The Simple NPC with a Thousand Faces

The cast of thousands that make your campaign alive don’t all need stat blocks. When they do, the usual way to handle it is to have a number of stock of level 1 characters, and improvise starting from those. But sometimes you do not need a whole stat block, and not every character has an character class.

The alternative is the Simple NPC with a Thousand Faces. The idea is that each person is sort of average, but they have both a Flaw and a Perk, and this lets you flesh them out a bit in the maybe twelve seconds they appear in your game.

The Perk is what they are good at, where they apply the proficiency bonus (or Focus) based on their level, with an additional +1. For example a construction worker is good at building things, demolishing things, and operate heavy machinery: if they are a level 1 character, they get a +3 on those rolls. In general, this is not limited to job skills: it should apply to all they are good at! They should also be good at something completely unrelated to their trade, like a hobby, craft, sport, baking, ikebana, massage, etc.

The Flaw is something negative about them. Determine an ability at random by rolling 1d6, and come up with a negative trait associated to that ability. A Strength Flaw might point to a small build, or a physical impairment like chronic pain, and a low wisdom might suggest someone falling for all jokes, a conspiracy theorist, or someone easily swayed. The Flaw does not imply they have a low stat, but they might if you need them to.

In case they get shot/stabbed, they have 6hp.

The Future We Saw, a 5E Precog-Technothriller, post-cyberpunk game

Cyberpunk is a very 1980s genre, and in hindsight was camp as heck. Cyberpunk was also 100% right in its view of the future. Its narratives are incredibly relevant and real to 2019, even if Cyberpunk is incredibly camp, and looks like a complete wack-job made by a fashion designer that was told to staple electrical waste to a bin of goth and raver clothes. This is because we focus on cyberpunk aesthetics, and not on its essence.

Cyberpunk streets look like neon lights, rain, and elective cyberware. Those things are not in our streets. Our streets look like the 1970s but with better haircuts, bigger cars, and a marginal improvement in fashion and storefront design. The only neon left is in Japanese alleyways, climate disaster is making the weather crazy, and prostheses can be made by kids with 3d printers.

Like Steampunk is not about brass cogs and leather corsets, but about class war, Cyberpunk is not about its aesthetics. Cyberpunk is about fear.

Cyberpunk is a very 1980s genre about the fear of the future in America.

Mostly fear about corporate lack of accountability, technology making us less human and less humane, and a more unequal society where megacorporation people get richer and everyone else gets poorer. If we told 1980s people what Facebook and Cambridge Analytica does with our data, how much we are relient on Internet and our mobile phones in every aspect of your lives, and the Great Recession and rampant growth in inequality it accompained, they would be terrified.

But that’s not what Cyberpunk looks like. Cyberpunk visuals are stuck in the ’80s, nobody has smartphones, virtual reality is awesome but the internet is somehow less fundamental to our human endeavours compared to the Internet of 2019, and, I’m willing to bet, we all still love paper books, which are suspiciously scarce in the genre. So, they completely missed the 2020 aesthetic, but as for societal evolution I’m afraid they got more right than wrong.

“But Paolo”, you must be thinking, “you write spells about goats. Why this?”, and then you probably thought “I want spells about puking a spray of eels that chase and latch onto the throat and face of my enemies, and possibly their crotch too. Please deliver”.

Well. Stuff happened. More specifically, an AI researcher at a university hired me to write a role-playing game about AI and predictive powers. We wanted a game where players get to see the future before it happens, have an impact on game causality, and steer the narrative in a different way. So we came up with The Future We Saw.

(Yes, I’m aware that this is quite a 21st century thing.)

The Future We Saw is set in 2020. It’s a 5e-based game of politics conducted through other means. Blackmail. Kompromat. Murder. Hacking. Infiltration. Corruption. The kind of fiction that you wish fake news sites authors would write about, if they could write. Players are agents for one of many organizations, and work behind the scenes, as fixers and thugs.  The Future We Saw is about current politics, seen through cyberpunk concerns and fear.

What makes it weirder, and probably a Lost Pages book, is that you can play a Seer, and see the future. Seers can either glimpse or gaze into the future.

Glimpses make you see the future of what you perceive. Like a skilled player knows what the game is gong to be, you know that in 5 seconds that guard is going to pull their gun. Or maybe you have a feeling that someone might die in the next minute. Or maybe you know how a conversation is going to unfold after exchanging but a few words. This is why seers go on dangerous operations: to support the real professionals, doing what they can’t.

