Friday, October 31, 2008

Rex Does Kongai: Rocker Flavor – Updated

I've covered most of the Rock Star flavor before. What I left out, though, was the flavor for the group as a whole. Each group, after all, gets its own backstroy and its own blurb in the card album and since I'm trying to build a complete set, I'd be remiss if I excluded that as well.

The story and such should be self-explanatory, I'd think.

For a stage, like in a fighting game where each character gets their own stage, in Kongai, each group has its own backdrop against which to fight. The game rotates them around and I've never been able to figure out much rhyme or reason beyond, perhaps, the guest getting priority. But they're the pretty stuff in the background that you don't pay much attention to and far from the most important bit, they're still a part of the grand design. I'd like it if they were animated or a bit more active but I know that would increase an already long loading time as well as creating more expensive work so, instead, I'll just settle for using them to create an atmosphere, a theme that influences the whole set.

Each group also has an icon to go along with its colored border. It's a stylized little symbol that shows up in a few places. It, too, I think could be exploited a bit more. If it was up to me, I'd be using them to brand these characters just that little bit more. But, again, since every group gets one, you'll find the Rocker's below.


Icon: Icon: An electric guitar in front of a five-pointed star.

Art Style:
House. The Rockers should follow the already established visual cues of Kongai characters – a little comic book, a little anime, and very dynamic with active poses and design.

Center stage of a huge stadium. The place is set up for a rock concert. Instruments and microphone stands are set to one side. Cables and wires snake across the floor, held in place by thick gaffing tape. The unseen stagehands are warming up and the stage is ringed by circles of blazing lights as the floods have been turned on. Arrays of stagelights overhead coat the stage in varying hues as they flicker on and off. Past the stage, beyond the lights, are the seats, stretching on and on, as vast and as waiting as an empty sea.

Drawing on the legends of the past, the Necromancers summoned many ghosts to help further their plans. Among them were an all-star group of rockers and rollers, musicians from which the Necromantic Guild hoped to capture the ellusive spirit of rock – a mystic force of light and music and song that they sought to tame as part of their mastery over all the forces of life. Captured and tormented by the Guild's merciless experimentation, the ghosts of Rockers past were helpless to stop them. But, try as them might, the Necromancers could not isolate the mysterious essence of rock music, could not even find it at all, and, so, they locked the Rockers away, imprisoning their ghosts in cages specially designed to hold their spectral forms. Then, one day, a young man with a blazing guitar broke showed them the true power of rock. Tearing down the walls of their crypt and, with the notes of his song still hanging in the air, shattered the prisons holding those ghosts. The music flowed into them, the sound coursed through those shades of the past, and by the time the song was over, the Rockers had been returned to life. They banded together, then and there, and dedicated themselves to using the power of their music to combat dark forces anywhere.

Rex Does Kongai: Gangster Flavor

Presented almost without comment since, you know, I've got two more of these to do and others besides. I will say, though, that I like the unexpected love triangle I set up between G1, 2, and 6.


Icon: A handgun and a handful of shells.

Art Style: Rough and sketchy. The Gangsters are a rough-hewn group of rugged individuals, street level soldiers who survive thanks to their wits as much as their armaments. Their art should reflect this, I feel, and the way I'd do that is by finding an artist who can create a very edgy, energetic feel. Large, bold line work and fast, jagged pens. The Gangster should look like photographs that have been painted over – like a Sienkieicz cover, full of passionate brush work and thick, heavy flat panes of paint. It's that sense of movement, of barely constrained reality threatening to break free of its chains that I'd like to see. But, as for the Gangsters themselves, they're inspired more by the heyday of mobsters and bootlegging more than any thugs from the modern day. They're a romanticized, glamorous vision of times gone by.

Stage: It's night in a seedy back alley, bathed in faint neon light and still glistening with the slick of a light, summer rain. The walls are a faded red brick, covered with worn graffitti. The alley is just outside a bar. A door is open and warm, welcoming light spills out and onto the wall beyond, an invitation to the drinks and eats inside that's more effective than its neon signs will ever be. The mouth of the alley can be seen and a lonely streetlamp burning away.

Story: The Boss, Don Vampinsiaro had run the Family or years. Leading them through crisis and to great success as they came to control the underworld. Amassing riches and priceless treasures as a matter of course as, one by one, his enemies fell by the wayside. As he grew into the twilight of his years, there wasn't any racket that the Family didn't have their fingers in. Wasn't any scheme made in the dark and carried out in the shadows that he wasn't aware of. Maybe he'd heard some early warning. Maybe he was one of the first victims. But in the Family's darkest hour he was nowhere to be found. The Boss wasn't there to lead the Family as evil Necromancers began to rise the dead from the graves. Or as the psychopathic killers began to prowl the street and claim their victims in seemingly random acts of senseless brutality. Or even as a group of rock musicians began busting up the Family's lairs and stronghouses, one by one. Without his leadership, the Family fell to pieces as his subordinates fought amongst themselves over the best way to handle the chaos that had suddenly broken out. Before long, it was every man for himself. The surviving members of the family grabbed whatever weapons they could and prepared to go the mats for their toughest fight yet.


Appearance: The obvious inspiration here is Al Pacino. Specifically, Scarface. Because that's exactly the sort of gangster that we're talking about and I'd like to have the card be a subtle hommage to that. He's dressed in an old fashioned suit, something from a vintage 70s store (I'm thinking a dark, rich burgundy), with big, flashy cufflinks and a tiepin. And wide, wide collars. In one hand he's got a machine gun. In the other a switchblade. He's snapped the knife open with a flick of his wrist. And he's balancing the gun on his hip as it wave in the air. He's screaming, yelling at his opponent, the spittle and froth jumping from his lips as he shouts his defiance at them. He's saying “You want me? Come and get me! You wanna play rough? Okay!” Well, you know the rest.

Backstory: Carlos never had anything easy. From his days as a scrawny kid, the runt of his mother's litter of far too many kids, nothing was ever handed to him. He had to fight for it. He grew up, fighting and scrapping for everything that ever came his way. He earned his place in the family by clawing his way up the ladder, one bloody rung at a time. They called him Sunshine because he never smiled, he never laughed, and his solemn, scary face was anything but bright. Finally arriving at the top as the right hand man of the Boss, he became his closest advisor and trusted like a son. When the Boss disappeared and all hell broke loose, Carlos was left in charge. Surrounded by enemies on all sides, there was nothing left to do but fight his way out. So, it's a good thing that this wartime consigliere had been practicing his whole life.


Appearance: The visual inspiration here is another famous gangster, James Gandolfini. A rolly, polly large and muscular man who's a little past his prime. I see him bare-armed, in a white wife-beater T-shirt, stained with perspiration and the occasional spatter of blood, his pants held up by suspenders. He's balding but large mutton chops stretch down his cheeks and over his jowls (He's one of those rare red-headed Italians, by the way, or at least a strawberry blond.). His nose is round and flattened, having been broken many times before. This guy is an ex-boxer and although he's now got a sizable gut he's still got the same puncher's build. He's a tall guy and muscular, his arms the size of another man's thighs. His knuckles bruised and swollen, like he's been punching a tray of broken glass. He stands, his legs spread wide, in a boxing stance, his arms raised and ready to pummel his foe.

Backstory: At the gym, they called him the Ox. He asked if it was because he was so big and strong. They laughed and said it was because the only thing slower than his wits were his punches. They called Johnny the Ox. They called him dumb. They never called him a champ. But he made good living for himself, by being the boxer who could always take a dive. He never won a fight when there was money on the line and the Family sure appreciated it and made sure it he was taken care of. When he'd taken one punch too many and it was time to hang up his gloves, the Boss welcomed into the family and gave him a job where he could put his talents to good use. Johnny wasn't much of a thinker but he knew how to fight. He knew how to hurt people. He knew how not to pay attention to the screams or the sounds of snapping bones. And, with the Family, there were always some legs that needed breaking. Someone who could do what they were told and keep their mouth shut could go pretty far. Things were going great for Johnny and then he met Ginny and they got even better. She was the bright, chirpy bird whose song filled his entire day. She cared about him, she loved him, and she listened to him. Johnny told her things that he never even knew he was thinking, the words seemed to pour out from the bottom of his heart whenever she was around. When he got the call from Carlos that the Boss was missing and everything was going up in flames, that scores were going to be settled and prices were going to be paid, the only thing on Johnny's mind was finding Ginny and making sure she was alright. He went to find her, and nothing in this world or the next was going to get in his way.


Appearance: If Gangster #1 is Tony Montana and Gangster #2 is Tony Soprano then this guy is Jimmy Conway or Andy Garcia. The sparkling eyed, suave, handsome gangster with a smile that the ladies love and the men all trust. The hustler, the confidence artist, with so much charm that he uses it to slick back his hair. And that's how he should look, a traditional gangster in a fancy, pinstriped suit and polished wingtip shoes. His hair is dark and slicked back, following the curve of his neck. A pencil thin mustache rests above his lip. A bemused smirk is curling up his lip as he looks over his opponent, reaching into his jacket and pulling out his gun.

Backstory: Vincent was the Family's main man. Inducted into their ranks, minted and made anew, he'd welcomed into their arms after years of toiling away. He'd always been a good earner for the Family. He hustled to bring in the cash while others plodded away, always leaping from one scheme to the other. His specialty was heists. As far as he was concerned, there wasn't a better thief around. He could steal the breath from a baby and leave the candy behind. He could steal the lightning from a thundercloud. He could take your wallet and slip it back into your pocket with a signed autograph. And you wouldn't even know until you pulled it out to pay him for that bottle of snakeskin oil that he'd just sold you. Bank vault or armored truck, it didn't matter, the take was as good as his. That's how good he was. There wasn't anyone faster or quicker on the take. Vinnie had all the angles covered, knew the scene and the score and had already made friends with the band. He preferred to talk his way out of a fight – why risk scuffing his shoes? But in those rare situations when his thousand-watt smile failed him his fists never had. There's no way to fast talk the living dead, though, and with the Boss vanished and the rest of the Family scattered, those fists were all he had to rely on. Vinnie had no idea what was going on or why he had to fight his way out but there was one thing he was sure of, he was going to look good doing it.


