Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Team of Rivals

So Chris mentioned that Dwimmermount has rival adventuring parties and was wondering how to model their actions and leveling.

If you’re in the Hill Cantons, you’re lucky enough to already have a rival adventuring party that doesn’t need modeling, because it’s another group of players. (Lookin’ at you two fellas.) And I know that Zak’s been dealing with a similar sort of interplay with his home and G+ groups. But for those of you who aren’t as fortunate/awesome as we are, here is a potential hack to deal with it.

The Traveller RPG has lifepaths that you roll your character through for seeing what they did before becoming a space murderhobo. I figure that we can use the same sort of system here.
Er...sure. Something like that, I guess.
Image via io9

Generate the NPC party that you want to have running around as a bunch of rivals. Keep track of what the levels of your PCs are; every time a PC levels, go ahead and follow this chart for all NPCs in the rival party. All rolls are on a d6.

NPC Levelling Table
Make a throw on each of these to see what the NPC has been up to while you haven’t been looking.
Survival – 3+. +1 to the throw if the NPC is 5th level or higher, -1 if they are 1st level.
Swag – 5+. If they get this, throw on the Swag Table to see what cool thing they’ve acquired in their off-screen gallivanting.
Success – 5+. +1 to the throw if they're 1st level, but -1 if they are 5th level or higher. This sees if they gain a level or not.

Swag Table
1 – Henchman. They get a henchman serving them, who is their level –d4, to a minimum of a 0th-level squire or retainer. Add the henchman to the NPC party for all future rolls on the levelling table.
2 – Big Haul. They hit a good haul in their delving. The NPC can take another throw on the Success line.
3 – Minor Item. They either get something that’s cool and helpful but not magical – awesome horse, treasure map, ancient artifact – or some relatively low-powered magical item.
4 – Magical Item. As 3, but this is the good stuff.
5 – Temporal Success. Gain a minor title? A parcel of land? A decrepit old wizard’s tower? Figure something out.
6 – Trollface. Reroll on the chart (ignoring this), but figure out some way that whatever they get, screws with some current PC plans or goals.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Rules I Don't Use

Following on from my Titan-bumrushing colleague, I'm going to take a look at some rules I don't really use in  my D&D games these days.

Alignment - Hell with alignment. I'm not really into the Great Cosmic Forces clashing right now - it can work awesomely, as it does in the background of the current Hill Cantons campaign, but it's not my bag in terms of what I want as a setting element. And if you're not going to have Zelaznyesque or Moorcockian grand sweeping alignments, then you don't particularly want it as a behavioral guide for PCs. Or at least I don't.

Sure, it never seems to bother Nodwick any...
Encumbrance - ehhh. It's a legit thing, and there is something to be said for incorporating logistical issues to a great extent in one's dungeon delving. The trouble is that it's fiddly and the best fix I've seen (LotFP's implementation) works a bit more awkwardly while playing over G+, which is where I get the bulk of my gaming done these days.

Experience - I know I want to add XP for exploration and discovery, beyond monsters slain and treasure looted, but I need to hack together (or steal) an effective system for doling that out. Or just award arbitrary amounts, but that seems a bit off. This might be something to loot from D&D 5e if they put together something cool; I know that there's been some discussion of a more gamey exploration element.

Movement Rates - Rey mentioned that he lists things on a Very Slow - Very Fast axis. Hell, I don't even bother listing them.

Rey lists Flat Bonus Magic Weapons/Armor, but I don't think that even counts, because everygoddamnone has realized by this point that there isn't anything interesting in a +1 weapon without giving it context and personality.

Magic, In General - building off of the last bullet point, I've cut direct-damage spells and resurrection magic from Legacy of the Bieth. (As I say this I realize that I might want to have a resurrection mechanic, but it's far more involved than finding a sufficiently high-level priest, and of the Unfortunate Consequences variety.)

Weaponry - Any class can use any weapon; this primarily shows up in restricting cleric weapon selection, and honestly it doesn't matter that much if your cleric is using a mace or spear or shamshir they're going to get mutated and die horribly just like everyone else.

The Mark of Amber review has stalled out because work and studies have ramped up a bit, but it is not forgotten. (Nor are, y'know, actual game materials for this setting.)