Mechanika Inwazja Note 160223 Escalation Mode V2

The problem of properly functioning escalation mode is the fact that the escalation mode is internally conflicted. On one hand, escalation modes of any type will have an effect of stronger player being able to always defeat a weaker player. Simple implementation:

Player 1: power 10
Player 2: power 11
In 20 turns, statistically, player will have two turns benefits over player one.

In a way this is what we want. We want to give the stronger player a predicted ability to actually win. On the other hand, this sucks – this is the same thing as making the same test multiple times until all interesting victory conditions are met.

It doesn’t really get better when you have Shield; this is a kind of an artificial counter which doesn’t solve anything. It’s better to reintroduce the Counters and skip the complex mathematics behind the Shield.

Another implementation to consider:
Player 1: power 10
Goal: 100
Every two turns player one takes a disability/condition.

Here, we introduce an artificial pressure. Thing is, without a shield and without counterattacks a player will eventually always get what they want. With this type of solution the player doesn’t fight an enemy, really. And player is able to get something out of the situation wired attrition which comes from the time limit simply limits the players ability to gain everything. That way fighting against a hydra becomes less of “how well do I defend from the hydra blows” and more of “do I defeat a hydra before the attrition, is my damage high enough”.

All in all, the problem comes from the fact that for the escalation mode to work there needs to be some kind of a pressure and some kind of a yours. A player needs to lose something, not only gain. A player needs to be able to sacrifice something, not only get the goals. Otherwise it would be a set of connected tests, not an escalation.

Let us introduce three different Counters: health, story, resource. Unlike the past, when we thought about counters as the fields of defenses of a character (health, magic, social, sanity) here we have three main areas of influence for the player: an ability to influence the world using the character, a will which forces the story a particular direction, a set of resources gathered along the way. Let us connect this with the attrition mechanics, no matter if the attrition is realized by the second party or by the return limit.

Claire fights against Damien. During the conflicts Claire lost the first one and took a hit in “health” counter. The second conflict Claire also lost and grudgingly decided to take a hit in “story” counter. The third conflict Claire won and Damien took a resource hit. Let’s assume we had three turns time limit or something. Now we go to the resolution phase: Claire got a minor wound and the stuff did not go as she wanted to. Damien did lose a resource though.

This type of approach might be the solution to escalation mode, actually. Introduce the time limit which can be bought by any party which wants to escalate paying the counter. For example, five conflicts were both sides make conflicts against each other. Or towards the conflicted goal. Introduce those three counters which represent the area of influence of player, not character, upon the game. Let the parties make moves against each other but also say the final goal will not be met until you get a total value of X.

For example, Claire and Damien are trying to steal a diamond hamster from the museum before anyone finds them. They need to achieve total 30 points of stealing against the hamster. They have five turns. They need about 4 stealing attempts to be able to achieve 30 (total). So Claire starts working on the hamster and Damien attacks Claire hoping to knock her unconscious and still hamster from her or make it impossible for her to actually take the hamster. After five turns have passed, the hamster has been stolen, Claire got a moderate wound and she left her blood on the floor (so they will know she was here), hamster has been stolen and the stealing winner is Claire. Claire is escaping with the hamster, but Damien is in pursuit. Another escalation starts.

If they did not get 30 points total, they would have to disengage and hamster would not get stolen – either the museum guards would enter or they would have to pay some attention points to prolong the scene. The thing is, combination of several goals combined with time limits and possible environmental opposition makes it slightly more interesting. Do I make sure I am not attacked by an opponent? Do I disabled the environmental effect? What do I focus on?

Definitely this sounds more interesting than a Shield, even if still not perfect.

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