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I'm working on a creature-capture/battling game (think Pokemon for the genre, but nothing trademarked and a more adult tone), and it will be story-centric.

Background of the World

Gemini is a nation split across two islands, Castor and Pollux, joined only by a single bridge with "Gemini Tower" in the middle (midgame "boss battle" location, so to speak). A century or two ago, creatures now known as "Spawn" began to appear on the islands; scientists' best guess is that they came from an alternate universe through some kind of weak point -- or Nexus -- between worlds, though no one knows for sure. What we do know is that the species of Spawn vary wildly in abilities, intelligence, and form, but that they can all be classified into one of several tribes and types. The types refer to what kinds of abilities they have, the tribes refer to their common ideologies, strategies in battle, and approaches to life. Once people figured out how to capture Spawn -- some consider this "enslavement" and have started a very strong anti-Spawn-capture movement -- they began using the Spawn for their own purposes, be they political, militaristic, or otherwise.

As time went on, partly accelerated by the appearance of Spawn, the two islands became highly economically disparate. Castor became an island of poverty and squalor, while Pollux became an island of technology, wealth, and luxury. To keep the populace from rebelling to the point of being impossible to contain, the Gemini government instituted a rewards program of sorts: anyone who can prove themselves useful to the country by capturing and utilizing Spawn successfully enough to best the most renowned commanders will be afforded relocation from Castor to Pollux, with all expenses paid for life in exchange for service to the Gemini Spawn Special Forces.

The player begins as a citizen of Castor whose mother is ill, but who cannot afford her treatment. They decide to complete their "Proof of Aptitude" (that "rewards program") in hopes that they can bring their mother to Pollux and save her. The game ensues from there.

Now the question...

Mechanically, the tribes serve to emphasize combinations of strategies, since every battle will be at least 2-on-2. For instance, you may want one offensive Spawn out with a healer to support it, etc. The types serve as predictors of strengths and weaknesses, just as in the Pokemon games.

However, to keep the game balanced, there should be no "objectively best" type or tribe to use. No matter what types or tribes I capture, there should always be at least one type worse than me and at least one type stronger than me. (Non-transitivity, like Rock-Paper-Scissors.) In other words: the strengths/weaknesses of each type relative to the others should form one or more cycles.

I could just throw the types into a random cycle and call it a day, but I would like sensible in-world reasons for why Type A is better than Type B but worse than Type C, for instance. I haven't been able to figure out cycles where each type has a sensible reason for being weaker than or stronger than another. There's always one type left with a match-up that doesn't make sense.

The types are as follows (tribes aren't very relevant, I don't think):

Types

Mind: Abilities focus on mental manipulation; these Spawn are highly intelligent and can mess with others' brains directly.

Body: Abilities focus on raw strength, either strong attacks or high physical defense; these Spawn are large, heavy, and/or muscular, and often are skilled at melee attacks.

Ethereal: Abilities are spirit-like; these Spawn come from universes where life evolved from very non-dense matter, like gasses and vapors; or else their bodies are partially "anchored" to their home universe, leading to ghostly properties in the universe of Gemini.

Nature: Abilities focus on manipulation of nature, a la plants, terrain, weather, etc.; these Spawn are effectively either druids or symbiotes.

Artifice: Abilities focus on equipment and tech, and these Spawn tend to be modular; these Spawn have highly advanced technology and rely so strongly on it that they can be at a disadvantage if their tech is unavailable for any reason.


Can anyone help me find a way to organize those types into cycles of strengths and weaknesses, such that every type has at least one strength and one weakness, but also provide an in-world explanation for why each is strong or weak against another?

The best I could come up with was "Mind > Ethereal > Body > Mind", with the explanation that "in order to manipulate peoples' minds remotely, the Mind Spawn are controlling energy in their brains, which gives them an advantage over Ethereal Spawn who are mostly kept coherent in Gemini with energy control; Ethereal Spawn have an advantage over Body Spawn because physical attacks would pass through them; and Body Spawn have an advantage over Mind Spawn because their focus on physicality has rendered most of them fairly dim and instinctual, giving Mind Spawn less to work with." But this leaves out Nature and Artifice, and just having those two loop doesn't make much sense, since any explanation of why Nature is stronger than Artifice inherently invalidates any explanation of why Artifice would be stronger than Nature.

