Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Stupifying Skills! (Tales of Hogwarts 4)

Last week I continued my look at using the awesome Tales from the Loop roleplaying game as a base for the rules for a Harry Potter RPG, taking a closer look at how the Attributes worked in Tales from the Loop, as well as other games that use the same incredibly simple system (Mutant: Year Zero, and Coriolis).

The Hogwarts Crest - Designed by
MinaLima (c) WBEI
After some deliberation, I concluded that the four Attributes to be used in a Harry Potter version of Tales from the Loop should reflect the qualities of the four Houses at Hogwarts -

Brave, Cunning, Loyal and Wise.

I also decided to untether the Attributes from the Skills. That way, you free up the player to not only behave more like their House, but also to come up with imaginative ways of doing things.

It also means that you can work with the same low number of Skills and have them do multiple things.

Now we've brought up the topic of Skills, lets look at how they can work in the game.


As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the first thing I did was look at the existing games with the same engine at its heart, comparing the fantastic Tales from the Loop with its sibling games, Mutant: Year Zero and Coriolis.

I was surprised to see that Coriolis broke the trend of having three Skills that tied to each Attribute (and expanded the list of Skills to 16). Even though I decided to break the ties between the Attributes and Skills, I really liked the idea of keeping to the simple list of 12.

As the Attributes have moved away from being Physical, Mental, Tech, etc. I couldn't have Skills that related to Brave or Loyal, but at their heart there were some similarities. I figured, like Tales from the Loop, to have a Physical batch, a Mental, and a Social batch of Skills. Tales from the Loop also has a group of three Skills that relate to Tech (Tinker, Program and Calculate) but as Tech is as far from Harry Potter as you can get, that leaves a batch of Skills to dedicate to Magic...

So, this is the way I'm currently thinking for Skills:

Force - This is basically the same as Tales from the Loop. It comes into play when you're lifting something, fighting physically (punching Draco on the nose, swinging the sword at the Basilisk, etc) or enduring strain, pain, fatigue, etc.

Move - Again, this is like Tales from the Loop and is used when you're physically moving about, climbing, running fast, balancing... anything that requires dexterity. Combined with Cunning it acts as Sneak as well.

Travel - This is a new one. This is for other modes of transport or moving, usually magical. Travel is used when you're flying a broom, apparating, using the floo network, riding a magical creature, as well as driving a car (enchanted or not), riding a bike, or even if a roll is needed with a portkey.

Investigate - This is similar to Tales from the Loop and is all about looking for clues, as well as researching and hitting the books in the Library.

Comprehend - Again, similar to the Tales from the Loop skill, it's about knowing the right thing and putting the clues together, or knowing where to look for something. It's also vital for understanding your studies at Hogwarts so you don't fail your classes.

Supplementary Magic - This Skill covers the studies that aren't done simply with the wave of a wand. This covers your studies in Potions, Herbology, Divination, History of Magic, Astronomy, etc. It's magic, but more academic and no less important. (Still pondering the name for this Skill)

Convince - This is like the Charm Skill in Tales from the Loop (but obviously we can't use Charm as a name for it) combined with Lead. It is used to charm someone, lie to them, convince them that they can do it, lead them as a group, or manipulate someone.

Friends - Like the Contact Skill in Tales from the Loop only with added effects. You can use Friends when you need to know the right person, or know who can help with a certain problem, but you can also use the skill when cheering someone on, or making new friends.

Empathy - is all about understanding what other people are thinking or feeling, helping when they are sad, scared or confused. Empathy is also a vital Skill for your Care of Magical Creatures class, knowing how to react and understand what the creature is thinking or feeling.

This leaves three Skills for magic use. Breaking down all of the magic in Harry Potter to three simple categories isn't easy, but hopefully it'll make sense...

Charms - Charms are all of the spells that give the target new properties, whether that is light, levitation, fixing something, unlocking something, etc. For example: Accio, Alohomora, Lumos, Silencio, Wingardium Leviosa.

Transfiguration - Transfiguration classes are about changing the properties of a target, including switching, conjuring or vanishing. For example, Engorgio, Aguamenti, Incendio, Serpensortia, Reparifarge.

D.A.D.A. (Defence Against the Dark Arts) - while the class is about defending yourself against the dark arts and dark creatures, D.A.D.A. as a Skill also covers all forms of hexes, jinxes and curses, as well as defending yourself against them. For example, Expecto Patronum, Expelliarmus, Flipendo, Levicorpus, Protego, Rictumsempra, Stupify.

Why have I split the magic like this?

Well, it's to avoid a "God Skill". If all magic use was one Skill, at character creation you'd put all of your points in it and it would quickly become the most used Skill-check in the game. Splitting it into three (hopefully logical) categories spreads it about a bit and produces some wizards and witches who are good at Charms, but not necessarily great in a duel, and so on.

I started a basic list of which spell works with which Skill, though it should be down to the GM to determine any disputes or make any decisions depending upon the situation. I'll look at magic in more detail next blog post, but hopefully it should make sense.

So that means that the Attributes / Skills section of the character sheet should look a bit like this so far...

It's a work in progress, and the rest of the character sheet will develop as these blog posts continue... Fill in the Attributes in the Hogwarts Crest, and the rest is as normal.

Next post I'll address magic, and continue building the Harry Potter RPG/Tales from the Loop hack!

No comments: