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DF Brad

<DEMONS> representing the effects of time!

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Hey everyone! We're struggling with a weird but potentially awesome concept on MASSIVE CHALICE.

You're "battling" time on the strategy layer all the time - your heroes grow old and pass away and the realm becomes slowly corrupted over the years, slipping away from you as the immortal ruler. So what if you were literally battling time on the tactical layer as well?

The core concept is that the Demons embody the effects that time have on our world.

This is a strange, abstract concept! What would they look like? How would they attack you? How would you attack them? How could you use their weapons and abilities against them?

Here's a list we brainstormed to showcase what we're thinking about!

Oxidation (rust!)

Erosion

Decay

Growth

Collection

Buildup

Corrosion

Compression

Sagging / Effects of Gravity

Fossilization

Seasons

Collapse

Pressure

Crumbling

Forgetfulness

Fading

Adaptation

We're actively collecting reference and talking about this at DF HQ, but I thought I would bring this to the forums and see what you guys think! Do you have any thoughts about this crazy idea? Thanks!

Brad!

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now this is the kind of idea we pay you the big bucks for. what's your idea for status effects? i could see some interesting ones coming from this list.

- corrosion would basically be like poison, doing damage over a few turns

- forgetfulness could also be confusion, which might function like panic does in XCOM

- fading could have a unit gradually disappear until they're gone unless they use a spell or kill the associated demon

- decay/oxidation could have a unit move less spaces in a turn

- gravity could mess with the distance of ranged attacks

XCOM basically had poison, panic and bleeding out but after reading this i think massive chalice could have a little more variety.

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Since the idea is that Demons embody the effects of time of our world, than a more interesting question is: What is their weakness? Obviously we grow older/weaker with age, but the Demons seemingly get stronger. I don't want to David Duchovny it up with a scientific answer that reveals that Head And Shoulders will destroy the Demons, but I suppose something "off the wall" as a weakness to the Demons could prove fruitful. How do you kill Demons? What about fruits, juices? Vitamins? I'm not talking about something like "Let's add Flintstones vitamins to the end of our blades!" but sunlight DOES give Vitamin D. Perhaps your Kingdom can harvest the power of the sunlight in your weapons?

However, the debate of the effects Demons' presence on you is an exasperated one. "Fading" in your list Brad is an interesting one. Are you talking about "Fading" in and out of existence? When I see "Pressure" all I think of is Acid Reflux. The pressure from all that citrus can kill us!

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Potentially incredibly cool but it's an interesting one.

Typically it's very, very rare to see fighting against Time as a heroic act. In literature it's almost always an impossible task - either a tragic act or an act of hubris or both - could there be some sense of that. I hope that we end up with something a bit cool and ambiguous with the concept of the demons as the ravages of time. I'm assuming it's possible in this game for the Immortal Ruler to be victorious but I don't know exactly what that means to be victorious over Time? What kind of world is being fought for?

In terms of influences the one that jumps out straight away for me is the Anglo Saxons. A use for writing so many essays on Old English!

One of the defining traits that academics identify throughout their literature is that they have an elegiac/mournful tone directed at the world and how swiftly things pass away, decay and disappear. The tag that people tend to use to describe the attitude is as elegiac or (in lit crit) as the 'Ubi sunt' tradition of asking in a plaintive way about the passing away of what has come before and whether things as they are now will pass away also. The emphasis is almost always on the inevitability of time and the impermanence of the world.

The great ruins of the past (e.g. The Roman ruins of Britain) fall into disuse. Weapons rust. People Die. Life is like a hawk in flight through the mead hall fierce and brave before disappearing into the dark.

It's sort of relevant to this game and to fantasy lit more generally because that literature and its tone and attitude towards the world were one of the most important influences on Tolkien in formulating Middle Earth. He was a professor of Old English and Middle English and his vision is one of long history and the sense of a world in decline. The great works of old weaken and the elves cross over the ocean etc.

LotR actually directly references an Anglo Saxon example. The 'Lament for the Rohirrim' that starts 'Where is the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?' is derived from the text of the real Anglo-Saxon poem 'The Wanderer' which has the passage 'Hwær cwom mearg? Hwær cwom mago?' : Where is the horse? Where is the rider?

In the poem it's rhetorical - the answer is that those things that once were heroic: the swords, the armor, the musical instruments, the steed, will all pass.

Some of the main poems to look at would be:

The Ruin:

Wondrous is this wall-stead, wasted by fate.

Battlements broken, giant’s work shattered.

Roofs are in ruin, towers destroyed,

Broken the barred gate, rime on the plaster,

walls gape, torn up, destroyed,

consumed by age. Earth-grip holds

the proud builders, departed, long lost,

and the hard grasp of the grave, until a hundred generations

of people have passed. Often this wall outlasted,

hoary with lichen, red-stained, withstanding the storm,

one reign after another; the high arch has now fallen.

The wall-stone still stands, hacked by weapons,

by grim-ground files.

One translation here: http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/sechard/oeruin.htm

The Seafarer:

The groves take on blossom, adorn the cities,

make fields beautiful; the world hastens on,

all these urge the eager spirit

of the heart to journey, for him who so thinks,

to depart far away on the sea-ways.

So the cuckoo urgers with mournful voice,

the guardian of summer sings, forebodes sorrow...

... disease or old age or sword-hate

wrest life away from the one fated to die, passing away.

Therefore for each man the praise of the living, of those speaking afterwards, is the best reputation left behind.

Let him bring it about that, before he must depart,

by good deeds on earth against the enmity of fiends,

by brave deeds against the devil,

that the children of men may extol him afterwards,

and his praise may live afterwards with the angels,

always to eternity, the glory of life eternal,

joy among the heavenly host. The days are departed,

all the glories of the kingdom of the earth;

now there are neither kings nor emperors,

nor goldgivers as there once were,

when they performed amongst themselves so many glorious deeds,

and lived in the most lordly renown.