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  • $\begingroup$ This seems to be much more of a game mechanics question than a world building question. But I am braced to be told I'm wrong. $\endgroup$ – puppetsock Dec 18 '19 at 20:24
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    $\begingroup$ @puppetsockreinstateMonica, I would argue for WB, at least to the extent the question is asking for a narrative reason/explanation for the mechanics. BTW, as for the raw mechanics, I would go with a straight circle, where each type is very strong/weak and somewhat strong/weak against one each of the others. Dragons World worked that way. $\endgroup$ – Matthew Dec 18 '19 at 20:42
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    $\begingroup$ @IceMetalPunk Your best bet is to use a mechanic like Mathaddicts, then post a new question including it and ask how to justify the ones you can't come up with a reason for, add in your criteria for a good answer too otherwise it has a decent chance of being closed as opinion based. As it sits asking us to come up with the system and justification is too broad and too opinon based $\endgroup$ – John Dec 18 '19 at 21:02
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    $\begingroup$ @John, but dictating the system would limit potential explanations. I don't see this as asking about the form of the system (which would be OT, but the answers for that are obvious). Anyway, a question like this is inherently somewhat opinion based, but IMNSHO that's fine for WB. $\endgroup$ – Matthew Dec 18 '19 at 21:15
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    $\begingroup$ I want to keep it open because it is intriguing and WB-related. It’s a bit heavy in the world-specific, but the general question of “can there be a natural system where such cycles of strength develop?” Is a great question, IMHO. $\endgroup$ – SRM Dec 19 '19 at 5:21

10 Answers 10

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Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock

This extension of Rock paper scissors is exactly what you need. You'll just substitute your creature types for each of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, and Spock.

In words it would be like this:

Scissors cuts paper, paper covers rock, rock crushes lizard, lizard poisons Spock, Spock smashes scissors, scissors decapitates lizard, lizard eats paper, paper disproves Spock, Spock vaporizes rock, and rock crushes scissors.

or A graphical representation here:

RPSLSp

You might substitute Rock for body, Scissors for Mind, Paper for Ethereal. That puts what you've already worked out in the right place. My intuition would be to substitute Spock for artifice, giving it advantage over Mind and Body, but losing to Nature and Ethereal. This would leave Nature having advantage over Ethereal and Artifice, but loosing to Body and Mind.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hm... so in terms of the in-world explanations, which is the world-building I'm looking for here: Artifice would be stronger than Mind since it's not an organic brain (or at least, not totally anymore) and stronger than Body since it's augmented to be physically stronger; it's weak to Nature because... um... rust? I don't know -- why would Artifice be weak to Nature? And it's weak to Ethereal because.... they can phase through the tech and short-circuit it? I'm not sure about that either. And why would Nature be weak to Body and Mind, or strong to Ethereal? I can't think of the reasons... $\endgroup$ – IceMetalPunk Dec 18 '19 at 20:46
  • $\begingroup$ This is a good solution to the mechanics part of the question, but the OP is also asking for an explanation to why each advantage or disadvantage is conveyed. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki - Reinstate Monica Dec 18 '19 at 22:01
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Obviously you can use any cycle, but since you have 5 items, I highly recommend leveraging Wu Xing, the Chinese five elements:

The five elements

I recommend this to anyone developing a system like this with 5 items because its a system which has something like 5000 years of history and nuance that you can draw from. It has both the D5 symmetry that you want for your rock paper scissors that you want, and a C5 cycle around the outside known as the "generating cycle", which brings up even more strategy.

If I may recommend a pairing to start with:

  • Mind - Water.

  • Body - Earth

  • Ethereal - Fire

  • Nature - Wood

  • Artifice - Metal

Adjust to meet your needs.

I'll note this cycle is the same one as the current leading answer of the rock-paper-scissors-lizard-spock game. However, I like drawing on the Wu Xing. The RPSLS game consists of 5 almost unrelated things outside of their standard "rock crushes scissors" story. Wu Xing brings in thousands of years of history, nuance, medicine, and more. The mapping I recommended above is not random, but based on the traits you described in your answer.

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    $\begingroup$ This is a good mechanism for coming up with a good answer, but instead of just saying that it has thousands of years of nuance, maybe explain the details as they pertain to this particular system. $\endgroup$ – IndigoFenix Dec 19 '19 at 7:39
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Building off of the Wu Xing

Cort Ammon came up with a good technique for determining the type matchups, using the Wu Xing, an ancient Chinese cycle of elements. I'll expand on them in how they translate into game mechanics.

Simplified

Mind: Low combat stats, but high accuracy and armor penetration. Strong against Ethereal and Artifice, weak against Body and Nature.

