadratic or cubic, but ‘asymptotic’ is a big word for a number that rarely reaches double digits.

 

I made the rules so skewed against archery, especially longbows, partly to balance their anti-flying and partly to justify why they’re so rare. Ansom brought only a few with the RCC; he’s a traditionalist, so it was probably fewer than a flyer-heavy side like GK deserved, but it still suggests that archers are unpopular and therefore probably weak. Archery is a desirable special for warlords, though, as it increases survivability and thus the bonus given to led units, which is most of the point of a warlord. Conversely, I made stabbers a bit stronger than they seem to be in practice because I’m not sure why anyone would bother with them if they’re weaker than equivalent city-turns of heavy. I’m willing to posit a certain amount of player irrationality, but only about things that they don’t have experience with, like warlords and magic.

 

One major problem is that some units die extremely quickly (how many veteran Archons have been taken down by a single hit from what’s presumably a level one archer, often with comparable or worse leadership), and some take major beatings (Prince Sammy was stabbed by lots of stabbers, all with Ansom’s leadership) while surviving, if only briefly; this implies high variance in damage, meaning low confidence in anything. I gave everything at least a few hits, and it is to be understood that whenever they die faster than this allows in canon, it’s dramatic licence, because it would look lame to see Archons floating around like pincushions. The alternative is a critical hit mechanic, which I’ve downplayed; I don’t like those in general because they complicate analysis and add output randomness without giving much in return.

 

If warlords or the stack bonus seem weak, that comes from Ansom attacking at thirty-three. That is his base level one stat plus bonuses from royalty, stack, increases from level, leadership, and Wanda: 33 = base+royal+stack+9+10+8 = b+r+s+27, so b+r+s = 6. Royal is probably +1. As for the last 5, 2 feels like a feeble warlord (that’s the same as a stabber) and 3 feels like a feeble stack bonus (warlords should barely care at all beyond level 6 or so and take max stacks everywhere), so 2 and 3 is the ideal compromise: everything is equally underpowered.

 

I honestly didn’t go out of my way to have casters be so very powerful, but at level 1, Wanda mass-uncroaked 66 units. Even if it’s situational and hot and they only last one turn and they’re weak and there’s a chance of a fumble, that’s still 66 units, and don’t forget that she gives a bonus and they retained their digging and leadership specials. At level 8, she did the same for 2,840 units, and proceeded to lead them in a dance; that’s 355 stacks from one turn’s juice, 44 stacks per level-turn. Those are uneven numbers, so she likely could have done more if there had been more corpses.

 

Findamancy is about summoning rather than locating mostly because I couldn’t think of how to do the latter without it being Lookamancy with a tweaked vocabulary. (“Sharkey, look for any enemies in the area. Samedi, try to find any enemies in the area.”) I could have given them different foci, but the trick is having them be different enough while giving Findamancy enough power. All casters are worth about $1,000 per level-turn; a Lookamancer can do that by displacing an equal cost of scouts, and Jess can do it by destroying an equal value of enemy troops, but how would she create $6,000 of value per turn by finding things in a substantially different way to how Misty did it?

 

 

Artefact Hoard

 

A game setup, mostly for the sake of clearly defining balance: two options are balanced if they have an equal chance of winning an instance of Twofer’s Rules with many skilled players (say, ten).

 

A world map is randomly generated. It can either be an entire world, or part of one, bordered by either isolationist high-level bots or impassable terrain. There are five to ten cities per player, one in five being a capital site. All cities begin as neutral, with random hostile garrisons, except the capital sites, which are empty. Each player begins as a level one barbarian warlord in a hex adjacent a capital site. Each begins with an artefact giving a small hot bonus and a smaller cold penalty, something like “+3 combat to the bearer, -5 shmuckers per turn”. Eliminated players are allowed to respawn as new barbarians with no artefact. A player’s second, sixth, and twentieth warlords are casters with different random disciplines. The winner is whoever acquires a majority of the artefacts.