All this host is fallen, joys are departed,

the weaker ones remain and rule the world,

gain the use of it by toil. The blossom is bowed down,

the nobility of the earth grows old and fades,

just as now each of the men throughout middle-earth.

Old age overtakes him, the face grows pale,

the hoary-haired one mourns, knows that his friendship of former days,

children of princes, have been given to the earth.

Translation: http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/sechard/oeseaf.htm

The other main poems about time and the passing away of the world are probably Beowulf and The Wanderer. There are also versions in modern English online. It might really be a strong source of inspiration.

The other poem that sprang to mind from an entirely different period is Shelley's Ozymandias:

I met a traveller from an antique land

Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown

And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.

And on the pedestal these words appear:

`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:

Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,

The lone and level sands stretch far away".

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The thing missing from the list so far would be slippery. Time is such a slippery thing, it goes so quickly and slips from your grasp. Like how mud can causes people to slip and slide around so much.

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Buildup

This one resonates a lot with me. I often feel the (demonic) passage of time by the pileup of boxes, junk fliers, and assorted paperwork around my house. You could have a demon that attacks by dumping trinkets all over the battlefield that don't do much damage individually, but that collectively limit the players movement or deal larger damage when their concentration goes up. Another way to theme this would be to have a "landfill" effect whereby a demon keeps dumping toxic trash.

Growth

I could see this going in a lot of ways. The most straightforward would be to have attacks involving turning nature against humans (I'd suggest The World Without Us as a reference for this approach). Plant-based life seems particularly well-suited to embodying growth, since moss is what usually begins the reclamation of barren structures like abandoned buildings.

A different approach to attacking by growth would be to have a demon that is composed of a bunch of little weak creatures. Initially, this demon would be a composite of only a couple creatures and it would be easily defeated, but throughout the game the demon would come back with more and more component creatures and its power would grow accordingly (it's basically the Pikmin demon). By the end of the game, the growth demon which started off as the lamest opponent might be the only one capable of opposing the player's own genetically-modified heroes.

Limits

This wasn't in the DF list, but I think one of the big effects of time is pushing various things towards their extreme limits. Resource depletion of various kinds is the usual result: finite power sources run out, space is filled (see buildup), raw materials become scarce, food runs out, etc. Any resources the player might need would be a logical place for a Demon of Limits to attack. The ability to limit or deplete resources is a pretty powerful ability and one that could suck to play against if it gets too strong (because it cuts out options), but if it were balanced well it could quite fun since countering it would be all about efficient play and finding optimal strategies within the imposed limits. This ability could also be easily turned against the demons to limit their raw strength, ability to spawn new units, or to reduce their attack options. In general, adding limits to the opponent makes them more predictable, which makes it very powerful for strategizing.

Fading

This seems well-suited to ranged attacks; a demon shining a giant flashlight at you. The intensity of the light might have a blinding effect on opponents that affects their movement ability and the fog of war. This attack wouldn't deal normal damage** (it's not bright enough to set things on fire), but it could fade the color of relics and weaken them. To counter this attack, there could be weapons with reflective properties. Environmental influences could also be used to deflect the attack (e.g. hide behind cover, make a dust cloud that partially blocks light, hope for foggy weather). **Note: a demon with this special fade attack would also have more standard ways of killing you... like really sharp teeth.

Disappearance

Along the lines of forgetfulness, it seems that one of the worst things that could happen to a character in this game is to be ignored by history. A demon that could cause accomplishments go unrecognized (preventing experience gain or weakening a bloodline) would be a formidable opponent. Perhaps too formidable, this is another ability that could suck to have to fight against since the reward for victory is diminished. A thematically similar ability is the ability to make enemy units and equipment temporarily disappear. This could be used as a crowd-control measure to break up coordinated attacks. Perhaps units could prevent their disappearance by being loud and noticeable: using taunts, blowing things up recklessly, and charging valiantly into battle. The trade-off then is whether it's better to be sneaky, smart, and easily missed, OR rash, dumb, and legendary.

Figure!

Top-left: Buildup. Top-middle: Growth (Plant-Based). Top-right: Growth (Tribble-like). Bottom-left: Limits. Bottom-middle: Fading. Bottom-right: Disappearance.

mc.png

And yes, I draw like a two-year-old.

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Typically it's very, very rare to see fighting against Time as a heroic act. In literature it's almost always an impossible task - either a tragic act or an act of hubris or both - could there be some sense of that. I hope that we end up with something a bit cool and ambiguous with the concept of the demons as the ravages of time. I'm assuming it's possible in this game for the Immortal Ruler to be victorious but I don't know exactly what that means to be victorious over Time? What kind of world is being fought for?

I would think that victory over time is basically represented as History. Through the legacies and records of our friends and family, our actions are remembered and live on eternally, despite the passage of time.

How you get to that by punching demons in the face, I don't have an answer to.

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Yeah, this is definitely super cool, but one thing I'd mention is that I was getting the vibe that the MC team were trying to set up a sort of thematic contrast between the demons and the humans. Both the demons and the humans are forces of change over time, but the humans are a force that seeks to build, accumulate, and grow over time (i.e. an additive force). The demons, on the other hand, seek to erode, decay, and wither over time (i.e. a subtractive force). So in that way you could give time-related abilities to the human heroes that are thematically related to flourishing and growth, and then you would give all the abilities related to decay and erosion to the demons.

I'm gonna repost a modified version of the list, only instead I broke it up into a table that depicts the contrasting positive/negative angles of the same aspect of time. You can either read it from left to right in terms of a straight contrast (positive vs negative) or left to right in terms of an ongoing degeneration from the positive state to the negative state (which the demons can perhaps expedite).

XDnrJrO.jpg

I wish the loss of innocence was something that could somehow be conveyed. Oh man how cool would that be? Anyway. Ahem.

OKAY. SO. COMBAT.

