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Torment Kickstarter Update #34: Kevin on the Stretch Goal, Adam on Advancement, Colin on Ossiphagan

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Torment Kickstarter Update #34: Kevin on the Stretch Goal, Adam on Advancement, Colin on Ossiphagan

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 10 October 2014, 23:03:19

Tags: Adam Heine; Colin McComb; InXile Entertainment; Kevin Saunders; Torment: Tides of Numenera

It's nice to see Torment: Tides of Numenera updates becoming more frequent. In today's Kickstarter update, the Torment Triumvirate - Kevin Saunders, Adam Heine and Colin McComb - are once again in full attendance. Kevin writes about the Gullet stretch goal, which is still $65,000 dollars away with five days remaining until the deadline. Adam writes about Torment's advancement mechanics, and the strategy he's chosen to balance them in a system that allows players to spend experience points on short term benefits. And Colin, as usual, supplies us with yet another massive lore dump, this time about Ossiphagan, a volcanic region of the world which is actually a gigantic abandoned interstellar forge. Since we're a bunch of mechanics nerds here, it's Adam's portion of the update that I'll be quoting:

Adam here. I'm going to talk about how character advancement will work in Tides of Numenera.

Before that, I should tell you how it works in Numenera tabletop, because it's not a strictly traditional advancement system. First, as we've often said, you get XP when you solve problems, complete quests, and make discoveries—not for individual kills. Second, XP is spent, not accumulated – like cyphers, XP are a resource not intended for hoarding. Most of the time, you'll have less than 4 XP, because that's how much most character advancement steps cost. Third, you can also spend XP on short-term benefits—on things other than character advancement.

That last one raises a couple of obvious questions. Why would you spend XP on short-term benefits when you can give your characters lasting benefits like new abilities (or flipped around: what happens if you spend all your XP on short-term benefits and get to the final confrontation with a 1st-Tier character)? Also, if the game has enough XP such that players can spend some on short-term benefits and max their Tier by the end, what's to stop them from spending all their XP on advancement up front, basically maxing out their Tier halfway through the game? How could we balance the game like that without scaling?

Our answer to these questions is what we are, in Torment, calling Discovery Points (DP). Throughout the game, you will gain both XP (per character) and DP (for the party).

Experience Points are gained primarily by accomplishing critical path tasks: progressing quests and solving Crises and other major encounters. Each character gains their own XP individually, though usually if the party completes a Crisis or a quest, all party members will gain the XP. (SIDEBAR: Sometimes you can leave a Companion behind and pick them up again later in the game. In these cases, they will gain their own XP outside of your influence (they don't just sit around waiting for you, after all). So if you pick them up again, you will find them close to your level.)

Each character spends their own XP on character advancement steps, each of which cost 4 XP. These advancement steps include:
  1. Increased Stat Pool
  2. Increased Stat Edge
  3. Increased Maximum Effort Level
  4. Additional Skill Training
  5. Improved paincasting ability (Last Castoff only)
  6. Additional Class Abilities (beyond what you get for your Tier)
  7. Reduced Armor Penalties
Every four advancement steps, the character will advance to the next Tier. The first five can only be advanced once per Tier, and #5-7 are really optional steps (the Last Castoff's paincasting ability will be improved in other ways in the course of the game).

Typical character advancement might look like this: (gain 4 XP) add a new Skill, (gain 4 XP) increase Might Edge, (gain 4 XP) increase Maximum Effort Level, (gain 4 XP) distribute 6 new Stat Pool points. Then as soon as the fourth one is done, that character advances to the next Tier—they gain new abilities from their Focus and choose new abilities and Skills from their Type (glaive, jack, or nano). They can also then use XP to purchase any of the advancement steps again toward the next Tier.

We're planning on balancing the game out to 6th Tier (the maximum Tier in the Corebook), though completionists may still be able to purchase certain advancement steps beyond that if they collect enough XP.

Discovery Points are primarily gained through (wait for it) discovery: figure out how to communicate with an ancient (and alien) intelligence, access a memory abandoned by the Changing God in your brain, or decipher the tale told by an ancient set of moving cave drawings.

DP can also be gained by accepting Intrusions. These are opportunities to make an easy encounter more interesting, rewarding the player for dealing with an added complication. For example, say you're taking on the Sorrow directly (it's not a good idea, but let's say that you are). You discover it's weak against fire damage and, with the help of a flamethrowing artifact you found, are actually doing pretty well against it.

Then an Intrusion occurs. The Sorrow begins to shifts its own molecular make-up so that it's weak against something else but fire barely hurts it. This Intrusion won't always happen: most Intrusions will only trigger when an encounter is already proving easy for you, and many of them have additional conditionals that must be met. Now that this one has triggered, you have a choice: you can spend 1 DP to stop the Intrusion (how that works out narratively depends on each Intrusion, for example maybe you strike a lucky blow, doing little or no damage, but disorienting the Sorrow long enough that it can't finish the shift), or you can let it happen to gain 2 DP.

DP is gained and used by the whole party, and it is spent on short-term benefits. We haven't finalized what all those benefits will be, but some examples might include:
  • Refusing an Intrusion
  • Making a recovery roll without needing to rest
  • Gaining an extra level of Effort on a task for free
  • Taking extra movement during a Crisis
  • Performing an extra action during a Crisis
  • Retrying a failed action during a Crisis
  • Crafting special items that require a crafting cost
The goal here is to maintain the mechanics that make Numenera fun, to keep Torment balanced (so we can estimate approximately what power level characters will be in a given Zone), all while doling out frequent and exciting rewards.
But yeah, that stretch goal - it's not looking too hot right now. Will there be a final day surge, like during a Kickstarter? The backer site now supports pledging any amount of money desired, which might help. You should at least make sure you've registered there and specified your add-ons by the end of the month, because inXile are apparently planning to close off certain add-ons after that.

There are 33 comments on Torment Kickstarter Update #34: Kevin on the Stretch Goal, Adam on Advancement, Colin on Ossiphagan

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