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Postby Draz » Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:07 am

Anyone who plays sports knows that being "in the zone" isn't just a figure of speech, and that you pull off your best stunts during those magical moments when, for an instant, your body just seems to know what to do instinctively, and your mind somehow knows that you're going to be successful and lets your body do its thing.

I've talked to friends who have seen real combat in the military, and they say the same thing happens there.

With that in mind, I present Momentum, the system that CRE8 uses to govern a lot of special abilities that are too strong to allow at-will spamming. Think of it as an Action Points system, with some inspiration drawn from the Psionic Focus system of the 3.5e Expanded Psionics Handbook.

In general, Momentum is supposed to govern the types of abilities that, in 4e for example, would be "per-encounter" abilities. Using a Momentum-based ability once per encounter is a rough rule of thumb of what to expect from low-level characters.


At any given moment, either your character has Momentum, or he does not. There is no benefit to gaining Momentum when you already have it. There is no harm in losing Momentum when you already don't have it. Also, having Momentum is largely a function of adrenaline and battle senses; you cannot maintain Momentum when you are in a calm situation.

Default Methods of Gaining Momentum
"Carping": Once per turn, if no creature in the current encounter has Momentum, you may attempt to gain momentum as a free action by making a DC 15 Awesome Check.

"Encouraging": If you have Momentum, you may attempt to give an ally Momentum as a standard action by making a DC 15 Leadership check.

If you inflict a Hazard on a creature with Momentum, you may gain Momentum as your "Hazard." (Note that I don't expect this option to actually be all that appealing, since it precludes inflicting a Hazard that actually harms one's foe instead.)

Special Methods of Gaining Momentum
I have quite a few ideas for this, but I need more. The problem is, they can't be too predictable; I don't want it to be too easy to build a character who spams a powerful attack over and over by expending her Momentum, then regains it every other round effortlessly. In addition, it's easy to think up balanced ways to gain Momentum by sacrificing combat actions, but this style of fighting doesn't make any sense for martial warrior-type characters, who emphatically should not be getting an advantage in combat by relenting their attack sequence and sitting back peacefully mid-combat.

Here are a few of the ideas I think might work:
  • a character with a Guardian kit could gain Momentum anytime an enemy ignores him to attack one of his allies
  • a character with a Tactician kit could sacrifice his action to give an ally Momentum if his ally makes a successful attack
  • the spell "Evoke Fortune" gives its target a chance of gaining Momentum. (This spell is the CRE8 version of, for example, the Bless spell and the Heroism spell from 3.5e.)
  • a character with a Swashbuckler kit could gain Momentum by moving from a disadvantageous position to an advantageous position in combat
  • a Zen-Monk-like character or a psion-like character might be able to gain Momentum just by spending an action and making a successful Willpower save

I'll be posting a number of Feat/Kit/Talent descriptions soon, which should give several examples of new ways to gain Momentum. Also, I certainly plan to include an ability for a commander-type character to use the "Encourage" option above, but in a more efficient manner.

Default Benefits of Expending Momentum
I haven't thought much about this yet, but I'm sure it will be easy to come up with stuff that any character should be able to do by expending Momentum. I'm taking suggestions.
  • If an opponent inflicts a Hazard on you, negate that Hazard. (Yes, this includes negating the Hazard option for them to simply gain Momentum of their own.)

Special Abilities, Powered by Expending Momentum
  • a Smite-like ability for those Paladin-type characters who are fond of Smiting
  • an ability for Factotum-like characters to replace any skill check with an Awesome check
  • most Metamagic Talents will require expending Momentum as part of their use
  • the basic Two-Weapon Fighting feat will require expending Momentum in order to make an extra attack as a swift action
  • many spells will have built-in options for making them more powerful (or casting them as a swift action, for non-attack spells) by expending Momentum
  • many Feats reminiscent of Tome of Battle maneuvers will require expending Momentum to use
  • many Feats that normally require an Opportunity Action can be used as a free action by expending Momentum, like Dodge

Upcoming Feat/Talent/Kit descriptions should include a number of examples of benefits of expending Momentum.

Retaining Momentum
I'm sure we can come up with many abilities that will be balanced if they require having Momentum, but don't require expending it.
  • the Tumble talent allows moving in relative safety from opportunity attacks, as long as you have Momentum.