Needless to say the game design to make this work has not been easy, especially from a usability standpoint. It’s probably been the hardest work I’ve ever done.

Gazes let you see what happens at a campaign level. This can range from “what happens if we blackmail the CEO of WeYu Corp” to “given what we know, what do we need to do in order for WeYu to entirely give up asteroid mining business”.

This might seem like basic strategizing. However, since seers are uncannily good at seeing the future, this is what it’s going to happen, unless someone decides to do something against it seers were not aware of. In game campaign terms, this means players know what is going to happen in the campaign, and are in a position where they can do something about it.

The plan is to have The Future We Saw out as a beta this December, collect feedback from players, and release the final game next year.

PS: yeah, I know it’s been a while. I got busy elsewhere, like on lasagna.social, and writing spells, and now I’m freelancing only and might start a patreon. I’ll be at Dragonmeet 2019, and hope to have 3 new books on the table there.

PPS: Fear not, I’ll give you eelvomit magic, it’s in the spellbook after the next. FYI development names are Gaia’s Grimoire (cover: a roly-poly) and Tyrian Text (cover: a murex shell).

Dawn of New Thaumaturgy: a few disordered thoughts on writing magic, starting from a detour on magic swords

I recently added a new player to my group. He never played RPGs. He joined my Mageblade group, was amazed that he could do spider-wizardry, and had his pc’s eyes explode because reckless overcasting led to a magic catastrophe. Then he completely wiped a band of thieves with a lucky venom cloud. Good times.

Magic is terrible and powerful and awesome. The player was surprised by the magic possibilities, tempted, hurt, humbled, and then singlehandedly finished the threat to the group. How does this happen? Why? How can it be made better?

I’m writing this thing because a while ago someone asked if it was possible to swap the D&D spell list with a completely different one: I’ve done it several times with several spell lists, and I’d like to share why and how to do it.

I’m not sure this is going to be directly helpful to anyone doing the same, but I guess it can be helpful for other tasks too, like writing one single spell. This is going to be presented as a list of unstructured arguments in several posts, for various reasons. Such as:

  1. I’m not sure what the shape of the argument is when seen in its entirety yet. My approach is quite holistic and winding. Sorry.
  2. The concerns span usability, game design, meaningfulness, and world building. These things do not go hand in hand.
  3. Magic, in game like in real life, is much different for different people. The same goes for religion, and magic and religion are for all intents and purposes, as far as this writing is concerned, two names for the same type of practice. I’ll try to be as encompassing as I can, despite taking sides.

Let’s start with the first question: why do we need new magic, and what’s wrong with the spells in the handbook?

We do not need new magic. And there’s nothing wrong with the spells in the handbook. The game can be perfectly fun without expanding its magic, like it can be fun without expanding the monster list, the race list, the class list, and the magic item list. These are the discrete elements that we can scatter in our fantastic worlds, very unique like snowflakes.

Also, very similar like snowflakes. Snowflakes are similar because ice crystals form with specific angles, and similarly D&D campaign are similar because character growth has specific rules. Obtaining experience and treasure make characters stronger, because they grow in skill and in means, with a matching increased impact on the game world. If we use the same mundane and magic item tables, chances are there will be similarities.

Access to more magic is key part of both those new skills and new means. The game setting of Dungeons & Dragons becomes more and more supernatural as the game progresses, the players exploring more and more of the mythical underworld (or whatever it is that PCs physically and metaphorically go through in your campaign).

Let’s start from the Fighter, by having a quick detour in the LBB. Fighters are strong and resistant and overcome mundane opponents in mundane means. As they grow in skill, they become more resistant and more lethal. However, as lethal as they can be, they still are mundane and can’t harm enchanted beings.

Enemies that can’t be harmed are awesome. As in, literally, terror inducing. Because we mundanes have no way of defending ourselves from them.

For those, fighters need a magic weapon.

Crucially, magic weapons, and especially magic swords, are the most common permanent magic item in the LBB. Magic swords can only be used by fighters, and magic swords are pretty much the best magic weapon in the game: beyond giving the capacity to hit magic beings, they often give extra powers, like detection of invisible or magic, or even more, which are incredibly useful and not easy to come by (at least they require casters to spend precious spell slots).

