Tips for Reskinning

 

zethran02aDesigning a game has taught me many things and one of those is that how you package an ability makes a world of difference. In RPGs when you change the package of the ability, but keep the details the same, it is known as reskinning. You can reskin abilities, talents, techniques, villains, and many more things. If you want to reskin anything in your campaign, here are some examples and tips.

Reskinning an Ability

One of your players might want to make a Summoner style class, but we don’t have any in Chronos. Don’t fret, we can make this happen relatively easily. We know that combat-wise, we would want their attack to be something related to summoning rather than a force based power or magical attack. We would start by finding a Supernatural class that has similar style to them. We could have picked an Abyssal Cleric or a Sorcerer, but we are going to choose a Sorcerer. We want to give the Summoner a single target and an AoE attack, so the Sorcerer, with their Eldritch Bolt and Fireball abilities, will be a great fit for a reskinning.

Reskinning is really just about changing the trappings of something, while keeping the effect the same. Looking at Eldritch Bolt, we are going to change the name and description; everything else game mechanics-wise will stay the same.

Eldritch Bolt

Active Immobile [Supernatural] [Onslaught]

Energy: None (20 Out of Combat)

Range: Ranged

Action Time: Equipped Weapon

You fashion pure magical energy into a powerful missile.

Skill Check: POW vs. WILL

Ability Dice Pool: +3dp/+4dp/+5dp

Effect: Combatant is dealt Chaos Damage.

Eldritch Bolt uses Chaos Damage, so we want to keep that for the reskin. Because of that, we are going to need to think of something that will deal chaos damage when summoned. We also need to give this a summoning feel, but we don’t want to make the summoned creature a permanent fixture on the battlefield. In that case, we need to give the impression that this summoning draws something out and then it leaves just as quickly. If you wanted to make this ability have an evil feel, we could have the summoner pull out a demon to tear into them, but we want something more neutral that players can assign their own style. This helps prevent the ability seeming evil/dark right off the bat. I am going to have them summon a Fae creature for that purpose. Now its just a matter of getting the right flavor. We need to think of a name and then make a description for this Fae creature.

In the process of reskinning the name, I choose Wild Hunt’s Hound and will tweak the description to make this plausible. The Summoner will pull a mastiff from the perpetual Wild Hunt. They will set it on their enemies before it returns to the Wild Hunt. Reskinning the description means we have to give a good description as to why this might occur and how it occurs. I choose the following:

You draw forth one of the many great mastiffs from the Wild Hunt. It appears before you, already set in a dead run for its intended target; its insubstantial and chaotic form passing through all obstacles until sinks its slavering jaws into the essence of your enemy. With a howl it returns to the eternal Wild Hunt to be summoned again.

The point is to give the Summoner Ability a much different feel than Eldritch Bolt. Using “draw forth,” “appears before you,” and “sinks its slavering jaws” you get a visual feel and a sense of the summoning. Here is the final result:

Wild Hunt’s Hound

Active Immobile [Supernatural] [Onslaught]

Energy: None (20 Out of Combat)

Range: Ranged

Action Time: Equipped Weapon

You draw forth one of the many great mastiffs from the Wild Hunt. It appears before you, already set in a dead run for its intended target; its insubstantial and chaotic form passing through all obstacles until sinks its slavering jaws into the essence of your enemy. With a howl it returns to the eternal Wild Hunt to be summoned again.

Skill Check: POW vs. WILL

Ability Dice Pool: +3dp/+4dp/+5dp

Effect: Combatant is dealt Chaos Damage.

Reskinning a Fireball

If we wanted to try reskinning the Fireball ability of the Sorcerer we can do something similar. We are going to make the Fireball Spell become Fury of the Salamander.

Original Sorcerer Ability:

Fireball

Active Immobile [Supernatural] [Onslaught]

Energy: None (40 Out of Combat)

Range: Ranged AoE

Action Time: Equipped Weapon

You throw a globe of fire that upon impact, novas, hitting everything caught within its blast radius.

Skill Check: POW vs. WILL — Roll your Skill Check and compare it to all affected Combatants. A failure is a miss on that Combatant.

Ability Dice Pool: +1dp/+2dp/+3dp

Effect: All Foes in the target Battle Zone are dealt Fire Damage.

Synergy Bonus: During Activation Phase for 30 Energy, this Action may affect all Foes on the Battlefield instead of just the Battle Zone.

Reskinned Summoner Ability:

Fury of the Salamander

Active Immobile [Supernatural] [Onslaught]

Energy: None (40 Out of Combat)

Range: Ranged AoE

Action Time: Equipped Weapon

Ripped from the Elemental Plane of Fire, you bring a 10 foot tall Salamander into the midst of your enemies and unleash its anger at being summoned upon them. Force to obey your will, waves of magical fire roll off it in every direction, searing your enemies, but causing no harm to any of your companions.

Skill Check: POW vs. WILL — Roll your Skill Check and compare it to all affected Combatants. A failure is a miss on that Combatant.

Ability Dice Pool: +1dp/+2dp/+3dp

Effect: All Foes in the target Battle Zone are dealt Fire Damage.

Synergy Bonus: During Activation Phase for 30 Energy, this Action may affect all Foes on the Battlefield instead of just the Battle Zone.

That’s It

Wild Hunt’s Hound and Fury of the Salamander fit much more nicely into the Summoner feel/style than any Eldritch Bolt or Fireball. All it took to start making a new class ability was a name change and a description change and you have an entirely different take on the exact same ability. I might go one step further and create Synergy Bonuses to really make the abilities stand out differently than each other, but this is sufficient to demonstrate the reskinning method.

It should be no surprise to you that most games use this same method. The next time you get worried about making a new ability or class for your specific campaign, think of reskinning what you know rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. The same goes for Villains and even Classes. Say you need a Gnoll, but the stats aren’t in front of you, grab the Soldier stats, change the flavor text and you are set to go. You need a Fire Giant? Take the Hill Giant and add fire based abilities. Anything you want to make is just a reskin away.

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