Upcoming Feat/Talent/Kit descriptions should include a number of examples of benefits of retaining Momentum.

In addition, I imagine that a hallmark of high-level play in general will be the ability to pull off powerful tricks with a chance of not losing your Momentum in the process. I'm not sure whether this chance to retain Momentum should be built into individual high-level Feats, or whether it would be better for high-level Kits to say, "Anytime you would expend Momentum for any of [X, Y, Z abilities], roll [dice] to try to retain your Momentum."
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Re: Momentum

Postby DragoonWraith » Fri Feb 18, 2011 10:50 am

Wiki:Flow (Psychology) might be useful for this kind of thing.
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Re: Momentum

Postby Draz » Fri Feb 18, 2011 8:33 pm

DragoonWraith wrote:Wiki:Flow (Psychology) might be useful for this kind of thing.

Cool, interesting read. Supports the idea that it's fine to run Momentum in-game as working equally well for combat, spellcasting, or other difficult tasks. I suppose I could also rename it, but that's a topic for the Jargon thread.
Ilklr wrote:1. I'm not sure I'm totally on board with momentum as you have it. It seems like momentum is really more of a Newton's First Law type of thing. But in a similar way to Newton's 3rd law, I'm inclined to say there should be a negative possibility as well. Just like a basketball player can shoot 85% when he's in the zone, he can also shoot 10% when he's not. And anyone who has ever had "negative momentum" knows just how hard it is to shake off.

Hmmm, an anti-Momentum condition? Interesting. What would be its mechanical impact? (And don't say penalties to die rolls! That's a pain to keep track of.)

I'm game to explore this idea more -- especially since you, having served in the military, probably know more than me about this sort of thing -- but I'm skeptical of the need for it. Fantasy heroes, well, don't usually get into a negative groove, and when they do it doesn't seem to impact their work negatively.

It did cross my mind at some point that there should be some high-level abilities (I was thinking for a Duelist-type character, although there could be others, including magic) that simply expend your opponent's Momentum without effect. That would be annoying to get hit with, to be sure. :twisted:
2. Expanding on #1, I don't think I like the triggers for momentum. For example, with the guardian kit, I'm wondering if it would be better if it was triggered by a successful attack of opportunity rather than an enemy simply targeting his friend.

I have to admit, I came up with this trigger not so much out of in-game reasons, as out of a desire to give "meat-shields" a powerful way to defend their allies. There's a splatbook 3e ability called Iron Guard's Glare, which gives an opponent you threaten a -4 penalty to attack your allies; it's delightfully effective at "drawing aggro" in a way that doesn't unduly control your foes' actions. The Guardian ability was my attempt to duplicate that effectiveness, but without the annoying -4 penalties.

I do think it makes sense in an in-character way, too, though. You train and dedicate yourself to protect and bodyguard someone, especially if you're an honor-bound fantasy Knight type ... then when some creature slips past your guard and tries to attack your ally, it's going to make you focus, hard and fast, on retaliation.
Also, as a further idea, perhaps a bard character could use a song to give his allies a chance to gain or retain momentum.

Definitely. Hmmm, I already mentioned the Evoke Fortune spell, which is particularly appropriate for a Bard-type (think of it as the Heroism spell in 3e). But I suppose maybe a Bard-type ought to have a non-magical way to do this, too. I'll have to think on that some more.
I really like the idea of having negative momentum, and I'm not sure how that could be implemented. Perhaps this could be similar to the fumble idea of 3.5 as far as triggering, and could give opponents momentum instead?

Oh, I guess that would be an easy way to represent a "negative groove," wouldn't it? I've never liked fumble rules, though. We'd have to come up with a different trigger.

Heh, in CRE8 there's not even such thing as an attack roll, so you can't roll a natural 1 on an attack roll! :mrgreen:
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Re: Momentum

Postby Draz » Tue Aug 16, 2011 10:06 am

Playtests revealed that Momentum didn't affect combat as often as I wanted it to. To fix this, I came up with some more definite rules for how creatures (by default, with no special abilities) can gain Momentum.

The OP of this thread has been updated with these new rules, as well as a few other minor additions.
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