Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Adventuring should be the best option mechanically.

This is a broad flaw, a lot of games that support "high adventure" really don't. The most effective route to achieving your personal goals and ambitions is to not go out and adventure. Now obviously this is easily fixed by even half attentive GM's who create the setting to either spur the characters on, or make adventuring a better idea. Failing that the meta-game aspect of "well I don't want to sit here and be a peasant for 4 hours a week" kicks in.

This this seems almost like a silly flaw to be explaining. And it is if you run games with plot arcs and stories and big bad end guys and the like. But if you run a sandbox game it becomes important.

Why? Because sooner or later the players will come to a point where there are not obvious threats to the land, or get rich quick schemes. They will need to find their own things to plan for, their own goals to research. Talented players will overcome this, but a nudge in the right direction would help

So in Piecemeal I tried to make the classes almost force an adventurous life upon you, in a couple of ways.

1.) Keypoints (or milestones) part of the XP system is that merely gaining XP won't let you exceed level caps. To get beyond certain levels ( Zero, Five, Ten and Fifteen) you need to accomplish feats of certain worth. No matter how many orcs you slay, you won't get past level five until you do something that raises you from Local Hero to National Hero, such as slaying a dragon, overthrowing a corrupt barony, converting a province to ones faith, robbing the royal vault, etc. I'll go into Keypoints more in another post, as they are really deserving of their own.

2.) Class Specific benefits.

Each class has their own benefits that can only (effectively) occur through adventure, each of these points will also get their own more in depth post.

Wizards do not share spellbooks for very concrete mechanical reasons, there are no mages colleges. Spells cannot be researched in any rational amount of time, taking a lifetime to invent even simple spells (if your lucky). Thus magic is an accumulated knowledge form, the most rational way to get new spells is to defeat rival wizards and take them, or to loot through old and dusty tombs of long dead wizards.

Warriors gain a lot of their power through "Combat Maneuvers", little tricks they learn as they go, these tricks are not automatically gained. They can either be taught by an instructor, find ancient manuals, or most commonly..recreate a maneuver used on them. Warriors thus often travel the world to learn new fighting styles, find new opponents to face in battle so they can be exposed to new maneuvers and thus learn to recreate them on their own.

Priests gain their magic through deeds (Expect several long posts on this) basically. So while they can gain a trickle of power through "tending to the flock", power comes quickest if they are actively working as missionaries or crusaders.

Likewise thieves gain benefits from pulling off riskier heists and bards gain better political leverage and disciples the more they travel.

The concept being that even if the GM has nothing specific planned, the players can go "That kingdom follows a different faith right? And the knights there are strange tribal warriors who don't fight with conventional armies like we do? Any wizards in towers over there? Lets go!"


Thoughts?

4 comments:

  1. If the game hits a lull, why not simply (a) say that this story is done, let us start a new one, maybe with the same, maybe with different characters, or (b) skip in time until something interesting is happening again?

    This is not to disparage your solution; I'm simply wondering why you feel the need for the same game to continue moment-to-moment, as opposed to games ending or jumping around in time.

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  2. Its a style of game, not one for everyone and certainly not one you have to play all the time.

    But I would reccomend everyone play it once, it makes for very memorable and organic characters.

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  3. I'm interested in the mechanical reasons why wizards don't share spells. Because I can immediately envision my M-U setting up an annual Wizards' Faire where copies of spells are auctioned using twice-removed intermediaries so nobody sees anyone else's money or magic items.

    I mean, of course the players just have to accept certain concepts in your game. But honestly setting up a 1400s style loan bank and creating a lot of phantom money is the easiest way to make money. You don't even have to adventure for it. And if you compartmentalize the bank branches so no one employee can rob you completely blind, you can let it run itself while you're out on adventure.

    And money can be used to hire people to adventure with you to make things incredibly safer for you. Or to hire a Magic-User who has a dozen charmed dogs. Or whatever.

    I guess from a player perspective it just feels funky to say that there is something fantastical going on just because you're an adventurer.

    I like the milestones. They make sense in a heroic epic way. We already use those for promoting 0-level Normal Men into a class when they distinguish themselves on the adventure.

    So I guess my problem with it is not that adventuring is the best option. It's the DM artificially closing off all the other options if they might be an attractive alternative.

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  4. For very specific reasons wizard's do not share spells mechanically I'd read
    http://zzarchov.blogspot.com/2009/06/everybody-vance-now-give-me-magic.html

    The gyst is how counterspells work. If you've read someone's spellbook you can automatically counter their spells. They can be the hybrid of Elminster and Raistlin and your lowly level 1 dingbat can undo everything they try and do. Thus wizards do not share spells freely, it would take a great deal of trust or potent threats.

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