Saturday, November 7, 2015

Mechanics Talk: Augments and Why They're Cool

Hey, y'all, are you ready to hear about Augments?!

(I know you are because people wrote in to ask about them.)

So, a while ago when we were talking about things that are still being worked on, we mentioned Augments, and you folks have probably been seeing Augments in the Talent and Sphere trees as well. Augments look like this on the trees:


What that swirly magical icon is trying to communicate is that Augments are about changing things and making them fancier and better. While getting new powers is lots of fun, sometimes we want Heroes to also get the option to instead improve the powers they already have. Augments are a way of specializing even further into a Hero's favorite powers, the same way that purchasing different Talents and Aspects allows them to specialize into their favorite skills.

Augments always refer to a specific Blessing, and they always alter it in some way so that it becomes cooler. A given Augment might make a Blessing affect different or more targets, last longer, have an extra capability, increase its range, change its cost, or anything else that is appropriate to that specific power. For example, a Divine-level Streetwise Blessing allows Heroes to reshape a city's local structure to fit their whims, allowing them to briefly change what streets go where and how humanmade buildings and landmarks are shaped and connected; this Blessing only allows the Hero to temporarily bend a city's design to their will, but an Augment exists that allows them to make such changes permanent, twisting cityscapes into new fantastic features. Obviously, the original power was already cool, but with the Augment, it's even cooler - which is what Augments are supposed to do!

Augments are always optional - they're intentionally put off the beaten path of the Talent and Sphere trees, so that only players who are looking to get them pick them up, and players who don't care about them or don't have the Blessings they refer to can easily pass them by to progress onward to other stuff. Not every Blessing has an Augment that affects it, either, since some powers are more easily self-contained or don't have a good avenue for an Augment to buff up.

From our perspective as designers, Augments are really neat because they allow us to do some more fine-tuned balancing stuff. If we really want to have a power that does certain things, but it would be overpowered if it included all the possible ways it's used in myth and legend, we can pare it down to just the most core "essentials" and use Augments to provide the option for the rest. We can also include things that are sort of niche powers that appear in a few myths but aren't the more "mainstream" use of that sort of power; that way, everyone can pick up the mainstream version, and those who have an interest in the specialty version can go out and find it.

It's also a nice way to allow a little more variation between different Heroes who might have the same Talents or Blessings. Of course, different Heroes already have a lot of room to distinguish themselves from one another even if they have the same Talents or Spheres, thanks to choosing different nodes in the Web or Sphere trees, but Augments add another layer of specialty where even Heroes with the same powers may not use them exactly the same way.

Obviously Augments are the last thing that are going to be finished for HJ, since all the Blessings have to be 1000% done first before we can be sure that they balance and connect properly with all the Blessings. We haven't mentioned them too much for that reason, since we wouldn't be able to show many off, but in addition to making notes on Blessings that we know will have Augments in the future, we're getting close to being able to finally attach these suckers.

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