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Cult Rework: Actual Blood Magic

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https://github.com/Aurorastation/Aurora.3/pull/4803


Full rework in progress. Most details are strewn throughout the thread.


Progress:


-Make runes take blood instead of damaging the user.

-Add special diona bloodless runemaking process

-Add function that marks cultists with a ritual wound the first time they make a rune.

-Add a ritual dagger that comes packaged in their tome, and that only cultists can retrieve and store in said tome, or use in battle.


Upcoming:


Rework sacrifice to be useful.

Right now, for the Sacrifice rune, I'm thinking that this will be a sort of channeled process that no longer requires multiple people where you put them on the rune, and when you activate with a restrained person standing on top of it, while holding the Ritual Knife in your other hand, it pins them down to the round, and you begin a multi-step process where you start using the knife to carve out their heart. It will probably take a total of something like 30 seconds and be interruptable the entire time, dealing sizable to their chest during the middle, and at the end, you carve out their heart, instantly killing them. The heart becomes a phylactery-like talisman, which you can use for certain purposes, like activating pylons

Rework pylons to be better and require the result of sacrifices to activate.

Remove the communicate rune and add a general Commune verb available to all cultists.

Remove the summon tome rune and add a general Summon Tome verb available to all cultists

Rework how conversion works to be less awful

Remove rune words and replace it with updated functions.

Sprite new runes

Add supporting tools and functions to make conversions more feasible under the new system

Cult base building.

Add something for IPCs, since they won't be convertable in this new system.

Rework all murder related cult mechanics to require rituals, rather than just clicking on someone until they're floored and using an item.


(maybe) Make the standard endgame for cultists to be turning one of them into the Avatar of Nar'sie

Edited by Guest

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So by this change, it would cost blood but not cause any physical damage? How's that supposed to work in-character? Could we at least have it do like a tiny/symbolic amount of brute damage (E.G. 1 brute to hand) to represent that they have to slice themselves open to get to the blood?


Other than that, I'm very in favor of this. If cult majyyks are supposed to work by blood, then I want them to be raiding medical for blood bags and IVs. Imagine, if someone's hooked up to an IV and has an attendant there to swap out the bags, they could stay in astral projection indefinitely.


+1

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So by this change, it would cost blood but not cause any physical damage? How's that supposed to work in-character? Could we at least have it do like a tiny/symbolic amount of brute damage (E.G. 1 brute to hand) to represent that they have to slice themselves open to get to the blood?


Other than that, I'm very in favor of this. If cult majyyks are supposed to work by blood, then I want them to be raiding medical for blood bags and IVs. Imagine, if someone's hooked up to an IV and has an attendant there to swap out the bags, they could stay in astral projection indefinitely.


+1

 

No, the 'symbolic damage' is what we were doing before. It was why every cultist was covered in bruises every round. This is to get around that problem. The problem with brute damage is that it throws a tag on your character indicating they were bruised at a specific location. Usually, 'nonspecific damage' (which was what we used before, and is the easiest way to do symbolic damage) targets a random body part, leading to eventually every limb having a bruise on it.


I could theoretically code it to always target your right hand, but then there would always be a bruise on your right hand. And then, what if you are missing your right hand? Or your right hand is mechanical? Then I have to add code to change your targeted hand, and at this point it becomes a mess of exception spaghetti just to make the 'symbolic damage' work properly, and all for a tiny trivial damage point that isn't honestly needed or helpful.


I do like the out of the box thinking there of making a blood spy by hooking them up to IV. It would be an interesting dynamic and probably be noticed by medical due to the limited number of IV stands they have in their department. I think if it's overused it would eventually become the new metagame for cult, though, where you know what the round type is because you spot someone dragging an IV stand way out of place and blood bags are going missing.

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With this change, Diona can also use runes infinitely, because they have no blood to take away.


Do you think their inherent racial weaknesses (extremely slow, can't wear clothes, can't be in a dark room) make this okay? And if not, how should I re-balance it for them? If nothing else, I might just have to block them from using astral travel, because that would basically be a free ticket for them.

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Wouldn't it make more sense if having no blood made them completely incapable of drawing blood runes, by this system?

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Wouldn't it make more sense if having no blood made them completely incapable of drawing blood runes, by this system?

