Friday, February 4, 2011

NERO 9th Edition: Gameplay Changes

Today, we're going to talk about gameplay changes. Obviously, this is a much broader subject, but I'm at least hoping to compile the significant changes.

Armor - Armor no longer breeches. Max armor (sum of physical, arcane, and dex armor) is now 10 points for a scholar, 15 points for templars and rogues, and 20 points for fighters. Anyone can purchase wear extra armor up to a max of 40 points. Good costume now counts as an extra rank of wear extra armor that doesn't count towards the total limit (so you can conceivably have 45 points with good costume and max ranks of Wear Extra Armor).

Effect Delivery - The mechanics for delivery of effects in combat has been streamlined to be more intuitive. Please refer to table 6-2 in the rulebook for more information (page 89).

Unconsciousness - When you are unconscious (0 body), you come back to 1 body after 1 minute, not 10 minutes.

Resurrection - Is only 5 minutes, and you come to life with clothes on.

Packet delivered Physical - Can now be parried.

Laugh and Dominate Effects - Removed (Dominate changed to Charm)

Spirits and Dismemberment - You can no longer detect a spirit in a body. Players can no longer cut off body parts to have them lifed - it's the whole body or nothing. As explained to me, dismemberment occurs IG, but simply never happens to PCs because of the lack of a way to rep it.

"Lesser" - Plot teams now have the option to tack the word "Lesser" onto any delivered effect. This changes the duration of said effect to 10 seconds. Intended to allow heavy use of effects without depleting player resources.

Weapons - No longer require open cell on the pommel of the weapon. Ultralights added to the weapon construction information.

Crafting - Players with production skills can now produce 3-4x their levels in production under the correct circumstances. Here's how it works.
  1. All players receive their skill level in production levels
  2. If you utilize a workshop, you receive production levels equal to your skill level
  3. If you are a master (at least 10 levels), you receive additional production levels equal to your skill level.
  4. You can supplement your production with refined minerals by supplying production components or silver per production level (maximum levels equal to your skill level).

Archery - Now uses yellow packets instead of streamers.

Physical Pin/Bind/Web/Confine -or- Entangle - You can no longer cut free from Physical Pin/Bind/Web/Confine, nor can it be removed with dispel magic. If you were using the Physical Attacks Playtest, Entangle has been removed from the game. The only valid form of escape for Physical Pin/Bind/Web/Confine is the Remove Physical Affliction spell (or Endow/Delayed Endow for Physical Pin).

Rip from Pin/Bind/Web/Confine - Characters no longer take damage from Ripping free (unless specified on the card).

Charm Effects - Charm effects now have a strength associated with them. If you are under a charm effect and are hit by a lower strength charm effect, you do not take the effect. If you are hit with a charm of equal or higher strength, it replaces the lower strength effect.
  1. Calm
  2. Shun
  3. Charm
  4. Fear
  5. Control
  6. Vampire Charm
  7. Enslavement

Targeted Effects - Targeted effects have changed significantly from the way they worked in 8th edition. If you are hit with a targeted effect (such as wither, shatter, or destroy), you cannot assign it to an item/location that would take no effect from the attack. For example, if someone hit you with a "Magic Wither Arm" and your left arm was already withered, you'd have to take the effect on your right arm. If you were hit with a "magic destroy weapon" effect, you would have to take it on a non-rendered item. If there is no legal target (or the only legal targets are withered/rendered), do not call "No Effect." If delivered by a carrier attack, you will still take the damage associated with the attack.

Now I'm fairly sure there's some stuff I missed. Drop your thoughts in the comments!


  1. The process of constructing a damage call or packet attack call has been modified somewhat. It's something I'm particularly proud of because the amount of confusion and contradiction surrounding those two areas has been huge. I don't know if that's the sort of thing you meant to fall under the umbrella of gameplay changes or not though.

  2. I would consider it a gameplay change, but I'm not exactly sure how to put it succinctly.

  3. Good point. I have no idea. Some clunkiness remains, particularly in packet attacks, but we were actually trying to preserve how people actually played the game as much as we could so we had some exceptions in there that read a bit oddly (like the specific counters stuff). But hey, now you know, finally, what cures a Magic Berserk packet that hit you and what happens when 10 Elemental Death is thrown (Dispel Magic and not a legal call anymore, respectively).

  4. Mark Henry ~MariusFebruary 4, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    I like the delivery method and protective charts in the book. Something that should be printed and hung up at the NPC shack, for new and old players alike to consult.

  5. @Mark

    I agree. The protective chart and both charts 6-1 and 6-2 would be candidates for a cheat-sheet. All of those are absolutely amazing and have been a long time coming.

  6. Added yellow packet archery.

  7. Yellow packet archery is the awesome. Totally playing a templar archer next.

  8. You can now parry a packet?
    Talk about interrupting gameplay (removing interruptions from game play was one of the main goals of this rulebook hence no more acid blood...which I'm against...i liked acid blood...but whatever)

    Example: Packet hits Tony in the fight. He hears ".sl Web" (you know it happens, you only hear the last bit of the incant a lot - hence damage spells having the number at the end).
    He goes..."Was that physical?" gets hit by several other things while trying to get his response and says "hold up guys or we are in a mini-hold (I hate those "mini-holds" anyway) we are trying to figure out if it was physical so I can parry it"

    I can see this as a common occurrence.

