Saturday, October 18, 2008

Rex Does Kongai: Sketching In the Gangsters

Whoops. I meant to post this last night but it got eated by the machine. Let's try again to start the creation of the second group. We're setting the Rock Stars aside and moving on to the Gangsters.

This is from the original post and while I think I might be able to write it better today, I'm largely okay with it:

Gangsters: A group of flex-range scrappers who use their firearms to ignore resistance and get around shutdown. Bullets slice through protection, knives slip past defenses, and nothing can stop their heavy punches. All gangsters from the same crime family, based – ever so loosely – on famous maffiosos from pop culture. Shared mechanics: Flex-range. Near or Far. Close or away. You can't stop the Gangsters, they're going to beat you either way. Ignores Resistance. Attacks whose damage isn't lowered by resistance. Guns. Have a template skill, a gun shot, with variations that can appear on several bars.

The Gangsters have been conceived as a group of flex-range scrappers. Now, what I mean by this might be a little confusing since I've developed my own lexicon while bouncing inside the cages of my own mind.

A flex-range character is the opposite of a single-range character. They're cards that might not necessarily contain a bunch of dual ranged skills that work both near and far. It helps but it's not a requirement since you can make them with purely single-ranged skills. The key is that they don't change much when the range does. Their basic abilities, the way they generally play, remains largely the same. As opposed to characters whose bar alters radically as the range shifts, whether that's transitioning their role from one to another or reducing their effectiveness, the way single-range characters will drop off at another range.

By scrapper I mean a card that's on the field to kill. Really, every card is, but scrappers are those cards who excel at it. They sacrifice defense for stopping power. They have protection so they can trade blows. They have a variety of ways to deal damage and land hits that make them hard to stop.

So, that's the general blueprint for a Gangster. A character who's able to hit hard and slug it out with their opponents and who will be able to do so more or less equally from either range.

The other element I want to work into the Gangster is to make them a counterpoint to much of the rest of what's going on in this set. They're going to be able to bypass some of the key abilities of the other groups or corrupt them somehow. Ignore them, in so many words, as they go about their business. The Gangsters are the group you'll want to play if you get sick of what everyone else is up to and just want to do your own thing – because they'll blow right through the really annoying stuff.

The most obvious way they'll do this is by featuring a lot of ways to ignore resistance. Cutting through an opponent's normal ways of reducing damage not only increases their, not only helps create a unique identity for this rugged group, but also puts more important on the buffing and debuffing. Opponents won't be able to mitigate damage through resistance but they can through blinds and dodges, creating an incentive to explore these alternative methods.

So, there's the general idea. In a nutshell, Gangsters will get to operate from both ranges, they'll get to be good attacking characters, and their attacks will find a way to ignore resistances and, otherwise, bypass their opponents attempts to stop them. Like with the Rock Stars we can get away from the basic scheme by fiddling around with it. But also like the Rock Stars I think with such a clear concept for the generic Gangster that we'll benefit from having a template bar to guide our design.
Here's what I'm thinking:

  1. Punch Attack. Close.
  2. Gun Attack. Far.
  3. Bomb Attack. Both.
  4. A Buff or Debuff, to affect the above.

One skill Close, one skill Far, and one that works at Both with a skill to enhance them all. This means that at any range a Gangster will have from 2~3 skills to use, depending on what we do with that 4th skill. What I'm getting at here is the skill split, or a measure of how much of a character's bar is useful at either range and how much of it is so much dead space sitting there uselessly. Here, it's gong to be something like 3/3 or, perhaps, some version of 3/2. That's a lot of options to play with and that's the sort of flexibility we want to create.

Gun attacks, by the way, will have the concept of the Gangster whipping some kind of gun and shooting at an opponent. That seems like a natural fit for the armor ignoring mechanic. Helping to make guns distinct. Shooting someone with a gun should feel like it's doing more than just smacking them with your fist, after all, and eliminating the reduction of armor will make them seem more deadly, more powerful, even though there won't really be any difference.

Punch attacks will be Close-ranged physical attacks. If we're going to make guns special by making them armor-piercing then we can't do the same for these. But we can compensate by making sure these attacks have at least some minor effect to make them more than just “Skill. Energy. Damage. Range.” Unlike Guns which will likely have very similar qualities, we'll have a lot of room to play around and add special abilities here.

