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Tracking effects over time.

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Desprez
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Joined: 12/01/2008

I have a dungeon crawl style game and it has been progressing well.

One of the main mechanics for keeping track of stuff that can happen to player characters or monsters, is the placement of tokens on the card that represents said character/monster. These tokens then tick off at the end of that entity's turn, and their effect happens at that time.

As an example, say Bob has been knocked into the bonfire, and has a burning effect applied. The character is on fire, and gets 2 fire damage tokens. (This will represent damage-over-time as opposed to direct damage that happens all at once.) They are stacked on the character card, and at the end of that character's turn, one of the tokes comes off and does a point of fire damage. The next time that character's turn comes around, the second token will come off at the end doing another point of damage.

This has been a pretty straight forward rule to play with. And it's the same for all effects, whether they are damage, healing, or some other continuous status effect. It's easy to remember and its consistent.

But there is a problem. It mainly comes from applying effects to yourself during your own turn.
And it seems to boil down to a design choice of whether to keep the mechanic consistent, or to make it more intuitive.

Here's another example. Bob the Barbarian decides to spend this turn to use an enrage effect that gives him a bonus to damage on later attacks. His enrage ability says it lasts 3 turns (3 tokens).
Under the consistent version, one of those tokens is going to tick off at the end of this turn. So in reality he is only going to get 2 effective turns worth of enrage that he can attack with. And this is a bit non-intuitive.

The other option, is to stipulate that any effects that get applied during your turn don't tick at the end of that same turn.
So you would actually get 3 turns worth of enrage, but now there is an exception to remember in the rules, which increases complexity.

Which way do you think works better?

MarkKreitler
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Joined: 11/12/2008
Door #3

Desprez wrote:
Which way do you think works better?

EDIT:

If you have a "action phases" in your game that dictate when players can do certain things during their turn, you have a couple more options.

1) Tick self-effects at the start of the turn.

Example:
Action Order is:
Tick self effects
Take your move
Tick other effects

Example 1: Bob is on fire. This is an "other" effect and ticks off at the end of the turn.

Example 2: Bob goes berserk while taking his move (second "action phase"). Since his self effects have already ticked this turn, he doesn't lose any "berserk" points at the end of the turn.

2) Apply indirect self effects after ticking all effects
Action Order is:
Take your turn
Tick all effects
Apply any self effects from your move

Example 1: Bob's drinks a healing potion that immediately heals 3 damage. As this is an "immediate" effect, it takes place right away, *before* indirect effects tick off.

Example 2: Bob's "berserker" power is a "delayed" effect, so it gets applied as the last phase of the turn -- after indirect effects have ticked off.

This might seem odd, as Bob has to spend his turn "going berserk" and doesn't get the benefit during the turn he's winding himself up. That may be less objectionable than the other two choices, though.

I'm a fan of #1, OR your suggestion of just giving all "self" powers 1 extra duration. Your option is the simplest, but #1 above is conceptually "cleaner" at the expense of more bookkeeping.

munio
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Joined: 11/12/2012
i think it feels quite

i think it feels quite counter intuitive having to take a cube off the same turn you placed them.
assuming you have multipile actions in a turn

i thing i prefer a structure like
1 take damage/ remove fire counters etc
2movement and attack phase
3action phase, here you can use special abilities etc

Desprez
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Joined: 12/01/2008
Couple things.

Some effects can be placed on yourself, or another ally, or even an opponent. This can create a duration mismatch in situations when the tick would come later for self-buffs.

The problem with ticking the auras at the beginning of the turn, is that it effectively makes them direct damage. The effect is delayed in real time, but not from the target's point of view.

Here's what I mean:
Fred casts a fireball at the 3 health giant bunny. The fireball does 2 fire damage directly and 1 fire damage over time (aura).
Normally this would do 2 fire damage immediately, then the bunny gets a turn, and then dies at the end of his turn due to the aura ticking the final point of damage.

If the aura ticks first, the bunny will die before getting his final turn. And the fireball might as well have just been 3 direct damage all along.

Now we could stipulate that damage during your turn doesn't kill you until the end, but now that's another rule.

Here's the current turn structure:
Every entity gets a turn, and it goes: player, mob, player, mob, etc.
1. Movement
2. Action (An attack is an action, but not all actions are attacks.)
3. End of turn stuff
Some things are instants, and they can be performed at any time including other turns, and there is no limit to the number of instants one can perform, though they usually have some kind of built in limit or a cost.

So timing can get wonky due to the fact that effects have a variety of delivery methods. They may be instants, or actions. And them may be placed on self, ally, or opponents. So there are effectively 5 different timings:
Instant, Self, Own Turn
Instant, Self, Other Turn
Instant, Ally/Opponent
Action, Self, Own Turn
Action, Ally/Opponent, Own Turn

And each one has slightly different implications on the timing of the effect. So this is why it seems necessary to have clean rules regarding timing and duration.

Now, I've been trying to clean up some of the more unusual effects into simpler mechanics, but their problems only seem tangentially related to timing issues.

MarkKreitler
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Joined: 11/12/2008
With that in mind...

Desprez wrote:
Instant, Self, Own Turn
Instant, Self, Other Turn
Instant, Ally/Opponent
Action, Self, Own Turn
Action, Ally/Opponent, Own Turn

Got it. And, in addition to these combinations, there is "immediate" vs "over time," right? In other words, I could cast an immediate heal on myself, versus a heal over time. In the first case, I get HP immediately, while in the second, HP "tick off" at some point during my turn.

I think all of these cases are handled unambiguously by adding a "step 0" to your turn order:

Desprez wrote:

1. Movement
2. Action (An attack is an action, but not all actions are attacks.)
3. End of turn stuff

becomes

0. Start of turn stuff (which includes ticking "self" effects)
1. Movement
2. Action (An attack is an action, but not all actions are attacks.)
3. End of turn stuff

Alternatively, you could give all "over time" powers a "tick phase," from 1 - 3, and declare that these abilities tick off before executing that phase within the turn. This generalizes everything under one rule and allows you to keep your current phase structure (1-movement, 2-action, 3-end of turn).

This is probably the cleanest, rules-wise, but it does require an extra piece of info on every "over time" ability.

For example:

Fireball
Casting Type: Action (as opposed to "instant")
Target: opponent
Immediate Effect: 2 damage to opponent
"Over Time" Effect: 1 damage / turn for 2 turns (applied on opponent's phase 3)

Healing Aura
Casting Type: Action
Target: self
Immediate Effect: none
"Over Time" Effect: restores 1 HP / turn for 3 turns (applied on self phase 1)

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