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Invisible Sun Design Diary 1: Stats - Monte Cook Games
Although Invisible Sun has been in the works for a long time, only now am I actually putting words to paper (so to speak) and that always changes things, at least a little. Plus, there were still a fair number of unanswered questions that I’m now answering. So I figured that I’d work on a design diary as I work on the game. The first thing I should probably talk about is one of the bigger differences this game has from other RPGs, and that’s the “big box game” mentality. As you likely know, Invisible Sun comes in a big box full of components. The design of the game is centered around taking advantage of this strength whenever possible. So, for example, just this weekend I made a major change that reduces the math and bookkeeping required by players dramatically by instituting a new kind of token to manage stats. Just like how, in a board game like Pandemic for example, you don’t keep track of the moving outbreaks by taking notes on paper and adding or subtracting numbers, you don’t have to do that when managing your stats in Invisible Sun either. If you’re familiar with the Cypher System, you’re familiar with using your stats as resources that you manage throughout the game, spending points to activate abilities or to modify task difficulty, and then resting to restore those pools. Invisible Sun uses this same broad concept, but the details are very different. And in case you followed the Kickstarter updates closely, you’ll see that the game has already evolved past how things were described there in minor ways. There are three stats in Invisible Sun. The first two are Certes, measuring everything physical and tangible about the character, and Qualia, measuring everything mental and intangible about a character. The third is Hidden Knowledge, and it works very differently than the other two so let’s just talk about Certes and Qualia for now. Certes and Qualia are subdivided into refined categories. For Certes, it’s movement, combat, and physicality. For Qualia, it’s interaction, knowledge, sorcery, and sortilege. Basically, these are the types of actions you can take in the game. At character creation, you end up with totals for your Certes and Qualia scores, and you take those numbers and divide them into the aforementioned categories. (This process is referred to as taking your core stat and refining it.) Let’s say you have an 11 Certes score, so you put 5 points into movement, 3 points into combat, and 3 into physicality. Your character is probably fast and graceful, and only moderately good at fighting and withstanding damage. So you put 5 counters in your movement pool and 3 in the other two. Now, any time you take a movement-related action, you can spend a point out of that pool and get a bonus to that action (skills and circumstances play into this too, but let’s not get down into those weeds at this point). You remove a counter from your pool of 5 so you have 4 left. A few times each day you can take a break and refresh your pool and get the counters you spent back. No math or erasing numbers on your sheet. What’s more, let’s say you get a spell cast on you that makes you more graceful. It adds, perhaps 3 more counters to your movement pool to spend as you wish. No tracking spell duration or having to remember if you’ve used up the spell effect or not. It’s just all right there with tokens in the pool. But then you get …
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