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Mephisto Characters/Strange Eons Abilities Template - Opinions for small tweaks wanted


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#1 talismanisland

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 01:11 AM

As my projects seem to take an age with pondering, tweaking, repondering, retweaking, mulling over, scrapping and starting again, I figured I would solicit some opinion about a couple of issues I have.

I have revised the template that I intend to add to Strange Eons for adjusting/translating Special Abilities, or Endings or other uses and have hit a small problem with design when applied to the Mephisto Characters.

Although the characters from Mephisto magazine may not have been the most balanced or well-suited to the Revised 4th Edition, I still think they have a valid part to play in the game and, as I have said previously, I would prefer for them to be used more or less as intended. Any adjustments that change them into something else, should be avoided in my opinion and should be reserved for "new" characters rather than being rehashes.

That said, there is possibly one exception that you will see below. So, enough rambling, here is the problem…

Most of the cards, like the Apprentice Mage above work out fine, with the artwork and title on the back, and abilities and starting information on the front. The font can go to "full size" and is nice and legible.

One of the cards, featuring artwork and title on the back, and the special abilities and starting information on the front. Most of the cards work out pretty well, but four of them are a bit "wordy" and one is just a bit… strange.

The Gambler - this and the next three cards look okay, but the highlighted abilities could use a rewrite to save a line or two and enable the use of larger fonts. I would prefer them to be in line with the intentions for the characters.

Courtesan

Illusionist

Exorcist

The troublesome one - The Devil's Minion! As you can see, it requires the use of a very small font to get all of this one the card, and although I undertand all of the entries here, I would like to possibly remove some of them that do not really offer much to the character.

Ability 1 is fine, as is Ability 2.

Ability 3 is of rather limited appeal as it only effects 3 of around 1000 cards. I realise it is probably only intended for when the base game is in use, so think this should stay.

Ability 4 is quite thematic, but I am not sure of the Cursed Glade connection as that space is not inherently evil.

Again, Ability 5 is thematic, but a bit pointless. It harks back to the list of undesirables in the City expansion and expands upon it, but effectively limits use of these spaces to "miss a turn", which is a rather dreary outcome.

Ability 6 is fine, though probably best served if it is used to affect all Weapons and Armour in battle, leaving him free for all sorts of mayhem in Psychic Combat.

As always, thoughts are most welcome!


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#2 JCHendee

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 05:30 AM

Part of the problems I see here are overly wordy translations. This happens when translation is done by any of us who are not fully fluent in both the origina nd desitination language. We tend to lean on literal and formal translations in not knowing the alternative phrasing / syntax necessary to achieve a more concise wording for the same meaning.  Another problem is as stated: poorly designed and glitchy character mechanics -- I've been guilt of that myself at times.

For example:

Global edits:

  • The term "whenever" is colloquial; it should be replaced throughout all cards with "when.
  • Avoid conditional adjectives and adverbs where the noun or verb includes/implies/infers the condition.
  • Avoid final commas for inline catalog/list; while proper, they are not truly necessary, and their exclusion is now grammatically acceptable.
  • Where possible use complete "if/then" clauses, though this may add an extra word; it is now grammatically acceptable to drop "then," but in certain cases its inclusion adds needed clarity.


Devils Minion

"When you attack another character, you may choose to make the attack [by/through/via/in] psychic combat. You may not do this when you are attacked by another character." [24 words / 161 - 165 characters]

  • PROBLEM: An attack is an attack; the choice between Battle and Psychic combat is a choice of mode; repeating mention of attack is unnecessary, and this correction also eliminates needed use of the missing preposition. The character is assumed to have made the choice to attack, so mentioning attack again in the subsequent clause is unnecessary.  The use of "another" is unnecessary, as the character is (almost) never going to attack itself.
  • SOLUTION: "When you attack a character, you may choose psychic combat. You may not do [so/this] when you are attacked by a character." [21 words / 117-119 characters]

"Whenever you are about to encounter a Spirit, you may choose to have it attack another character in your Region instead of encountering the Spirit yourself. Move the Spirit to the character's space, and the character must immediately resolve the encounter." [41 words / 255 characters]

  • PROBLEM: [?!]
  • SOLUTION: "When you encounter a Spirit [on a space], you may instead move it to the space of another character in your Region. That character immediately encounters the Spirit." [28 words / 155-163 characters]
  • NOTE: Allowing the D.M. to do this with a Spirit it has just drawn is overgunned, hence the optional clause in brackets if you agree.
  • NOTE: By visual check, the margins on this ability are set too tight vs. those of other paragraphs.