Appearance: Sully is a tall man with a lanky build although it's hard to tell since his figure is so concealed by the heavy trenchcoat he wears. If you've ever seen Godfather then the assassin sent to kill Brando in the hospital is what I'm going for here. A dark, black, full body trenchcoat. Dark leather gloves so he won't leave any fingerprints. Sully is completely bald but you wouldn't know since he's wearing a fedora. His collars are turned up, concealing most of his face. What you can see is that of a craggy, hard-bitten man who's seen and done far too much. He's stalking towards his opponent, holding a rifle in his hands and bracing himself as if against the wind.

Backstory: The Boss called Sully when he wanted something done. No mess. No problems. Just a quiet job with no complications. Sully didn't make many friends but, because he was good at his job, he didn't leave many enemies either. The Boss could count on him. The Family could count on him. Time after time, he solved life's little difficulties the way that no one else could. He'd never failed to live up to a contract yet. Never gone back on his word. When he said he'd get a job done, it got done. No questions. No problems. So when Carlos told him the Boss had gone missing and he'd said he'd get to the bottom of it, that's exactly what he was going to do. No shadowy ghouls or showy killers were going to stop him. He had a job to do. And Sully always got the job done.


Appearance: Ginny is a doll. A short, blond-haired sex pot full of moxie. An angel with a devil's glint in her eyes. She's dolled up for a night out on the town. Wearing red with a short skirt rising above her knees. On her head is a red beret, tilted to one side as he shoulder length locks pill out. A purse, a handbag, is strapped loosely over one of her shoulders, it's swinging behind her and its contents – a bunch of handgrenades and bullets – are starting to spill out. In one hand she's got a small, one-shot pistol, a tiny Derringer that she's pointing towards the sky. In the other, she's got a Tommy gun which she's bringing to bear as she pulls the trigger, leaving a trail of gunshots and bullets behind her. She's laughing, having a great time as she watches the carnage she causes.

Backstory: Ginny loved the thrill of it. The danger, the rush of excitement that came with dating a member of the Family. The looks she got when she walked down the street on Johnny's arm, the stares mixed with disapproval and disappointment. She cared for the big lug, she really did. She could listen to him talk for hours abut the details of his latest heist or about that snitch who wouldn't be bothering them any more. But it was the glamorous life of an outlaw that she was attracted to and not his punch-drunk face. When she saw Carlos, though, she was head over heels. He was wild, he was hot-blooded, and he bristled with a confident manliness that Ginny could practically breathe. They began a passionate love affair and the thought of what might happen if Johnny found out only added to the thrill. She was on her way to see Carlos again, a secret rendezvous with her paramour at one of the Family's safehouse, when all hell broke loose. The Boss had gone missing, the dead were rising from their graves, and maniacs were stalking the streets. The world had gone mad and the dangers made Ginny blush red hot at the thought. Carlos grabbed her and told her to stay inside, stay indoors, and keep the door locked. Said that he'd be right back and stepped out into a night gone wild. But Ginny wasn't about to cool her heels on the sidelines again. She filled her handbag with weapons borrowed from the armory, hefted the guns she'd grabbed and took a moment to appreciate their deadly heft, and then she set out to just what the night would bring.

The fifth Gangster, Bobby, has sadly passed away. His card buried like so many others so, since I'm under the gun here, I'm not going to bother to write him out. I will say, though, that as far as looks, he was going to be a short, shifty guy in a hat and plain clothes. For his story, he was going to be a snitch who'd turned on the Family and gone on the run, thinking that the chaos happening was part of someone like Sully or Ox coming to get him. Alone, scarred, and on the run, he would be dangerous to anyone who approached.

Rex Does Kongai: Item Extravaganza

Here are the items. All 26 of them. 5 for each group plus 6 general items that anyone can use. I think that's important for an expansion set to include those generic cards because those items can breathe new life into old cards. Giving them new combinations and different looks so they don't just get shuffled to the bottom of the deck as a raft of new cards see play.

There are definite themes that each group's items contain. The items, after all, are the capstone for a group that can greatly influence how they're played. They give out those abilities and modify those behaviors and, otherwise, help define just what a group can do. Here, then, are those item cards and the general impression that each group is trying to convey.


The Necromancers are a group of powerful cards with impressive abilities and their items continue in that vein. There are some incredibly strong effects that they can bring into play although most carry with them some sort of drawback. These items continue the Necromancer focus both on dead and defeated opponents as well as teamwide synergistic effects. Like the Necros themselves, they might be a bit intricate and tricky but they offer some fascinating possibilities to expand the horizons of the game.

Name: Blood-letting Knife
Effect: Your single-hit attacks strike for an additional 8 damage but when you attack you begin to Bleed, taking 2 damage for 4 turns (8 DOT).
Appearance: A long, slender knife with a twisting, curving blade. As delicate as it is deadly, it's not a weapon made for fighting, it's an instrument made for carving up flesh during profane rituals. Its hilt is silver and wrapped in black as midnight leather. The knife is tilted towards the ground, blade pointing downwards. Fresh blood runs along the edge and a drop is falling from the tip.

The Bloody-knife is a damage enhancing item. It adds 8 damage to a card's attacks, twice that of the generic General's Insignia. But that extra damage comes with a price – when a card attacks while wearing this item them lose health themselves, starting to Bleed and ticking off health over time. Even though both cards wind up taking the same amount of damage, the delayed effect of that damage should make it a fair enough trade. There aren't any multi-hits among the Necro's attacks so everyone can benefit from this item. +8 is about as high as I'd go, by the way, if this item was too weak, I'd have to look at reducing the damage to the user.

Name: Cultist's Sigil
Effect: If at least two of your teammates are from the same group and those cards have been revealed to your oppponent, you gain their innate abilities for as long as they remain alive. When one of your teammates dies, your innate abilities are disabled for 5 turns.
Appearance: Modelled after the General's Insignia, it'd be a badge or a medallion with a cloaked, hooded face and, perhaps, some eldritch symbols on its face.

The Sigil gives a player a bonus for constructing a deck by drawing from a specific group. Say you're in a 3-Card match and you've got Higashi and Onimaru then the generic Necro wearing this badge will be immune to critical hits and deal additional damage when making an intercept in addition to their own innate, giving them a total of 3 powerful abilities. If, instead, the team consisted of Onimaru and Ashi they'd gain nothing and their item slot would be wasted since those characters don't share the same group. This gets a bit extreme in a 5-Card match so perhaps there ought to be a cap on the number of innates (and those innates can be chosen at random, perhaps.) but I think it's kept in balance by a few things here. First, a card can use this item to gain a lot of innates and become a real powerhouse but it takes some work to get there. You have to reveal those teammates to your opponent first. In other words, your cards have to be face up to them when they're looking at your deck. Then and only then will you gain their abilities, you don't just automatically get them for having those cards in your hand, they have to be played first and that means putting them on and taking them off the field, which can be trickier than it sounds. Second, you only gain those abilities if there are at least two cards from the same group in your hand and alive. Say you're in that 3-Card match above, if Onimaru were killed then that Necro would lose not just his critical resistant innate but Higashi's as well since he no longer fulfills the conditions of having two living teammates with the same colored border. Not only that, but his own innate would be disabled for several turns. And, if he was in a 5-Card match where he had several innates then the rest of his bonus abilities would be disabled, too. It can be a powerful item, then, and should allow for some interesting constructed decks but it's going to be difficult to get to work right (Of course, if you swapped in Rumiko with Flash Powder you could switch her out easily and, then, you just need to worry about getting Oni off the field and...well, that's the whole point. This item adds a new wrinkle in thinking about building up a deck since you get a bonus for using certain combination of cards.).

Name: Devil's Shield
Effect: You have a 30% chance to deflect attacks made against you, directing them towards a teammate, at random, instead.
Appearance: A bulky shield that's roughly a square. It's made up of plates banded and welded together, sculpted to create a raised relief and forming a demonic looking face. Angry eyes and hungry fangs created by flat planes stare out, trapped and frozen in the metal.

While wearing this Shield, a character has a chance to avoid attacks. That can be of great help in a line with several low health cards. But rather than that damage being completely evaded, the hit is instead transferred to a random teammate. In other words, this item has a chance to make an opponent's attack a random target skill. This effect won't exactly help out your team but what it does is to protect the character on the field, currently in the fighting. They're the one that can actually harm their foe and they're the one that they should want to get rid of. Each hit they don't take is another turn that they can use to attack themselves. At the moment, this item might be a little on the weak side since the proc rate isn't much better than an item like the Elusive Feather that avoids damage entirely. But I think it has some interesting combinations, several of the Necromancers can heal and heal even their teammates so this might work well with a card like Necro #1 or 2.

Name: Eternal Ankh
Effect: When you are killed you will resurrect with full health and energy after the next 5 turns. Cooldown: 15 turns.
Appearance: A large ankh made out of gold or electrum or some other gold-white metal, glistening with reflected light. It's thick, if it was a foot high then you'd barely be able to fit your hand around it. A hazy aura of pure white light surrounds it or perhaps a shaft of sunlight streams down through that loop on the top.

The Ankh gives every Necro a chance to enjoy the fun of Necro #3's resurrection innate, allowing them to return to life after having been defeated. For Necro #3, that's something he can already do so the benefit of wearing this item would be that he gets to come back with full health and energy instead of losing some it over time – I imagine if he wore this item it would take priority over his own innate as long as it was active. The drawback is a much longer period to wait and a more brutal cooldown. Resurrection is obviously a powerful mechanic but I think it won't be too much of a problem because of how I've set those timers. It takes 5 turns to come back after being killed and that's enough that it's not going to save you from being completely steamrolled. And a cooldown of 15 means that it stays innactive for another 10 turns past that, so you have to stall a long time if you want to be able to make a another return trip from the graveyard, past when the match should have been decided. I'm worried this still might be too strong so, I'm thinking about either doing away with the cooldown and limiting the number of resurrections – like with the Death Mask, you'd have a charge and once it was used up you couldn't use it again. Or having revived cards return with, say, 50% of their maximum health and energy. So that, say, a card with 70HP would be revived with 35/70 health and only 50/100 energy, making them easier to send packing again. And there's always slapping on a procced rate of success here.

Name: Galvanic Battery
Effect: For each defeated card in your opponent's hand you gain 2 health at the end of the turn.
Appearance: A thick mason jar of cloudy glass. Inside is a viscous liquid almost but not completely filling it up. A pair of rods made of different metals poke down into the liquid through a rubber topper rammed onto the top. They're connected to a pair of curly wires that hang down the sides of the jar, the ends nearly touching, they crackle with life as a spark jumps across them. The whole construct is a crude, home-made affair looking like something out of an alchemist's lab and not a finished product.