Magic swords also have the habit of having intelligence and big personalities and taking sides in the Eternal Struggle between Law and Chaos. They can also possess their fighter, and shift from being an empowering tool for the fighter into a master for the fighter, their body and limbs mere tool for the Sword.

This might seem like a douche move. However, these swords are quite the equivalent of having a Faustian deal with the devil: great power comes at a great cost. Sure, they lead you to gems, and let you vanquish vampires, but what do the Swords ask in return?

And the Faustian deal usually generates buckets of solid, engaging drama at the table: for example the sword can force a noncompliant fighter into giving itself away to a fighter more worthy of the sword mission, and more compliant. If you want to keep the sword, you need to make the sword want to keep you.

So when you find an intelligent magic sword in a dragon trove ask yourself what kind of reckless sucidal action the sword must have forced on the fighter wielding it. The sword is in the dragon hoard because either it forced the fighter into fighting the dragon, or it let the fighter believe it could.

Magic swords use their fighters to leave a trail of death until they lead their own fighter to death. Then they lay unused in a hoard until their new owner is killed by a fighter. And the trail of death can start again. And again. And again. And again, until the timeless magic sword, and its unquenchable bloodthirst, is no more.

Good luck with that. Magic swords are much more resilient than the countless arms that bear them. Beside dragonfire and powerful magic, they have little to fear.

D&D Magic Swords are awesome as the creatures they can harm. As in, they inspire terror. Not only when facing them, but also when wielding them.

Because, mostly, what fighters do to fight the supernatural is wielding supernaturally angry steel that has a proven history of leading previous bearers to death.

Note how this is canon (actually requiring very little interpretation compared to the rest of the LBB, blessed be Gary’s cotton socks) and how it dances all across the invisible line between fluff and crunch. Thing is, if fluff and crunch are not melded, then the crunch can’t let the game behave in a way consistent with the fluff.

Personally, I think the distinction is artificial, and exists only where the game rules do not support the desired outcome (or fiction/story/milieu/atmosphere/genre). And probably this is the hard part of this whole endeavour: have a game with wholeness, self-consistence, and meaning. If the game challenges are awesome, make you organically scared, make you in awe, then stuff is ok.

Compared to most of the rest of the magic in the LBB, Magic Swords are definitely the most interesting from a dramatic, and human, perspective. Magic Swords are a relentless, uncaring, awesome tool for us mundanes to defeat the otherwise undefeatable awesome.

The rest of the magic in the original game, except a handful of magic items, is bland. It manages to defeat the undefeatable awesome in a very bland way.

We can do better than that.

Next time, we might explore the following topics:

Wizards are kind of lame, but also awesome.

Adventure design: casters can detect invisible, evil, and lies, and they should.

Abjuration 101: wards and banishing.

Why We All Love Maxilor, aka The “Passwall – Spell of the Subterranean Cavities” Continuum of Awesomeness.

What it takes to make magic items.

State of the Eye: Six Years of Lost Pages

edit caveat: the wordpress editor is kind of flaky so some things in the text might be weird. Sorry!

Lost Pages exists because nobody wanted to publish me.

Lost Pages is a vanity press.

Lost Pages is six years old.

lost-pages-logo

It’s been some special six years. I’ve done things my way, entirely because I felt it was the way to do them. Some ways were effective, some enjoyable, some fulfilling, some very very stupid, and some failed spectacularly.

Most importantly, it made me grow and change as a person, and some seriously bad stuff happened, and it’s great that I survived the ordeal. Surviving is usually better than not.

However, I have been broken for a while. Badly broken. For a long while.

I could do nothing. My creative output has been terrible and, since Lost Pages has responsibilities toward other people (to make it short: I owe royalties to authors, and I owe delivering the products I sell), I had trouble handling this too.

Thamud16

Fortunately I am quite pragmatic. So, I individuated some weaknesses, and tried to set up ways to cope with them.


Health problems make me useless for stretches of time.

Being useless is not good when you are running a small business.

So Lost Pages must cope without having me at the helm for a while. And me shoveling coal. And loading/unloading cargo. And whatnots. While having other other jobs.

I printed mostly locally and shipped orders myself. This let me handle printing quality better, but it also meant I was shipping myself all the products. This also let me sell boxed sets. And books I bound. Which is overall great for delivering my vision, but is work intensive, and If I can’t function, I can’t deliver. Which sucks. For everybody.