The difficulty in designing combat mechanics around these time-based ideas is that there isn't exactly a proper back-and-forth in that theme. Erosion eats away at a stone, but there is nothing the stone can do back to the erosion. All it can do is try to endure. That's not quite the same as fighting. That's more like letting a guy repeatedly punch you in the face and you seeing how long you can remain standing. But an endurance game like that isn't turn-based at all! So how do you make it seem like there is a little more back and forth?

These are probably way too high concept and complicated, but I hate to just re-skin the same old RPG concepts that have been used over and over and over again. So let's get crazy. Here's two wonky ideas based on a crude "tug of war" principle.

1. Tug of War A, in which Time is an aloof deity and the rope is her dangerously capricious nature:

One thing that kept creeping into my thoughts as I was making the contrast table above is the "elemental field" system that was used in Chrono Cross. Do you remember that? Basically it was a gage with three slots, and whenever anyone----ally or enemy----used any sort of elemental ability, one of the slots in the gage would be filled by that element. If you saturated the field with a single element, any uses of that element by any party were buffed as long as the field remained saturated. (I'm not positive on this, but I think you could also debuff certain elements by saturating the field with the opposing element.)

So my inner Buddhist kind of observed that time itself---much like the aforementioned elemental field---is neither positive nor negative. It neither helps nor hurts. Time simply IS. It's just an eternal, mindless force of nature. Whether the changes it effects are positive or negative depends largely on your frame of reference. So I think it is sort of a cool idea that in the context of Massive Chalice, time is just a sort of neutral, non-partisan rope being leveraged in a tug-of-war game between the demons and humans. It's completely disinterested and serves neither party, but both are trying to leverage its effects to their own end. The humans are trying to use time in an ADDITIVE capacity, whereas the demons are trying to use time in a SUBTRACTIVE capacity. (Obviously, since you play the part of the humans, you strive for the additive and work against the subtractive, but it is perhaps not unimportant for the heroes to have an honest outlook on the subtractive.)

Okay, so basically where I'm going with the idea is that whenever allies use any special ability that invokes an ADDITIVE CHANGE over time, it would sort of influence the favor of Time (we'll personify her for clarity) toward the human agenda. Whenever the demons used any special ability that invoked a SUBTRACTIVE CHANGE over time, it would influence the favor of Time toward the demon agenda. The more Time leans toward favoring the additive agenda, the more the human abilities are buffed and/or the demon abilities debuffed, and vice versa. So even if you have an exceptionally weak character that only does 0 or 1 damage with their best ability, that character still has the same footing as everyone else as far as influencing Time's favor by simply using that ability.

Admittedly that's perhaps too high concept, but the thing I like most about it is that it provides an angle for even the most incredibly weak characters to help turn the tide of a battle.

Also I like the personification of Time. That sounds like an ancient and terrifyingly capricious deity they'd worship, right?

2. Tug of War B, in which every unit and his/her stats is its own mini-rope

If demons and humans are contrasting forces and the battle hinges somewhat on change over time, then perhaps you could easily convey both ideas through stacking/unstacking of effects. For example, suppose the demons could cast a status effect called "Succumb" on an ally's armor and the effect lasted for three turns or until removed via curative item/ability.

Now let's say that "succumb" works basically like a poison, only it decreases your physical defense by an additional 1 for every round it's in effect (i.e. first round you'd have a -1 penatly, next round you'd have a -2 penalty, and the final round you'd have a -3 penalty). So if the effect carries out the full three rounds, it will by the third round of the effect reduce the ally's physical defense by 3.

Now let's say that the demon cast Succumb on his last turn and it is his turn again. Instead of attacking, he instead casts Succumb on the exact same human, which RESETS the duration and amplifies the effect to a -2 penalty lost each round. The demon could repeat the ability on his next turn, resetting the duration and causing the ally to lose -3 physical defense for three turns. Fortunately, the maximum number of stacked effects is three (or so let's say). So he can't milk this anymore.

This is obviously bad news for our heroes if the demons just keep withering away at important stats like physical defenses. So you'll want to have a hero on hand who can re-balance the scales and cast an opposing ability like "Endure" which grants +1 (and stacks up to +2 or +3) physical defense per round as long as it is in effect and not being countered by demons casting Succumb.

Balance is an issue of course, so maybe it's better to work with percentages or cap the effect (even if the ally's physical defense can't rise above their maximum, the +1 per round can still counteract an opposing effect.)

Admittedly, at face value, that sounds over complicated and annoyingly micro-managey.... but sometimes bad ideas unexpectedly turn into good ideas, so there you go...? Heh heh...?

SUFFICE TO SAY

I think there is something to be leveraged in an overarching tug-of-war or scale-tipping concept between the additive humans and the subtractive demons.

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Ive posted aboutthis before but this is such a weird thing to fight against. is the point that its a vain and futile fight? or are the demons supposed to be a crazy cancerous version of normal time? cause all of those items are just time of course, the (too) obvious thing would be to just have them leave a trail of faded decayed and ruined stuff (and dead vegetation) behind when they move through a level. like they have speeded up time. (perhaps suck all the color out of objects like dead corals) but I guess you dont want it as simple as that?

I really like the forgetfulness aspect the most I think. maybe things could just be given a fictional twist on normal mechanics to put these points across. like a battle lost would be presented as a battle thats never happened (especially if you save crawl) or something, as opposed to the others that would be recorded on tapestries (or on chalices as Bent suggested) and with statues and stories. that the demons just try to erase the humans existence in history seem plenty strong to put the theme across. maybe some aspect of their attacks can be that they actually undo the past / the humans accomplishments altogether. make farms unbuilt and babies unborn and tapestries unweaved. kind chrono cross ish.

sorry thats mainly not to do with the tactical battles...hmm!?

edit: anemone! I really like that tug of war stuff! what if the demons moved across the map and caused it to be more and more decayed/corrupted, and fighting in those areas / surrounded by too much decay would give a penalty to the heroes? that could serve as a mechanic for moving swiftly as well and not overwatch creep too much ( if there is an equivalent thing). and maybe theres something you can do to restore areas for that tug of war. but it could also be a just race against time - that would fit with the theme nicely right?