The Galvanic Battery is a healing over time item that slowly pumps health into its wearers bar, like the Healing Salve or the Herbal Remedy. Unlike those, it also works like the Blood Vial, too, and heals whether you're on the field or not. It's potentially more powerful than any of those since its effect increases as the bodies pile up. You get more healing for each defeated opponent, giving you up to +4 health a turn in 3-Card and +8 in 5. But, of course, unless you've killed your opponent you're not healing at all. Also, to keep this item from getting too strong (Since, after all, +8HP/turn is nuts), that healing can further be weakened if a card uses one of those Necro skills that exploit that defeated opponent. For each exploited card, you only gain 1 health a turn. At the moment, I think this item's definitely keeping with the Necro's powered by death theme but it's still feeling a little weak. Extending it to cover dead teammates as well as opponents would make it stronger but perhaps a bit too much (That's up to +8 in 3 and +16 in 5, so perhaps it can be capped.). There's also a potential abusive problem here with Necro #2's Death Mask effect but I think that can be solved by making sure he checks to see if he's dead before any healing is applied (In other words, he'd survive until all the attacks were resolved. Then the game would check his health to see if it was zero and, if so, cause him to die. Then, any effects would be resolved, whether it's healing or damage over time or doom or whatever. We'd pretty much have to do this anyway to keep him from being immortal with the Salve already. The question is where the healing from his buff would be applied and if it could save him from death.).


Psycho items are a mixed bunch. It's hard to come up with items for this group since they largely lack an identity of their own. Mostly, their point is to steal an identity from their opponent or preventing them from expressing their own. They're a group that's disruptive and disabling and that's mostly what I've tried to get into with these items. I've also made sure to include plenty of items that help a Psycho to cause some hurt because they are a bunch of vicious killers, after all.

Name: Child's Armilla
Effect: You add damage equal to your opponent's resistance to your attacks.
Appearance: An armilla is a wristband, a bracelet. I see this one as being made up of loose bands of rawhide leather and covered with various bangles. Bits of string and feather and beads and stone. A crudely constructed piece of primitive jewelry. The sort of thing a child or a childlike mind would create left on their own.

This item gives the Psychos, basically, an itemized version of Voss's innate which adds dark resistance on to her attacks. Unlike hers, though, it doesn't shift that bonus damage onto another type of resistance, it just applies to the resistance of the type of the attack. So, if you attack with a skill that deals 12 damage against an opponent with 2 resistances you'd strike with 12+2. If they had 10, then you'd strike for 12+10. If it was a 6x2 skill then you'd deal (6+10)x2. But that resistance would still be applied so, either way, you'd end up hitting for 12. In other words, this item cancels out resistance and allows a character to always strike for the amount of damage listed on their skills. That's, as you can see with the Gangsters, a potentially powerful effect but one that, I think, can work well here since there aren't many large power attacks on the Psycho bars. If it proves too strong then it wouldn't be hard to add in a proc rate or some other way of lowering the rate.

Name: Hockey Mask
Effect: If you strike your opponent first, you have a 25% chance to reflect their attack.
Appearance: It's an old school hockey mask. Jason-style. It'd be nice if a stylized version of the Psycho's icon could show up on it or maybe some other design but it should otherwise be pretty white and plain.

With this item, a Psycho always has a chance to reflect her opponent's attacks. It turns every attack into an improved version of Open Palm. One that doesn't just interrupt an attack but redirects it, turning the tables around even more. It only works, though, since it reads “strikes” when the Psycho attacks. They don't get to reflect off of a buff or a mimicry skill but only when through their own damage dealing skills. That's good for some who have plenty of quick attacks and not so good for others who are slower and only have a few but, for most, it should play into their themes of disruption rather well.

Name: Killer's Edge
Effect: When you are switched in, you deal 12 damage (U) to your foe.
Appearance: A crude, notched blade that's seen a lot of work. It's a butcher's knife, perhaps, or a cleaver but whatever it is, it's an item of quiet menace. You can't see the blood but you know it's there, sunk into the knife.

With Psycho #4 biting the dust, I've taken his innate and placed it into this item. Any character wielding this knife will start a fight off on the offensive by tearing a chunk out of their opponent's health even as they're hitting the field. It's like a reverse Caltrops that hits as you enter instead of hitting when they leave. 12 damage might not sound like much but that's 3 hits from a General's Insignia or about 17% of the average opponent's health – and it will always take that amount since it's untyped and ignores resistance. But, of course, you only get that blast of extra damage once while other items have it increasing your damage the whole time. Unless, of course, you're a switch happy player. In which case you can use this item to good effect by switching in and out and slicing up your foes before you even activate a skill. It's got some intriguing possibilities with Psycho #5, the Shadow, that way. If you're not likely to switch this probably isn't a good item for you because it helps drive you to making a lot of frequent switches. It's stronger than the Caltrops because that damage is under your control. But riskier since relying on it means increasing your chance of getting intercepted. It might, then, be a little strong at 12 damage and I'd consider setting it lower. But 12 is a nice number for a lot of reasons and that's where I'd start.

Name: Psychic Orb
Effect: When you interrupt or reflect your opponent's attack, that skill is disabled for the next turn.
Appearance: A crystal ball. A palantir. A round ball made of some sort of glass. It's cloudy inside, murky, like a sky full of gathering clouds. There's power inside. A dull, diffused glow with no apparent source as whatever mists fill it eddy and pool.

The Psychos have a lot of ways of interrupting and otherwise preventing their opponent's attacks. This item lets them take even more advantage of thwarting those skills. With this item equipped if they disrupt a skill they're also disable it, preventing it from being used for 1 turn. Like with Amaya's innate, whatever skill's been blown will be locked out, grayed, and unavailable for use. And that's after it's failed and cost dearly for doing so. So, while it might not be that effective if you get, say, a Chi Blast. But imagine what would happen if, say, a Psycho was fighting Constantine. They could stop his Pilebunker on the first turn and he'd be unable to use it on the next turn. This item, then, makes the Psycho's shutdown even more effective. Not every Psycho can make use of it, though. Psychopaths #3 & 5 lack an interrupt or a reflect, off the top of my head, since they disrupt attacks in other ways. That might be a problem since it creates a more limited set of cards that can use this item. So, I might need to broaden the effect or add in something else to give them a reason to slot it. At the moment, though, it's a pure and simple effect and I like how that works.

Name: Tangled Net
Effect: On the turn after a new opponent has switched in you automatically critically hit.
Appearance: A net made of hemp with vicious looking hooks on its ends. It's a tumbled up and jangled mess just piled on the floor.

This item increases damage on the turn after an opponent makes a switch. When that happens, a character wearing this item will automatically critically hit with their attacks, causing their opponent a lot of damage since that's 1.5 times their normal amount. The way it works is this, while a target has the switch cooldown timer, this item is activated. When they don't, it isn't. This makes sure that players can't get in a cheap hit after earning a kill – that's a switch that doesn't flash that timer up. Otherwise, though, this item punishes players who switch a lot or otherwise try to run away. It creates a narrow window but one that, nonetheless, can be taken advantage of to severely weaken a target. The trouble I'm having here is with the flavor. I just can't seem to find a good item skin for this one – I'm not very happy with the current net design. But although its effect is a little creaky – you only get one shot for increased damage and it's going to suck if you miss – I think it creates an interesting twist and plays into the Psychotic themes well.


The Gangsters are a flexible group of powerful attackers and their items reflect that. They extend the Gangsters ability to get around defenses by punishing those opponents who try to disrupt their attacks. And several also increase a Gangsters ability to deal out those attacks as well. It's a line of items slanted to the offensive but, then, so are the Gangsters.

Name: Bullet Proof Vest
Effect: You have a 15% chance to dodge physical attacks. If your blows are reflected then you are healed rather than harmed.
Appearance: It's a bullet proof vest. Solid, sturdy, it's strapped up and standing up as if it's waiting for someone to step into it.

This item is primarily reflection protection. With the Psychos around there's a high chance that many attacks could be bounced back and land squarely in a Gangster face. This item eliminates that danger since it converts reflected damage into healing. If a Gangster attack would normally hit for 20 then that's how much health they'd gain if it were turned back on them. But reflects are rare and I wanted to make sure this item wasn't completely useless most of the time so it also provides some protection against, well, bullets. The gun attacks – and a lot of others – that the Gangster use cut through defenses but they're largely typed physical. So, this item gives a character a small but significant chance to evade them. It's not quite as good as the Elusive Feather but, then, because it stops reflection it also does more. And although it won't always matter, an item like this is all about the averages. You mitigate damage here over the long run because the short run will be incredibly variable. If you're wearing this item, though, you're decreasing your opponent's per hit average by that 15%. That's worth about 4~5 points of damage on the average hit. It might be a bit weak, still, but it completely shuts down reflection and, with the Feather around, I just can't justify raising the dodge rate – and dodging works great since that's one of the few ways to avoid a gun shot. One thing I definitely don't want to do is to add in yet another ability so, although I might make some changes here, this is probably it.

Name: Flick Knife
Effect: Your physical attacks have a 25% chance to Bleed, dealing 2 damage for 4 turns (8 DOT) to your opponent. If you are interrupted, your foe takes 25 damage (U).
Appearance: A switchblade, the hinged kind with a hidden razor inside. It's halfway folded, bent into an L-shape.

The Bleeding on this item is just a bonus. It adds 2 damage, on average, which isn't nothing but it's also very close. I've limited it to physical attacks, too, which comprise the majority of Gangster attacks but it does mean things like G1's Molotov Cocktail and a buffed up G6 won't get that additional boost. What this item really does it protect against interruption. Not, like the Girdle of Iron Will, by preventing it but by dissuading it by making it extremely costly. Normally, an interrupt stops an attack (Or, some other effect), and that prevent an opponent from taking damage. But, here, when they interrupt they'll take damage anyway. And, more likely than not, enough that they might as well have not bothered with stopping the attack anyway because they'll have taken as much if not more damage.

Name: Hitter's Contract
Effect: When you kill an opponent you gain 25 health and 30 energy.
Appearance: A dossier, a file folder, with a picture paperclipped to it. It lists information about a figure who's obscured and indistinct – you can't quite make out the writing or the picture – but you can make out that it's detailing someone's name and address and the like.