 

 

Disclaimers

 

I don’t actually believe that these mechanics are correct, in the sense of working off the same playbook as Rob Balder. I believe that, by and large, they behave similarly to his under normal circumstances, they could yield a balanced and fun game, and they can make an entertaining story.

 

Pretend that every sentence has an asterisk labelled ‘subject to unobservables including but not limited to Loyalty, a small random chance of something else happening, and the whims of Fate’. Also, this could all use playtesting.

 

This is obviously very incomplete, omitting a wealth of data file information and rare abilities, effects, and exceptions in order to keep it down to the core mechanics. I haven’t bothered quantifying all the lesser rules, as they’re usually not very important for standard play.

 

I wasn’t really inclined toward publishing this, because there already exist proposed mechanics (e.g. Toma’s); alternative proposals don’t really add much if they all play mostly the same. It’s not that useful anyway, because intuitions like dwagon beats knight beats stabber is really all you need to size up most fights well enough for narrative purposes. But people keep discussing my rules and I already went to the trouble of quantifying most of them, so why not.

 

(Note: user was awarded 25 Shmuckers for this post. - Rob)

Comments

  • falcore51

    Would Rob care to comment if any of this is right ?

  • thatonesungod

    so, did any of the 99 pop with artifacts, and if so get on that parson.

     

    also note the similarity of the example scenario to toolism

  • tomaO2

    This is unbelievably depressing. You are the first person that I know of that has gone to these lengths to do mechanics, aside from myself. I had no idea you thought things through to this extent. You even created some examples of how combat would work using your rules.  You follow it consistently in your story. It's extremely impressive. I would have loved to collaborate with you on this... but you don't follow canon. How can you put this much effort in when it doesn't follow canon? That just doesn't begin to make sense to me.

    You even got smuckers for this? Is this supposed to be where you post rules? I made a post some time ago and got no attention for it. I mean, it wasn't as good as yours is and I threw stuff in randomly but it put in a lot of the basics That was one of the reasons I tried writing the story, to give a narrative to feed the rules in. I don't recall it sparking much discussion on the rules either... sigh

    I'm gonna have to go over this more carefully later on.

  • Twofer

    @Falcore: My guess is "Some but not all." Probably not even most. This is a mishmash of a bunch of different systems (x:y, d20, binary …); the rules individually look plausible, and probably at least one is right, but no way they all are.

    @Sun: Artefact Hoard was actually inspired by a Risk variant with 8 achievements and rewards, e.g. "Conquer Europe: gain an extra manoeuvre," where you win if you get 4 achievements. It's a pretty low-key perturbation of world conquest, because a) that's really hard with diminishing returns and multiple other players ganging up on you, and b) I prefer European-style games where players don't get eliminated and have to sit in the corner until the next game.

    @Toma:

    Are you sure it's uncanonical? Could you pick out specific contradictions when you go back over it? If I've blundered, I'd prefer to own up to it; or maybe I've just forgotten a minor rule that I could patch without breaking too much else; or it's possible that there's just a misunderstanding. The only major qualitative differences between yours and mine that I can remember that's come up in the strip where yours unambiguously describes events better than mine are your double-cleave mechanic and possibly that my units are too tough, which I've handwaved as being dramatic licence. (You know those games where you and the monster stand there trading like six blows before either goes down? Fine for a game, bad for a comic.) It's a clumsy counterproposal, but a system with simple rounds and multiple rounds compressed into one for visual purposes isn't impossible per se.

    No idea where one is supposed to post head canon. I submitted this to all three streams ― it's fictional, communal, and about a game ― but Rob posted it to here, so that's that. I don't know why I got shmuckers (I wasn't expecting them, they're the only ones I've had awarded); perhaps my guesses were luckier or more detailed, or maybe it's just that I already had a following. I've I'd posted this before writing Ethereum, I doubt anyone would have been very interested, but as is it's like a companion piece.

  • Requiem_Jeer

    I personally preferred toma02's interpretation on level/stack bonuses, where the stack bonus goes up to +8 but the level up bonus is more modest then what you have it at. That may be what he refers to as not following canon.