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Way back when, Brad mentioned that one of the things he didn't like about Fire Emblem was the fact that weapons had durability and it didn't really fit into the game. I think if the demons are going to be based around aspects of time then durability might be a mechanic that fits well within Massive Chalice.

Demons could have attacks that lower the durability of equipment and make it break faster or become weaker either temporarily or permanently. Equipment Durability could also be a way to create a money sink for the strategy layer to add another way of preventing people from becoming ever increasingly richer as the game progresses.

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I'm thinking the effects of "time attacks" should have a feedback on the battlefield, like areas of grass getting brown or gray after the impact of a decay power. Your character could suffer an aging attack, growing a beard right on place (or hairs for the women), Id be all for a permanent status making a character age backward (I've talked about it on the perks and quirks topic, but I'm sure the idea could happen somewhere in the game). But more than that, certain demon could have a fast growth, beginning as eggs or pups, and every 3 turns getting bigger, deadlier... and perhaps if you avoid them, they end up dying by themselves ?

If you could have pets in your troops, they could suffer more from aging attacks, and grow old right on the battlefield.

Oh, I think that a degeneration spell, making your characters become cavemen, perhaps go berserk, would be really cool !

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I agree with Anenome. According to the theme, the forces of time are NOT a bad thing at all. Aging, gaining experiences, passing your knowledge on, these are all things that help your kingdom succeed. Sure, time forces things to decay but it also makes sure new things can flourish, so I think some care will have to be taken with exactly what you mean by the demons representing the forces of time. Also, just from a general standpoint, I think it's a really pessimistic view to be putting out that time is just a destroyer of things.

Maybe it can be thought of more like Entropy, which is the idea that things that are in an ordered state, other things being equal, tend to reach a more disordered state over time. Here the demons are the agents of entropy - they increase disorder, and this manifests as decay, corrosion, collapse and so on. But the humans can fight against this. Both sides need time to do so, because without it, everything is changeless.

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What would they look like? How would they attack you? How would you attack them? How could you use their weapons and abilities against them?

Ok, I'll go through the list and take it one at a time.

Oxidation and rust. (warning: lack of creativity)

Appearance:

Suits of bloodstained and rusted armour with accompanying equipment. Basic.

Attacks and abilities: attacks, direct reductions in efficiency of armour and weapons. Durability is often an irritation. Since the demons are supposed to have relation to time, and more the fleeting effects, rather than eternal, and seem to be commonly entropic, maybe the rust is temporary.

So blood contains iron...

Blood poisoning.

Each hit might not do much damage, but being hit at all tends to cause poisoning that not only makes you more likely to be hit, but increases poison damage buildup.

Making dodging the best counter to this enemy. Defensively at least.

*I would just love to see somebody sending a knight in that then disarms the demon and loses his sword and shield in the process and proceeds to just beat the crap out of the demon barefisted.*

Erosion:

Appareance:

Tower knight. Google Alexander & final fantasy.

Statuesque knight with armour that looks to be built from stone rather than metal and has design more similar to buildings than armour. Certain areas where there would be ornaments are more detail are worn away. Shield looks like a wall that's been torn from the side of a tower, window and all. Water constantly trickles down the side of the knight, and form around the feet of the knight to give the impression of moats.

Dude, weapons: chandelier morningstar! Flagpole spear... rolled up portcullis used to stab... Giant weathervane axe... clock-hand sword... drawbridge as shield, instead.

Attacks:

Wind and weather. Crumbling.

Abilities that knock enemies around

Crumble themselves to become a virtual avalanche.

Throw pieces of themselves.

Swing in arcs that splash water to reduce accuracy.

Could have vine-like growth to root enemies.

broaden stance to stop movement, but cover a larger area, and attack enemies that try to pass. Maybe even place giant shield in ground to effectively serve as a wall.

Crouch and serve as a rampart: his allies can climb over him. Archers could even ride around on him. Dangerous if the giant is toppled.

*Man, I'm thinking more and more about the stone guardians in dark souls...*

Efficient counters:

Ice magic is generally useful, as it impairs its already slow movement, and cracks its armour and body, not to mention that freezing the ground to make it slippery can cause it to fall which is difficult for it to handle due to its weight. That is, if you don't freeze its feet entirely, allowing you to hack away at its back (though its covered on rocks, so that efficacy could be questionable).

Research potential: taking the body of an eroder and seeing its effects on different rocks and other materials allows one to see the accelerated effects of erosion, and find materials and combinations that are more resistant to it, lowering maintenance costs of keeps, improve defenses, and even find materials that tend to grow stronger given time, despite weight, allowing more rooms to built or other potential benefits.

Decay:

Appearance:

Rotting tree with impaled and half enveloped rotting corpses, some of which are knights, some are animals.

Attacks and abilities:

Rotted fruit can be thrown in a wide range to induce nausea and inflict various penalties.

Can cause trees to rot and fall over to impede movement.

Roots and tendrils have grown into the corpses allowing them to be used to attack.

Corpses can also be launched at their enemies or swipe at them.

Can impale or hold down foes with roots.

Fungal growth can further impede movement, or be used as bombs that burst when they've rotted long enough.

Research potential: some of the fungal growth can be learned to be used against enemies like the eroder or rust monster, to weigh them down and continuously cause damage.

Learning about the effects of rot and decay teaches about keeping food preserved and healthy, and even extend the general lifespan through healthy living. Perhaps they'll finally know to wash their hands after shitting now. Learning about disease and bacteria could allow to reduce recuperation required after being wounded, and reduces the frequency of bad diseases traits through vaccines.

Growth:

Appearance:

Plants

attacks:

Plantlike.

Research: glorified botany.

I've got nothing...

Collection:

I - what?

Mint condition first edition Luke Skywalker and darth vader box-sets.

I don't even.

Buildup:

Seem to broad and overlapping. Most likely just blended into the other elements.

Corrosion.

... it's basically rust, covered.

Compression.