With this item, a character is rewarded for finishing off an opponent. The Gangsters are a brutal bunch so I'm sure they can make good use of this. They not only get some health to recover from a fight but they also get the energy they need to keep on scrapping away. With end of turn regeneration they get 50 energy after notching a kill (provided, of course, there are no other effects in play) and that means they're almost certain to start the next fight with enough energy to use their skills even if they don't quite have a full bar. That's about the point where I want this item yet although I might have to fiddle around with the values some more.

Name: Money Clip
Effect: When your opponent is buffed, you have a chance 50% to gain that buff as well. When you use a buff, you have a 50% chance to activate that buff for free.
Appearance: A piece of silvery metal, embossed with a tiny version of the Gangster's symbol etched in gold.

When I say “ when you use a buff” here I mean that when the player activates a skill that's specifically a buff. There are some skills that proc buffs off of attacks or have them as secondary effects. This doesn't work with them. I'm talking about things like Frenzied Rage and Killer Shades and Incendiaries. Skills whose sole and only purpose is to put a buff up on your character. With this item, you get a chance to use them for free, effectively decreasing their cost by half, on average. As if that wasn't enough you also get a chance to mirror any buff that's put up by your opponent. And that doesn't include just pure cast buffs but buffs procced for any reason. If they hit you and, then say, gain some regeneration then there's a fair chance you'd start gaining health as well. With as many buffs floating around as this set have, that, too, is a potentially very useful effect, giving a Gangsters a bit of help when it comes to dealing with his foes.

Name: White Powder
Effect: Your multiple-hit attacks strike one additional time. Your other skills have their speeds increased by 1.
Appearance: A bag of a mysterious white powdery substance, tipping out and spilling all over the place, laying in heaps like freshly powdered slopes white with snow. It could be sugar. It could be salt. But it's probably not...

The White Powder is the Gangsters main damage enhancing item. Most of their cards have at least one multi-hit attack to benefit from this skills effect. And those that don't get a minior Valkyrie's Charm effect. Either effect would be good. Together, it's a potent combination that increases a card's ability to deal damage one way or the other. And even helps out with the Gangster's ability to buff since they'll be less likely to get interrupt or hit first. The increase to multi-hit attacks will have to be carefully watched, though, since increasing the multiplier it means any multi-hit skill gains bonus damage equal to its damage value (You go from AxB to Ax(B+1) and that means you hit for (AxB)+A.). That means skills with a high initial value get a bonus that's much better than the General's Insignia. That only gives out +4 while this hands out +9 and, potentially, even more. It puts, I think, a cap on the maximum damage value that Gangster skills can get although that's not a bad thing since that helps to weaken them against resistance or other effects, even when resistance doesn't apply. But as if that wasn't bad enough, this also increases speed which can be a problem in and of itself. Although I don't think the Gangsters have many skills that get abusive when they're faster having this item means I'd always have to check and make sure.


There are a few themes with the Rocker items. First, they're about buffs to help compliment the signature effects of many of the cards in this group. Second, they're about switching out since many of those signature effects also benefit teammates that might want to be put into play. And, finally, they're about critical hits since one of the motifs that's developed among the Rockers is a reliance on delivering powerful critical hits.

Name: Drum Kit
Effect: Your attacker takes 20 damage (U) when you are intercepted.
Appearance: A standard drum set. Base, snares, high hat, the works, with a pair of drumsticks laid carefully on top. Like it's been set out for a concert that's just about to begin. On the big round one right in front, the base drum, the Rock Star icon has been painted on and prominently displayed.

The Rockers buff. They buff their teammates with powerful effects that increase their own abilities. And the basic idea is that you can use a Rocker to power up another card or two and then bring those out to have a bit of fun. That creates a problem since the Rocker then has to switch out safely in order to bring those teammates into play. They need to switch and, unfortunately, their opponent knows it, too. So, this item is intended to give them a slightly easier time of getting off the field. Unlike Rumiko's innate or the Flash Powder, it doesn't make switching any easier. Instead, it's more like a reverse Pimp Cup – rather than rewarding a successfully landed intercept, it penalizes it. When a character wearing this item gets the dreaded crunch, they crunch their opponent right back for nearly as much (Not as much since we don't want to completely relegate intercepts to the sidelines. Still, 20HP is a healthy chunk of most character's bars. It won't be devastating but it'll hurt.). And what this should do is influence player decisions. If you know your opponent's going to switch with absolute certainty then you go for the intercept. But if you know you're going to get hurt for doing so, you might not be as likely to make that choice. Intercepting becomes more of a risk and if opponents won't intercept as much then the Rocker wearing this can more easily slip away to safety. Of course, wearing this item announces that you're looking to switch so opponents might be even more likely to sacrifice some health to take away more of yours. And, then, knowing that you can put this item on when you don't intend to switch a lot so that they waste more turns intercepting while you smash away. And, then... But, well, hey that's just the way the game's played and, done right, this item helps to give those decision loops another twist.

Name: Electrifying Amplifiers
Effect: The duration of the buffs you create is increased by 25%. The duration of your Ballads is increased by an additional 25%. When you buff there is a 30% chance that all of your other buffs refresh, resetting to their original durations.
Appearance: A big stack of booming speakers. They've not only been around the world, beaten and knicked and showing obvious signs of wear along with stickers from a dozen countries and twice as many bands (including, prominently, the Rockers icon), they been tricked out, overpowered and overclocked and whatever else some clever roadie along the way has done to draw out just a little bit more power.

The Rockers are largely about buffs and the Amps increase the effectiveness of their buffs. It increases the duration of buffs in two ways. First, by just flat out making them last more turns by adding to their duration when they're used. And, second, when a character wearing this item uses a buff, they've got a chance to cause any other buffs in play to reset to the duration they had when they were cast. So, if you've got a buff that normally lasts for 4 turns but is about to expire, you can buff with it again and not only will you get a new copy that lasts for 5 turns but there's a chance you'll wind up with 2 since that first buff can be renewed. I picture this as rounding down so it takes a buff that lasts at least 4 turns for them to get that last bonus turn (That's so short lasting buffs that are limited because they'd otherwise be too effect don't get too strong.). But that's not important since the real benefit here is to the Ballads. Those powerful teamwide effects that the Rockers can lay down. They tend to last about 6 turns so, with this, they become 9 turn monsters that will be sure to have an impact. The problem here is that this item and Item #5 might be doing too much of the same thing. The Mic and the Amp both make buffs last longer. The Mic does it by adding turns as you attack, the Amp by increasing duration when you activate. It might be that one is strictly better and, at the moment, I think that's the Mic. But I think it might also be alright. The Microphone is more for cards like R6, Izzy, who want to get in there and get those hits. While this item is more for those Rockers who want to stand back and rock out for a few turns to buff up their teams before switching out. One increases the procced buffs, in other words, while the other is tailored for the team-affecting buffs.

Name: The Golden Guitar
Effect: You have 2 additional resistance (+2/+2/+2). When you critically hit you gain an additional 5 energy at the end of the turn for the next 5 turns.
Appearance: This guitar looks like it's made not out of gold but golden neon. Out of light. Out of pure energy, trapped in some kind of material shell that can barely contain it. It's the essence, the power of rock that you can hold in your hand. It's also a bad ass electric guitar. I'm thinking it should be an old-school model, looking classic and timeless, with a wide body and a long neck and solid fret with a varnished finish, a sheen poured over molten gold.

This is a damage enhancing item although it might not look like it at first glance. On first impression it's a weak defensive item that adds a paltry amount of resistance (Although I'd argue that it's still better than the Reinforced Breastplate since those points are spread over every type of damage you'd face.). That'll help out the Rockers, especially, since they generally have weak resistance and more means they're better able to survive. But the real ability here is what happens when you score a critical hit. And the Rockers have a lot of ways of scoring an easy critical hit. After a critical hit, their end of turn energy regeneration will be increased. And that's how their damage will be enhanced because more energy turns into more attacks which turns into more damage. Not sure if it's living up to that promise well enough at the moment although because of problems with range changing, +5 per turn is as high as I'm willing to go (It might be better to have it lower skill costs, then, perhaps since it will stack up and get to that bad zone of over 50 energy a turn anyways.).

Name: Rocker's Cape
Effect: When you successfully switch out you are healed for 10. Your teammate who switches in is healed for 15.
Appearance: A white cape bordered with gold trim. It's showy and flashy and looks like the sort of thing they used to drape over Elvis or James Brown as they led him off the stage.

Like with the Drums, this is a switch item. A lot of what the Rockers will be about is laying down some powerful tracks and then getting off the stage to let someone else rock the crowd for a while. They need to switch out, in so many words, so their teammates can take advantage of being buffed up. This item will help them to do so. It doesn't make switching out any easier but it rewards a Rocker for being able to slip away. They recover some of the damage they've taken while being out there to buff and also makes that teammate who's receiving those buffs stronger since they're more likely to hit the deck at full health with increased power. It enhanced the power of a Rocker's switch, then, and makes it even more important for their opponents to stop.

Name: Singer's Microphone
Effect: When you successfully attack with your guitar, the duration of your buffs is extended for another turn. When you critically hit they are extended for an additional turn.
Appearance: A microphone. It's silvery and flashy, something that would look good up on stage.

Guitar attacks are a special subset of attacks on the Rocker's bars. They're basically the close attacks that are found in their first two spots. Using this item, then, allows them to make more out of their important buffs by extending their durations but only as long as they're mixing it up. This item could prove problematic, though, since it interacts with several of the Rockers in, perhaps, unfortunate ways. It lets Rocker #6 extend durations quite a lot with his first skill. And Rocker #5's buffs are designed to last only for a single turn, this lets her maintain that increased damage and chance to hit fleeing for several turns. And then there's Rocker #3 who now has a buff that causes him to automatically critically hit – this item lets him crit again and again and again as long as he can land those hits. That's three potential problems and, possibly, many more. So, this item might need a complete revamp but, at the moment, I don't have the time. And, more importantly, I think the results could be pretty interesting.