    I can also this happening with the lesser effects, but I refuse to give an opinion on them until I see them in action.

  9. "But hey, now you know, finally, what cures a Magic Berserk packet that hit you and what happens when 10 Elemental Death is thrown (Dispel Magic and not a legal call anymore, respectively)"

    Hey Mickey what page is that information on?

  10. @Eric

    Being able to parry physical will not slow down gameplay anymore than shield magic does. However, it does finally give fighters some survivability against takedowns, especially combined with the fact you can now parry spellstrikes.

    You simply can't make rules decisions assuming that people won't hear the effects. If you did, you can make that argument about every single call in the game. The goal is that, assuming everything is heard correctly, there is no need for OOG statements.

    As for the removal of effects, it's page 90 under "Packet Attacks."

  11. AFAICT, you can only parry weapon and arrow strikes... not spell strikes or Physical packet delivered attacks.

    Parry: This allows the character to call “parry” instead of being affected by any one physical attack delivered by a NERO weapon or arrow.

    Spellstrike: The spell portion of a Spellstrike is only stopped by defenses that would stop the attack if it were delivered by packet. Therefore, Magic Arm or, although it stops “the next single strike by a NERO Safe weapon," does not stop a Spellstrike.

    The Effects section on 87 says nothing about physically delivered attacks being parry-able.

    Am I missing something?

  12. There is a line in Packet Attacks on page 90 to let you Parry Physical. When the Page 87 Effects section was written during post-editting it didn't really include a full explanation of how they all worked when thrown at you, but is more of an introduction as to the theme of what each type is. Or at least that's my guess.

    Not putting it into the description of Parry itself was my oversight. Sorry about that.

    To summarize, you can Parry a physical attack, but not a spellstrike.

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. Awesome, thanks for the clarification.

    Can you use the parry skill to interrupt a spellstrike intended for someone else? I saw that done in 8th a lot, but I can't find rules text that permits it in 9th (or 8th, for that matter).

  15. The problem I have with it is it should be simple. Packet attacks couldn't be blocked by a shield (which people do all the time with "physical packets", should this be changed too?) or parried. Make them all or nothing.

    Hell, I'd be ok with arrow packets even did this to be consistent. I'd make archers a lot more powerful, but it'd keep everything consistent. It'd probably balance out archers too.

    It's so hard to get a new player to understand stuff like that. They always ask...well why can't it be easier. (we have on average 10-16 brand new players a game so I have to explain things to newer players a lot)

  16. I agree with Eric - Parry-ing Physical packet attacks would be an example of poor construction. That's why it is specifically not allowed per the description of Parry as listed on page 35. It IS however listed as allowed on page 90 - a complete contradiction.

    If we are going to go to the Page 90 interpretation it will make the learning curve higher and is inconsistent with the games meta-rules (i.e. packet attacks are not blocked by weapons/shields). There will be constant issues with it. It is bad enough since packet archery came around, but now we will be asking players to deal with each type of attack separately - it is an un-necessarily difficult concept.

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. There are different lines of consistency. You could do it by packet-weapon or by delivery type. In this case, the consistency was to say "Physical = Parryable".

    You could go the other way and say "weapon = Parryable" which is not bad by any means, but then you'd have to change it so you can, in fact, successfully Parry a Spellstrike.

  19. I realized I should add something. The actual reason we went with vertical consistency (for lack of a better word) vs. horizontal is to minimize how much we changed how people actually play the game. Spellstrikes being completely unblockable has been a long long part of NERO. When I worked on the delivery types and the damage calls areas I wanted to clean them up, make them easier to deal with, but with an eye to making the gameplay as relatively similar as possible.

  20. Added the change to Physical Pin/Bind/Web/Confine.

  21. Bill, technically I don't think you could cut out of physical Pin/Bind/Web/Confine in 8th. (Could be wrong) You could only do that if they were physical entangles (which have been removed in 9th)

  22. You're correct. I was going with the old Physical Pin/Bind/Web/Confine, before Entangle was added with the Physical Attacks Playtest.

  23. Mickey - all due respect, but I disagree with your assertion that either had to change. The spellstrike is an exceptional skill. I think its call should be changed, but that is another discussion...

    It is not about the out-of-game definition of "packet" or "weapon" attacks as much as the in-game. Parry has always been designed to stop weapon blows from an in-game perspective, not spider webs, acidic spittle, poison globes, etc., which is what the delivery type Physical is supposed to cover. Spellstrike is not a weapon blow from the in-game perspective, but instead is a magical effect delivered through the weapon. I have no problem with Magic Armor as a stopper, but I think Parry is a poor decision.

  24. Mike -

    Fair enough. We disagree on this one it seems. Anywhoo, just explaining some of the thinking that went behind it and why we made (typos to the contrary) it possible to Parry a Physical attack but not a Spellstrike.