Body: Moderate combat stats all around. Strong against Mind and Ethereal, weak against Nature and Artifice.

Ethereal: Moderate attack, low defense, high evasiveness and armor penetration. Strong against Artifice and Nature, weak against Mind and Body.

Nature: Loads of HP, but low evasiveness. Other stats are moderate. Strong against Body and Mind, weak against Artifice and Ethereal.

Artifice: High armor and attack power, low accuracy. Strong against Nature and Body, weak against Ethereal and Mind.

Details and explanations

Destructive Cycle

Mind (Water) beats Ethereal (Fire) - Mental abilities are weak but nearly impossible to avoid. Ethereal creatures have excellent evasive abilities, but lack defense, so mind attacks are the easiest way to hurt them.

Body (Earth) beats Mind (Water) - Mind abilities lack the DPS necessary to defeat a brute attacker before the psychic is beaten to a pulp.

Ethereal (Fire) beats Artifice (Metal) - Complex machines have good armor, but rely on a lot of tiny, miniscule moving parts or electrical transistors (high armor, low HP). Creatures made of subtle, fine materials can slip in through the armor and attack these parts directly (weak attack, high armor penetration).

Nature (Wood) beats Earth (Body) - Quite simply, the harmony of nature as a whole is stronger than any one creature's physical body. Try punching down a forest. It doesn't work. In game mechanics terms, Nature simply has loads of HP, but low evasiveness.

Artifice (Metal) beats Nature (Wood) - Artificial machines are specifically designed to tackle problems that lack the adaptability to react. You can't destroy a forest with your hands, but you can build a chainsaw and flamethrower to do it for you. In game mechanics, Artifices tend to have high attack power that wears down Nature spawn and enough armor to resist counterattacks.

Supportive Cycle

(All supported types have a small advantage against those that can support them.)

Mind (Water) supports Nature (Wood) - Nature is disorganized, but it grows much more powerful when its components are working together as a group. Mind powers can organize, focus, and give intelligence to plants and animals and pull a Wrath of Gaia on their opponents. However, it is difficult for mind attacks to penetrate Nature spawn's high HP pool.

Body (Earth) supports Artifice (Metal) - Machines are prone to breaking down and need to be serviced periodically. Physical engineers can fix them. Robots also have a combat advantage over organic fighters, though this advantage is less pronounced than their advantage over Nature, because organic fighters have better evasiveness.

Ethereal (Fire) supports Body (Earth) - Ethereal creatures are weak by themselves, but they can power up physical fighters with magical-type abilities. Wind can power up speed and jumping, fire and lightning can grant deadly auras, etc. Their buffs are less effective on plants, animals, and robots, since these tend to lack the adaptability to use their new powers. Physical fighters have a small advantage over Ethereal ones, since the latter lacks raw offensive and defensive stats, and can be disrupted by swift attacks, though their ability to evade some damage makes this advantage less pronounced.

Nature (Wood) supports Ethereal (Fire) - Ethereal creatures draw energy from their surroundings to sustain themselves. Nature has raw energy to spare. This does, however, weaken the natural creatures when used, so Nature is somewhat weak against Ethereal creatures.

Artifice (Metal) supports Mind (Water) - The raw power and armor of machinery nicely offsets the inherent weakness of Mind spawn - also, machinery is designed to assist intelligent creatures. Mind abilities can also telekinetically disrupt or hack machines (bypassing their armor), giving them a small combat advantage when pitted against each other.

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Two strengths and two weaknesses each:

Mind: The mind can directly manipulate other creature’s brain, making it able to directly control creatures that rely on physical power, such as the Body and Artifice. However, the Ethereal is too foreign to be controlled, and the Nature spawn use their bond with nature to resist. (That, or the nature ones are too simplistic to be controlled, i.e. trees or something.)

Body: Raw power lets it easily destroy the environment, laying waste to passive Nature, and it can overpower the scrawny gimmick nerds of the Artifice, who rely on tools to do what only a real man can do! But they’re useless against the Mind spawn who control them, or the Ethereals, who can just avoid the blows.

Ethereal: Impossible to be touched by the Mind or Body, the Ethereals have advantage over both. However the Nature spawn can key in to their mystical origin to hurt them directly, and the Artifice just build a gadget capable of harming them.

Nature: The mystical Nature spawn can resist the grasp of the Mind and can affect the eerie Ethereal. However, their lack of power comes back to bite them when they go up against the Artifice or the Body.