There's a definite energy theme here. A lot of these items revolve around preserving or manipulating energy somehow. I wasn't really planning that it's more of a feature of the fact that these are general items #14~15+ for me. I've made several before, after all, and I hate repeating myself. The earlier ones have taken care of the obvious stuff. And later ones dealt a lot with damage and switching out. That leaves energy, really, as the mechanic to play with. And that's largely what the general items are about. Because these items can be used by any of a growing number of characters in the roster, I don't feel quite as bad about ripping off previous ideas. I don't like to repeat myself but I do like to iterate and a good way to make general items is to take a previous one and try to do what it does in some other way. The Mindreader's Chalice restores energy on a successful intercept so what about one, for example, that would restore health? With the generic pool of items, since there are so many, I'm not as worried about each having its own unique niche but, instead, with giving a player a lot of different looks and options so they can find the one they really think works. Oh, and tossing out the odd mechanic to wrap the game every now and then. I think both are on display here.

Name: Candle of Mist
Effect: Intercept costs your opponent 40 energy.
Appearance: A low, squat candle with a flickering flame in a wide saucer or bowl that's catching the melted wax, the candle is practically floating. It's also pouring out smoke and smog and steam, creating a dense and cloudy mist.

The idea here is that when you're wearing this item the intercept button on your opponent's bar will cost them energy to use. 40 energy or equivalent to what they get when resting. Or, in other words, a net of 20 energy for that turn after they're finished. This increase in cost means that intercepting isn't cheap. Although it's not the most expensive, it's going to cost them energy to use. So, if they want to intercept they need to keep around a strategic reserve. If they lack that 40 energy then, just like not having enough energy for a skill, that button would be grayed out and unavailable to use – an opponent couldn't intercept unless they had at least 40 energy, in other words. More importantly, intercepting would cost them the energy they need to use their other skills where, normally, it means they actually gain. It's a 40 energy swing, normally they'd be up 20 but, with this, they're in the hole. That makes intercepting subtly more difficult and, therefore, makes switching out easier for you. It's not going to stop anyone from intercepting but, keep in mind, this is a general item and I don't want to make it too strong. But by making intercepts more expensive it should alter the normal calculus of when to intercept and when not to take that risk of switching out. That's the idea, anyway.

Name: Friendship Bracelet
Effect: If another living member of your team shares your group then you add their resistance to your own.
Appearance: A tacky looking friendship bracelet, studded with the various icons or symbols of the various groups.

One of the themes I've been trying to get at with this set of cards is teamwork. The idea that the cards don't just work by themselves but together as part of a deck. So, I've been trying to fold in mechanics and ideas that benefit that sort of thing. This item is yet another one since it rewards players who construct their decks in certain ways. One of those crazy, out there ideas that someone's sure to mention whenever a list of Kongai suggestion is made is that using characters from the same group should have some sort of benefit (That's a bad idea for a variety of ways but mostly because it eliminates a lot of diversity in decks. A bonus for doing something is another way of saying a penalty for not doing something so whatever decks aren't single-grouped or whatever would be missing out and, thus, not as good as other decks. Groups are mostly about limiting item selection, that's bonus enough for using a card with a particular border for me.) and this item is a sneaky way of getting such a thing into the game. With this, if there's another character in the deck with the same colored border then you gain their innate. If you've got Higashi, say, slotted with this and somewhere else is Onimaru, he'd get +10 physical resistance, setting his matrix to an impressive 12/3/3. If Onimaru had the same item then he'd have that same resistance. If you added Yoshi to the mix, then you'd bump up the Light and everyone would have something like 12/9/4. It can get a bit crazy, in other words, especially in 5-Card decks. So, perhaps, the maximum resistance needs a cap. But I don't think it's all that much of a problem because of a few things, first, really abusing this limits your deck to cards of the same group and those are likely going to be worse than decks drawing on a lot of other characters. Second, making extensive use of this item to create a network of resistance means those cards have given up their item slot and other potential abilities – you get a lot of protection but you don't get your Generals or Blood Vials or anything else. And, finally, resistance items are mostly trash and I'd just like to see one that was actually relevant and that means pushing the power level to the breaking point. The restriction that the teammate has to be alive helps (Although that's not much of one when everyone has 30+ resistance, of course) but I might have gone too far here, though, although I'd be pretty happy if I did. An alternative would be to have each group have a specific bonus that would be granted for each group. If there's one or more Ninja you could have a chance to dodge, say. A bunch of Vampires might have be granted life draining on their attacks. That'd be more work, though, since you'd have to figure out something for each group. Could be interesting, though.

Name: Featherfoot Totem
Effect: If you and your opponent both agree on changing the range, you gain 50 energy.
Appearance: A wooden totem, painted vividly, it's a stylyzed depiction of an eagle or a thunderbird of some sort.

I like to name items after a pattern, in case you haven't noticed, and the original set established a theme that I've followed of naming things to deal with changing ranges after some kind of Totem. The idea here, then, is that this item is a cousin, a counterpart to the Stoneheel Totem that increases the cost of changing range. Rather than increasing, though, it decreases. The way it works is this, normally a character spends 50 energy to change ranges and both players can opt to do so or to pass during the movement phase. With this item equipped, though, it complicates that phase somewhat and, perhaps, adds an element of gamesmanship. Because, if both players opt to move to the same range then this item hands you 50 energy, effectively letting your enemy pay for shifting the range for you. This idea is a little half-baked, though, since you can already do that by just passing when they've set the range. So, perhaps, it could be made a little better by rewarding you for guessing right a little more. But guessing right is what this item is about and creating yet another mental game where you and your opponent try to dance around what you each want to do.

Name: Gravestone Charm
Effect: Your corpse cannot be exploited.
Appearance: A small casket carved from ivory bone, a charm dangling from a necklace.

Wearing this item you cannot be exploited. That's both a simple effect and a powerful one because you can use it in combination with cards that exploit corpses. Imagine you've got this on a real powerhouse you can use N1, the Animator, to bring their corpse back to life multiple times, stepping around the normal restriction of one. It's a bit of a double-edged sword, though, since your corpse is a resource that can't be exhausted by your opponents, either. And they, too, can use that to good effect. It might be worth making this a little stronger by making that your corpse can't be exploited means you can't be turned into a Zombie or whatever because, for the most part, you're setting yourself up more than you are setting up a plan here. But that would take away the sense of danager from an item that opens up new ways of abusing the game.

Name: Iron Bracers
Effect: If your attack fails to hit your opponent, you gain 20 energy.
Appearance: Plain wrist bands of wrought iron. They're not very ornamented or detailed, they're just heavy and solid, like a pair of old hand cuffs.

The idea here is that there are a lot of ways for attacks to fail. Whether it's missing or being interrupted or even being reflected, it sucks when your attacks fail to land. This item, though, takes some of the sting out of it. Not all of it since this is only a general item after all but wearing this item when you somehow fail to hit your opponent you'll get an extra 20 energy. With the end of turn regeneration that means on those turns when you've failed to hit you'll effectively have rested. That's energy you can use to attack again.

Name: Victor's Cup
Effect: When you kill your foe, your energy is restored.
Appearance: A cup, a chalice, a goblet made of gold that looks like nothing so much as a trophy.

With this item when you kill an opponent you gain enough energy to fill your bar back up to the maximum. That way, you face off against your next foe with a full 100 energy. And, as the observation has been made, in Kongai you're fighting against your opponent's health bar just as much as you're fighting against their energy. A full bar of yellow means that you might not have a lot of health left but that you can at least try to do something. It makes you recharged for the next fight where you can use this card to press the advantage you've just created by earning a kill. It also means that you can go full out trying to get that kill since you won't have to worry about facing your next opponent without anything to use. Blast away with your most expensive skills, if they land you'll get that energy back and be ready to blast again. I like the idea, the only thing I'm not sure about is that Gangster Item #3 is doing roughly the same thing, making this a junior or improved version. And I really don't like that sort of thing. But the Gangster item also offers healing giving it a slightly different twist. And there are only 5 cards that can use it while everyone can use this – and I think it is interesting enough that a lot of cards would want to give it a try. I just think one or the other shouldn't exist, at least not at the same time.

Random Election Thoughts

John McCain wants to spread the wealth around too. It's just that he wants to shovel it onto the richest top percent of this country and leave the rest of us to beg and scrap for the crumbs. That's, after all, not the Republican rhetoric but the actual results of their policies as far as I can see. But that's not really what this is about. All taxation involves some amount of wealth redistribution, even a flat tax takes money from the public and channels it into programs to stimulate and provide, and as crazy as the right is I don't think they're ready to get rid of taxation just yet. No, McCain talks about spreading the wealth and socialism because, like so much out of conservative mouths, it's a double-sided message. Plain words that have coded meaning. And, in this case, what's he's saying is not that Obama's going to take your wealth. But that's he's going to turn around and give it to the darkies. It's disgusting, it's despicable, and it's a shame that this is how our national discourse is - of course, since we're also a nation where even just knowing an Arab is a forbidden thing, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. What I can be is ashamed. And what I will do is head to the polls this Tuesday and do my best to vote this line of thought and the people who support it out of office. If I could vote them out of the country I would but, you know, I guess I'm not a real American because I don't think there's some sort of litmus test for citizenship. To the contrary, I think living in this country and living up to its ideas means that you think people can believe whatever they want, no matter how crazy it is.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rex Does Kongai: Where We Are Now

The latest patch is out. The last post for each of the final two groups has gone live. I've even taken the time to update the Compendium with the latest information, finally including both the Necros and the Psychos. I am, obviously, done for the night.

But, with only a day left the question is, where are we left? I think, as of the latest update that I'm reasonably pleased with the cards I've made so far. They're not perfect but they're not bad for being rapidly produced over the past few frantic weeks. I could make them better, if I had a little more time. But I could also spend hours agonizing just to leave them alone. They're done enough that I can consider them complete.

This project isn't finished, though, since I still have a few loose ends to tie up. I've got a few final adjustments to make beforehand but I'm just about ready to push the finalized items out as well. All 26 of them that I've been patiently working on this whole time. After that, I think, all that's left are the finishing touches. Appearances, backstories, summaries, and everything else I've missed so far.

One thing I'll need, if I want to do this right, are the Strengths and Weaknesses. If you look at the card album on the Kongai site, you'll see that each character gets an entry, a brief description that's more hype than helpful, and a list of that character's strengths along with their weaknesses. And this is where you can help me out since it's the sort of thing that's hard to judge for myself. I've been working on these cards so closely for the past few weeks, after all. And what I know is how they should work, what they've been designed to do. But, what I'm not so sure about is what they're actually doing – knowing what I meant to do blinds me, in so many words, to what I've actually done. So, take a look over the cards, if you will, and tell me what you think their card album blurbs should be. What's good about that card, what's not, how can you use them and how can you defeat them. And let me know.