I've got nothing. Don't see relevance in relation to time. Reduction, however...Maybe, but still similar to erosion...

..... Well then, seems like this'll be a two parter...

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....Continued:

Sagging / effects of gravity:

Well, again, in regards to time, I have difficulty.

In regards to weight, though: simulate aging, to give reduced mobility.

I can't think of enough to warrant the creation of a demon that specializes in this, unless it's purely gravity magic in which case...

pushing around, weighing down, floating, buff for reduced weight, throw a rock and make it weigh a literal ton, bend gravity to mess with arrows, and projectile trajectories, not mention reduce range, create singularity to draw enemies in toward it, actually bend light to create field of darkness or create a giant magnifying glass to burn enemies... because you can bend light, you can simulate invisibility by project what's around you, though... well, who knows what that looks like from other perspective.

You could also just warp gravity so much that all the units fall in a direction till they hit something. That should be amusing in a forest fight and jump between trees.

Fossilization... I'll just think of this in terms of petrification:

Appearance:

Marble statue as a point of reference. Just too lifelike. Some calcified areas. Implied that a human ha simply petrified.

Abilities:

sprout rocks on the battlefield,

cause difference in elevation

begin petrification processes, that might basically function as a countdown, to make them a priority, if not a direct and immediate threat.

Buff allies by giving rock armour and rock skin.

Throw rock lances that shatter like glass. Leaves field of shards.

Shards can be used in another turn to sprout impaling pillars.

Research potential: improve keeps further, maybe gear as well. Grant insight into earth based magicks. improve trade through petrified roads that don't turn to mud and cause problems. Sudden disappearance of general populace completely unrelated to the great amassing of statues.

Seasons:

Appearance:

Devil's in the details, and I haven't got any. You know, wind and weather.

Abilities:

More heavily emphasized on wind and weather.

create wall of wind to improve movement and range in one direction, penalty in the other.

Rain to impede movement further and deal damage, can cause it to freeze later.

Rain can improve the effects of rust and corrosion, while dealing damage to those demons.

Can cause heatwave, but cause rain to dry up.

Cause storm after heatwave which can cause lightning to strike.

Pleasant weather reminiscent of spring improves growth, such as of fungus. (again, buff to different demon type)

Hail to make casting problematic.

Basically: they're strong, but only when they follow patterns you can predict.

Counter: stealth attack, just get within range, shoot an arrow before defenses are raised. Initiative is most important.

Research potential: understanding seasons could help navigating on the strategic layer as well as tactical, improve trade, plant growth, breed animals and plants to more resistant...

Collapse:

Sort of integrated into the eroder with turning itself into an avalanche.

Pressure:

Like compression, I've got nothing.

Crumbling:

dammit, eroder again. Maybe dealing damage can cause pieces to fall off that have to be dodged or deal damage.

Forgetfulness:

Very abstract...

Appearance: vaguely human but as if all features are washed away, some faded...

Abilities:

Continuously drain experience from an enemy, causing abilities to be forgotten randomly, and statistics to be lowered. Returned when killed.

Out of mind, out of sight: become invisible to X-Y specified enemies for Z turns.

Mind maze: increase the time required to cast spells or other abilities that might require focus.

Mind blank: stuns an enemy (enemies) for x turns.

range and melee damage.

Effectively serves as a combat assassin that is best countered by melee.

Research potential: improve learning through understanding the effects of the mind. Reduce the effect of negative effects from traits that affect the mind. Increase the time that heroes are effective. Increase research rate. Increase resistances to this specific demon's abilities.

Fading:

Assassin... similar to above.

Adaptation:

Ngyuuuiiiiiiiii've got nothing.

Adaptation is also something that's considered one of human's greatest strengths...

There's a lot of overlap between some of these elements. Still this is what I have.

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Oh that's cool, nazareadain. I hadn't even thought of each of the words being the NAME of a kind of demon. That's a pretty cool angle. Like a terrible pantheon of specific destructive forces.

If humans can be corrupted and BECOME demons, then maybe you could put a Dante's Inferno-esque spin on it and make it so that a human's trademark vice/folly is what determines the type of destructive force they become when they turn into a mindless demon.

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Okay, I was trying to think about this some more and come up with a post that more directly answers the specific questions. I wish to stick with the notion that humans are an inherently additive force while demons are inherently subtractive. (I would be careful about using those terms, though, since a google search reveals that Terry Goodkind uses "additive" and "subtractive" to describe schools of magic in some of his books. But maybe you could also find inspiration there.)

So humans. These are the trickier ones to brainstorm. What kinds of attacks would they have? Well, they are creatures who CREATE things, and GROW things, and BUILD UP things. So if those are their natural inclinations, how would that additive energy be channeled into attacks? Here are some ideas.

CONJURING/PRODUCTION OF OBJECTS - The effects of these objects in battle can be pretty much anything. What matters is that the humans can produce things. Maybe they can produce lures, wards, decoys, or voodoo dolls as discussed in other threads. Maybe they can build fortifications. Maybe they can build traps. (Maybe they require the right terrain to do so.) Suffice to say, the humans have ingenuity on their side. A human can go into battle with only a sword, but somewhere in the midst of battle, he finds the resources to BUILD problems for those pesky demons.

ATTACHING AUXILIARY EFFECTS - Their natural drive to improve things by adding to them grants to the humans the ability to attach auxiliary effects to equips, items, and objects. Perhaps a human can add fire to a sword, or perhaps a human could cut to the chase and simply add fire directly to a demon's face, "improving" his visage thereby. Perhaps if there were stone nearby, humans could add stone to armor or shields to buff them up. Perhaps adding water to an ally's equipment improves fire defense, but adding water to an enemy's armor causes the enemy to move as if they are underwater (which is a cooler way of saying it slows them).

OVERLOADING - Humans like to improve things, to build them up, to cause them to grow and swell. But the laws of thermodynamics tell us that not all growth is good growth. It's not good, for example, if an interior expands faster than an exterior! Perhaps if a demon is currently effect by a strength buff, the humans can "improve" the buff times 1,000 so that the demon becomes one giant blob of self-destructive muscle. I'm thinking of Tetsuo's mutation here:

You could do it with other things, too, though. A defense buff could be amplified to "improve" the enemy's past the point of being hard to the point of being brittle. You could "improve" a speed buff to the point that an enemy's speed surpasses its control and it makes all sorts of self-destructive mistakes (e.g., trying to move one square causes it to move 5 and take damage from a collision).

EXPLOITING/APPROPRIATING - The natural human tendency toward tools and invention makes the want to use anything. Rocks? Dirt? Sticks? They can find uses for that stuff anywhere. But on the battlefield, there are these weird demons, and the weird demons are carrying weird demon objects that can't be found anywhere else. The intensely curious humans naturally want to steal these objects or recover them off of slain demons. Then they want to put them to use by either researching them and building them into technology, or perhaps there is a more short-term use for demon objects here on the battlefield.... If you think about it, the demons don't mourn the loss of their own. The demons REPRESENT loss, so in a way you're doing them a weird sort of favor by destroying stuff, even if you're destroying one of their own. But what makes the demon's angry is the CREATION of stuff, and also stuff that JUST WON'T GO AWAY. So what if you killed one of their buddies, but you refused to let him and his things evanesce? What if you carried some of his swag around or preserved his body? Oh man, you did NOT just put a stop to a perfectly good oblivion! Are you trying to REMEMBER that demon instead of FORGET him? You stupid human! MAN that pisses the demons off. Etc etc or some other such thing.

ART AS A WEAPON - The demons understand the concept that matter can be (in game terms) created and destroyed (preferably destroyed), but what they don't understand is art. They see no point in it. In fact, they so fail to see a point to any form of art, that art is completely invisible to the demons. The most beautifully painted fresco is no different to them than just any old other crap in the environment. This makes art a stealthy communication channel for humans. And if music causes harm to the demons (for is their any form of creation greater than art?) then art is also the stealthiest means of attack. Perhaps a bard could be a more handy fellow in this universe than in other RPG universes....

---DEMONS---

SEVERANCE / FORGET - The demons can cloud your memory, causing you to forget your great and famous ancestors. Interestingly, the demon will typically target a specific branch of the lineage. So a demon could make you forget your entire maternal lineage, making all traceable benefits from your mother's side of the family switch off. Or likewise with your father instead. Possibly humans can remove this effect by taking a turn to focus on a relic or heirloom, giving it a more manual use. (Did you happen to see that movie The Forgotten, where that evil alien guy keeps using his power to make Julianne Moore forget about her child, but she keeps finding ways to remember and yelling "I REMEMBER!" at him. Oh man. Good stuff.)

OLD, TIRED, AND JADED - The demons cause a human to intensely feel the existential strain of growing older and deader and still not being certain of the meaning of it all. "Why DO I create these things?" the human suddenly begins to wonder. "What's the point of struggling against the inevitable?" Just like Atreyu in the swamps of sadness, the weight of these overwhelming feelings is so tremendous that the human is arrested by them and is unable to shake them off. Feeling old, tired, and jaded reduces a character's movement as well as the effect of healing/restoration. Until someone perks this human back up (a bard perhaps?), the human will be unable---or unwilling---to use any of their inherent human talents (i.e. creating things, modifying things, building things up, etc). Not surprisingly, younger characters are much more resistant to this trick whereas older characters are much more likely to succumb to it.

UNFRIEND - Demons and their mind tricks can make allies forget all the good times they've had and suddenly unfriend each other! An unfriended ally now has "stranger" status! A stranger can still use heal/support actions targeting themselves, but the actions no longer have any effect when targeting allies. A stranger is also unable (or not permitted) to move within two squares of other allies.

OXIDATION / CORROSION - Maybe it doesn't target the base stats of equipment and weapons. Maybe it targets RELICS or any bonuses in equipment/weapons that is geneologically-derived, reducing or distorting those effects. No worries, though. With the right technology in place, you can restore your relics and heirlooms back to shiny condition between battles.

ROTTEN - If a demon casts this status on a character, any consumable items that character attempts to use will turn rotten in their hands, either rendering it unusable or else causing a harmful effect instead of a helpful one (e.g. poisoning etc). Clever humans under this effect could possibly use it to their advantage by throwing rotten items as weapons.

MAGGOTS - Demons can turn dead bodies all rotten and maggot-infested. Characters receive damage on their turn by just standing near one of these corpses

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The OP's list of associated words sounds like it's more about entropy than time. So maybe y'all want the demons to rep entropy.

Time-wise, you can do various things

A) The demons are SPOILER your inevitably corrupted bloodline from the future which has used magic to empower itself which depends upon stealing life/wealth from its' past selves, fueling a decaying spiral of retroactive self-destructive as your future mage-king descendants war with one another.

B) The demons are connected to a particular part of time. It could be seasonal as with un/seelie courts, they could be at the end of time coming back as with Grant Morrison's Unseelie, they could be the harbringers of a new era erasing the old one as with monsters in Mike Mignola's setting and Dagoth Ur and other villains from TES. More abstractly, it could be the demons the player's fighting aren't really present at the current time, they're actually from the Big Bang for instance, but existing at that time of creation has smeared their essence across time, so the player can interact with these shadows/afterimages/projections, possibly as fragmental incarnations of a singular greater being, itself split into smaller things as time passes and it descends into the physical realm from its' former unified ascended state. Lorewise, this would meant that though the demon hordes seemed to be becoming more powerful to the player's faction, as they became more numerous and faster-breeding, each generation is sucessively shorter-lived, weaker, and dumber, and the generals, survivors of earlier wars from older generations, remember their religion's tales of how they were once a unified God being drawn to the spiritual gravity of the physical plane and forced to incarnate theirin but incapable of incarnating all at once so slowly pulled as cheese through a shredder or someone stretched out across a black hole. They'd rather go back to their Godhood but their elders are losing control of the latest batch of inbred hordes who need no parent but from birth work evil like spiderlings.

