Friday, December 14, 2012

Who Gets What?

Monster Adventurers (David Chow)
Aron Son left a post that, if I read it right, goes to a VERY key point of the JAGS Rules: Who should buy which abilities ... and how do you know? When faced with literally hundreds of possible buys--mostly within the same cost range--how can you know which ones you should get? How will anyone even know which options exist?

First Things First
There are a few key tools we already here:

  1. Chapters: We have broken up the chapters into Generic Archetype Abilities: stuff that is "more than normal" but not "super human"--for the most part. Psionics, 'Innate Powers' (which includes 'Super Powers'), Domain Control (Fire, Ice, Wind, Earth, Love, Death, etc.), Fast Company (Action heroes), and so on. This should help as you can go to the general chapter that makes sense.
  2. Tags: Powers are 'tagged' with names like Super, Extreme, or Natural. These tags can be used to limit what "goes into a game." If you are limiting characters to making "intelligent animals" you can keep them away from Super Powers (or Extreme powers). If you are allowing "mutants--but not super heroes" then stay away from Super--and so on.
  3. Advice: We have some--but very limited--pieces of advice on things like "making bosses." A few powers are even listed by name (here is how you have one "boss" attack a bunch of lesser characters", etc.).
  4. Table of Contents: The TOC (right now) is over 20 pages long and lists each ability and a cost or a note that there are several costs for the ability. Browsing this could help.
  5. Statted Out Artwork: As you've seen, we are including artwork with powers-lists. This should help a prospective player get a feel for what kinds of powers a given character type might have. If you find a picture that's "kinda like your guy" you can use that list of powers as a template.

How Can We Improve On That?
What more could we do? Here are some thoughts:

  • More guidance: I'm iffy on this--but it would help. Being more explicit in the opening section of each chapter would certainly help if I could figure out what to say. I do think there are some key things we should call out if I can figure out where to put them (such as how Innate Abilities like Quick and some Cybernetic Abilities like Science Agents Hardwired Reflexes and so on compete with Fast Company). The list of characters is, kinda, this--but it doesn't exactly go into Character Design Strategies.
  • Cross-References: I have been told we need this--but thus far it's been hard to implement due to my lack of understanding exactly how to do this with Word->InDesign. The idea is this: there are powers that can go multiple places. Take "Death Ray/Touch." It can go in Innate Powers ("Death Ray"), Death Control (obvious), Chi Martial Arts (Dim Mak), and maybe a few other places (future/cyber-weapons: Death Wand or Black Ray pistol). I want to list the power exactly once--but where? And where do I tell someone who hasn't digested the whole book that, yeah, this exists--just on Page XX? The answer is with a short table at the start of a section that has Cross-Refs that lists power names, a very short description, and page numbers. So I want to do this--but it strikes me as a kind of last-thing-to-do. It's also a lot of work.
  • Index: a Table of Contents isn't alphabetical--If I have an Index (and possibly: Synonyms!) then a person looking for "Detect Life" power can find Detection (Innate Power) or some of the super senses and get an idea of where / what section to look in. This, too, requires technology to do well. We have it--but my Index Fu isn't up to speed. Also: we may have to split Archetypes into two books. If we do that, does Vol 2 have the Index? How does technology help with that?

NOTE: One of the things I am thinking on now is what the cost for Mobile should be--right now it's kinda expensive--especially when mixed with other TAP cost abilities. I'm thinking maybe it ought to come down a good deal since Fast Company characters really ought to have it. We need to do some serious analysis on how good it is and the Simulator won't really help a lot with that.


  1. I think an important part is knowing what you *need* to be effective / competitive -- like "about how many DP should you have" if you

    * Are X AP... or
    * Do Y PEN Damage... or
    * Whatever

    Also, how much damage, etc. What's a good amount of armor.

    A classic complaint about point-buy games is that it's "too easy" to build a sub-optimized character or to get lost in the maze of options.

    JAGS really helps by (often) giving you both DP and attack powers together, preventing wholly unbalanced characters but not *everything* works that way.

    Something about the philosophy of building effective, balanced characters would help, and it wouldn't have to be long...


  2. I'm usually annoyed by people who hijack blog comments for other purposes, but as I've looked all over the internet, and I can't find your public email address anywhere, Marco; I thought I'd ask here: is it still possible to purchase any of the JAGS settings in print form? I would have sworn I saw at least Wonderland on Lulu, but I can't find a link anywhere these days.

    1. Hey man,
      1. Go to the jags site: and you can find links to Lulu (JAGS Revised Hardcover) and Wonderland (RPGNow). These should work fine.

      2. DO NOT WORRY about bringing up topics here. If there is a free-ware forum software that I can subscribe to the way Blogger works, I've not found it. This is the best forum for asking questions. If your question has an interesting enough answer, I'll do a post on it.

      So it's all good.

    2. Actually, I can't seem to find the Lulu link; the links only appear to go to the PDFs or the option to purchase the PDFs from RPGNow.


    That should be the hard-cover for JAGS. I need to figure out what's going on with RPGnow.