Saturday, April 24, 2021

Oh Fuck, its a Legamon!

So let's push the focus onto what is happening instead of what numbers did I roll. I've got two ideas. Changing the environment based on moves is the first one and clashing moves will come soon.


Consider two scenarios. The first, from our childhood:

Charmander used Ember. Squirtle took 5 damage. It's not very effective.

The second from our childhood dreams:

Charmander used Ember. Squirtle took 5 damage. Flame splashes around Squirtle, the warehouse begins to burn and the air begins to fill with smoke!

A minor change consisting only of a brief consideration for the environment. The first take sucks me into my days playing GB games spamming the same attack over and over. The second snaps me back into the shared reality of the rpg. A moment of thought for what's happening in the fiction enhances this moment in the battle. 

The cost, however, is the mental drain of improvising these effects on the spot. If you've run a PbtA game, then you know exactly what I'm talking about. The difference between a well-written move in PbtA and a bad one is that the move itself gives you interesting outcomes no matter the roll instead of dropping the fiction at the feet of the GM and saying "make it interesting." 

Telling you to "consider the environment" after each move is the equivalent of "make it interesting." I've added exactly 1 more thing for you to do and 0 help or value for your game. So here's a quick method that will be worth the effort.


When a mon uses a move that requires focus dice and produces an elemental effect, add a tag to the environment to reflect the change. The tag is mostly just a reminder that the environment should bear some change from the firepower being exchanged by the trainers and mon. 

When a mon uses Ray of Frost, hit or miss, jot down <ice> to keep track of the forces that are actively changing the environment. A rule of thumb is to describe the environment whenever it gains or loses a tag. Easy.

Abominape shoots a ray of frost from its eyes! Flambard rolls out of the way... <ice> but the floor takes on a thin layer of frost! Flambard slides across the battlefield.

Now the battlefield itself has changed, adding another dimension within which to battle and narrate. But we're just getting started.

Flambard uses Kindle and begins to burn. Its power is growing... <ice, fire> The floor around Flambard thaws. <ice,fire>...

The tags interact, in this case canceling out.

"Let's finish this, Flambard! Inferno!" Flame erupts from Flambard in all directions. The heat hits Abominape for x damage. <fire 2> Fire begins to engulf the crates in the warehouse. The room starts to fill with smoke.

Multiple tags will interact and taking a moment to write down what the elements are and consider their interaction and the joint interaction with the environment adds a layer of realism or depth that even the anime's rarely achieve. 

As stronger moves are used, as was my implication with Inferno, you can add a number to indicate that the element is growing stronger in its impact. I like the power progression from the GLOG spell system and since the focus dice system we are using is analogous we can just port it right over and say focus dice abilities used with 1 dice are minor and 5 dice are legendary, leaving a permanent mark on reality. Let's go through some examples for fun using old Pokemon moves. 


1 Focus Dice
The effect of this move is cute and on par for a mon just setting out on its journey with a young trainer. Minor cosmetic effects will manifest on the environment. Just some flavor text unless environmental conditions are volatile (flammable material, easily breakable items, prior tags with an obvious interaction).

 Careful, you might trip on that thing.

2 Focus Dice
A well trained mon creating a powerful effect. The environment is immediately changed according to the nature of the move. Anyone in the area will immediately notice the change. The narrative elements brought into description change as a result.

 Nice move, you've been practicing.

3 Focus Dice
Things catch fire, the room floods, objects hover in the air, structural integrity is jeopardized. The narrative changes have a massive impact on what is possible to accomplish. The environmental effects are starting to have mechanical effect. Electrostatic shocks are hurting mon, freezing temperatures are slowing and draining stamina or health etc.

Water gun missed. 3 Focus Dice.

4 Focus Dice
From here on out, things get crazy. Subtlety is impossible. There is collateral damage.

Dig. 4 Focus Dice.

5 Focus Dice
Legendary mon earn their name. The landscape is irreversibly changed.

At this point, why aim?