Bomb attacks will be the Gangster whipping out an explosive and ssing it at the ground. They don't all have to be that but the idea is to have a powerful attack that can be used regardless of the range. A dual range nuke – which probably won't be as powerful as the traditional nuke because that'll be the trade-off with its flexibility. One thing we'll have to do with these, though, is to carefully watch the costs here. What we want are skills that cost upwards of 50 energy. The reason is that Gangsters will be very flexible with their range, giving them a lot of temptation to step away from their opponent's strength. If they can step away and then use their most powerful skill, that's going to be a problem - the same one we learned about with Rocker #3 namely that flexible characters shouldn't be allowed to deal too much damage too easily. But if Bombs cost 50+ energy then a Gangster has to choose between defensively moving away or staying put and going on the offensive. This will limit their ability to frustrate their opponents somewhat.

Finally, we've got a bit of a wild card in a buff or debuff skill. What I'm thinking of here are minor effects that give some kind of bonus to the other skills on the bar. Maybe they make them proc something or transform their damage type or whatever, but with three solid attacks, two of which can be used at either range, the Gangsters are pretty well set when it comes to attacking – how many ways of taking off health does a character really need, after all, especially if they're already doing a good job of it. We could tack on another attack but it's likely going to be swallowed up by the rest of the bar and rendered irrelevant. Since one of the things I'm trying to do is to put an emphasis on buffs/debuffs in this set, a crucial buff, on the other hand, or a stinging debuff rounds out their selection much better. Of course, if it's needed we can always toss in that fourth attack as well. But giving even these characters some effect to toss around means that, sooner or later, everyone will have to deal with a buff or three in every fight. That puts increased importance on buff friendly abilities as well as buff destroying capabilities – if people start thinking Sword Flurry and Tiger Pounce are great, then we've done enough.

Until then, here's our revised Generic Gangster Template:

  1. Punch Attack. Physical with special ability. Close.
  2. Gun Attack. Ignores resistance. Far.
  3. Bomb Attack. Nuke that's not friendly with ranging. Both.
  4. Buff of Debuff to taste.

Now that we've got our template, let's start fitting our characters into it. This might take a little while since the Gangsters are our largest group They've got 7 concepts while the other groups are content with only 6. Since it's been a little while since I laid them out, let's revisit my old comments before we get into each character.

Again we're back to the vague shadow bars where I'm just tryign to get a feeling for what a skill does. Large on ideas, low on information. We'll get to the specifics in days to come but for now, let's get started with the main man, our Tony Montana rip-off.

“Tony Montana”: A Tony Montana-esque, Scarface-like gangster. The family's underboss or otherwise one of its leaders. A vicious fighter who'll scrap tooth and claw, with guns and knives. Able to lay down some DOT, he won't be the game's hardest hitter, but he will be one of its more flexible ones.
Well, I think the inspiration here is clear enough. We're going for Tony “Say Hello To My Little Friend!” Montana here. The guy who's got two things in this world, his word and his balls, and he don't break them for anyone. What we're hoping for, though, is a card who'll break plenty of other things. Preferably his opponent's. The key here, I think, when translating this concept into a card is to get across that sense of viciousness. That this is a guy with anger problems, who's ready to fly off the handle and go off on his opponent. Filled with rage and handing out pain.

Name: Sammy Wyoming, the Wartime Consigliere
Idea: A Tony Montana with the numbers scratched off. A flex-range scrapper. A card that can kill quickly, given the chance.
Innate: Chance to “scar”? Lowering max health by x (10?) for several turns.
Bar (v1):
  1. Switchblade. Moderate damage (20~25). High crit (25). Chance to Bleed (low). Low cost (20~30), moderate speed (@5). Close. Phys.
  2. Machine Gun Burst. Moderate damage (25~30 – multi-hit?). Ignores resistance. Moderate cost, high speed. Far. Phys.
  3. Fragmentation Grenade. Moderate to high damage (@40). Ignores resistance? High cost, high speed. Both. Phys?
  4. Sunglasses. Buff. Gains hit, cannot miss for next several turns. OR Mysterious White Powder / Rage. Buff. Adds 1 multiplier to damage skills (chance to crit?). Both. Phys?
Not quite sure we got as close as I'd like to the ideal but I think we're getting there. In the next revision, I think I'll try and include some more DOT because that'll help hide some of his damage.

The general idea here, after all, is a flex-range character. Sammy-boy is, in many ways, the protypical Gangster. And one of their key features is an ability to disregard the range. Near or Far, it doesn't matter to them because, one way or another, they can keep working their opponent over. But, if you'll remember from Rocker #3, those kind of characters have an effective cap on their damage because, otherwise, they make more restricted characters redundant.