Or not. You know, whatever.

It'll be a lot of work but I think it's manageable. Add to that one last look at the cards and, perhaps, a few last minute tweaks and that, I think, would be enough for me to consider this project complete.

It's have to wait until tomorrow, though, because right now I'm incredibly tired.

Rex Does Kongai: Necros Three – Rising From the Dead

The Necromancers, as a group, are comprised of cards that are pushed to the extreme. They contain wild, far-reaching mechanics. But while these aren't exactly serious cards, I try to make sure that they're not completely broken as well. They might not make it to the top tier but my goal is to at least make them playable. This means their powerful effects have to be carefully managed and studiously constrained in order to keep them fair. As a result, Necromantic bars tend to be full of lengthy descriptions as their skills pick up multitudinous subclauses. I'm not sure if you could actually fit them in the game and its limited text spaces but, at this point, I don't really care.

Because Necros are where I get to let my imagination run wild and explore the crazy ideas that more serious groups and more competitive cards would never touch. They're a clearing house for extreme power and gamebreaking effects. Yet, I think I've kept them more or less in balance by keeping each Necro centered on a single bizarre mechanic or what I like to call their gimmick. Whether it's bringing dead teammates back to life or preventing them from getting there in the first place, the Necro's skills, their designs, revolve around supporting that one, central idea.

As a group, they mostly lack a shared template, the generic character that can be drawn from my other groups. They have their shared mechanics, it's true – they like to draw on their team for their power and they deal a lot with defeated cards – but I've mostly winged each of their bars as there's no central plan. If there is one, it contains that one skill which enables their gimmick, includes a skill that taps their teammates and more or less requests some help, and, finally, a flexible attack that can be used at either range so they have at least a base line of damage. As a general rule, the Necros are lean and weak and not very able to survive on their own. They're casters and glass cannons (And, yes, N2 is a big exception to this.) barely able to contain the power they throw around. But there's no one gameplan for getting there, as far as I've found.

That's largely because the Necromancers are the oldest group on display here. Not the first group I've made but the earliest to come into being for this set. I've been working on them behind the scenes even as the rest of this projects has gone on. Although I've held off putting them up in part because their extreme mechanics needed a little more time to marinate. But also because I knew I had a lot of the work done so that, if need be, I could reasonably expect to finish them off as the month drew to an end. That's where we're at now even though my procrastination has led me to get further and further behind. The general sketch of the Necros is there, the gimmicks are in place, and they just needs to be teased out and wrapped around more effectively.

That's what I've been working on and now it's time to share the latest results. With this update, I should have taken the Necros to the point of having more or less completed bars. I'm not finished with them yet but, at this point, the clock is running out and I need to move on.

Name: Dr. Emil Bluth
Title: The Animator
Innate: Dr. Bluth is healed for 40 whenever he is critically hit.
HP: 55
RES: 0/8/4
Bar (v3): Skill #1 proc increased, Skill #2 cost and healing increased, Skill #3 cost decreased, Skill #4 teammate healing removed.

  1. Vivification Process. 100En, 4spd, Light. 100Hit, 100Proc. Your living teammates each lose all of their energy. One random defeated card in your hand returns with full health and energy. In 2 turns plus an additional turn for each living card in your hand they will become an exploited corpse (Maximum: 5 turns). You are switched out and that resurrected card is switched in. Cooldown: 10 turns minus one turn for each living card in your hand. Both.
  2. Galvanic Flow. 40En, 8spd, Light. 100Hit, 100Proc. Your living teammates each lose 50 energy. Your team begins to Regenerate, gaining 3 health a turn for the next 5 turns (15HOT). Both.
  3. Electrical Surge. 20En, 7spd, 12dmg, Light. 90Hit, 100Proc. Your team loses all Galvanic Charges. A surge of power strikes your opponent, dealing an additional 10 damage for each Galvanic Charge lost (Maxmium: 52 damage). Cooldown: 2 turns. Far.
  4. Vital Forces. 0En, 5spd, Dark. 100Hit, 100Proc. Your living teammates each lose 20 energy. You are healed for 10 health and each teammate gains a Galvanic Charge. (Galvanic Charge: When Resurrection or Regeneration would otherwise end, you lose one Galvanic Charge and its duration is extended for another turn.). Both.
Not many changes here since, once you wrap your head around the massive weirdness that is a card that can revive its defeated teammates, this character is actually working rather well. It's not a card that's going to win many fights by itself, really, but it's there to serve as a way of supporting its team. And, of course, bringing back those missing cards.

The changes I've made, then, are to tweak the bar here so that it's working better. I've solidified the Galvanic Charge mechanic, going with the idea that it's a way of extending the other buffs here. And making sure that Skill #4, the skill that procs it is a null cost that will allow Dr. Bluth to do something while still gaining the energy needed to use the ultra-expensive Skill #1. I've stripped off the healing of the good Doctor's teammates here, though, in order to concentrate the healing into Skill #2. The Animator now has to use that teamwide regenerative buff at least once but can then extend the effects on the cheap with Skill #4.

But I've raised the cost on Skill #2 so that it now costs too much to use in conjunction with Skill #1. Dr. Bluth now will have a choice between healing his living teammates and resurrecting the dead ones.

Finally, Skill #3 does a little too much damage, potentially, to be dual-ranged. So, since Skill #3 is single-ranged and carries with it a high opportunity cost before it gets good and also since it's the only attack on this bar, I've lowered its cost so that's it's a 20 energy null cast. That should make it easier for Dr. Bluth to step back and fire away with it since he'll almost always have that much energy – 20 is what you get at the end of the turn so that's, at worst, one turn of spacing in order to get it set up and that's time that can be spent making it better with Skill #4. Before, when it cost 40 energy, it took 90 to move and then use it. And it would take 90 since opponents would be sure to step close if he spent turns charging up his laser. Now it only takes 70, much more feasible.

A weird card, then, that deals pain in ways other than causing damage. Odd but a nice looking Necro.

Name: Herman Bluth
Title: the Re-animated Man
Innate: While Herman is in your hand, he has a 40% chance to absorb attacks meant for a teammate. Herman must have been revealed for this ability to become active.
HP: 85
RES: 7/4/4
Bar (v3): Skill #1 replaced, Skill #3 cost and dmg reduced, Skill #4 spd raised and healing lowered also now ends when health reaches 0, Innate now requires card to be revealed.
  1. Body Toss. 50En, 2spd, 35dmg, Phys. 95Hit, 100Proc. You grab a random teammate and hurl them at your foe, causing 35 physical damage to both of them. Your teammate replaces you on the field of play. Close.
  2. Bloody Knuckles. 30En, 3spd, 24dmg, Dark. 90Hit, 100Proc. You steal health from your foe and heal your teammate with the lowest health for 75% of that amount. Close.
  3. Tombstone Shove. 20En, 1spd, 15dmg, Phys. 100Hit, 100Proc. If this attack kills your foe, you gain 20 health. Close.
  4. Galvanic Process. 50En, 5spd, Dark. For the next 4 turns, you will not die until the end of the turn. At the end of each turn, you gain 5 health for each of your living teammates. If you have 0 health at the end of the turn, this effect ends prematurely. When this effect ends you lose 50 energy. Cooldown: 3. Both.
The big change here is that I've changed the Bapho process here slightly.

Herman's revnant buff was potentially too tough to overcome so I've cut the healing. He'll now gain 5HP per undefeated card giving him up to +10/+20 per turn. Still a lot but less than than simply amazing. The buff also now costs a lot more, taking 50 energy to cast but also draining 50 energy when it ends, for a total cost of 100 which I think I'd still pay (What happens if Herman has less than 50 energy when the effect ends? He loses whatever he has left but no more making that total cost lower than it might otherwise be. So it makes sense for him to be constantly dumping out his bar but, at the same time, that makes it harder for him to press the attack if he wants to keep his buff refreshed. Also, it makes knocking off this buff extremely painful.) because it's truly an amazingly powerful effect. I've raised the speed somewhat so it's harder to disrupt, though. Also, I've included a clause here that should prevent the problem of a character that can't and won't die. The buff will now end if Herman reaches the end of a turn with 0 or less health. He'll still get the healing, if any, and that might allow him to survive but if an opponent lands what would otherwise be a lethal blow, he'll lose 50 energy and he won't have the buff active starting with the next turn.

Second, I've changed what was another problem. The attack skill that allowed him to gain health and, perhaps, stave off death has been changed from a nuke into a tiny little chip hit. That creates less of a massive health swing as well as makes it easier for Herman to get in range and use Skill #3 to finish off a weakened foe.

The massive health swing is still there but it now takes place on Skill #1. The idea here is that Herman picks up somebody and chucks them at his target, smacking them both together and hurting them both. This skill functions as a free switch, giving him yet another way of escaping the fight but it's incredibly dangerous to use since it costs his team some of its health. And, then, leaves that weakened (Or, possibly, dead) teammate who's just lost a ton of health out on the field – I might not have mentioned it but I think that free switches should activate the Cooldown Timer and, thus, prevent another quick switch. But that's where the beauty of N2's innate comes in since he has a chance to protect that injured ally from taking that damage by soaking it up himself.

I like the change since it plays against the idea of Herman as a helpful protector – it's hard to argue someone has your best interests at heart when they're using you as a shotput. But it also reinforces it because Herman's abilities make that random loss of health much less dangerous than it would othewise be since he can heal and block and everything else. A big, slow, lumbering card that flits in and out of play even as he laughs in the face of death – I think this card has been sufficiently Necrotized.