 

We've been down that road before with IPCs and generally the consensus I saw was 'that's not fair for diona players'. I could, for instance, make diona have an alternate 'making your rune' text where they turn their sap into blood using the Geometer's power, so that's a possibility. They're still living creatures, unlike IPCs, so it's not quite so implausible.


I could also make it take away some of their 'light level' to use runes, I suppose. Since that is sort of what makes up their metabolism...

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That would be good. It just seems as though it would be valuable to give them some kind of mechanical limit (like all the blood-bound races have) to rune-drawing since the purpose of this system is ostensibly to make blood runes actually based on blood - so having to totally abandon that theme just to mechanically accommodate one race would feel very disjointed.


I still think having bruises show up on the cultists is a fair enough price to pay. But maybe, if we reasoned that they only have to open up one cut in order to get all the blood they need, could we make it so that only the first rune they draw damages them? This would fix the problem of eventually covering their entire body in bruises, and as for the one bruise they will get... Well, damage can come from all over the place, so it definitely doesn't give away the fact that they're in the cult. Probably just a vending machine launched a soda can at them. Etc.


... And this way, the benefit of "symbolic" damage would be maintained.

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The symbolic damage thing sounds like more effort than it's worth. I'd have to introduce some kind of variable that toggles the first time you use a rune to damage you, and I'd have to code it so it targets a valid limb, and what if both of your arms are mechanical, etc etc. It's just not worth it for a tiny snippet of flavor, and a huge part of this update was to remove cultists being visibly marked as cultists by their behavior.


Not to mention that all cultists starting on the station have been cultists for a while, so this isn't going to be their 'first rune', and the people that were converted already experienced pain and damage from the conversion process. It's just simpler to handwave that their wound heals immediately due to dark majjicks.


We've already comprehensively reworked how IPCs interact with the cult so they have to be constructs now. It's not so weird to create a separate situation for diona.

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With this change, Diona can also use runes infinitely, because they have no blood to take away.


Do you think their inherent racial weaknesses (extremely slow, can't wear clothes, can't be in a dark room) make this okay? And if not, how should I re-balance it for them? If nothing else, I might just have to block them from using astral travel, because that would basically be a free ticket for them.

 

Diona runespam is already a massive meme in certain cult rounds and a tremendous headache to deal with. They do certainly not need even more of a free pass to runespam. Perhaps have diona be damaged as normal, as they are offering part of their biomass for the ''blood magic''?

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Diona runespam is already a massive meme in certain cult rounds and a tremendous headache to deal with. They do certainly not need even more of a free pass to runespam. Perhaps have diona be damaged as normal, as they are offering part of their biomass for the ''blood magic''?

 

My plan is for it to cost them 'light/energy', at a rate that makes it sufficiently possible for them to die if they remain on an astral rune for too long, even in full light.

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So, I tried to play around with diona energy levels, and discovered that diona can lose all the energy you want to take away, but unless they're standing in the dark, it won't update their need for light. You can use runes three dozen times and then walk one square into darkness and be suddenly hit by a wash of 'you need light' messages.


In lieu of trying to entirely rejigger diona (or make runes cast darkness, which was my second idea), I just decided to make the runes damage diona like before. It is a hefty chunk of damage (15 in most cases), which diona will find trivial to heal... if they are standing in the light. For astral projection, they can remain astral for an extended period if they're in a lit area, just like players, but not forever (test put them at 75 brute after 3 minutes and rising slowly. I could increase the damage to 12-15 if in main server playtesting it is going a little too slow). The damage eventually outpaces their ability to heal in full light, and eventually they will die if they don't come back into their body.


What this does essentially is force diona to remain in lit areas if they want to be a cultist, because they will damage themselves significantly otherwise. This is normal for diona, but at least before they could survive for a bit in low light. Now if they are a cultist, it's working in the light or nothing.

Edited by Guest

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Diona should not be damaged as normal, as even their normal damage can be negated whatsoever. They should be spending biomass, and start degenerating limbs if they fuck themselves up hard enough.


IPC's should be affected in some other way, yet I can't think of one right now. Their limbs shouldn't just be falling off, yet they have no other way to tick damage. Maybe their battery drops like a rock?

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Someone already changed IPCs to be cult constructs. I'm not touching them.


As for biomass on diona, I don't really know how their biomass is calculated. But I can give it a poke.


Edit: Nevermind, looking at diona code gives me a freaking headache. What what we have here works in that it gives diona some limitations and keepts them from being infinite use cultists, imposing some down time on them between uses, but not a lot of it. It's basically the same as it works for humans.


