Monday, May 30, 2011

In Which The Warlock Continues to Muse on Skills...

I wanted to continue the discussion on skills/powers use into this week's entry, as I find myself looking at something very old, to come up with something very new.

Play this game!  Why aren't you playing it yet?!
You see, friends and neighbors, I've been playing Chrono Trigger again.  Now that it's out on the Wii Virtual Console, and the school year's been winding down, I've actually found some time to sit down and enjoy one of the true classics of console RPGs.  What?  You haven't played this yet?  Seriously, if that's the case, shut down the browser, go buy a PS1/DS/Wii and play this game--you owe that much to yourself.

One of the neatest things about Chrono Trigger was its Tech/Combo system.  While each character had a list of 9 or 10 skills they could access--ranging from magic or physical attacks, to healing and buff skills, to more situational skills--these skills could be combined for greater, more powerful effect.

Case in point:  Crono, the main character, gets a basic sword attack called SpinCut.  By itself, it typically deals twice as much as a normal attack, with a better chance of landing.  However, when combined with Lucca's Fire attack, you could access FireSword:  Lucca lights Crono's sword aflame before he strikes, dealing a signficantly larger amount of damage than either SpinCut or Fire alone.  In order to do so, you needed only have Crono and Lucca act together, rather than separately, and ensure that you had enough magic points to fuel both Techs.

These Double and even Triple Techs ran through all 7 major characters, ranging from the lowly, yet effective X-Strike (Crono and Frog, available at level 7 or so), all the way up to the mighty Triple Raid (Crono, Frog, and Robo, available around level 25ish).  The more powerful the individual techs, the more impressive the overall result. 

In all of my years of gaming, I've never managed to come across a single system that allowed for the combining of abilities like Chrono Trigger.  Admittedly, the bounds of player imagination are difficult to balance, but a good GM can self-balance by apply continual threat.  After all, how can Marle manage to pull off IceSword 2 with Crono, if she's busy casting Haste and Cure 2?  A Double or Triple Tech is meant to be a spectacular attack, unleashed at pivotal points.  Perhaps limit it through Action Point usage, or though a Power Point system similar to the psionics rules?

While this would take a ton of work, in some regards, allowing players to come up with their own Techs and Combos between Encounter and Daily powers would allow for some really neat buy-in from players and some intreguing creative results.  After all, who wouldn't want to perform the classic "Fastball Special" made famous by Wolverine and Colossus?

The "Fastball Special"
Okay, truth in blogging:  I did have some players try this once.  In a near-epic level mini-campaign I ran, the players fought an evil druid creature in the roots of Yggdrasil.  The infamous Nick, playing a necromancer, raised one of the druid's henchmen--a dire wolverine--from the dead, while EEE's artificer instructed his contruct minion to pick it up and throw it at the druid.  Who knew, friends and neighbors, that an undead dire wolverine weighed as much as a VW bug?!

Again, it's not likely to see this sort of thing come into play any time soon, but a gamer can dream, can't he?


  1. If you build it, they will come. Talk to your players, and if they can come up with cool combo powers, let them make it happen! Charge them an encounter power for it, perhaps, but let it be a game-changer when they can pull it off. Cool idea, btw! Love it!

  2. I'd love to build something like this, but right now I'm up to my eyeballs on a pile of other projects. Maybe the fall, once things free up a little more...

    Thanks for the comment!