Name: Amanothep
Title: The Undying
Innate: When Amanothep is killed, he is resurrected with 1/3 less maximum health and 10 less maximum energy after the next 4 turns. Cooldown: 7 turns
HP: 60
RES: 2/1/3
Bar (v3): Skill #1 proc lowered, Skill #2 cost raised, Skill #3 now exploits on kill
  1. Song of Osiris. 0En, 8spd, Dark. 100Hit/90Proc. You die and will return to life with full health and energy after 3 turns minus one turn for each of your living teammates (Minimum: 1). Cooldown: 5 turns. Both.
  2. Grasp of Anubis. 30En, 6spd, 8dmg, Dark. 100Hit, 100Proc. You lose all of your remaining health. Your opponent takes 2 damage (U) for each 3 health that you've lost. Close.
  3. Eater of the Dead. 45En, 4spd, 15dmg, Dark. 95Hit, 75Proc. For the next 5 turns, your foe is infected by Death Beetles (Death Beetles. If Amanothep is dead you take 12 dark damage at the end of each turn. Up to 60 DOT.). When they die, their corpse is automatically exploited. Far.
  4. Ka Strike. 30En, 7spd, 5x6(30)dmg, Phys. 90Hit, 100Proc. Knocks a buff off of your foe. Both.

Not many changes here. Just some minor changes to flavor and little to deal with function.

Skill #3 now exploits cards that are killed while under its effect. This is potentially a very powerful debuff since it hits for a lot of damage – although how much depends on how long Amanothep remains dead. But it's potentially up to 60 damage following a 15 damage hit and whatever other damage that Amanothep kicks in, including, potentially, a large blast from Skill #2. It requires a switch from Far to Close but #2 is cheap enough and, if the two are chained into one another then the debuff from #3 because near certain death for almost any card. I've raised the cost of Skill #2 somewhat to make that more difficult. But having it exploit cards is done to prevent N3 from getting a cheap kill that can be capitalized on by another card. You won't be able to pull off the EotD -> Anubis combo to switch to, say, Necro #4 who'll immediately raise the newly dead Zombie anymore. Minor, but could be an important in terms of preventing abuses.

The other change was to lower the proc rate on Skill #1 so it was no longer a certainty. There's now a bit of an element of risk when using it to escape from the field in addition to the problems caused by actually killing yourself.

The Undying One hasn't gotten many changes, though, because I'm pretty happy with how he's turning out. Skill #3 is a little problematic and could use some tweaks but it's a neat idea that I think could really work. Otherwise, the moebius gimmick is nice and the balance seems about right.

Name: Xal'zun Mauok
Title: The Bone Caller
Innate: At the end of each turn, Xal'zun creates one Bone Minion and one more for each defeated card in play (Max: 5 in 3-Card, 9 in 5-Card) (Bone Minion. Is destroyed, crumbling to dust, if you leave the field for any reason. Each Minion prevents 2 points of damage from reaching a target but crumbles when hit. Each surviving Minion deals 2 physical damage at the end of the turn and then crumbles.).
HP: 60
RES: 0/2/8
Bar (v3): Skill #1 now prevents Minions from crumbling, Skill #3 dmg added and range restricted to Close, Skill #4 interrupt chance up to 40%.
  1. Bone Dance. 45En, 3spd, Dark. 100Hit, 100Proc. For the next 3 turns, any Bone Minions you create will not crumble at the end of the turn, will deal 6 more damage (8 overall), and their attacks will deal dark damage. Far.
  2. Zombification Ritual. 30En, 6spd, Dark. 100Hit, 95Proc. All of your Bone Minions are destroyed (100Proc). If you do not control a Zombie, you exploit a defeated opponent to create a Zombie (95Proc). Zombies have half health, no resistance, limited speed, and will randomly attack, intercept, or rest each turn until defeated. Zombies are destroyed if you leave the field for any reason. If you already control a Zombie then your Zombie gains 10 health plus 1 health for each Minion destroyed (95Proc.). (Zombie: [Character] has been raised as a mindless zombie! They have less health and 0 resistance and 0 speed but will continue to plague you until they are defeated. Your attacks will strike this zombie until their health is gone and they are destroyed. [Character] may attack with [Signature Skill], intercept, or rest each turn.). Both.
  3. Vile Touch. 20En, 5spd, 14dmg, Dark. For the next 8 turns, your target has an Unnatural Growth (Unnatural Growth. You take 2 damage a turn. If you are killed while under this effect, 10 Bone Minions spawn from your exploited corpse. 16 DOT). Close.
  4. Bone Fragmentation. 40En, 8spd, 12dmg, Dark. 95Hit, 100Proc. One of your Bone Minions is destroyed. If you lose a Bone Minion in this way, your foe takes 12 physical damage and has a 40% chance to be interrupted. Both.

Again, nothing but minor changes for a card that's already working well. The Steamroller Effect is a powerful idea but I've become concerned that this card doesn't do enough to get it rolling. So, I've buffed up a few of his skills so that he does more by himself. That can be dangerous since there's the threat of a strong card backing up a stronger Golem/Zombie but that Zombie creation doesn't mean anything if you can't create dead cards.

So, I've buffed up the buff in Skill #1. It now not only creates super-Minions but also prevents those Minions from crumbling so that MM can build up an impressive amount. That means they deal tons and tons of damage but, honestly, at the point where you're getting five or six of them your opponent is already in trouble and, mostly, they're going to be destroyed in the course of trading attacks, anyway.

I've added an initial hit to Skill #3. Along with an increase to the delayed damage it now deals up to 30 damage a hit, making it a credible threat. It also last longer making it more like to proc its on death effect. The idea here is that debuffing a target with this skill doesn't take away from the damage curve of Skill #4. Because it's deadlier I've now restricted it to Close range instead of its former dual-range state.

And, finally, I've increased the interrupt proc on Skill #4 making it more likely to hurt and to keep an opponent from hurting back. Again, it's more of a credible threat and it makes the MM more of a viable attacker even by himself.
The problem is what happens when his attacks start to work and his special abilities start to flow. He might be a little too strong here since we don't want him to completely pave hs opponents over without any chance for them to survive.

Name: Fenda Ahkbakba
Title: The Dark Ritualist
Innate: Fenda Ahkbakba drains 25% of damage caused by her successful attacks.
HP: 55
RES: 1/0/5
Bar (v3): Skill #1 cost dmg and DOT increased now causes all teammates to Bleed, Skill #2 cost increased dmg lowered range restricted to Close, Skill #3 now cannot kill teamamtes, Skill #4 functionality changed
  1. Sacrificial Blade. 35En, 6spd, 32dmg, Phys. 95Hit, 100Proc. Your foe has a 50% chance to Bleed, taking 6 damage for 2 turns (12 DOT). Your teammates begin Bleeding, taking 2 damage for the next 5 turns (100Proc. 10 DOT.). Close.
  2. Boiling Blood. 25En, 5spd, 10dmg, Dark. 95Hit, 90Proc. Your foe's damage and resistance is lowered by 3 for the next 4 turns. If your target is Bleeding they suffer an additional 22 damage. Close.
  3. Blood-letting Rite. 30En, 7spd, 48dmg, Dark. 50Hit, 100Proc. Your teammates lose up 20 health – they cannot drop below 1 health in this way. This skill is 1% more accurate for each point of health lost. Far.
  4. Dark Ritual. 50En, 3spd, Dark. 100Hit, 90Proc. All of your foes begin Bleeding, taking 2 damage for the next 5 turns (10 DOT). If one of them is defeated, that card is exploited and their corpse explodes in a shower of gore and dark magics, hitting their entire team for 12 damage and healing your entire team for 25. Both.

I'm still not sure about this card although I think it's getting better. The changes I've made here are to emphasize two things. First, the Ritualist is a dangerous card that can deal a lot of damage in a hurry. And, second, this is a character with a wide-angle lens who hits a whole lot of targets.

Skill #1 has seen its damage climb. It now deals 32 raw damage with a good chance to hit for another 12. That damage over time is also more lethal since it works quicker. So, in two turns, that's 35 energy for up to 44 damage. At the same time, the Bleeding teammates effect has been strengthened. It no longer affects a single ally but all of them. Although it does cause each to lose less health and to do so over a longer time frame, it's taking a larger chunk out of the overall health.

Skill #2 has been tweaked as well. It now works like a damage dealing Blood Burn, dealing damage and automatically lowering resistance and damage with an additional kick of damage when it hits a Bleeding foe. But the change here is to set its damage at a point where it will two-hit cards that have anything just under 80 health (Before resistance, of course). The alteration to Skill #1's Bleed which enables this also makes this feasible since that bonus damage will have fewer turns in which to apply. I've raised the cost, slightly, so that it's no longer quite as repeatable since it's gotten much nastier and also restricted the range but having only a single turn in which to tear open that Bleeding wound is what helps keep this in balance more than anything else.

I've altered Skill #3 slightly by adding a statement that it can no longer kill off your teammates. It'll now cause them to lose 20 health but won't cause them to drop below 1. That leaves them easy to pick off and you don't want to match up against a fellow deck destroyer if you're using this but it's now somewhat less risky.

And, finally, Skill #4 has been reworked completely. It's now a powered up version of Thorn's Bleeding Ritual that causes an entire enemy team to start Bleeding. Additionally, if one of those targets happens to be dead, it cause them to explode in a fountain of blood. That causes some additional damage to the enemy team but, more importantly, grants some healing to N5's. This skill now gives her a heal that she can use to help offset the damage she's causing to her own side and that'll help lessen that pain.

Overall, then, the idea here is a lightning fast damage dealer who's going to risk a lot on being able to destroy her targets before they destroy her. Because she's so lethal, I've given her extremely low health and low resistance. But that just makes her health stealing innate more important since she'll be so easy, otherwise, to spike out. If she's attacking, if she's killing, you probably won't mind that she's taking your team to the brink as well. But if she's not then she's going be causing you the problems. I can live with that.

Rex Does Kongai: Psychos Three – The Unkindest Cuts

For once, the Psychos are on the backburner and I'm going to have to fly through them today. Shouldn't be too bad, though, since most of them are shaping up pretty well.

The ones that are left, anyway. Because gone are the subpar Psychos #4 and #6, dropped in favor of shuffling over the Vamp from the Gangsters. She's going to be getting a bit of a update to reflect her new Psycho heritage and I've got a tweak here and there but, for the most part, this installment is about getting the bars polished up and into a finalized form.

Name: Rebecca Vampinsiaro
Title: The Black Widow
HP: 55
RES: 1/1/4
Innate: When opponent a new opponent switches in to fight against her, Rebecca gains 20 health.
Bar (v5): Skill #1 now interrupts on with a specific debuff, damage increased. Skill #2 revised, now has a chance to stun new opponents. Skill #3 now procs a debuff which has a chance to cause healing instead of damage. Skill #4 now forces opponent to attack self if they have a specific debuff. Resistance lowered.

