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Good evening, afternoon, or whatever time it happens to be there, ladies and gents! I happen to be Andy, who happens to be a freelance web designer, musician, writer, and whatnot.

Roman Catholic, student of tabletop gaming, and someday soon I'll have my own designs in the field!

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Modest Proposal, Part II

So, I know it's been some time since I've done a Saturday post, but I'll try and pick up from where I left off, with that crazy idea of getting more experience for losing than for winning. I've given it a lot of thought, though, and it's something I'd like to flesh out. What I think I'll be doing is actually developing a sample RPG system which implements this idea, and who knows...perhaps it will go places!

The Big Problem
Obviously, the greatest problem is the suicide rush. AKA, "Leeeeeeeroy...JENKINS!" No doubt, there are going to be plenty of players who, once they think about it, may engage in suicidal charges, because they'll get more experience. One quick and easy response to this is obviously for the DM to make it a truly suicidal situation. The payoff of extra XP is negated by the fact that the character has nothing to spend XP on.

This can also be greatly helped if the XP model is changed to incorporate training sessions. i.e., you gain XP, but until you devote time to training, under the watchful eye of a master who's more experienced than you, you can't use that XP to increase your power. It remains potential XP until it's actually realized. Any situation the PCs get into, they have to get out of.

This can be also implemented with the idea that lasting damage to a PC takes some time to recover from. This is best put in a low-magic setting, where hits are hits, and you take time to recover, and some even leave their permanent mark on you. This is something that I'd also want to take into account. So, with all of that put out, I'd like to start hammering out exactly what sort of system we're going to be looking at.

A New Way of Thinking
An idea I had, thinking on it, was this: what if, instead of tying extra XP to losing, we tied extra XP to the amount of effort put forth? Thus, fights where you put a lot of effort into them would count for more XP, and fights where you finished the enemy effortlessly would count for little XP. Of course, that might bring its own problem into the mix. If a party can commit huge amounts of effort to winning a fight, only to refresh their resources afterwards, they'll nova on every fight to get the extra XP.

There's where a key aspect comes in: the approach to encounters. And a paradigm shift of sorts. A game based around resource expenditure should not follow the "Encounter-and-rest" approach of D&D. Rather, what should happen is something more akin to the Storyteller system, which uses the idea of "Scenes". Scenes all work to advance the story, and are strung together to make a Chapter. Not only that, but the resources you expend during a scene (primarily Willpower) are not refreshed at the end of the scene, but rather as an action taken in in the middle of a scene.

One Other Idea
I also had the idea of implementing XP as directly tied to resource expenditure, using a pool. Here's how it goes. You have a number of stats. Each stat is spent to improve your ability to succeed. When you spend points in stats, you add that to an "expenditure pool" (better name pending), which is a mark of how much effort you've put forth. Then, at the end of the scene, you get to use that expenditure for two things: to refresh your stats, or for more XP.

You gain a basic level of XP (probably one point) for each point in the expenditure pool that you move back to your stats (recharging, essentially, the stat). For each point left in the pool, after you recharge stats, you gain more XP (probably two to three points). So, for letting yourself remain exhausted, in game terms, and less able to do stuff in the near future, you gain more experience. This encourages a balance between keeping your character strong and keeping them experienced (and therefore capable of doing greater things eventually). Stats can also be recharged in other ways, but much more slowly.

The Die
And one more thing. I figured it would be a fun little thing to just settle upon a die for this game. And what's my choice? Well, it's a die that I think deserves a little more attention. It's kind of like a d20, but it's not nearly as big-sided, and I think it just plain looks really cool. Plus, it deserves love from more than barbarians.

Yup.

It's a d12.

Tune in next time for more development ideas!

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