Sammy's going to be a damage dealing character but we need to keep his damage levels down. One way to do so is to spread that damage out over time. Hits that arrive in one package are more deadly than hits that are spread out over multiple rounds. Giving skills a DOT kicker means they trail a bit of their damage over the next few turns. That damage takes time to finish a card off, reducing a skill's lethality even while you can pump its damage higher. Weak on turn hits can be followed by solid amounts of damage over time and that won't be as deadly as a skill that hits for the same amount of damage but all in one lump sum.

At the moment, only Skill #1 has some DOT, proccing a weak Bleed. Although it also will have a chance to proc the debuff from the innate here. I see it as a weak one to help compensate for a powerful bar. It'll create a wound, a scar, that will lower maximum health. Say Sammy hits an average 70 health character and deals 20 damage, his innate procs and they lose 10 maximum health. That would leave them with 50 out of 60 hit point. That won't do anything for the hit or a skill's damage but it will prevent the recovery of health. Even if a card gets away, some of that damage will continue to remain.

Next, we have the first Gun skill and I'm liking what I see. While Skill #1 will have a bit of an extra kick from its DOT, Skill #2 will retain a bit of extra power by ignoring that resistance. It might not seem like much but a few points of damage can make a lot of different. Incidentally, I'm thinking of making this a multi-hit, though. You might ask why I'd bother since it's going to bypass resistances anyway so it's not going to lose any damage that way. But it can lose damage through other ways. Imagine a Blood Burn or some other effect that can lower damage. That would hit this skill much harder if it was a multi-hit and, indeed, might be the best way to prevent its damage. Something to keep in mind, since that might help make up for losing one of the normal restrictions.

Skill #3 is the prototype Bomb skill and, hmm, feels uninspired. Needs a bit more, somehow.

But what's needed even more is a buff here. I've got two ideas, neither of which I'm too happy with. The first involves playing into the idea of the Gangsters ignoring defenses by giving Sammy a cheap Origami Crane, preventing him from missing even as he's slicing through defenses. The second is a bit more promising playing into that simmering pile of rage lurking underneath. It'd be a damage enhancer, something of a dangerous idea here, but the idea would be that multi-hit skills would gain a multiplier – going from AxB to AxB+1. Giving them, effectively, A extra damage. I would need to add in at least another multi-hit to make it work, though. The idea of adding more crit comes from wanting to keep single-hits around. That way, multi-hits could benefit from the damage bonus and single-hits could still gain a bit of bonus damage from the increased chance to crit.

Have to think about it some but, for now, I'm alright. Sammy's bar might not be completely in sync with the concept yet but a lot of that can come back in through the flavor text. What's important is that it's living up to the design goals of creating a dangerous, flexible character. Not all the way there yet, but it's a good foot forward.

Moving on, we come to Gangster #2, the Thug.

The Thug: A big, burly leg breaker and arm twister. A big galloot, a great dumb lug, thicker than a bag full of hammers and twice as strong. They call him the ox because it'll take a bolt to the head to bring him down. A close-only heavy who'll rely on his fists because he sure won't be relying on his speed.
Now, I think it's a given here that we're going to come up with a Close-only brawler. Second character in the line and we're already throwing away all that prep work because this is just going to be someone who gets close and works his opponent over. We'll see if I can't come up with an interesting twist on that or not. But we're going to be cutting against the grain here and making a character who stands out from the rest of the line. But that's okay because I don't mind playing against type.

Name: Johnny Ossobucco, the Thug
Idea: The group's physical brawler. The big, dumb lug. The street-level soldier who breaks legs and does what he's told. Hits hard, hits fast.
Innate: ???
Bar (v1):
  1. Knuckle Punch. Moderate damage. Target's speed is lowered. Moderate cost, moderate speed. Close. Phys.
  2. Bull Rush. Low to moderate damage. Interrupt with moderate proc (@75%). Moderate to high cost, moderate speed (@5) <- designed to synergize w/ slow effect. Close. Phys.
  3. Gut Punch. High damage (40+). Ignores resistance. High cost, high speed (6+). Close. Phys.
  4. Raging Bull. Buff. For next several turns, skills/punches can be used at opposite range. Moderate cost, low speed. Far. Phys?

Well, it seems I came up with a novel take on the old physical Close-only after all.

The attacks here aren't anything too special. Skill #1 lowers speed, like Anex's ChakSlash. And Skill #2 will be an interrupt designed to benefit greatly from that lowered speed. As more snares are put in place, more and more skills are dragged into interrupt-friendly range.

And, then, in place of a Bomb skill we just have an attack that'll bomb people out of the match with Skill #3. A heavy attack that also ignores resistance and should have decent priority.

