Wednesday, March 7, 2018

What is Neoclassical Geek Revival

I am going to try (and probably fail) to avoid my usual conversational styles of both self-depreciation and/or irreverence and give some straight answers to what Neoclassical Geek Revival (NGR) is and why you might want to run it as a GM or play it as a player. I will try to do this without devolving into information free cliche statements and assume you already know basic things like its a roleplaying game and it has things like classes (or class components) and levels and the like.

Neoclassical Geek Revival is above all else a "Shenanigan Generator", which to avoid being seen as a buzzword I will explain.  It is set up to encourage players to take unneeded risks in their pursuit of self-selected goals and thus create their own obstacles. This is not done through story mechanics but through reward  mechanisms. There are intentionally several different axis of reward but I will give an example of one that is common in many games of this sort:  XP.

If you kill an enemy character you gain 10% of their XP total, but if you capture them for imprisonment (or later trial, sacrifice, etc) you gain 25% of their XP total.  This encourages the adoption of recurring villains without railroading it.

Experience points for a dungeon are granted based on how many rooms you had previously explored for the first time in this delve.  The first new room might be worth 0xp, the second 10xp, the third an additional 30, the fourth an additional 60.   This leads characters to constantly risk defeat by wanting one more room since leaving the dungeon to rest will reset the XP clock as it were. Trying to make it through that 13th room (which may be empty) is worth 780xp now or 0 if they return to the surface to rest. 

Shenanigans ensue.

This added to the fact that role protections are strongly weakened in NGR.   A warrior is better at fighting, but everyone can fight.  Likewise a rogue may be better at stealth, but every can take part in a stealth mission.   The warrior will just be worse in much the same way the rogue is worse in a stand-up fight.

The goal is to encourage the possibility of the entire party doing things together, even though some of them suck at it.  The stealth system for example, is set up so that one bad roll doesn't spoil the covert operation the players have found themselves in.  It merely drains resources from the less stealthy individuals (in the way a fight drains from those terrible at combat).

Even the way d20's are rolled (or not) is based upon the escalation.   When players roll what is called a dX  (which generates a number from 1-20, different than a d20 as you'll see) they all start off being calm and simply scoring a 10 plus modifiers.  If this won't cut it they can become on-edge and start rolling 3d6 plus modifiers.  If that still doesn't cut it they can become reckless and roll a d20 plus modifiers.    As their start having more swing to their rolls they cannot go back to having less swing for the adventure.  Once you start escalating to solve a problem you start to risk failing.  While once your barbarian couldn't fail a strength check to knock down a door (having 15 Strength),  after you became on-edge to avoid being caught sneaking past an orc you developed a 1/ 72 chance of failing. Two rooms later you have to become reckless to avoid the mind control of a vampire and now you have a 1/4 chance on that big ole swingy d20.  Careful planning begins to give way to chaos.

And shenanigans are generated.

A Thousand Dead Babies will be part of the upcoming Adventure Anthology hardcover

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