  25. And I for one, really appreciate the explanations (even if I personally don't agree with them) Mickey.


  26. I would have been happy with parrying both physical and spellstrikes, personally. I don't think it's much of a stretch in thought, as a parry is a heroic act of defense against anything physical. Being able to stop those two attacks would give fighters a big bump to survival that I believe they've been sorely missing.

    Parry wouldn't confuse new players much, as new players don't have access to that skill in their first game, and it really only needs to be known by the person with the parry. It's not like it's a new effect they need to learn.

  27. Added the change to rip from Pin/Bind/Web/Confine

  28. Added the fact that Dominate was removed, as well as the new way Charms work.

    Can't believe I forgot to put that one down...

  29. I am not 100% convinced the paragraph explaining the Charm immunity stuff on page 47 isn't an oversight. Adam wrote various paragraphs meant to clarify things and I halfway suspect that rather than deliberately changing how Charms work (without bothering to change all the actual descriptions of them) he was trying to explain them and made a mistake.

    I suppose we'll see when the book goes to print.

  30. Despite the fact that it might be a mistake, I really do like the new system. There was always a lot of fudge when people were under two charm effects when they were determining whether or not they were in conflict. In addition, with the limited durations on most of the charms it isn't particularly powerful to charm players to prevent calms/shuns.

    The biggest oversight that people mention is the Enslaved to an NPC thing, but what they forget is that Enslavement says it acts like charm except they follow orders. Charm says you want to be around your charmer.

    So unless said noble gives you a direct order to go to some land and do X, you probably wouldn't leave your own lands while enslaved.

  31. Bill,

    I agree that Parry is not a huge learning curve issue, but taken with other inconsistencies each little bit counts. It is always better design to utilize meta-rules where they apply, rather than approach each aspect of the rules as its own portion free and independent of each other. This seems to be the timbre of the utilization of Parry against "Physical", and has been a significant detractor of the NERO rules designs in the past.

    I find the duplicitous nature of Parry to be bad form and am still hopeful that it can be rectified now before it grows into "how we've always done it" a version or two down the road.

  32. What is duplicitous about Parry? I don't see anything about it that is deceptive, even if you don't like the blanket ability to Parry physical.

  33. Parry tricked me into making out with it. It was terrible. Malapropism can be funny.

  34. Mickey,

    As I stated before, I believe that the ability to Parry packet-delivered attacks is misplaced. I am simply restating my contention that confusion of meta-rules by overloaded instances of exception is a bad design practice. In the short term and when viewed in isolation, utilizing Parry to stop "Physical" packet attacks seems at worst a minor learning curve issue. When viewed through the concept of Game Design however, I think it lacks credibility in the context of the question "is it truly worth adding an exception to the game's meta-rules?" One of the most frustrating things about our game over the years has been these inconsistencies, and I see this modification as adding to the scope of them in a small, but significant way. The deception lies in the fact that the change adds an exception to the met-rule that Parry blocks weapon attacks. I think Bill stated it earlier, and while I'm not a fan of it I think it would make more sense from a design perspective to have Spellstrike blockable by a Parry than to have Parry blocking packets.

    Tim - Parry is a hussy...

  35. Mike,

    I understand your objection, clearly we disagree. I was just confused about the use of "duplicitous". Thanks for clearing that up!


  36. Ohhhh...I see what was going on - a questioning of my use of "duplicitous"...FYI gentlemen, duplicitous implies duplicity, or the state of being doesn't just mean purposeful deception, but a contradictory or double nature. LOL...I wondered what Tim was talking was funny, though. Anyway, check it out here:

  37. Added the rules regarding targeted effects.

  38. one more new thing on weapons. There are now minimums and maximums measurements for bows. Which I don't think there were before. It is no longer possible to make a "short bow" or smaller. Also these measurements are made straight line from tip to tip.

  39. Technically, construction for bows has not changed since 8th. They just added it to the weapons table.

    Pg. 83 of the 8th edition rulebook:
    "The NERO Bow (referred to hereafter as Bow) must be curved and formed in the shape of a bow. Overall length in a straight line from tip to tip must be between 34 and 58 inches. Thrusting tips must be on both ends.
    The NERO Crossbow (referred to hereafter as Bow) must be a T-shape, with a stock length of 12 to 24 inches. The cross piece must be at least half the stock length and may not exceed 24 inches. Thrusting tips must be on all ends."

  40. On the issue of parry vs spellstrike. A parry will not block a spellstrike. However, a parry may have some use when it comes to spellstrikes. NPC A strikes PC 1 with a spellstrike Cause Mortal wounds 40. PC2 is standing within blade reach and calls out, Parry. PC2 then takes the effect, or shield magic/cloak/bane/whatevers it. I have done this in the past, but I haven't looked closely enough at the rules to see if I will still be able to do it in 9th.

  41. in reply to the bow comment...hmm dunno how I missed that in 8th. Thanks for pointing it out to me. I must not have made a shorter bow since 7th edition.

  42. As to spell strikes, I don't believe that the rules specify that you can parry a spell strike and take the effect. It's one of those things that's on the fringe and makes sense in a spirit of the rules way. I know we've played with that in our chapter for some time now.