Normal: scratches left on surfaces > furniture broken, powerful impacts, deep cuts > concrete slabs cracked, gouges in metal plate and tile > permanent structures move.
Fighting: punch holes in drywall > moves land with a visceral crack, bones and joints crinkle and crunch > objects and mon fly through walls, hard surfaces buckle and bend from impact > structures crack, massive objects flying through the air leave impact craters
Flying: soft feathers fall > a hats blow off from the wind, sand stings exposed skin > trees bend, lightweight debris becomes lethal > windows shatter, cars and cows leave the ground
Poison: stinking sticking residue > toxic fumes make breathing difficult > exposed skin breaks out in painful hives > hard surfaces bubble and blister, metal corrodes
Ground: mole hills and dirt show through grass > knees buckle and earth moves enough to be felt > the earth changes geometry as the ground lurches upward > chasms open and close, things are forever swallowed up
Rock: pebbles and dirt build up over the battlefield > crunching rocks make moving difficult > mon sized rock burst from the ground > ceilings crumble and fall
Bug: itchy rash or bug bite > webs cover surfaces and span doorways > crawling things emerge from the shadows, they're everywhere > impassable webbing conceals surfaces and doorways, venom sizzles on surfaces
Ghost: a tingle up your spine > a startling noise, a brief vision of the dead, nightmares enter your mind > unsettling dread, sweat and tears, horror, darkness looms larger > insanity beckons, hair is torn out, the dead walk and speak
Steel: metallic clangs capture attention nearby > slivers of metal and sharp gouges are left on surfaces > anything softer than rock is turned to rubble, soft flesh torn by rough edges and razor sharp debris > screeching metal death machine barrels through solid surfaces like a freight train
Fire: sparks and candle flame, smokey odor > flammables ignite, hair singes, skin reddens from heat > fire spreads to adjacent areas, rooms fill with smoke and make breathing difficult > living things ignite, air ionizes, solid surfaces melt
Water: coming inside after walking in a drizzle > downpour, soaked to the bone, water caries momentum > murky water churns around your ankles, lose items float away > the flood sweeps away mon, people, cars. the ground is carved out
Grass: seeds and leaves sweep by, perfume in the air > trainers and mon sneeze, branches snap and crack > eyes swell shut, throats tighten, nearby plants uproot, bloom, shrivel > plants pass full life cycles in a few moments, groves tangle closed, thorns clog passageways
Electric: hands snap back from a small shock, ow! > involuntary muscle contraction, flashing light, thunder clap > limbs scorch from the inside out, blinding light, surfaces carry lingering charge > eardrums burst, limbs turn to jerky, bodies fly back, energy ionizes solid matter, burn marks on affected surfaces.
Psychic: nearby items shift and wiggle > intracranial pressure is felt by all present, items lift off of surfaces > Noses bleed, splitting headaches stagger, smell of ozone > ideas come apart, beliefs shift, memories alter, items transform to other things
Ice: an icy breeze, hint of snow > frost covers surfaces, skin begins to chap and tighten > painful cold for all nearby, items and surfaces are brittle and crack, frostbite sets in, liquids frozen solid, snow drifts collect > creatures frozen solid, furniture and doors frozen in place, blizzards bring visibility to zero
Dragon: powerful roar, sharp claws > fire and wind mingle, singing hair. teeth snapping bone, a fleeting shadow over head > An earsplitting howl on the wind, crushing claws, tail like an iron beam, jet engine mouth, weather patterns darken > structures demolished, rage in beam form, clouds erupt in torrential downpour and tornado winds
Dark: shadows grow for a moment > dark thoughts enter your mind, shapes move at the edge of your vision > Shadows lurch forward, visceral desires seize you, doubts magnify > shadows become reality, reality becomes a shadow to the darkness, vices become primary personalities
Fairy: toadstools sprout, light tinkling of bells > impulses grow, emotions magnify and change rapidly, flowers bloom and sparkle > rage and laughter mingle with joy, impulse reigns > friendships form and end in moments, dazzling sparkles and fantastic colors leave a permanent mark on the landscape
Light: a clear brisk morning > the warm glow of something to look forward to, high noon > Shadows flee, lights become blinding, soaring optimism and confidence, grand organ music > Doubts vanish forever, grudges are abandoned, colors never before seen are clearly visible, angelic choirs


  1. Those lists at the end are really great. I'm sure I'm going to get some use out of them even if I never do any mon rpgs.

    1. I'm glad you like them. It was definitely the most entertaining part to write.


Oh Fuck, its a Legamon!

So let's push the focus onto  what is happening  instead of what numbers did I roll. I've got two ideas. Changing the environment ba...