  1. Slap. 10en, 8spd, 12dmg, Phys. 80hit, 100proc. If your target is Beloved, this attack will interrupts their attack if it strikes first. A successful hit will cause Beloved to end. Close.
  2. Heart Breaker. 45en, 2spd, 13x3(39)dmg, Phys. 90hit, 100proc. If your target has a Switch Cooldown Timer active then this attack has a 50% chance to stun them for the next turn. Both.
  3. Deadly Kiss. 50en, 9spd, Dark. 100hit, 90proc. For the next 2 turns, your target is Beloved (Beloved: When you attack you have a 50% chance to heal rather than harm your opponent.). Cooldown: 1. Far.
  4. Black Heart. 40en, 10spd, Dark. 100Hit, 90Proc. Your next attack will have a chance to hit fleeing (60%). If your target is Beloved then you may cause them to target themselves (75Proc). A successful hit will cause Beloved to end. Far.

With her move to the Psychos, I've taken the opportunity to spruce up Vamp's bar and put into place some new ideas for going about what I want her to do.

Skill #1, Slap, was always dangerous since it was a fast quick interrupt. But, here, I've taken the idea from the discarded Psycho #6 of an interrupt that really isn't and paired a fast, cheap attack with a debuff that allows it to interrupt.
That debuff comes from the new Skill #3, Kiss, which is now a little cheaper and instead of simply having a chance to stop an attack with the whole converting damage into healing thing, it instead procs a debuff that does the same. While it's up on her foe, they'll have a chance to gift her with health rather than take it away. I'm not sure, at the moment, where the best balance point for that is so I've left it at a roughly equal coin-flip.

Because that debuff is short lasting, though, and because landing an interrupt while it's up will strip it away even sooner, I feel comfortable taking the cooldown off of Skill #1. It's now just a quick, cheap attack that gets supercharged when Skill #2 is in play. The combination should be rather nasty but also keep players from defaulting to Slapping away. You can't interrupt right away, now you have to work at it.

The new theme of more or less controlling an opponent's actions continues with the revised Skill #4. I've dropped the idea of a skill that makes a target stun itself and, in its place, given out another way of interracting with that central debuff. While that debuff from Skill #3 is in play as well it forces their attack to hit their own health bar rather than the former Vamp's, giving her a way to truly reflect attacks. They wouldn't, by the way, have a chance to heal themselves, although if this redirection failed they'd still have that chance to restore some health. The net result is that it's really not worthwhile to attack so, again, to limit the potential for locking a character down indefinitely this skill also strips away that Skill #2 debuff.

And to make sure that there's not a completely useless skill on the bar it also does a little something else but we'll get to that.

The final change is to Skill #2 which used to be a Gun Attack and that, obviously, had to go since those are a Gangster thing. So, the new Skill #2 was changed to deal a bit less damage and punch through resistance a bit better since it no longer has that chance to avoid it entirely. It also picks up the idea of a conditional stun from the old Skill #4 but now ties into the Ex-Vamp's anti-switch innate. When an opponent switches in, she gets healed. And when they switch in they'll also get that Switch Cooldown to prevent them from switching out again. While they have that debuff, this attack will have a decent chance to stun them and since it works from either range that makes it very dangerous to switch in against the Vamp – instead, you'll have to stay and dance the dance that she wants as she tries to twist you in knots and prevent your attacks.

And that's where the secondary effect of Skill #4 comes into the picture, too, since it will not only have a chance to reflect attacks, it'll add a chance for P7's attack to hit fleeing as well. That allows her to put a hurting on her opponent, to wrap them up and tie them down with her reflecting debuffs and then threaten them with a further blast of damage even if they throw up their hands and try to run away.

It's all moving her into more Trapper territory which is, I think, fine. She's not going to stop anyone right away but she can put a foe in a tough spot in a hurry and that's great. It not only gives her disruption a purpose other than preserving her narrow slice of life but it also plays into her new theme as the Black Widow. The seductress who lures her prey to their doom. Once you step into her web, well, you just might not make it out...

Name: Robin Echs
Title: The Shadow Stalker
Innate: After making a critical hit, Robin has a 40% chance to dodge all attacks for the next turn.
HP: 55
RES: 3/0/7
Bar (v3): Skill #1 dmg lowered, Skill #2 dmg lowered, Skill #3 dmg on return switch removed, Skill #4 revised, now has a chance to stun opponent.
  1. Phantom Pain. 35En, 7spd, Phys. 95Hit, 95Proc. Your target will take 24 dark damage at the end of the next turn. One of their teammates is struck for 12 physical damage. Close.
  2. Shadowy Strike. 40En, 6spd, 28dmg, Dark. 90Hit, 50Proc, 10Crit. This attack has a chance to set the range to its opposite. Both.
  3. Shadow Stab. 55En, 2spd, Dark. 95Hit, 100Proc. Your target takes 12 physical damage. You are switched out of the fight. The next time your target is struck you are switched back in. Close.
  4. Shroud of Darkness. 40En, 3spd, 12dmg, Dark. 90Hit, 75Proc, 10Crit. At the end of the next turn, your target has a chance to become Paralyzed for the next turn (Paralyzed. You are stunned and unable to move. Attacks made against you are automatically critical hits.). Far.

One big change here. I've taken Rocker #2's old Skill #3 which I dropped for being too problematic and applied it here, replacing the old Skill #4. Although it adds yet more disruption to an already quite disruptive bar, that doesn't bother me so much since that's sort of the Psycho's thing. And, unlike R#2, the Shadow doesn't have a super-huge nuke to really take advantage that will turn even the hardest of targets into a finely shredded paste. She's got Skill #2 which deals a good amount but I've been working on reducing her damage so that the threat here really comes from her disruption – like the Vamp, the Shadow needs to be a card that ties her opponents down and then finishes them off with her generally weaker hits. So, Skill #1, 2, & 3 have all seen their damage drop.

Unfortunately, I wanted to find a way of making her innate proc more often by giving her a way to guarantee a critical hit. So, rather than just stunning a target her Skill #4 instead “paralyzes” them. That's basically the same as a Stun with the additional quality of making any hit an automatic critical. That's probably really dumb of me – especially with a range-less power hit - but I think I've got the damage set here well enough that Shadow will still require 3 hits to finish off all but the weakest of foes. I'll have to crunch the numbers more carefully to check, though, since I'm just going by my best judgement right now.

Either way, Shadow's still deadly enough that I feel justified setting her health and resistance fairly low. She might be a slippery card but she's going to need to be.

Name: Dark [Foe's Name]
Title: Your Evil Twin
Innate: Dark [Foe] has the innate ability and resistance of its foe.
HP: 75
RES: 4/0/6
Bar (v3): Skill #4 now heals if target has particular debuff, cost increased.
  1. Blood Pact. 35En, 2spd, 24dmg, Phys. 95Hit, 100Proc. You steal half of the damage that you cause. If you have a Sympathetic Link then you steal the full amount of damage caused. Close.
  2. Sympathetic Link. 40En, 3spd, Dark. 100Hit, 90Proc. For the next 6 turns half of any damage you suffer is also taken by your target as well. Both.
  3. Memorize. 20En, 10spd, Dark. 100Hit, 100Proc. If you are attacked this turn, Memorize is replaced by that attack for the next 3 turns. Both.
  4. Unequal Trade. 20En, 2spd, Dark. 100Hit, 100Proc. You steal a buff from your opponent. If they lose a buff in this way, they take 12 dark damage. If you have a Sympathetic link you gain 12 health (100Proc). Both.

Only a minor change here. Skill #4 creeps up in power again and gets a bit of a cost increase in recognition. But it now also procs a minor heal if its target has already been debuffed by Skill #2. Like with Skill #1, this makes the debuff in slot 2 a key component of this character and ensures it's beneficial to put into play. It means giving this character a bit more healing, which is dangerous, but it might well be okay.

Name: Jarod Molereed
Title: the Masked Murderer
Innate: This card can equip any item OR This card has the resistance, health, and innate of another random card.
HP: 80 OR varies
RES: 5/1/2 OR varies
Bar (v3): Skill #3 cost raised
  1. Terrifying Slash. 50En, 7spd, 24dmg, Phys. 95Hit, 30Proc. There is a chance this attack reflects your foe's attack if it strikes first. Close.
  2. Brutal Mockery. 20En, 10spd, Dark. 100Hit, 100Proc. You use the same skill that your opponent did last turn. Both.
  3. Cruel Twist. 20En, 10spd, Phys. 100Hit, 80Proc. You have an 80% chance to repeat the same move that you used last turn. Both.
  4. Unmask. 30En, 10spd, Dark. 100Hit, 100Proc. Performs a random move from a random character that shares the same group as your item OR Performs a random move from the card whose identity you have assumed. Both.

Nothing much to see here. I've raised the cost on Skill #3 so that it's a null cost instead of a net-cost. That somewhat lessens the concern that P2 can capture a particularly powerful skill and, then, drive it into the ground but not by much. It's still a problem but one I'll probably have to live with – I think the randomness of it all offsets it enough that it should be okay. The times when you do get a good skill to ride will be outweighed by all those times you don't, in other words, and it'll all work out on average. I'm even alright with turning Skill #1 from a 50 energy skill into a repeatably 20 energy one – opponents can always step away, rendering it useless.

Name: Maury Pheros
Title: The Dream Killer
Innate: When this character attacks, his damage is applied to his foe's lowest resistance.
HP: 70
RES: 2/2/2
Bar (v3):
  1. Ego Assault. 40En, 6spd, 7x5(35)dmg, Dark. 95Hit, 50Proc. This attack has a chance to disable your target's innate for the next 3 turns. Close.
  2. Night Terrors. 30En, 8spd, 8x3(24)dmg, Dark. 95Hit, 75Proc. This attack has a chance to interrupt your foe if it strikes first. Close.
  3. 1.Mind Bender. 60En, 3spd, Dark. 100Hit, 90Proc. One of your foe's skills is locked at random for the next 4 turns. Mind Bender is replaced by that locked skill while it remains disabled. Both.
  4. 2.Psychic Vibrations. 0En, 10spd, Dark. 100Hit, 75Proc. You have a chance to perform the same move that your opponent performs this turn. Far.

No changes here. This is the sort of card that I'd really have to see other people play with first before I went much further. It seems alright to me but I've lost all perspective now and I'd need to see how it got used and what the feedback was before I could regain it.