But the real eye-popper here is Skill #4. The idea is that this is a buff which flips around the ranges on all those Close skills. While it's up The Thug isn't a Close-only character, he's a Far-only. I'm thinking it'll be a brief duration but it allows him to maintain some of that vaunted Gangster flexibility. When he's inevitably pushed away, he can spend a turn and a ton of energy and continue to pound away. Effectively, this trades the cost of the buff for the cost of maintaining range. It'll slow The Thug down somewhat, too, adding at least a turn to however long it should take him to kill his target so while it adds a lot of flexibility he still maintains his status as a character who prefers Close range.

It's potentially a very wild effect. I believe, before I go any further, I'm going to have to think through some of its implications. But, as it is, it's a wild idea that could really add something to the way the game's played. It'll take a lot of handwaving to rationalize away the concept but, mechanically, it could work.

Next, we have the suave Gangster #3.

The Made Man: A slick, pin-striped suit wearing, fast talking hustler. A smooth operator always on the hustle. I'm thinking Ray Liotta here or, at least, Raffles the Gentleman Thief. A fast card with, perhaps, a mugging mechanic that lets him take from an opponent even as he harms them.
I'm thinking that since we've got a flexible, dual range character in Gangster #1 and a bruising Close-range specialist in Gangster #2 that this card should be the team's Far-ranger. That's, I think, a good way to go about building a group. There are certain roles or archetypes to which all cards can be thought to correspond. Chief among them are those that deal with range. You have your one range-onlies, that can only operate from a given range. Then there are ranged-specialists who aren't quite as limited but still tilt towards one side of the field or the other. Both of those can be thought of as set to a specific range. But then you've got characters who are essentially rangeless. Your dual-range characters, whose bars flip around and transform depending on where the range is. And then the previously mentioned flex-range characters who aren't much affected by the state of the range. There are more roles out there like Trappers and Burners but a mixture of those I've just mentioned will provide a solid base for a group. You take one rangeless character to taste, and pair them with a card that's good at Close and one that prefers the Far range. Pad that out with a Tank or another Staller, perhaps, but a defensive character that will frustrate an opponent's efforts. And then the kind of high damage, low defense character that I'd call a Burner, designed to hit fast and hard, or some other kind of wild idea. Or, really, any other kind of card that you'd like. The key is to give them a kind of internal consistency. That principle of shared design to which we keep returning. Maybe they're fast cards, maybe they've all got a lot of health, or maybe they all use some variation of that skill you've been so excited about. But they're all modifications of that basic concept. Tailored to suit each of their given roles. There are other ways of going about it and you can look at the Rockers for an example, but, here, I think, we're going to go back to the basics. One near, one far, one in-between, and a couple of oddballs on the side. And I think Fingers here might give a nice wrinkle to the old Far-ranged theme.

Name: Tommy Fingers, the Made Man
Idea: Slick card, always impeccably dressed in pinstripes. A fast operator, always on the hustle. The team's far-range specialist.
Innate: Ignores opponent's resistance.
Bar (v1):
  1. Pick Pocket. Low damage (@10). Steals heavy energy (40?) from target. Low cost (10? - should give enough to set range at end of next turn.), moderate speed (5). Close. Dark.
  2. Hand Gun. Moderate damage (20~25). Moderate cost (35), high speed (8). Far. Phys.
  3. Trick Shot. Nuke. Deals low damage (12), deals moderate to heavy damage at end of turn (30?). OR hits random opponent for moderate to heavy damage. Moderate cost (40+), high speed. Far. Phys.
  4. Sunglasses / Sharp Shooter. Gains hit. Cannot be dodged or miss debuffed for next several turns. Both. Phys?
Alright, so the obvious thing here is the innate. Which is potentially really strong. With it, we've given every skill on Finger's bar a way to avoid resistance. That's about as strong as we can get. In fact, I can't think of a way to go further beyond something like Voss's innate where resistance is actively hurting a card. Still it depends on the opponent he's up against – it's not of much benefit unless his target has some resistance in the first place. And with only three attacks, he's really only going a few steps beyond what Gangsters #1&2 have already done.

The next thing to notice is that we'll give him a pair of long-ranged hits. And that they're both fast. There's nothing really fancy about #2 beyond that speed, it's just a solid hit that will benefit from that armor piercing innate. Skill #3 is his replacement for a Bomb and it does...well, I'm not sure what it does just yet. The first version I've got splits its damage between the start of the round and its end. You'd hit someone and, then, like a Bleed or a Burn ticking off, they'd suffer more damage at the end. This ensures an opponent a chance to act before the killing blow arrives. So, it can be both fast enough to avoid interrupts (Important in this set, mark my words.), and lethal enough to be a real threat. The other option that I've thought up is basically a rehash of Zina's Eye of the Tiger.

