I agree with basically everything that Garryl said in both his previous post and the one he has on spellshaping. I might put slightly less emphasis on color, in favor of other types of flavor, than he would, but that's mostly a personal taste sort of thing. Rather than simply rehashing what's already been said, I'm going to try and look at things from a slightly different angle.
Making the classes so generic and similar makes it significantly harder for a new player to figure out where to start. Worse still, it also makes it harder for a DM to tell what a potential player is planning or how they'll fare, without really delving into the techniques (which an arbitrary DM would be unlikely to do, even if they had really good flavor). The biggest factor in this, is that all of the classes are built off of the same chassis. They all have the same number of tama, techniques, fundamentals, and dead levels. They get their abilities and techniques at the exact same rate, progress fundamental use at the same rate and recover tama in the same way. The only slight variation to this is the mamono who has slightly different dead levels. The upshot to all of this sameness is that when a player tells a DM they're playing X class the DM still has no idea how their character is meant to work.
Since all of the classes have access to all of the techniques, you can't tell what roll they'll be playing (for example, if a class didn't have access to the star icon, you'd know right off the bat that they're probably not planning a blaster). Since all of the classes gain the same number of techniques and can use them at the same rate, you can't tell if a particular class is meant to focus on mundane/class abilities or techniques, nor can you tell if they are meant to be a specialist or a jack of all trades (even the nominally specialist majo doesn't get much of a benefit from their chosen icon or any detriment from the other icons) What's worse, you can't tell what range they're supposed to play at. The majo and the miko suggest that they're meant for mid ranges, but with con as a semi-key stat and edicts they could probably handle close range fairly easily. The channeling classes are even worse, since they can switch between melee and ranged weapons freely. The mamono goes the farthest in suggesting it's prefered range (melee) with it's emphasis on natural weapons, but this is a pernicious lie. The big draw for natural weapons is that you get lots of attacks at a relatively high bab, but there's no way to synergise this with techniques; conversely, since natural attacks are considered finesseable and are relatively hard to enchant, the mamono can easily trick-out a bow for ranged techniques while losing almost nothing in close range.
Compare this to spellshaping (both because it's fairly well done and close at hand). If I were to tell you that I was making a spellshape champion you would know instantly that I'm be planning a melee power house; conversely, if I told you I was making a spellsage you would know I was making a midrange utility blaster. Furthermore, the extremely limited number of circles a champion learns suggests he will be focussing on a few core things while a sage's, honestly, excessive selection tells you that they'll be able to do more varied things but unable to hammer any specific things. Their recovery methods only serve to further reinforce their roles. Of course, you'd have to check what circles they're taking to tell how they intend to go about those roles, but you can usually tell that with a quick glance (if you saw a champion with crushing stone, searing flame and devouring shadow it's a safe bet that they're going to focus on using formula to smash your face in, while a champion with astral essence, natural balance and brilliant dawn is likely to be more focused on buffing themselves).
Making these things easy to figure out isn't just a matter of elegance. The shear volume of content this sort of project contains means it's already hard to convince a random DM to look at it. Anything that makes it harder to judge just compounds that problem and makes it easier for a DM to either ban the homebrew or dismiss a player's app.
More nitpicky stuff:Icon Lists:
In the individual formula lists, you should probably mark what kind of formula each formula is (buff, burst or counter) and if it has an associated ritual in the summary section. This will make it much easier to choose formula or eyeball the capabilities of an icon. You should also explain what the superscript A means in each of the icon threads. It's fairly easy to figure out by looking at the techniques, but making it explicit would still be better, especially for people looking at the system for the first time.
Also, given the differences between fundamentals and normal techniques, it might be worth separating their descriptions and giving fundamentals their own section in the rules thread.Channeling vs Casting:
I would recommend moving channeling from the technique ability to it's own ability. As things stand, it's a bit confusing and making new people read the minutiae of another thread to figure out how a basic ability works is not particularly nice (especially for DMs). Additionally, the wording for channeling's explanation is a bit wordy and hard to understand. You might want to look to the Spellshape Champoin's
, Spellshot Marksman's
channling (or strike in the case of the anchorite) abilities for ideas on how to word it better.
If you do decide to change this, you might want to also take the opportunity to better differentiate casting and channeling and mamono and meister channeling. As things stand, they're all too similar, though the similarities between channeling and casting are probably the bigger issue.On a Slightly Different Note:
I felt it was also worth mentioning that the ala cart style of the classes tends to make their fixed abilities seem like they come out of nowhere, especially their capstones (a number of which seem like they would be better suited as lower level abilities).
A fundamental tangent:
This is a bit off topic from what I was saying earlier, but as I was writing this post I noticed that the name 'fundamental' doesn't really describe what fundamentals are and that rectifying this might be a way to add some flavor or new mechanics for class abilities to hook into. Given what's generally being discussed, I figured it would be worth it to add my thoughts on the matter to this post.
For starters, merriam-webster defines fundamental as:
- serving as a basis supporting existence or determining essential structure or function
- of or relating to essential structure, function, or facts : radical <fundamental change>; also : of or dealing with general principles rather than practical application
- belonging to one's innate or ingrained characteristics
Your fundamentals don't really do any of those things. Instead, they tend to be harder to use, more complex and more limited than the other techniques in an icon; they also tend to be fairly standalone. In and of itself this isn't really a problem, most people probably won't even notice it, but there are ways we could use this discrepancy to make things more interesting.
One way of doing this would be to completely separate them from techniques and instead make them based on the number of techniques you have in a given icon. There are A LOT
of ways you could tweak that, depending on where you wanted to go with it. Off the top of my head: you could make acquiring fundamentals automatic based on how many techniques you have in an icon or you could make the number of fundamentals you have a function of level with the number of techniques determining which you can choose from; you could have the player choose their fundamentals from a large pool (like you do now) or you could have the order be strictly determined with the player only having one or two options at any given stage.
One of the big things this does is let you have a general idea of what a character is focused on and (depending on what route you take) a more fine grained minimum level. This lets you better fine tune what each fundamental does and what a player is liable to want out of it. The other big thing it does is give you an excuse to make them less universal. You could make some that are passive buffs for an icon, others that introduce and work off of charge mechanics based on how many times a certain type of technique has been used and still others that are standard abilities. Regardless of what they do, there would be no reason to specify that they all be used x number of times per day at level y. This is important because, right now, it can lead to somewhat silly results. For example, being able to use a fundamental 3 times a day vs at will means very different things for Storage Crystal, Technician's Flare and Hop Through Amala. The first one will probably only be used once period, using the second one at will becomes perfectly reasonable very quickly (if not immediately) and the third is very good and worth limiting even at mid to upper levels.
This isn't the only way to change things up, it's just a suggestion to help get you thinking.
There's a number of other issues I could point out, but it's probably a better idea to fix the main things first and see if any of the smaller problems work themselves out in the process.