  • BrokenSky

    @Twofer: Wrt cannon:

    Quote from book 1 page 125:

    "So y'guys understand now? It's not over. Ansom thinks he can overwhelm us with numbers. But that's additive. I've been playing with this combat system for a week now. And it's all about force multipliers. Leadership, terrain, artifacts, specials, spell buffs... Dance fighting for Boop's sake. To win you gotta pile bonus on bonus on bonus. You and I will do that together, Wanda. We can turn the garrison into a real meat grinder. But at the same time, we need to sap the enemy by reducing their multipliers. That's gonna be you and the golems, Sizemore. You'll take the Shockamancy spells. Find a leadership stack, burrow up, shock 'em, crap 'em, escape." - Parson.

     

    So yeah. Leadership is a multiplicative bonus, not an additive one, and most of the combat system seems to revolve around bonuses which give multiplicative bonuses. Otherwise the optimal strategy would be large mobs of weak infantry with as many +1s piled up as possible. 

     

    Your system seems to be a predominantly additive one, so that's one deviation from cannon, I think?

  • Twofer (Tipped by 1 person!)

    @Requiem:

    High stack bonuses work better with Toma's rule that hit odds are a function of the difference of powers, not ratios like I have. With ratios, if both sides use units with, say, 2 base power and +7 from stack, then you need a level 9 warlord to manage a 2:1 kill ratio, but under mine, all you need is a 5. There's at least one bit of canon with a level 4 and weak troops on both sides, who got very close to 2:1, albeit with enough confounders both ways that it's weak evidence.

    I use ratios because they're better than differences at enforcing the rule that power is proportionate to level, under the interpretation that 'power' means 'number of basic infantry you could kill in a fight'. If I remember Toma's method rightly (which is dubious), I think it might have been exponential.

    @Sky:

    I think I'm right there. A force multiplier means something which multiplies the effective power of an army, rather than just adding to it.(Sorry if that sentence comes off as condescending.) A +5 bonus to all units with average base power 20 is a +25% multiplier because it scales with the army size. (The 'base power 20' part is allowable; the magnitude of a multiplier is allowed to be a function of details of the army's makeup and its other multipliers.) An additional stack is not a multiplier, it's additive, because it does not scale. Most of my bonuses are multipliers, excepting stats from levelling and some magical bonuses, I think.

    Use of weak mobs with leadership is, if not optimal, then at least popular, practised by JS and TV. I have it as powerful, akin to a zerg rush, but beatable, viz by defending with pikers and counterattacking with hit-and-run attacks from heavies. If it isn't powerful, one has to ask why those sides bother with them, because it's certainly not for the tactical flexibility.

  • BrokenSky

    @Twofer

    Perhaps? I mean I understood the point of that speech to be criticizing Jetstone's weak units plus bonuses strategy, but it's quite possible he was actually criticizing Ansom for going too hard on the units and not hard enough on the bonuses, plus the the battle in the pass where Transylvito fight against Stanley's dragons does make more sense if Caesar is adding bonuses to the bats which are better than their base stats, rather than having something like a +300% modifier.

    But yeah I wouldn't call something which gives +x/unit bonus a multiplicative bonus, because it adds way less to, for example, a dwagon than to a similar strength (before buff) stack of 8 knights. But I can see it being called a "force multiplier". So yeah I guess I misunderstood. Thanks for clarification :)

    Also +x bonuses is more conventional for a dice based game (which is what parson was probably planning before he got plot'd into erfworld, so that's weak evidence for +X rather than *X). (And no you don't come off as condescending when you say that) :) .

  • Atrius Night

    I have loved Etherium since first discovering it..
    It always struck me that Jetstone had it wrong, that the key strategy of Erfworld is optimal leveraging of Casters...
    also.. I can't believe you had the idea of teaming Voldemort with Bonesaw... And making both protagonists...!

    I realize this was mostly just a mental exercise for you in putting together functional rules... Buuuut...
    I would love to see this brought to full playability.
    I noticed a few bits missing from this run on statting the game, and wanted to toss my own thoughts out there. Feel free to take or dismiss any of the following (including and especially the numbers as I am mostly shooting from the hip for them)...