For #4, the buff, I've stolen another idea. But at least this time it's mine. We'll pick up the idea of a missless character for the character who's hits can't be stopped. With this buff, not only will Fingers be able to ignore resistance but he'll be certain that each of his attacks lands, too. How good that will be would depend on his hit rates, of course, and that might not be good enough so we'll also throw in a few more bonuses. First, it'll not only set his hit rates to 100%, it'll prevent them from being lowered. No miss chance debuffs will come into play, with this buff up, Gangster #3 is rocking the sure shot. And, second, it'll mean his attacks not only ignore resistance but any dodge chance as well. He can't be made to miss and his opponent can't have a way to avoid, again, every time he attacks it's a sure thing.

Finally, there's Skill #1, another of those energy stealing skills that I'm so fond of. It gives Fingers a bit of Close-range power but it does without damage. He'll be able to sap energy but he'll only be able to chip away at health. But an opponent low on energy will be easier to range against, making it simple enough for Fingers to get back to where he can blast away. Especially when his own yellow bar is threatening to overflow.

We'll need to buckle down and figure out Skill #3 but so far, so good. The combination of innate and buff here could really be something, we just need to fill in a few more details.

Having done the basic troika of the range, it's time to get a bit further afield and introduce some oddballs into the line. We're probably not going to get any odder ideas out there than Overdrive, so it's seems like we're getting to Gangster #4, the Hit Man, just in time.

The Hit Man: A dark, silent, bald man in a trenchcoat. The gang's button man, their assassin, the silent, competent one who always gets the job done as long as the pay is right. An overdrive killer, he'll take a few turns to spin up but once he does, he'll be a stone cold killer. Something of a close-range version of Amethyst Weapon.

Before, I described the Heartless Hit Man as a “Close-range Amethyst”. Now, I realize that I'm probably the only one who knows what that means since only a handful of people have ever seen the card known as Amethyst and I'm likely the only one who cares. Amethyst comes the Weapons group of my second set of cards, the idea being that they were all terrifying and ancient engines of destruction left behind by, say, the Atlanteans or some other mystic civilization now lost to history. Modeled after things like the Atma Weapon from Final Fantasy, they were supposed to be big and bad and, above all, ranged (They were all named after precious gemstones, by the way.). Amethyst was the testbed for a concept I like to call “Overdrive”. The idea being that you have a character who gains additional power after meeting some sort of condition, revving up and going into....yeah, overdrive. Maybe they get a buff that lowers their energy costs or raises their speed, maybe it simply unlocks a critical skill, but whatever it is, it doesn't happen right away. It's something that takes a few turns to play out, making the challenge with an overdrive character simply getting beyond that initial start-up and into those dominating rounds. With Amethyst, his trick was that after a certain number of consecutive turns on the field, his damage would go through the roof. If he was knocked out of the fight or switched out, he'd have to start all over again when he came back. But, if he could stick around long enough he'd turn into a one-hit killing sniper. But only from Far-range, so not only did he have to get his weakly protected shell through a few futile turns, he'd have to make sure he wound up at the right range when his bonus kicked in. He could do so, though, thanks to some antagonistic skills – he'd have to pick and choose but he could either buff up his defenses to absurd height or set the range on a delay, both timed to coincide with the timer on his innate. It sounds complicated and it is but the simple explanation is the Amethyst is a weak card that turns into a hunter-killer if you can keep him in play long enough. And that's what I want to do with the Hit Man, I just want to flip it around so he works primarily at Close range.

Name: Sully, the Button Man
Idea: Dark, silent killer in a trenchcoat. The gang's hit man, their assassin. An overdrive killer, he needs a few turns to get up to speed but, afterwards, is lethal.
Innate: Resistance (and speed and/or damage?) lowered at end of turn? Think built-in Blood Burn effect.
Bar (v1): (Bleh.)
  1. Cosh / Cudgel. Low damage. Target is less accurate (moderate -hit). Moderate cost, moderate speed. Close. Phys. // Knocks buff instead.
  2. Rifle Shot. Deals low damage (10~12). Leaves debuff increasing damage (ie, +25crit, +50% crit damage) – after two~three shots is a kill shot. Low to moderate cost (30), moderate speed (2). Far. Phys.
  3. Wound. Debuff. Taget takes high damage (50) after several turns. Close. Phys?
  4. Marked Man / Contract Hit. Debuff. If you kill this target, something good happens (gain full energy? a damage boost for next several turns? ). // Debuff – takes increased damage next hit, lasts several turns.) Both. Dark.
I'm not pleased.