For you because stuff gets delivered late. For me because it makes me feel a failure, useless, and wanting to write less because it makes me feel like a useless failure. All of these are entirely self defeating.

So I decided to make it more sustainable and more resilient, by changing fulfillment strategy. In most cases, the initial print run will be printed locally and shipped by the fine folks at Melsonian Arts Council. Daniel is already selling Lost Pages books, and if you have a taste for my books, you’ll like Daniel’s too. When the copies runs out, books will be made available on POD in the usual spaces.

This also means that I’ll be able to do the stuff I like, instead of shipping stuff.


The other issue is creative. It’s not about publishing, but my writing.

2017 07 31 OSR ink bw

I understand that the OSR is a big tent, but it’s terribly Anglo-American, and weirdly Calvinist, and not conforming to to the Cultural Hegemon is taxing. If you are American, or British, and have no clue about what I’m talking about, do not worry: you are probably seeing it from the inside, and I’m the weird one.

Which is true. I’m literally the exotic one here. I am alien. Now try to imagine the situation where you move somewhere else and everyone thinks you are the weird one, and nobody really understands you, and everyone is really weird, all the time.

If you are a nerd you probably felt it. Alienation sucks.

Now imagine writing about your nerdy stuff for people that just do not get it.

But.

This is not a language problem. Blaming it on the poor language skills of foreigners is easy because it is obvious it makes them hard to understand. And, importantly, it blames their lack of fluency: learning languages is not easy, and nobody really blames anyone for trying and getting stuff wrong.  Lack of fluency is often self-evident and correct, but does not cause the problem. The issue is somewhere else, and it’s less visible.

I can fail to make make myself understood for many reasons, all impairing in different ways. Let me list some:

  1. I have a weird accent.
  2. My grammar is often broken.
  3. I use weird phrase structures.
  4. my arguments are based on things you do not understand.

While my failures are “all of the above”, I’m talking about case #4 here. Which is the real obstacle on the quest for meaning delivery, which is pretty much the entire point of writing. I find it magical that right now you are hearing my thoughts in your head, and we probably never met, and you are several time zones away. It never ceases to amaze me.

Right now I’m planting thoughts in your head. I’m writing for you to read my mind.

Writing as an alienated person for readers that are part of the Cultural Hegemon is partly cultural suicide, partly simply a performance. The Hegemon does not have to abide, or adapt. The Hegemon writes for whatever they like, and reads what they see fit.

So the Hegemon can’t really understand what the alienated is writing about, the same way years ago I did not understand things like, hurr, root beer and, dunno, grilled cheese sandwich. So you kind of have to do this weird dance with your culture, where you replace the ramparts and foundations that have been there for generations and hope just hope that it will work and will be understandable even when you replace wine and olives with root beer and grilled cheese, while still doing justice to your culture and not making a mess, and making something you like and understand.

Explainer: I’m Paolo, and I’m Italian, and I do food metaphors because where I’m from food is at the core of cultural identity, and I picked root beer and grilled cheese because I can pretend that somehow my average reader is a stereotyped Midwesterner I’m making up in my mind. And that Midwesterner really, really loves root beer and grilled cheese. So to make this work, replace root beer and grilled cheese with your favourite food and drink, and then replace the food metaphor with a metaphor that is relevant to your culture but not in mine, and then try to repeat the exercise yourself for someone else. Oh, I forgot, you also have to translate it in a different language, and still watch out for error type #1, #2, #3.

I mean, I guess. My only knowledge of Sassafras comes from the Smurfs, probably one of the most important elements in my personal Appendix N.

images

This is writing or translating for different cultures. Sometimes it works. Often it does not. But you always, always betray your thought. Or at least trade part of it for something else that means something different. It’s the only way to make it work for someone not from your culture. Walking between olive trees that have been alive in the middle ages means something completely different than walking among the sassafras. If sassafras is something you can walk through. I have clearly no idea what I’m talking about.

The point is, I’m kind of tired of this dancing. So I might try to write more for me and less for you. While I have all the interest in having my authors succeed and sell well (Hi y’all! /waves), I have no issue if what I write sells terribly.

I mean, money and praise are nice, but at the moment I’m getting enough self validation from other parts of my life that I do not care if I sell poorly.


One last thing: I had a mental breakdown due to work related stress earlier on this year, and I’ve been signed off sick for a few weeks. This happened after years of bullying at work, and being forced to work stupid hours, working during holidays, and routinely being subjected to racist bullshit. Since then the situation much improved, but I am still worn thin.