C) There are multiple dimensions and conflicting religions/prophecies. Some tell that the demons exist because they're from the future and inevitably win. Others say that humans eventually win because the first man was from the future. Could be one claim's a falsehood/propaganda, depending on if the player wins or not, or they're both sorta-true as the timeline branches into different dimensions, or they're both kinda true as the demons will return to win some day though you beat them back (surviving through your strong bloodlines corruption form contact with them) but when man is soon to be extinguished the final people will travel back in time and be the first generation of mankind.

D) Demon's currency is parts of the past or future. So a man may sell them his memory of his wedding day which has a fluffy flavor and crunch-wise means he will sire less children as he has a missing sense of connection to his keep-wife he can't explain. Alternatively, a demon may steal a man's future, perhaps the time of his child's birth, so the man disappears from outside the birthing tent and in true tricky demonic fashion, the demon attacks to steal the child while his father's absent.

E) Movement is change over time. Demons can limit or temporarily eliminate it. This lends itself to combat effects where a character is put into stasis, immune to any external effects and time-passage based effects (like poison in his bloodstream) but also incapable of aiding the battle. Demons may have tricky spells like summoning themselves from the future, gaining extra numbers on the battlefield for a time afterwhich they disappear for a time and finally reappear if demons 1a and 1b didn't die. Akin to Achron's mechanics but limited to a single X-com length level engagement rather than a 20+min RTS.

F) Archdemons existing in multiple times simultanouesly. Could have a face on every side of their head, each at a different age, the ends of some of their quadral body grading into invisibility as they're manipulating other parts of time the player can't see, a teleportation spell animating as one stepping into a wipe and reappearing from the same side his body disappeared; melee attacks would be possible at range as limbs appeared floating, weapons in hand, in front of the heroes. Barkstrings from the arch-demons could go on about how the players will die and/or past actions the player has taken in the game, especially anything shameful/evil he'd want to be a secret (like selling a servant into slavery for a fat sack of coins in a CYOA quest). This goes with the real life theme that demons/djinn know more about you than naturally possible.

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So I am gonna write about Forgetfulness. I think it is the strongest of these concepts because it is directly opposed to the idea of an epic timeline. The epic timeline is all about remembering people, thats why it is epic. Forgetfulness is directly opposed to the players role as a kind of storyteller and I also think the immortal ruler might be a storyteller. Telling stories is what people do so they wont forget, there is a reason so many old persons make great storytellers.

My take on it is to make names a really important aspect of the battles. Battles are always about losing a name (and beeing forgotten) or earning a new name. I wrote a bunch of post on this idea of making names a central aspect of the game: You can find it here.

I will just quote two ideas from my thread:

The GAME OVER screen says YOU WERE FORGOTTEN.

There is a demon that steals the bloodline name of a hero unless that hero is able to kill this demon in three turns. Or maybe it just has to be one that is of the same bloodline who kills that demon. The demon could rip those cloth things from the heros back (they were supposed to be the relics rght?) and with it they would also rip the ancient spirit out of his body.

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I found these odd faces and immediately thought of Massive Chalice. So there! All of the photos are taken in Prague btw, I'm going there in a couple of days!

I can't help but love the crazy faces & shapes. And corroded bronze looks cool. You said you were collecting references, so I hope this helps.

MassiveChaliceDemonRef_small.jpg

Higher resolution HERE

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So obviously there will be a demon whose got a special attack that makes heroes age rapidly? (Ie they go into battle a young man, they get hit by a demonic spell midbattle, they come out of the battle an old man) Clearly something that powerful would have to be rare (maybe it could only be done by some sort of equivalent of a rare enemy like an XCom Ethereal), but I think that would be awesome.

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So obviously there will be a demon whose got a special attack that makes heroes age rapidly? (Ie they go into battle a young man, they get hit by a demonic spell midbattle, they come out of the battle an old man) Clearly something that powerful would have to be rare (maybe it could only be done by some sort of equivalent of a rare enemy like an XCom Ethereal), but I think that would be awesome.
YOU KNOW IT! :D!

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Since the idea is that Demons embody the effects of time of our world, than a more interesting question is: What is their weakness?

I think this is a great question! If demons represent Time, then what weapon do we have against Time?

I think of concepts like history, society, civilization, togetherness, knowledge, and peace. The kingdom uniting together, recording history, training the next wave, and ensuring future generations is their weapon against time itself.

Still pretty abstract, but might be useful for theming. Like, your squad united together in battle and then recording that history of battle and training the next generation is how it further's the fight.

Also, fruit. :D

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I dont have much to add except for the request that if you go with demons representing times, you better get some HEAT DEATH and ENTROPY in there. They're the ultimate end result of time, after all.

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Since the idea is that Demons embody the effects of time of our world, than a more interesting question is: What is their weakness?

I think this is a great question! If demons represent Time, then what weapon do we have against Time?

I think of concepts like history, society, civilization, togetherness, knowledge, and peace. The kingdom uniting together, recording history, training the next wave, and ensuring future generations is their weapon against time itself.

Still pretty abstract, but might be useful for theming. Like, your squad united together in battle and then recording that history of battle and training the next generation is how it further's the fight.

Also, fruit. :D

Preserving Time can work as a weakness against Time itself. To keep the power of your Heroes you have to re-record history so future generations can become even stronger than the previous generation. I like this idea. Perhaps Bards can read from preserved scrolls, i.e. the older the scroll the more powerful the spell.

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Since the idea is that Demons embody the effects of time of our world, than a more interesting question is: What is their weakness?

concepts like history, society, civilization, togetherness, knowledge, and peace. The kingdom uniting together, recording history, training the next wave, and ensuring future generations is their weapon against time itself.

Permanency is the counter to change.