I think the problem is that I was afraid of repeating myself and, so, tried too hard to make sure that this card wasn't just a rehash of Amethyst's bar. I worked up new skills and mechanics rather than just flipping around the ranges. So, he lacks the elegance of a skill that sets the range after a few turns have lapsed. And he also lacks the innate to really make the overdrive mechanic fly. I'm not sure how the wind-up works or how the punch should be delivered: I just know that they should be in there. As it is, I've gone the route of the debuffs.

There are some good ideas here, but not many. I think a buff removing skill could be good considering how many buffs we have floating around this set. So #1 might be a keeper. And the idea of a weak hit that gets stronger is something that I keep returning to and I think #2 does it in an interesting way. That could remain. But #3 is just a lamer version of Touch of Doom. And that's really not a good thing. While #4 is nothing more than a good idea waiting to happen. And while the idea of a built-in Blood Burn is neat, I've already done it before. And I hate repeating myself. Although, it is slightly different here since I see it as a per turn effect rather than one that happens on a hit – at the start or end of each turn, the opponent gets debuffed and loses some protection.

No, we're going to have to pull this one back to the drawing board. Because it's really not working.

Next up we have the team's dirty rat, Gangster #5, the Stoolie.

The Stoolie: The snitch, the stool pigeon, the shifty one that nobody likes. He's Joe Pesci with just as short of a temper. He's not big, he's not all that tough, but he's learned to be devious and shifty as he's scraped to survive. Able to debilitate his opponents, he'll also be able to steal from them. Somehow.
Hmm. This might be a tough one. Because, the idea here was to have something of a counterpart to Rocker #4. And we know how well that character turned out. The general idea here is a character who gets better by weakening his opponents but, again, I don't have a real idea of how to go about doing that and I suspect it's going to come back to haunt me. Still, let's see if we can't do this concept more justice than that other debilitating guy.

Name: Vinnie Randazzo, the Snitch
Idea: The gang's rat, the stool pigeon, the informant. Short, shifty, and nervous, a snitch who has to scrap to survive. Steals and debilitates his opponent.
Innate: When opponent buffs, chance to steal that buff for his own use.
Bar (v1): (Meh).
  1. Pistol Whip. Low damage. Target loses speed and resistance. Low cost, moderate speed. Close. Phys.
  2. Crack Shot. Moderate damage. Ignores resistance. Moderate cost, high speed. Far. Phys.
  3. Kneecap. Moderate damage. Target's skills cost 10 more and yours cost 10 less for next several turns. Moderate cost, moderate speed. Both. Phys?
  4. Grand Larceny. Moderate damage. Target loses speed and you gain speed for next several turns. Both. Moderate cost, moderate speed. Phys?
All things considered, I don't think we've got a good card here. Not yet anyways. Again, like Gangster #4, there are some good things here. But, again, like Rocker #4, it's just not coming together yet.

It's the same problem again, we've thrown a bunch of things together and while they're all interesting they're not exactly working alongside each other well enough yet.

There are some good effects, though. The Bomb here is Skill #3 and it include a procced version of Ubuntu's innate. And that's a potentially devastating ability. The speed stealing effect from Skill #4 is, too, although it's not exactly supported well enough yet.

Skill #1 just isn't going to work, I think. The idea was to make a hidden Gun attack. A Close-range physical hit that was still Gun-type. That could be important if we start passing out certain restricted abilities – an item that benefited only Gun attacks, for instance, could certainly see the light of day. And this skill would benefit from it while other Close-range Gangster skills would not. And to help make it feel like a Gun while not being a Gun, I've made it bite into resistance, like a cheap Blood Burn that hits speed instead of damage. But, really, I don't think that Stoolie will gain enough from it. His other big attack already ignores resistance. And his big debuff already saps away speed. It just feels redundant.

No, this is a Gangster bar with a bunch of interesting debuff poorly stapled on. We'll have to revise a bit and find a way of melding them more together.

That's two misses in a row, let's see if we can't turn things around with the next card, Gangster #6, the Gun Moll.

The Gun Moll: Have you ever heard of Bulleta? Yeah, well, that's kind of the idea here. A seemingly cute and angelic girl who's really insanely violent and packing enough of an arsenal to equip an army. She'll be a high damage, far-range, heavy hitter that deals a lot of damage. She'll also be, in the game's lore, one of the gangster's girlfriends, the Bonnie to their Clyde.
The goombah's goomah, the idea behind the Gun Moll is that she's some gangster's girlfiend (At the moment, I'd have to go with Gangster #1, Sammy, but you never know. She could go for the big dumb lug that is Gangster #2, too.). The crazy Nancy to their vicious Syd. Bonnie to go with someone's Clyde. The pretty little package that packs an outsized punch. That's because our Blode Bombshell is all about damage. If we can make her, I'd like to make her the hardest hitting card in this group. Maybe not the biggest hitter overall but she should be pumping out the heavy damage. Since Gangster #3's picking up the far-ranged tag, though, I think we can drop that idea here.