If you want to change that, do it yourself, I already spend an hour and a half fucking with diona specific code before going fukkit and just damaging them significantly more than it used to to compensate for their healing.


So this is still an improvement on the default cult mechanics, even if it isn't perfect. The problem is that they are fundamentally difficult to balance while they're in light, because they just regen ridiculously fast.


And as as far as I can see for diona, they don't suffer for having low biomass like they do with low health, so that isn't really a limit without me coding in a 'you don't have enough biomass!' message to pop up and block them from runecrafting, or recoding their entire species to be hurt by low biomass in the specific situation where they used it for cult runes.

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No, the 'symbolic damage' is what we were doing before. It was why every cultist was covered in bruises every round. This is to get around that problem. The problem with brute damage is that it throws a tag on your character indicating they were bruised at a specific location. Usually, 'nonspecific damage' (which was what we used before, and is the easiest way to do symbolic damage) targets a random body part, leading to eventually every limb having a bruise on it.


I could theoretically code it to always target your right hand, but then there would always be a bruise on your right hand. And then, what if you are missing your right hand? Or your right hand is mechanical? Then I have to add code to change your targeted hand, and at this point it becomes a mess of exception spaghetti just to make the 'symbolic damage' work properly, and all for a tiny trivial damage point that isn't honestly needed or helpful.

 

It's like 8 lines of code to get a hand that is there. Including checking for stumps/mechanical hands.

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I'm glad you ignored the rest of the implications behind my change to explain to me how much code I would have to copy paste to every single Rune that does a cost check.


This is a much simpler method and doesn't rely on you wounding yourself repeatedly to use your runes and instead using blood to power blood runes.


Is there an actual reason you think that we should go back to brute damage but now specifically targeted to whatever limb it can find, or are you just being contrary for the sake of it?


What benefit is there in doing it like that as opposed just having a blood cost and hand waving that your wound heals shut afterward or it being too small to notice?

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I'm glad you ignored the rest of the implications behind my change to explain to me how much code I would have to copy paste to every single Rune that does a cost check.

Is there an actual reason you think that we should go back to brute damage but now specifically targeted to whatever limb it can find, or are you just being contrary for the sake of it?

 

Because it makes more sense than "unga bunga magicly remov blod".


"I have to copy paste a lot!!" Doesn't work either, as you could just make the check a proc. or even make it based off the selection doll if you wanted to be lazier, effectively reducing it to like 4 lines of code.

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I don't know, it makes perfect sense to me the way it's doing it. If you look at it strictly from the mechanics of the code then yes it's magically removing blood, but you can flavor the way you removing the blood however you like.


Technically speaking even the flavor text just indicates that you're cutting open a finger and drawing with the blood, not slitting open your wrist in a way that would leave a visible scar.

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Regarding the brute damage received.

While I agree that brute damage all over the body doesn't really make sense,

It would make a bit more sense if we actually applied a slight amount of brute damage to their hands.


This can be balanced out easily by just wearing gloves -> As that should make the scars on your hands invisible. (Please correct me if I am wrong)

Although you would need to check if someone is wearing gloves when they draw a rune -> And prevent that if that's the case.

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Regarding the brute damage received.

While I agree that brute damage all over the body doesn't really make sense,

It would make a bit more sense if we actually applied a slight amount of brute damage to their hands.


This can be balanced out easily by just wearing gloves -> As that should make the scars on your hands invisible. (Please correct me if I am wrong)

Although you would need to check if someone is wearing gloves when they draw a rune -> And prevent that if that's the case.

 

Examine code currently contains no checks to determine if your wounds are covered by anything. You can be wearing a hardsuit that covers your whole body and people will be able to see every wound. It would take a substantial rework of how wound visibility works which I certainly am not taking on as a project, mostly because I wouldn't even know where to start.


Lohikar said he might poke at it, though. I guess we'll see.


But even then, in the end, you're asking me basically to put in a bunch of work to basically deal 1 damage to people's hands every time they...


...


Okay actually never mind, I just got an idea. What if I made a variable, we'll call it 'cultcut' or something that starts at false for everyone, and the first time you make a rune, it runs the the hand check and does some damage to you as you ritualistically open your flesh and we set the variable to true. After that, the wound is like, mystically present but doesn't bleed until you need it and you can just draw blood from it at will.