    First, there is no definition of Uncroaked which is neccesary for Croakmancers to have their fun.
    It might also be an idea to make a tag for constructs crafted by other disciplines.
    (Dirtmancer-made(Defining the stats ), Dollmancer Made, Turnamancer Made, Etc.)
    -----------------------------------------------
    Uncroaked: Unit loses 1/2 max capacity of HP each turn.
    Unit has Zero Upkeep.
    If crafted spending double Juice Unit loses only 1/4th max capacity of HP per turn,
    for four times the juice unit loses only 1/6th,
    and at eight times the Juice unit loses only 1/8th Max Hp per turn.

    Dirtmancy Golem: Increase Defense by 2 and Reduce Move by 4.
    If double juice spent in creation, Gain Garrison.
    Golems do not Level.

    Dollamancy Golem: Golem may have the stat's of a Mount instead of a heavy at casters option.
    Golem may have Flammable, if so decrease upkeep by 1/4.
    Golems do not Level.

    Hat Golem: Flammable, May have either Scout or flying.
    If double juice spent in creation, May have both options.
    Upkeep as per normal unit of type, +3 if one extra special, +6 if both.
    Golems do not Level.

    Turnamancy Golem: +2 Combat qand -2 Defense.
    If double juice spent in creation, Move is +8. Increase Upkeep of unit by +20s.
    Golems do not Level.

    Flower Power Growth: Has Garrison, Cost to buy off Garrison is doubled.
    If Garrisoned Flower Power Growth has Scout as well, upkeep reduction from Garrison is 3/4s instead of ½.

    Flammable: Takes Double Damage from Breath Weapons and Shockamancy (including towers and hobokens).

    Garrison: Unit has 0 move but it's upkeep is reduced by 1/2.
    You may spend 2 unaltered turns upkeep to promote the unit out of this special.

    Predictamancy, May spend 50j to grant a unit a 'floating' one use +2 (usable for defense OR to-hit and damage as though a magic item of appropriate type) in the form of forewarning, No unit may have more than one forewarning at a time, Forwarning lasts a max of until the start of the casters next turn, if adept until the start of the casters second turn, if master until the start of the casters fourth turn. In Combat a Predictamancer may increase their or anothers Defense by 2 for 5J. A predictamancer may also Scavenge ruins like a findamancer. A Predictamancer may cast Danger Sense to notice enemy units within a 1 Hex Radius, (Adepts have 2 Hex Radius, and Masters a 4). If units are veiled the predictmancer just knows which radius it is witin their area (1, 2, 3, or 4 Hex radius) this simply marks the Hex as enemy occupied

    Flower Power, Lead Flower Power Growths. May create Flower Power Growths using the stats of a scout or Archer for 25j. May cast Poison(100J) on a Hex to apply a -2 defense and attack penalty to all units in a hex (this does not apply to Golems, or Flower Power Units) for so long as the Caster is in the hex. Any unit reduced below 1 in a stat by this is reduced to only 1 and takes damage equal to the remainder in hits. At adept the penalty may be increased to -4 and lasts in the hex till the start of the casters next turn even if the caster leaves, at Mastery the Flower Power Caster may count herself as a Flower Power Growth thus becoming immune to Poison. To Quell a combat in the offing, The Hippimancer must spend juice equal to ( the combined levels of all units potentially involved )*10, if any of these units are attacked the effect breaks for all targets in the hex, while effected targets may not attack but may defend..

    Hat Magic, Lead Hat Golems. May create Hat Golems (Stats as a level 1 stabber or piker) for 25J/Level. May create message hats, Either paired sets(150J for both) or universal(300J May send to any known universal hat and likewise receive), a message hat may be send only, or receive only in which case it is half cost. May create a Tall Hat (Stores energy like a tower while worn, Max 100J per level of the Hat Mage wearing it.) for 300J. Adepts may 'Bust a cap' converting a hat magic item or golem under their command into a hoboken, this destroys the converted item or golem, Masters may treat any Hat as a Tall Hat though with only half capacity, wearing an actual tall hat will increase the potential resevoir to 150J per level.