Name: Molly MaGee, the Gun Moll / Goomah
Idea: Heavy hitting far-range specialist. A gun-toting girlfriend, who carries an arsenal in her handbag and isn't afraid to use it. Think Bulleta.
Innate: Chance to deal bonus damage on attack. Damage to random opponent? Only at specific range?
Bar (v1):
  1. Derringer Blast. Deals low to moderate damage (@12~18). Low cost (20), low speed. Both. Phys.
  2. Tommy Gun. Deals high multi-hit damage (@40~50). Moderate to high cost, moderate to high speed. Far. Phys.
  3. Hand Grenade. Hits target for moderate damage (@20) and hits random opponent in deck for that amount, too (@100p). Moderate cost (40), moderate speed (5). Both. Phys.
  4. Incendiary Rounds. Buff. Attacks cause Burning (Moderate @12DOT, 100p?) and ignore opponent's resistance. Moderate cost (30), low speed. Both. Phys.
Okay, where to start?

So, to play into her deathly damage theme, I've given her an innate that's simply about enhancing her damage, giving her a random chance to proc for more. It'll be like she's got a built-in General's or CritStone. It's a bit of a cop-out because, you know, we could just add more damage into her skills and give her an innate that does something more useful. But I like the concept that she'll randomly kick out more damage. It works with my view of her as an unstable and violent personality – the sweet looking girl carrying a bag full of weapons. It also works with the Gangster's resistance ignoring theme. Those extra points of damage, if they're big enough and frequent enough – which I think they'll be – will make up for points of resistance, helping her skills to get to or over their listed damage. It's not exactly the strongest innate but it's a nice straight-forward one that could do well, if backed up by a solid bar.

And I think we're on our way to a solid bar here. I've started off strong by giving her the biggest Gun skill yet. #2, Tommy Gun, should hit for a ton. It lacks the typical armor ignoring modifier not just because of her innate but also because of #4.

Her buff not only adds a Burning proc to her attacks, making them deal that little bit of damage more, but it also allows them all to ignore resistances – somewhat hedging my bets if I decide her innate is crap, after-all.

Her first skill, #1, is a weak hit but I think that might actually work well. Because it's not going to do much damage it can be cheap. And that gives her a good way to get some cheap procs, either from her innate or from her buff, that turn a minor hit into a solid one. Making for an incredibly efficient skill. It also gives her a way to finish off a weakened opponent without any overdamage – she won't have to use a big attack for that final parting shot, spending a lot of energy to take off more health than she needs. Because it's so weak, we'll let it work at both ranges, making it more useful to close out a fight.

That leaves her Bomb which is a bit of a prosince already will do a lot of damage with her Gun. Rather than putting a second nuke on her bar, though, we can have it still deal a lot of damage by turning it from a straight hit into a deck destroyer. Deck destruction is one of my favorite things to play with although I've been trying not to do so much with it this time around – but attacks that hit cards that aren't even in play can be immensely powerful. Here we'll use one of my old tricks and split the damge that #3 will deal in half. By making it strike the foe on the deck as well as another one in the deck, it will steal deal a healthy amount of damage, it'll just distribute that damage to multiple targets, leaving Skill #2 as the uncontested big stick. It also, by the way, prevents this deck hitting skill from scaling up depending on the number of cards in play. Unlike something that “hits all”, you don't do more raw damage in 5-Card or the like (Although I will note that you take off less of a deck's health as a percentage, an important consideration for hitting in the deck.).

A lot of the Gun Moll will depend on how her figures work out – we cant' really tell how much damage she's doing just yet, only get a rough idea. But I'm liking what I see so far.

Now, at long last we come to the final card, the second of our two lovely ladies in this group. For our final character, let's take a look at the alluring Vamp.

The Vamp: The lounge singer in the sexy dress. The woman with the husky voice and the pistol in your back. The femme fatale. I see her as being the daughter of the gang's boss. And I picture her as being a card that seduces and distracts, rendering her opponents unable – or unwilling – to attack. And that's when this black widow can strike.
I wish I could think of a better example but, in my head, all I'm getting is Jessica Rabbit. But you know the type. We're talking here about a femme fatale. That dangerous, sulty female who struts into the dectective's office and leads them into a world of noir and grime. To tie her into the rest of the group, we're going to make her the Boss's daughter. The Boss being the crime lord that these characters all work for. The namesake of the line. But that's flavor and we're talking function, what I'm after is a card who can seduce, entrace, and enthrall. Probably not all that easy to achieve on the back of a card but let's give it a try anyhow.