"Whenever any of the following cards are drawn, you may immediately encounter them (even if the card is drawn by another character): Devil, Mephistopheles, and Phantom" [26 words / 166 characters]

  • PROBLEM: Why mention both the D.M and other characters in context, since if the D.M. draws such a card it would encounter that card anyways?
  • SOLUTION: "When another character draws Mephistopheles, Devil, or Phantom, you may immediately encounter that card as well." [16 words / 112 characters]

"Whenever you land on the Graveyard or the Cursed Glade, you may choose not to encounter the space and heal 1 Life, gain 1 Spell, or teleport to any other space in the same Region instead." [36 words / 187 characters]

  • SOLUTION: "When you land on the Graveyard or Cursed Glade, you may choose not to encounter the space and instead heal 1 Life, gain 1 Spell or teleport to another space in the same Region." [34 words / 176 characters]

"You may not voluntarily choose to land on the City, Tavern, Village, or Castle. If your are forced to visit one of these spaces, you may not use any of its options." [32 words / 164 characters]

  • PROBLEM: "Choose" already implies "voluntary"; "if/then" clause is incomplete (optional); repetitious conditional reiteration.
  • SOLUTION: "You may not choose to land on the City, Tavern, Village or Castle. If your are forced to do [so/this], then you may not use any options there." [27 words / 138-140 characters]

"You may use any Weapon in Battle except for the Runesword. You may not use any Armour." [17 words / 86 characters]

  • SOLUTION: "You may not use the Runesword or any Armour in Battle." [11 words / 52 characters]

 

That's all I have time for right now, and some of these changes can be reasoned out for other cards. I'll drop by again tomorrow, and if you like, do copyediting for other cards.  Some of the stuff in here has come about by committee approach to developing these translations… and produced a lot of unnecessary bloat.



#3 Nemomon

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 05:51 AM

Indeed, some of the Characters from Mephisto are not well created. I would have some suggestions to what to remove, and what to keep.

===

Soldier of Fortune

I think that You have removed his most important ability. The ability to force Enemies and characters to reroll their attack roll in battle. I would remove his "taking a risk" ability, and bring "reroll" ability back. This is why he has a huge amount of fate and abilities to get more fate. To have possibility to spend them against other Characters. I also would add that enemy Character may not pay a fate to reroll his attack roll.

===

Courtesan

I have heard somewhere that Gods like women. Therefore I would give her an ability that whenever she encounters a Stranger she may choose what Alignment she is.

===

Illusionist

As of now her second ability is completely useless. She can use it only when she attacks. With Objects and Followers she's much stronger and has much less chances of losing, therefore why to create a simulacrum that can't use Objects and Followers? I think she should be able to create simulacrum that is a copy of her and her Followers and Objects.

For her second ability… I would change it that whenever she is going to lose an Object (for whatever reason, including losing a fight) she may roll 1 die, and if the result is 1-3 she loses that Object as normal.

===

Exorcist

I would keep his fourth ability but remove that part where it says that he gains no reward. He should gain a reward.

For the fifth ability… I would change it a bit to make it a global ability. Whenever any character draws an Object that can't be held by a Good character, you may immediately move to his space and destroy that Object. You may gain 1 Spell if your Craft allows. Character may not draw another card to replace destroyed Object.

====

Satan

Cursed Glade is cursed. Therefore it is evil. Therefore it fits Satan. I would not touch this ability.

I would remove the ability about three cards out of 1000.

As well as an ability that he may not use a Weapon. Artwork of him tells us that he is a strong guy with a weapon in hands.

Finally also an ability that he may not enter City, Village &c. If he will draw a Warlock Quest that he must visit a Mystic, he will never be able to complete it.

I also would double the Craft of each Spirit that he sends against another character. Without this there is no reason to send Spirits because mostly they are weak. And also I would also add a note that whenever a character defeats a sent Spirit, he may not take it as a trophy (but Satan can).


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#4 Nemomon

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 05:57 AM

JCHendee said:

"You may use any Weapon in Battle except for the Runesword. You may not use any Armour." [17 words / 86 characters]

  • SOLUTION: "You may not use the Runesword or any Armour in Battle." [11 words / 52 characters]

 

That's all I have time for right now, and some of these changes can be reasoned out for other cards. I'll drop by again tomorrow, and if you like, do copyediting for other cards.  Some of the stuff in here has come about by committee approach to developing these translations… and produced a lot of unnecessary bloat.

