On the Forgetting of Glyphs

The usage of arcane glyphs and diagrams to power a wide variety of occult rituals.
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nobody
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On the Forgetting of Glyphs

Post by nobody » Sun Jan 03, 2021 11:06 am

Rias, game channel, 12/23/2020 wrote:I like having some class/guild standard glyphs that you can straight up memorize, I also like the idea of some having limited usage. Whether it requires a reference object that decays over time, or whether the glyph becomes foggier in your mind on each use until you forget and have to re-learn it. I'm not saying all glyphs would be that way, but it would be cool to have some like that, and require re-discovery via the loot system, or going back out to the distant dangerous place to re-study it.
I've been stewing on this idea and wanted to propose that it is actually a solution to another problem. What if all glyphs faded from memory? Then if someone wanted to unlearn a glyph, all they need to do is keep using it until it escapes their mind. Some glyphs could be in remote locations or available from loot, and some could be as easy to re-learn as going to the library.

Duration/usage limit mechanics:
  • Number of uses determined up front:
    • This might be as a single arcana check on learning, where your margin of success (or a function of the margin of success) determines how many uses you get of that glyph. This gives you two levers to play with that can vary for each glyph: (1) what the arcanist is rolling against, and (2) what success means. Distyr might have a difficulty of 1, and a margin of success of 100 might give you 100 uses, 200 give 200 uses, etc, while Shaol might have a difficulty of 200 and a margin of success of 100 might give 10 uses, and 200 15 uses, etc. This is perhaps the one I like the best because it is simple and less random/more consistent because it's based on one roll and a margin of success of 100 always means the same thing for a given glyph. You only need to create a new margin of success table for each new glyph.
    • Multiple chained arcana checks on learning, where success grants 1 use, and failure stops the chain of rolls. This is more random and less predictable (you might roll poorly and get 1 use, you might have an absurdly great streak of luck and be able to use it a thousand times). You get one or two levers of control with this, (1) the initial difficulty for the learned glyph and (2) an increase factor raising the difficulty on each success. E.G. Distyr might have a difficulty of 10 with an increase of 0, while Uyto might have a difficulty of 50 with an increase of 7. This is the more swingy/exciting mechanic.
    • Multiple unchained arcana checks on learning, where your initial success (or margin of success) and the glyph being learned determine the number of potential uses you get. You then get that many arcana checks, with success granting a use and failure not. This is functionally identical to the above, but with a built-in ceiling on the number of uses. It is still very swingy. You technically get four levers with this (1) the difficulty of the initial learning check, (2) the number of rolls granted on a success, (3) the difficulty of the arcana use checks, and (4) an increase in difficulty after any successes. The fourth lever is in my opinion redundant with the setting of the initial ceiling. E.G Distyr might have a base difficulty of 1, with a margin of success of 100 granting 100 rolls etc., a usage roll difficulty of 5, and a difficulty increase of 0. Terlu might have a base difficulty of 100, with a margin of success of 100 granting 20 rolls, a usage roll difficulty of 30, and an increase of 10.
    • With any of the above methods, you could add a retention check (using arcana or arcana + meditation) on each drawing the glyph. Based on your whimsy, you could have the check (1) on a success (or critical success) don't reduce uses, but a failure still draws the glyph as normal but reduces the uses remaining based on margin of failure, OR (2) have uses reduced by 1 on success, and by more than 1 on failure, based on margin of failure. This would also make remaining uses less predictable/more random even if transparency is given (see transparency below).
  • Uses are indeterminant: Any time you draw the glyph, it could slip away from you. Upon drawing of the glyph, roll arcana (or arcana + meditation) vs glyph retention difficulty. On a success the glyph is retained, on failure it is forgotten. This is functionally equivalent to the multiple chained checks method above, but isn't rolled out in advance and so allows players to benefit from learning additional arcana (and/or meditation?) over time. As that method above, it is the most swingy/least predictable.
Transparency:
You could tell players how many uses they have when they learn a glyph (or when using the glyph command; make it clear that number of uses remaining is OOC knowledge if it is) if using any of the pre-determined number of uses methods (transparency is not compatible with the indeterminant uses method). Potential for abuse of that transparency is if an arcanist has a bad roll and gets fewer uses than they wanted, and it is at a remote location, they might burn through anomalum chalk to clear the glyph and learn it again once it's cleared. While that has it's own cost in riln and time, you could also limit this abuse by making such glyphs only learnable once per day (I'd suggest 1 success per day, but 1 attempt per day would also make things interesting in its own way). I like transparency, as it often makes things less frustrating, but it also removes some of the mystery of magic.

Making the most of glyph retention:
With any of the above methods, you could let players learn the glyph multiple times for additional retention slots and allowing additional uses. If you use one of the predetermined number of uses methods, you could also change up glyph retention to grant 300 complexity uses per glyph retention ability, and those are used up by (uses X complexity) of a glyph. So you might get 100 uses of a complexity 3 glyph, or 10 uses of a complexity 30 glyph. If you do this, I'd say let players determine somehow determine a cap when studying a glyph to learn it (e.g. study plate 2 cap:100 would cap a complexity 2 glyph at 50 uses and a complexity 3 glyph at 33 uses, etc.). This would allow dabblers to learn a broader range of glyphs, but have to re-learn them more often, or more reliably get more uses of a single glyph they want.

Hot-swappability
If all glyphs become forgettable with usage over time (and I highly recommend it because it really solves the issue of how to let people forget glyphs), arcanists could be allowed to have additional control over this by either (1) being able to actively forget a glyph (e.g. forget Distyr) or (2) by over-studying other glyphs (either with or without control over what glyphs are forgotten). Under the predetermined number of uses methods, the former simply removes all remaining uses while the latter allows one to learn a new glyph and clears out some or all uses of another glyph(s) in exchange. Under the indeterminate uses method, the former and latter function largely the same. With the former, one glyph is forgotten, with the latter, one or more glyphs are forgotten (based on the complexity needed for the learned glyph), and one glyph is learned.

Final notes:
I have tried to be exhaustive in my creativity here, but other methods certainly could exist and be usable, both for determining how many times a glyph can be used and how a glyph might be deliberately forgotten. If you opt to make all glyphs forgettable, remember to add a Distyr glyph plate in the library. In using 'arcanist' in this post I mean one who practices arcana, not the Arcanist class of the scholar guild.

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Rias
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Re: On the Forgetting of Glyphs

Post by Rias » Fri Jan 08, 2021 11:23 am

A lot to mull over, but in general I like these ideas. I've saved them in my to-consider list.

nobody
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Re: On the Forgetting of Glyphs

Post by nobody » Fri Jan 08, 2021 11:59 am

Thank you for the reply, it reminded me I had an edit since which I've not gotten around to posting:

I forgot to check prior to my post, but it looks like geometric forms (small circle, line) are complexity 1 glyphs, and I don't think those should be forgotten with use. Maybe reduce default capacity by 2 and make them complexity 0 glyphs or have a separate place for known geometric forms (unless they are more detailed and filled with arcane symbols than their simple names suggest, which might be the case, I've just assumed that they're simple geometric forms).

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Rias
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Re: On the Forgetting of Glyphs

Post by Rias » Fri Jan 08, 2021 12:04 pm

They're assumed to have smaller glyphs along the inner circumference of the circle and along the separator lines. Which is part of the reason these diagrams can't be drawn on smaller surfaces/objects: you wouldn't be able to achieve the required detail of these little runner glyphs.

I should probably at least update the base circle descriptions to reflect this.

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