    Turnamancy: May turn infantrry at (Units Upkeep)*(Units Level+1)J. Adept may turn Non commander, non Infantry units for (Units Upkeep)*(Units Level+3)J. Masters may turn commanders (Warlords and casters) for (Units Upkeep)*(Units Level+5)J. This juice may be spent over consecutive turns and the target must either be captive, willing, or temporarily turned to be targeted. Temporay turnings lasting for only rounds of combat can be done for Twice the Juice. May also construct Turnamancy Golems with the stats of a mount or generic heavy flyer for 100J/Level for Mounts and 200J/Level for Generic Heavy Flyers.


    There are more casters, but I seem to be out of juice
    Signamancy,

    Foolamancy,

    Datamancy,

    Carnymancy,

    Rhym-o-mancy,

    Luckamancy,

    Retconjuration; hehehe


    And Lastly a Warlord Special Randomizer,
    When a warlord or Caster pops, roll on the table below.
    A warlord with 1 extra special (Besides Garrison) has his upkeep increased by 50,
    A warlord with 2 extra specials (Besides Garrison) has his upkeep increased by an additional 50,
    A ruler may with time in meditation to the Titans and on the needs of his people and his side, subconciously direct this process, by spending two extra turns popping the warlord the Ruler may pick a special from this list. If Roll Twice More is Chosen, these are random unless 4 more turns are spent popping the warlord to choose both specials. This being mechanically a way for the “titans” to send a ruler what he “needs”...
    1.Garrison

    2.Scout

    3.Flyer

    4.Heavy

    5.Knight

    6.Archery

    7.Terrain Capable (Pick One)

    8.Terrain Capable (Random amongst those terrains adjacent to city)

    9.Joust

    10.Digging

    11.Dance Fighting

    12.Water Capable

    13.Seaman

    14.Nothing

    15.Nothing

    16.Nothing

    17.Nothing

    18.Nothing

    19.Roll twice more

    20.Roll twice more

     

  • Twofer

    Thank you!

    I tried to make basic infantry be good value for mundane units, I didn't want to imply that Ossomer or anyone else was stupid for popping them rather than knights or factionals, but there's no getting around casters being in another league. Jetstone really wasted their potential, too, theirs could have had excellent synergy.

    I actually left magic unclear on purpose. I don't have any way to playtest (short of programming Erfworld the game, which I'm not doing for free), and while the mundane mechanics are straightforward enough that I'm fairly confident about the relative values of normal units and strategies, I'm not certain about how magic would play out. I'm an author; I have to declare the high-level results of checks (who wins the battle), so I'd rather fudge the low-level rules a little than spell them out and risk having them not quite match. (A game designer declares the low-level rules, but can only guess at the high-level results.) The story wouldn't be improved by detailing the rules beyond '$1,000 per turn, modified by inconvenience' plus a few examples. (Same goes for crits and the other things I left out.) That being said, if you do feel like actually coding the game, what you have looks about balanced with what I had in mind, and I think I'll borrow some of your Hat Magic because I couldn't think of a fair way to let a cold caster pop such a devastating cap.

  • Atrius Night

    Heh,, Fair.. 
    Personaly I was thinking of it along the lines of running or playing a forum game like those that used to be populat here... Just need to complete the system.. For Casters... Well, They don;t have to be balanced so long as they are all broken evenly.... :-p

    Also Wee! Hat MAgic...

    Hmm, I really should go back to do those last sev... err, I mean six disciplines..

  • Twofer

    Good luck: you'll need it. I designed these rules with a computer in mind; I built on things like ratio checks rather than d20, which is easy to program but horrible to GM. It's entirely feasible for even a small side of five cities to have over a thousand units, all with their own XP meters and move and hit tallies, not to mention specials, asymmetrical information, combat, and magic. Even Marbit Island was abandoned, and that was about 1:100 scale and with much simpler rules. I'd think the only way to make a GMable Erfworld game would be a MK-only RP, because managing thousands of units is simply intractable unless you have some very efficient approximations.