Name: Vanessa/Rebecca (Mob Name), the Boss's Daughter
Idea: A slinky, sultry card that uses debuffs and general disorientation to attack her opponents.
Innate: ???
Bar (v1):
  1. Slap. Low damage (@12). High chance to interrupt. Cannot use twice in a row. Low cost (10), moderate to high speed (7?). Close. Phys.
  2. Pistol Shot. Moderate damage multi-hit (@30. 10x3?). If target is stunned, ignores resistance. Moderate cost (30), moderate speed (5). Far. Phys.
  3. Kiss. Psuedo-Reflect. If hits first, attacks heal rather than harm (ie, if attacked for 20, Vamp would instead heal for 20). Cannot use twice in a row. Moderate to high cost (30+), moderate to high speed (6). Both. Dark.
  4. Heartbreaker. Debuff. The next time target attacks they are stunned afterwards. Moderate cost (30~40), low speed. Both. Dark.

Oh boy. We might have gone too far here. The saving grace is that we've held the damage down but that's an awful lot of disruption on a single bar.

She's got Skill #1, Slap, which is going to be a cheapy interrupt. The idea here is that it's a net-cost skill, one where she'll end up at the end of the turn with more energy than she started out with. That means a pretty weak skill overall since you don't pay a lot for it. It has to be pretty fast since it's an interrupt so how we'll keep the cost down here is by sticking in a cooldown. With this sill, she'll be able to interrupt most things, but she'll only be able to do it once. The next turn she'll be wide open.

Then there's Skill #4. Her debuff is a nasty one that makes Rocker #2's Skill #3 look almost fair in comparison. With this skill she'll debuff her opponent so that the next time they swing, they'll wind up stunning themselves. Combined with her ability to disrupt attacks, that's really going to keep foes twisted up in knots. But I still think it's fair since they'll get to choose when – or if – they want that stun. They'll get to attack if they think it's worth their while. We'll probably wind up giving this debuff a short duration and if Skill #1 sticks, probably making sure that it won't trigger on an interrupt, but it has the potential to be really nasty lockdown.

We'll set up Skill #2 to benefit from that stun. That'll be the Vamp's most important and, indeed, sole source of significant damage. And we'll give it a conditional proc, a weak version of the Gangster's resistance ignoring ability that requires a target to be stunned.

And then there's Skill #3 which is an alternative take on the whole mechanic of reflection. Normally, when a skill like Hypno-Stare or Chi Reflect lands, it means an attack is turned back on the attacker, causing them to damage themselves. This creates a swing of health where they lose what their opponent has retained. In this case, though, rather than bouncing an attack back, this move will instead transform the damage into healing (How's a kiss make someone heal you by smacking you with their fist or something? Don't ask me.). This creates a swing but of a different sort. One where the Vamp gains what she normally would have lost. It also shouldn't affect anything to do with buffs or debuffs unlike a normal reflect making it a bit weaker, overall. Actually, we'll probably have to carefully think about how it's going to affect the procs from skills. If she gets tagged with a Poison Dart, can she still get that DOT? Or what?

But we'll leave that question for later. The concern right now is that while each of these skills is interesting and novel, and might even be perfectly fair in their own right, the concentration of all three together on the same bar is potentially disastrous. With them, the Vamp is a character who can lock nearly anyone down. While, at the same time, she deals only paltry damage herself. All she can do then, is frustrate. Turn after turn, disrupting and healing, disrupting and avoiding, disrupting and disabling, until she finally wears someone down. I hate cards like that.

I'm not even worried by the lack of innate here, I'm worried that I just made a huuuuuge mistake.

But, as I said, we'll have to face the consequences another day. For now, I think, we've got a solid start. The Vamp might have too much disruption for a single card while too little damage and will only grind the game's gears with a horrible screach but that's okay. I don't expect that her final bar will look anything like this one. What we have here are a bunch of ways for her to go about doing what I want her to do and, as time goes by, we'll narrow in on one or two and jetison the rest. Maybe they'll float down to other cards, maybe they won't, but either what she has will be toned down or she'll have lost some of it. The important thing now is that we've got the basic concept and that, I think, is both strong and unique. She'll be an oddball in the Gangster line but at least she'll be a powerful one.

That's it for now. Some hits, some misses, but overall, I think the picture looks good. Took a while and I'm pretty drained. But next time we'll pick these concepts up and see if we can't make any improvements. See you then.

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