So I’m going part-time with my day job. This will let me spend more time on self care, and publishing, and writing, and making software, and making art.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Asymmetric Magic of Frostgrave

I’ve been playing some Frostgrave (it’s pretty dope) and I tried to plot a graph with the school alignments. I expected something regular, like these:

MTG-Guild-Faction-Colour-Pie-Chart-MagicKtreewnames

But what I found was a bit stranger.

Aligned schools are linked by a black line. Orange links opposed schools:

img_20180129_133235-211098085.jpg

the orange link between the top and bottom is a squiggle only because the drawing needs to be on a plane. Think of it as a straight line. 

You can easily note a bunch of question marks in the bottom right: there are two schools left – Necromants and Summoners – and two alignments left. They are left unmarked because the resulting graph is either inconsistent or asymmetrical. We can proceed in two ways:

Respect the symmetry of the oppositions: Necromancer at the bottom, Sigilist at the bottom right. But penciling in the alliances, the graph looks like this, which is not symmetrical, really.

media-20180129

What if we respect the symmetry of the alliances, and wiggle the graph a bit? Summoner at the bottom, Necromancer at the bottom right. Ally Necromancers up with Chronomancers, and Summoners up with Elementalists, and all is good. Except Thaumaturgists at the top are not opposed to Summoners at the bottom, and Necromancers are not opposed to Sigilists. It looks like this, with a minor rearrangement:

media-20180129-1

the bottom EN should read EL for Elementarists, the Witch-Necromancer alignment has been moved out of the way to reduce the clutter

There’s also two more options. The first one is not anthropocentric, and somewhat not romantic: the because of aesthetics, we try to assume that the underpinning of the world are symmetrical, because we value symmetry, and if it’s not symmetrical it’s not beautiful and therefore not true (or at least that’s how we are prone to feel). Needless to say, I’m not a fan of this option. Also, from a user interaction perspective, symmetric systems are more memorable and easy to learn.

The second option is that the book is lying. Maybe Sigilism is opposed to Necromancy, and Thaumaturgy is opposed to Summoning, and all symmetries are preserved. I understand that the author J. McCullough might get annoyed at this suggestion, but I’d like to point out that of the eight Thaumaturgy spells, three especially target demons or are effective against controlled creatures, and none target the undead specifically, and the three other schools have little “countering” spells.

It might seem weird, but there’s a chance I might be onto something here. Wizards do their best to keep their secrets, so maybe that’s the case here?

At any rate: Frostgrave is great fun, the rules are great, melee is swingy, you get to summon demons and throw fireballs, and the scenarios are fun. The supplements are also supergreat (all of them).

When the magic’s out: Overcast HOWTO

When all spells are spent, when all mana is gone, wizards are a bit in a meh situation. While it’s cool that you want to let the magic go out because of careful strategy, I think giving risky opportunities to players is also good.

So the idea is that casters and wizards can overcast. I’ve been using these rules for Mageblade! but you can adapt them easily. I swear the Game Police won’t come after you. I suggest you try this with a lot of limitations first, and then try to relax the limitations a bit and see what works.  If the player keeps on overcasting too much for your tastes, just require extra rolls, or add limitations.

This is what works for us: you need to find what works for you.

Overcast HOWTO

  1. The caster, first, must choose the spell to be overcast. You can limit the spell to only spells the caster has not cast today yet, or to spells the caster had memorized, or only for granted powers, or only for patron spells, or for devotions, or domain spells. Try to find out what you feel is right for your game.
  2. The caster must then roll to cast the spell right:
    • for knowledge-based casters, like MUs, wizards and MB Caster, find if they can control the spell rolling under intelligence. If the roll is failed, the caster botches: lets out a magic blast (3d6 damage in 10′, save for half), or a catastrophe from W&W, or use one of those GURPS magic critical failures tables.
    • for introspection-based casters, like mageblades, clerics, and even sorcerers (do not forget that sorcerers can’t read, or else they would be wizards), find if they can find clarity rolling a wisdom check. If the roll is failed, the spell simply does nothing, but the spell can’t be overcast for a while. Maybe until penance is done. Maybe until sleep. Maybe until drugs are taken. Or maybe one hour of meditation is enough.
  3. The caster must then roll to find the power to cast:
    • for casters that are fueled by their belief in gods or power-granting patrons (like the clerics, mageblades, paladins and casters devout to a god, DCC casters with patrons), roll under charisma. On a failure, the Power that Be is displeased with the lack of self-reliance of the requester, so not only does nothing, but you won’t be able to cast for a while. Cue sacrifices, fasting, pilgrimage, etc.
    • for casters that provide their own mana, like MUs, wizards, and MB casters or Mageblades that are not godbotherers, find if they manage to gather the power without consequences rolling under charisma. On a failure, the power is still harnessed but the caster is zonked out, collapsed for 1d6 turns. Healing spells do not really fix this much.