In game terms this could mean teching up to higher levels of metallurgy and artwork to go from clay to wood to marble to bronze statues, each lasting a different number of years (set for game-balance rather than realism so stone may crumble in 2 generations) and extending the legacy of a hero during that time. Statues could serve as a form of post-mortem hero-use. Each hero has a fame reputation which decays over time and is increased by his deeds (demons slaved, civillians rescued, teammates resuscitated, enemies captured). Hero death-states {on death} do not trigger a resetting of the fame value to 0. So a hero's fame's beneficial effects, like decreased corruption rate in his home realm, will continue after his death until they've decayed to zero from the passage of time. What a statue or other commissioned artwork does is slow this decay rate, keeping the hero present in the peasantry's mind for longer.

Other commisionable works like songs or stories written about the hero could even increase his fame during life or post-mortem, by say a 1.1 modifier at the lowest level. Each type of commission could only be purchased once to prevent endless book-spam to keep a hero popular forever. As a work-load cheap for the team but high-payoff mechanic, any buildings constructed in a keep could be dedicated to a famous hero for an additional fee, increasing his fame and slowing its' decay rate without needing additional art assets, just a "[hero's name]'s [building type]" text format.

Technology could be one axiom on an axis opposite Tradition. Increased Tradition in a culture would make it become corrupted at a slower rate at the expense of technological growth, representing fluff-wise how the people hold to their old ideas, preventing demonic concepts from taking hold and changing them, yet because they're rigid in their thinking they're not developing new tech either. On the flipside, a culture could develop new weapons and gear very quickly but also suffer increased corruption from demonic incursions as their people readily adapt to such a new culture.

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Since the idea is that Demons embody the effects of time of our world, than a more interesting question is: What is their weakness?

concepts like history, society, civilization, togetherness, knowledge, and peace. The kingdom uniting together, recording history, training the next wave, and ensuring future generations is their weapon against time itself.

Permanency is the counter to change.

In game terms this could mean teching up to higher levels of metallurgy and artwork to go from clay to wood to marble to bronze statues, each lasting a different number of years (set for game-balance rather than realism so stone may crumble in 2 generations) and extending the legacy of a hero during that time. Statues could serve as a form of post-mortem hero-use. Each hero has a fame reputation which decays over time and is increased by his deeds (demons slaved, civillians rescued, teammates resuscitated, enemies captured). Hero death-states {on death} do not trigger a resetting of the fame value to 0. So a hero's fame's beneficial effects, like decreased corruption rate in his home realm, will continue after his death until they've decayed to zero from the passage of time. What a statue or other commissioned artwork does is slow this decay rate, keeping the hero present in the peasantry's mind for longer.

Other commisionable works like songs or stories written about the hero could even increase his fame during life or post-mortem, by say a 1.1 modifier at the lowest level. Each type of commission could only be purchased once to prevent endless book-spam to keep a hero popular forever. As a work-load cheap for the team but high-payoff mechanic, any buildings constructed in a keep could be dedicated to a famous hero for an additional fee, increasing his fame and slowing its' decay rate without needing additional art assets, just a "[hero's name]'s [building type]" text format.

Technology could be one axiom on an axis opposite Tradition. Increased Tradition in a culture would make it become corrupted at a slower rate at the expense of technological growth, representing fluff-wise how the people hold to their old ideas, preventing demonic concepts from taking hold and changing them, yet because they're rigid in their thinking they're not developing new tech either. On the flipside, a culture could develop new weapons and gear very quickly but also suffer increased corruption from demonic incursions as their people readily adapt to such a new culture.

I dunno, it seems to be a kind of weird "change is bad" message. I really think it'd be better to think of it in terms of harmony vs entropy or something like that, rather than saying time itself is the evil force.

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I dunno, it seems to be a kind of weird "change is bad" message. I really think it'd be better to think of it in terms of harmony vs entropy or something like that, rather than saying time itself is the evil force.

If we're being strictly philosophical about it, then of course time has no agenda and therefore can't be said to be good or evil. It's just a thing that IS. That observation in itself is interesting. You could pursue that if you wanted, and it would be interesting.

But the beautiful thing about stories is that you can frame them however you want. Time is sort of an "evil force" in Stephen King's The Langoliers, for example. While "the langoliers" are not intentionally malicious, nor do they have any specific interest in watching the protagonists suffer, they are still the antagonistic force. The langoliers are just doing their job, behaving according to their nature, and they couldn't care less about the consequences on people.

You see something similar in a lot of the works of Jack London. Only in his works the antagonistic force isn't time (although time may be a factor) as much as it is the merciless lack of concern nature has for mankind. He tells stories of men simply trying to travel from one town to another, and the terrible sequence of events that unfolds and causes them to die of an accidental injury or slowly, slowly, slowly freeze to death. You experience their gradually heightening physical torment and the psychological terror of the truth setting in that they are probably, almost certainly going to die. Alone. And nobody will know or care for months. Possibly no one will ever find them. Jack London LOVED stuff like that.

But nature wasn't ever "evil" to Jack London in the sense of being a stereotypical figure in a black cape and twisting a crooked mustache, nor were the langoliers (i.e. time) intentionally "evil" in Stephen King's book. They are both just very extremely dangerous things that you should, if you know what's good for you, regard with the gravest respect.

Jack London could have written a story where he was like, "But nature can also be pretty cool sometimes, like when it grows pretty flowers or soft grass that you can lay on and look up at the stars." But that's not the story he was telling. He was telling the story where nature is crazy deadly and will straight up kill you if you stop paying attention for one second. And that's not even the scary part. The scary part is that nature isn't even conscious of it. You can't plead with nature. You can't say, "But I have a wife and kids." To nature, you're just some other crap in the environment, no different from a rock or a stick in the dirt. You are meaningless. Your death is meaningless. Who cares what a stick thinks? It's all just junk. Nature just churns it all through one of its millions of natural processes and never thinks about it again. Who cares what happened as a result? Feelings? What are those? Moving on.

Framing is a part of the writing. Provide a clear and consistent frame, and the audience usually won't even question it. Time as an antagonist requires a certain framing, but you could do it well enough.

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