Thoughts on Auras

I’ve been worrying about some aspects of the use of auras in the game.

Negative Auras

Should the range of auras run from 0 to 8 or from -8 to +8? Negative auras would permit considerations of things or situations that oppose the standard auras. For example, suppose that one person is being especially submissive: should we describe that person as having 0 tanaga or -8 tanaga?

Perfect Set

The above problem bears upon the victory condition. My original plan had been that victory was obtained by obtaining a perfect set of auras: 8 of each type. But should perfection be 8 of each or 0 of each? That is, each character starts off with some combination of positive and negative auras, and the goal is to achieve perfect balance by having 0 of each. But this would suggest that neophytes are perfect, because they don’t have any auras. This looks like trouble.

Learning Auras

Crucial to the game is that each person knows only a fraction of the necessary knowledge. In original Siboot, each player began each morning knowing three aura counts in total, one from each of three characters. Players then horse traded information among themselves to obtain enough information for success.

This arrangement is utterly arbitrary; I’d like something that makes more sense. One way is to make the learning of aura counts part of the dream animation. As the player whooshes past other players, he occasionally sees one of their aura counts. Of course, how do we show that?

A more compelling method is to rely on past information. Each player starts the game knowing nothing of the others. However, the player directly experiences the auras played by the two opponents he encounters during a typical dream. That doesn’t give aura counts directly, but over the course of time, he can assemble a profile of each character by learning what auras that person played. For example, suppose you knew the total history of one character over, say, four turns. That means you would know eight instances of what auras he played. Would that give you enough to deduce his aura counts?

No, I don’t think so. Next try: what if dream combat reveals the number of auras of the type used by your opponent on you? In other words, if he plays tanaga, you get to learn how many tanagas he has. When you combine this with other information obtained from other players, you can deduce his aura counts.

Example: you fight Skordokott on the first turn; he plays a tanaga and you learn that he has six tanagas. Two days later you swap information with somebody who tells you that Skodokott attacked them with shial and had five shials. Does that tell you enough?

No, I don’t think so. We need more. I really want to take advantage of past knowledge in this, so that you can look up that history and make your best guesses. Here, let me compose an imaginary history based on four turns of experience:

Suppose that this were the history display for Darth Maul. On the first night he played tanaga; he had four of them and won, gaining a katsin. We don’t know what happened on the second night, but on the third night he played a shial, losing it, leaving him with just five shials. On the fourth night, he played a katsin, of which he had seven, and won, gaining back the shial he had lost the previous night.

This would suggest that he probably has four tanagas, seven katsins, and six shials. But our guess is messed up by several fact: we don’t know anything about what happened on the second night, and we don’t anything about any of the other combats that might have taken place on the other nights.

Here’s a thought: what if each player also gets to observe one other dream combat? That is to say, in the morning, each player knows four counts:

1. The aura count of the aura played by the person he attacked.
2. The aura count of the aura played by the person who attacked him.
3. The aura count of the aura played by the first witnessed combatant.
4. The aura count of the aura played by the second witnessed combatant.

This would certainly bulk up the table of knowledge, permitting a better assessment. But could I really fit all that information into the screen? What if there are multiple combats of the same aura type in a single night?

Much to ponder have I, said Yoda.