Option: Recovery with Surgery & Chemistry

While a zonked out character will be out cold for a while, you can have a surgeon do an emergency procedure involving a healing potion and some horrible surgery you you not want to know. It takes one round, one healing potion and one surgery/healing roll. If the roll is successful, the caster recovers the round after the surgery.

Mageblade, Mageshade, Shadeblade: not half-classes, nor hybrids

Fighter, Caster, Rogue and Mageblade. The four Mageblade classes are patterned on the usual four-classes model: the fighter is tough, the rogue cheats in mundane ways (backstabbing and picking locks and climbing, for example), the caster cheats in extramundane ways (the guard dogs fell asleep) and the mageblade is an extramundane cheating tough (I’m going to fight you and also do magic stuff, like the D&D cleric does).

However, while traditionally similar classes are implemented by having more competencies with a reduced capacity, sometimes decorated with extra bits (bardic music, I look at you right now), both the D&D cleric and the Mage/blade/shade triplet are actually about something else entirely. In addition to being able to fight, the cleric, due to the forced split of right hand and left hand path magic in D&D, can cure and turn undead in ways wizards can’t. And the Mageblade, while not able to cast spells, can rely on devotions, plus be clad in iron and use banes and blademagic in combat.

Most importantly, the Fighter, the Mageblade, the Rogue and the Caster play in different ways by design:

  • fighters can wiggle combat math in reliable ways (armour and stances) indefinitely.
  • casters have great effects in a lot of different ways with spells (each school grants access to many spells), but both each spell can be used once, and the mana to cast them is limited
  • rogues learn and then master a lot of extra skills thus increasing their scope, and can use their roguish luck to push any roll, even multiple times.
  • mageblades learn a very limited amount of devotions and blademagic: each is a single “effect”, but as long as there’s mana, each can be used many times.

This makes Mageblades very different from Casters, and not in a quantitative way: casters know a lot of spells, but each is a snowflake, while mageblades know little magic, but can use it repeatedly.

The difference with the fighter is also not simply a “lesser” fighter: fighters fight better and harder for a longer time, and mageblades (even pumping mana in combat) can’t match them, but fighters can’t do blademagic either. Fighters especially do not have Banes, which are blademagic specific to Mageblade orders that lets them do double damage against a specific type of enemy, so for example Exorcists have Bane: Undead. Mageblades also have their athame, which is their magic sword/wand, from character generation.

They play differently. And have different roles. They also feel different in a way that is not clearly the somewhat milquetoast “wider but lesser”. They definitely are not hybrid classes the way they are normally intended.

Furthermore, there’s two more such classes in this little game: Mageshade (name courtesy of Eric Nieudan) and the Shadeblade. They technically do not exist fully yet, but this is the direction the development will take:

  • Mageshades could have a small number of magick rites to do mundane stuff, powered by mana and reusable. While rogues can do many things unreliably but can use their luck, mageshades can spend mana to “make it work”. As perk (all classes have one), some shadow/night/oblivion-related ability (like shadowstep or sleep or forgetfulness). Not sure what the Focus should do for mageshades yet.
  • Shadeblades similarly can start by mixing the scopes of the fighter and the rogue and come off in some completely different shape. So some skills, plus for example how to mingle the spending of rogue’s luck and the steadiness of fighters into something similar to both but different?
    • A first example, definitely underdeveloped and untested, is to have shadeblades do silly over the top wuxia moves, so that if they miss they can spend one mana to hit instead, or then they are hit spend mana to parry or dodge and jump away.
    • An alternative is maybe to have the shadeblade have a fresh pool of rogue’s luck every combat, but only limited to combat rolls?
    • Or maybe a mix of the two, electing to spend luck in the combat get a combat reroll, or to spend it for the whole day in order to succeed at dodging or hitting without rolling.