You have made a mistake here, JC. The ability is: "You may NOT use any Weapon", therefore I would change this to:

"You may use only the Runesword, but not any other Weapon or Armour in Battle."


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#5 JCHendee

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 06:00 AM

Oops! Good catch Nemomon. This is part of why I put all of this in here instead of sending it directly to Jon.  I'm always in a rush in my busy days, and I probably read / write some 10,000 to 20,000 words in a day for various projects and pursuits.  I get blurry eyed too easily and start skimming.

As to the other edits, I think Jon has already stated that the core cards he is creating need to stick heavily to the original Mephisto intent. Possibly he may have an SE plugin in mind for the future that would allow people to make custom changes.  But for now, Jon's intention for card content and concision should be addressed first and by itself. After all is set in that, and cleaned up (including my goofs), there will be less chance of compound copy errors in changing anything else.

But of course, even this is up to Jon.



#6 JCHendee

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 07:16 AM

Had a few more minutes before heading off to a meeting, so here is another copyedit suggestion, this time without all of the notes. Brackets indicate optional additional content.

Illusionist

You begin the game with 1 Spell.

When you attack a character, you may choose psychic combat. You may not do [so/this] when you are attack by a character.

When you defeat a Spirit [in combat], you may gain 1 Spell

NOTE: The phrase "if your Craft allows" has become common only because of rules lawyers (benders) or those who are already not following the standard rule of Spell limit. It really is an unnecessary clause.

You may destroy {italics needed} a Spirit you encounter. If so, you do not gain its trophy or a Spell.

You may take Objects that cannot be possessed by Good characters. You must immediately destroy (discard) them, and you gain 1 Spell.

Courtesan

You begin the game with 1 Spell.

You may create a Similacrum to attack a character or creature in your place. The Similacrum has your Strength and Craft but may not use Objects, Followers or Spells. If it defeats a character, you may take a gold or Object but not a Life; you may not take defeated Enemies as trophies. If the Similacrum is defeated, your turn immediately ends.

When you encounter an Adventure card that mentions Alignment, you may attempt to obscure your Alignment by illusion. Roll 1 die.
1-3) No effect.
4-6) You may choose any Alignment for encountering the card, but your current Alignment does not change.



#7 talismanisland

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 07:18 AM

Thanks for that work JC. I appreciate the time you have taken, and hope that people can see a little of what goes into the process of "design". It's not just about cool abilities, and fancy artwork. Sometimes the wording of an effect can be the result of the amount of space on a card!

Using most of your wording (the Psychic Combat ability is already common in cards, so have left it be) I have been able to increase the size of the font used considerably. You will see that I moved a couple of words around, and this enabled me to utilise a bit more space without changing the meaning.

I was left with a dilemma regarding the final "ability" though, and have taken the decision to amend it slightly so that it flows a little more nicely, and to fit on two lines.

He will likely end up as a Craft powerhouse anyway, so it will be good to give him a bit of a handicap in Battle.

I think that's probably all that can be done with him without removing abilities, as if the font is increased any more there are two paragraphs that will spill over onto additional lines, which will defeat the object of the exercise. I actually reduced the font width of those to 98%, but I think they are okay.

I hope this looks okay, and look forward to seeing any suggestions you might have for the other wordy cards. I have not bothered with the ones that can use a standard font size, but they could be looked over at the end of the process.


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#8 talismanisland

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 08:12 AM

And here are the amended Exorcist and Illusionist (the titles are underneath the cards they refer to!)

I have paraphrased where necessary for the layout, but they look pretty good to me!

I realise some of these wordings may not be quite what FFG uses (though that is hardly set in stone, even officially) but I think they convey the intended feeling for the cards.


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#9 talismanisland

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 10:54 AM

Here's the friendly Courtesan character. I realised after rewording the larger abilities, that I had left out a break between abilities one and two! Just shows what you miss after staring at projects for long periods…

Not that I was staring at her illustration you understand!


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#10 JCHendee

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 11:31 AM

Looking good, Jon. And overall these read better. Separation of the Courtesans two "seduce" effects is especially necessary so no player thinks both can be done in one encounter.  I might amend her "betwich" to…

You may try to bewitch a Stranger from whom you buy Spells, Objects, or Followers. Roll 1 die:

1-4) No effect.
5-6) You gain what you bought for free.

NOTE: It's a little clearer vs. the next ability in that it affects only the purchase of goods and not services (healing, etc.)

You many try to impress a Stranger who offers services based on Alignment. Roll 1 die:

1) You are treated as having an unfavorable Alignment.
2-4) No effect.
5-6) You are treated as having a favorable Alignment.