Artifice: The cool gadget users can affect the Ethereal with the power of SCIENCE! and they can also lay waste to nature via flamethrowers, giant saws, or just dumping pollutants into the atmosphere, all the same to them. But pound for pound, they lack the strength of the Body, and are just meat puppets to the Mind.

Tl;dr

  • Mind: Strong against Body, Artifice. Weak against Ethereal, Nature
  • Body: Strong against Nature, Artifice. Weak against Ethereal, Mind.
  • Ethereal: Strong against Body, Mind. Weak Against Nature, Artifice.
  • Nature: Strong against Mind, Ethereal. Weak Against Body, Artifice.
  • Artifice: Strong against Ethereal, Nature. Weak Against Mind, Body.
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Having written a system to generate non-transitive matchups before (context: space combat, ships have speed, armor, damage, rate of fire (time between salvos), number of shots per salvo, and armor piercing with various stats costing some number of "stat points" (eg 1 stat point could give +1 damage or +2 armor piercing)), one of the things I learned was that it was basically guaranteed to generate a non-transitive sequence eventually (that is, once I found some A > B, B > C, C > D, D > E, E > F, it was highly likely that at least one of [D, E, F] would be better than one or more of [A, B, C]).

I still have the swf file around somewhere. I'll re-host and edit with a link when I find it.

I didn't even matter a whole lot what the exact balance of points costs were. I could make 1 point give 3 AP instead of 2 and I'd still get a non-transitive set. The bigger problem was how much better the next unit in the sequence was and how long it took to find the next unit in the sequence (obviously the larger the required gap, the longer it took), as it was possible that unbeatable peaks did exist on the landscape as a result of the particular stat balance, but finding those peaks was hard. And as my goal was simply to find a non-transitive set, if the program took too many attempts to find a new "winner" it would just toss out the whole set and start over.

I didn't even need things like "water deals more damage to fire types" damage multipliers to get this to happen, either. Just the simple fact that the stats interacted in a specific way meant that there inherently existed a non-transitive loop somewhere and very probably an infinite number of such loops and all I had to do was find them.

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  • $\begingroup$ It should be noted that this only applies if the individual units were distinct in a series of stats (like how different Pokemon creatures, aside from having different types, also have different stat spreads). However, if they were all identical barring a single factor (in this case, the creature type) then there a loop such as one is always weaker and better than others. $\endgroup$ – Halfthawed Dec 18 '19 at 22:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Halfthawed There aren't "transitive loops" as in order to be transitive it needs to be non-loop-y (there exists a definitive best). But you can still have non-transitive loops even with a single variant. Elemental type: Water beats Fire, etc. ah la five element theory. The problem is that such typing can't be continuous (it must be discrete values, a creature can't be |0.3Fire>+|0.7Water>), but can be as many (non-even) elements as you like (see also RPS101). $\endgroup$ – Draco18s no longer trusts SE Dec 18 '19 at 22:22
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Mind: (Weak vs Ethereal / Strong v Artifice)

Artifice: (Weak vs Mind/ Strong v Body)

Body: (Weak vs Artifice/ Strong v Nature)

Nature: (Weak vs Body/ Strong v Ethereal)

Ethereal (Weak vs Nature/ Strong v Mind)

  • Ethereals have no physical form; so, there is no Brain for mind spawn to control
  • Artificers need their minds to focus on their tech; so, even a little confusion from a mind spawn can render them unable to remember how to properly use their complex tech.
  • Body spawn can only fight from up close. Against an Artificer you are essentially bringing a knife to a gunfight.
  • Body spawn have impressive constitutions against poison, thick hides, fur etc. All the things animals have evolved to resist the natural elements, they have in bucketloads.
  • Ethereals are gassious beings, cold can condense them, wind can scatter them, etc.
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(I'm going to sometimes use the first letters of Mind, Body, Ethereal, Nature, Artifice for brevity. Conveniently those are unique.)

Option 1 (balanced)

Use the total order M -> E -> A -> N -> B -> M

  • [M >> E]: (Your explanation)
  • [E >> A]: E is too insubstantial to be affected by A
  • [A >> N]: A can bend N to its will
  • [N >> B]: N is resilient against B's physical attacks
  • [B >> M]: M is physically weak and thus more susceptible to B
  • [M > A]: M understands A (can identify and exploit weaknesses)
  • [E > N]: E has transcended N (or can manipulate N)
  • [A > B]: A is more powerful than B (tools beat brute strength)
  • [N > M]: Similar to [B >> M]
  • [B > E]: Similar to [B >> M]

Option 2 (inner/outer cycle)

Use your existing explanation for MBE, with NA both superior to all of MBE (but by a lesser factor, say 1.5x) and both superior to each other (e.g. 2x, which would be the same factor as e.g. B vs. M). Artifice can direct nature, but Nature also conquerors Artifice in the long run. Or you could have AN/MBE be neutral vs. each other. (However, I don't have a great story for why AN > MBE.)