That way there isn't a damage check every single time you use a rune.

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So, some changes resulting from feedback:


Now, a normal (non-diona) player will have to create a ritual wound upon themselves the first time they craft a rune, dealing a hefty chunk of damage that CAN cause bleeding. Upon doing this, they then draw blood directly from this mystic wound through Blood Majjicks, allowing them to create runes. This normally happens to one of your hands or arms, but if you have no valid arms (missing or mechanical) then you instead create the ritual wound in your chest.


All arcane tomes now also contain a hidden ritual knife, which can be used for spooky ritual murders and self defense (though keep in mind it deals less than half the damage of the giant cult blade). This has a custom sprite:

 

Nife.gif

 



Only cultists can store and remove this knife via a 'Manifest' verb contained within the arcane tome (it works similarly to the PDA and pens, just use the knife on the tome to store it again) and like the cult blade, attempting to use it as a non cultist will have consequences.

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Further plans upcoming:


-Remove the communicate rune and add a Commune verb available to cultists. The same thing will happen to Summon Tome.

-Rework the sacrifice rune to involve using your Ritual Knife to cut out someone's heart. Right now, I'm thinking that this will be a sort of channeled process that no longer requires multiple people where you put them on the rune, and when you activate with a restrained person standing on top of it, while holding the Ritual Knife in your other hand, it pins them down to the round, and you begin a multi-step process where you start using the knife to carve out their heart. It will probably take a total of something like 30 seconds and be interruptable the entire time, dealing sizable to their chest during the middle, and at the end, you carve out their heart, instantly killing them. The heart becomes a phylactery-like talisman, which you can use for certain purposes, like activating pylons (this will entirely replace nanakos old way of activating them, and I will probably make them better to compensate for the need to murder)

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Another addendum:


Fuck it, after some talk with people, I'm just going to remake the whole damn system. We don't use rune word discovery any more, so I don't see why we need to make all the runes based on a shitty ancient word combo system. So I'll throw that in the fire and just make runes something you place down and it does the thing it does. This will give room for runes and things that aren't locked to a limited number of possible word combinations. Here are some pointers for other planned stuff


-I will be removing conversion runes. This will be replaced with the following mechanics:

--Cultists start with an arcane tome already in their inventory, and the talisman we used to have gets entirely scrapped. We port some of the functions of said talisman into the book itself (and replace the god awful shitty paper talismans with something else but I digress), but replace the thing that lets you summon a summon tome talisman with something that's infinite use and lets you summon and unbound arcane tome. You can give these unbound arcane tomes to people, and let them borrow your knife too. Reading the unbound tome basically instructs them how to give their blood to the tome to empower it, and when they use the knife on the unbound tome, THEN they get a prompt asking if they want to do that. It takes like 5 seconds and then they stab themselves in the hand or w/e and now they art a cultist and have a proper arcane tome with it's own ritual knife in.

-Nar'sie summon rune is going to be completely removed and replaced with the following

--The end game for cultists involves 9 cultists, but instead of summoning Nar'sie, the cultist in the middle becomes the Avatar of Nar'sie, gaining superpowers and extreme durability, and super cool equipment and/or sprites. They don't necessarily need to be devoted to murdering everyone, either, and can do anything they want with their powers (though if you become the Avatar to peacecult I will gib you through a secret backdoor verb just you watch). Keep in mind that the cult has no hard coded leader or person who gets to become the Avatar. Cultists will need to cooperate with each other and agree who gets to become the Avatar or they aren't going to have a chance to get there. There will be a method for the Avatar to sacrifice himself to bring the Geometer itself into the world, but it will be extremely difficult and probably won't show up in most rounds, similar in rareness to a Supermatter Cascade, and requiring very specific, unusual circumstances.

-I will also be adding new items such as

--A number of special talismans that are not make from sheets of paper do things like disable radios, stun people, function as an escape teleport, call other cultists to you.

--New weapons, including ranged, and not all of them will just be for killing, some of them will apply debuffs or special effects

--Base building mechanics, including a new version of pylon charging that will completely replace what we have now.

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I really like the idea you have going here, and I really feel that cult is in need of a rework. However I feel that the issue with IPC's and Non-Blooded creatures, is a problem. Personally I feel they should be excluded from the cult gamemode all together, due to the lack of blood. Otherwise, I like it.


+1 from me!

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