NOTE: A little typo in you number ranges.

You might still go through and change some of those "whenevers".



#11 talismanisland

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 11:37 AM

Thanks JC! The abilities were separated in the files I have, but when I moved them onto this new template it must have got messed up. The joys of tinkering!

And here's an updated Gambler. One thing I did notice was that on the original Mephisto card, there is an ability that did not make it onto the English language files.

The gist of it is that "if you can roll a die at any time, then you must", which is kind of apt for an addicted gambler. I think it would likely turn a may into a must as far as those go. I haven't put it in, as it will add more to the card and I haven't been able to get the font up to the normal size as it is. I suppose it could go in, and probably be another exception like the Devil's Minion though…

Oh, and I took the liberty of allowing him to exchange trophies when he wants, but if I am adding another ability I might just change it to the end of his turn.


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#12 JCHendee

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 11:58 AM

There's a little problem with the gamblers "risk" ability.  The concept of score could produce some arguments. It is possible to roll "even" and yet get an "odd" SCORE. Better to have it purely based on the die's solo result. Also, verb use violates time sequence referencing. Better to use something like the following:

You may declare to take a risk before you make a 1 die roll. If the die roll is even, you may add 1 to your total score; If the die roll is odd, you must subtract 1 from your total score (to a min. of 1).

NOTE: I know this is more wordy, but it might be necessary.  I know that "roll a die" is understood by most as "roll 1 die", but better in this case to be explicit rather than have someone argue about a results roll at the temple… or combine it with some option to roll two dice in combat and choose, or… etc. And you know it will come up sooner or later. This way, it explicitly eliminates all rolls involving two dice together, or two dice and choose one.

Also, another action-to-result time event sequence change.

When you land on a character, you may tempt fate. You and the other character each roll a die and add Craft. If your score is higher or equal, [then] gain 1 Fate; otherwise, you must lose 1 Fate or Life.



#13 talismanisland

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 12:27 PM

Okay, a lightning edit after posting and seeing your update!

I've made your suggested edits, with a few adjustments for space and flow. I've also added the original die roll requirement that was missing, but I suspect it will get ignored by most groups.

Here is the updated Courtesan. I have kind of met you half way with the suggestions, but the gist is still the same. You will notice that I have specified Goods and Services, which should set them apart.

…and so to bed!


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#14 JCHendee

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 02:17 AM

All seems good, Jon, and of course my posts are just suggestions. You do (or not) with them as you please.  Haven't got time to nose around the others right now.



#15 talismanisland

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 08:15 AM

Your input has been most helpful, as I have had these cards for a dog's age and yet douldn't really think of a way to reduce the bulk of them to make them a reasonable size. I will mock up the rest of them for people to see this evening.

Though the others do not required any work to reduce the text to fit as they are all fine, perhaps some of the wordings might need a little attention. As I say, not a priority as they fit nicely enough! 

Here were are! I figured the easiest way was to stick them up larger, but linked through smaller images. Click through to see them…

Let me know what you think :)


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#16 JCHendee

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 03:56 PM

Sorry I haven't been around for a couple of days.  Overall, these look good. I only see one, after a cursory read, that needs a touch. I'm only including abilities with some suggested changes. Missing abilities are not my suggestion that they be deleted.

Schwarze Heye

You may roll two dice for movement and then use one or both for how far you move.

If another character casts a spell at you [not your current space], you may attempt to counterspell that spell. Roll 1 die.
1-3 The Spell has affects you.
4-6 The Spell has no affect.

NOTE: I suggest the addition in italics; a space on the board can be interpreted as a large area or even the representation of multiple versions of that land type. Seems ridiculous that this character could counterspell something like Hex place on the space, which is not being cast at this character.



#17 JCHendee

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 01:45 AM

Yikes… I just took a look at my grammar and spelling again the next morning. Needless to say I meant "The spell affects you"

 

 



#18 talismanisland

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 11:11 AM

Thanks again for the input JC.

I have amended the Black Witch slightly as per your suggestion, using wording from the Amazon, and a little jiggle with the counterspell ability, though I think being "cast on you" should (that's SHOULD) be clear enough.

Crikey, it looks like I might actually have to get around to actually releasing these into the wild!


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#19 JCHendee

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 02:14 AM

It's all looking good… and yeah, it might be time.



#20 talismanisland

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 01:38 PM

One final tweak.

Added a Mephisto watermark to the card "back" so that it matches the card it is overlaying.

Only for the release of these though, as when/if this gets put into SE, it will not be required.


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