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You could balance with six: three primaries and three dualities.

COLOR WHEEL WITH 6 TYPES

You have mind, body and ethereal (or spirit). Your other three each are a union of 2 of the basic types.

Green could be Spirit and Body. Artifice is Mind and Spirit. Animal is Mind and Spirit.

You can arbitrarily set the basic three according to what makes sense to you. Let us say Mind defeats body but is weak to spirit. Spirit defeats Mind but is weak to body. Body defeats spirit but is weak to Mind.

Therefore Green (Spirit and Body) is good against spirit or body, neutral against Mind (because Spirit and Body balance), but poor against either of the Mind augmented dualities Animal or Artifice. The advantage of Green over Body is not like the advantage of Spirit alone over Body; the presence of Body within Green attenuates its advantage as compared to a pure Spirit. But Green is more versatile.

Your dualities past the main three are built from the main three, so their characteristics emerge from those main three and you can induce them rather than making them up. Also with six you can use a color wheel: always a bonus.

Of course there will be a thing that is a balance of all three. It will not fight or be fought. It has a different plan.

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Disclaimer: Individuals in each group may differ from the normal of the group. Discussion will be geared towards the average member of the group.

That types, you are looking to create a game of Elemental Rock Paper Scissors (TV Tropes link redacted for user safety) using 5 types with defined attributes as your base. As such, my inspirations for this are twofold

  • Pokemon due to the many elemental type matchups and how they work with/against each other both mechancially and logically
  • Magic: the Gathering for it's five-colour system and the colour pie that is central to it.

The Spawn Pie

As your question states, your types each have their wheelhouse of what they are good at. Consequently, there should be things that they lack within their typing. This is either because it is anathema to their nature, or just other Spawn types can fill that niche much better. A third category of skills are skills that augment or hinder the allies/enemires of a particular Type, the hindering spells are called "hosers" where I come from.

Pokemon and Magic also have things that span two (or more for Magic) elements/colours. For Pokemon, this brings both the strengths and weaknesses of two disparate elemental types and combines them for both good and bad as while being dual-typed can eliminate common weaknesses, it can also amplify them. In Magic, anything multicoloured usually either takes a shared aspect of each colour and runs with it or just outright combines abilities from multiple colours and slaps it together on a card.

Likewise for you, will there be Spawn that actually span into two (or more) types in order to create Spawn with different strengths/weaknesses?

Note: Mr. Rosewater on the Magic: the Gathering website actually does go into a fair amount of detail about colour philosophy in some of his articles including what they can/can't do and why some abilities can bleed into other colours. Perhaps the most important part of his articles on the topic is when is it appropriate/plausible to bend the rules a bit. Unfortunately, I do not have links for these articles right now.

Type Matchups

So my proposition is that instead of direct Strong/Weak relationships like most RPGs have, it is more Ally/Enemy relationships. Allied Types will be more neutral towards each other in regards to attacks and may even support each other under normal circumstances while Enemy Types will more often hinder each other and maybe even have attacks that are strong against each other.

If you are insistant about pairs being string/weak for numerical programming reasons, then the Enemy pairs would be string against each other while the Allied pairs would be neutral or resistant against each other.

Going in a circle (or pentagon) leads to the following relationship below. Allied pairs are next to each other while enemy paris are not.

Mind -> Artifice -> Body -> Nature -> Ethereal -> Mind.

Matchup Justifications

And now for the logic! Note these will be spoken of in generalities and individual Spawn may deviate at the designers needs

Allied Types

Mind / Artifice -- Mind and Artifice are Spawn that use their mind to solve problems in different ways. Mind focuses that power into direct attacks and mental powers while Artifice applies it into buiding tech to work with. They are allied in the premise of intelligence and working with their minds.

Artifice / Body -- Both Artifice and Body do things with the Spawn's own power, only geared in different ways. Artifice improves their body with tech while those of Body train themselves to be the only weapon they need. They bond over personal ability

Body / Nature -- Spawn of Body and Nature focus on the natural world for their attacks. While Body improves themselves to be the best, Nature Spawn focus outward to create areas where they hold an advantage. They bond over their shared natural world and drawing power from it

Nature / Ethereal -- Both Types are living and work off of the living world. Just because they primarily exist in different universes is immaterial. Both draw power from their respective natures in order to thrive and they bond over their mutual connection to their particular natural worlds.

Ethereal / Mind -- Both types are likely to be physically weak in the material Gemini world and wll bond over that along with the metaphysical. However, they have different ways to overcome this. Mind by using their mental powers to affect the world and Ethereal by harnessing their less corporeal nature to affect the world.

Enemy Types

Mind / Body This adversarial relationship revolves on the premise of "Mind over Body". So long as there is a crack in their defenses, Mind can just mind-bullet the Body, and if they are not fast enough, the Mind Spawn gets punched really hard. As such, they learn to fight each other. Thier conflict is over what they train with.

Body / Ethereal -- Tried to punch a ghost? The ghostly nature of the Ethereal Spawn offer less chances to be physically affected by those of the Body type and they know it. Likewise the Body Spawn know that if they hone their physical prowess enough, then even the fog and the wind can be affected by punching it.

Ethereal / Artifice -- This is the classic battle of the physical versus the metaphysical put through the lens of technology. While specialized tech from Artificer Spawn could be developed to fight the Ethereal, likewise unshielded tech is easy prey for the metaphysical attacks from Ethereal Spawn. The lines of thought are also quite different from each other

Artifice / Nature -- Nature breaks down technology and reverts it to nature. Artifice take nature and turn it into technology. While there is definitely tech that can augment nature, this is about subjugation of the natural world through advanced gadgetry. Countered that is nature that aggressively searches for and destroys tech.

Nature / Mind -- Like above, it's about using your power to either work with nature or subjugate it to your will. Unlike with artifice, there are no gadgets to attack and destroy, it is just the Spawn itself and its power. You'd think they'd get along better, but it's a deep philosophical divide that makes these two types enemies as opposed to an gross physical one.

Tribal Matchups

The question does focus on types as opposed to tribes, but I would be remiss not to mention your tribal concepts as part of this. From what I understand, tribes will also be a part of the process that determines what kind of skills within their type (or other types) that a Spawn can learn. This combined with your types will give an idea of what should be stronger or weaker against a particular foe.

As a Tribe has a particular philosophy about their Type, their skills will be different, even if the technical Type of their attacks are the same. Tribes would be analgous to why a pokemon will learn one (or more) of the following: - Thunderbolt (strong and accurate) - Shock Wave (weak but even more accurate) - Thunder (stronger but less accurate) - Thunder Wave (non-damaging paralyzing shock) - Thunder Punch (physical elelectric attack)

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Artifice > Mind > Ethereal > Body > Nature > Artifice

I ended up with the same Mind Ethereal Body relationship as you did, but with slightly different explanations regarding the Mind type.

Artifice

The Mind type messes with others' brains directly, so have a natural disadvantage against Artifice types who use advanced technology that don't technically have "brains" to work on. You can put limitations on Mind types so that they can only work with direct line-of-sight, and have Artifice types hide behind armor or shielding that breaks that contact.

Mind

Ethereal types don't have a strong physical presence, but in order for them to maintain a coherent existence their mind still needs to be present, presenting a natural target for the Mind types to use on, while others tend to require a physical body for the effects to work.

Ethereal

Ethereals have a natural advantage against Body types mainly because they rely on raw strength and physical attacks which go through Ethereal types (This is the same as your solution)

Body

You may require some hybrid explanations with this as Nature covers a wide spectrum, but for my suggestion I would say that being something like druids (traditional mage types) Nature types have low resistance against brute force attacks. Body types can generally shrug off terrain manipulation attacks (which would boil down to being fairly physical such as rock smashes and earth spikes), plant-based attacks (they can rip through them). Weather manipulation is a problem depending on how powerful you make them, I would expect nothing but Ethereal types to be able to take a full-on lightning strike, but otherwise their big bulk should withstand wind attacks and some clothing should help against cold attacks (haha).

Nature

This also depends on how strong you make your Nature and the upper limit of tech for Artifice types, but I like to imagine no amount of tech can stand up to the true force of Nature. Lightning will fry electronics, alternate cold and heat will break metals, crushing something between multiple tons of rock will break anything that otherwise refuses to be broken.

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