Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I want to be lucky

During my HBT test last weekend Pounda said that he wanted his character to be lucky rather than good.  Specifically he felt like the essence of fantasy RPGs is a group of heroes who go out into the world braving dangers and fighting monsters and succeed not because they are the most powerful thing out there but because they are lucky.  They find the cryptic note that gives them the clue they need to locate the kidnapped wizard.  They burst in on the Big Bad Evil Guy just in the nick of time to stop his nefarious plans.  They don't beat everybody up just because they are more powerful... except in bad stories where the characters are just demigods teleporting around blowing up enemies for fun.

The trick is reflecting that in game mechanics.  If the characters just have high enough stats to beat the monsters you can call it lucky but it doesn't necessarily have that feel to it.  On the other hand if characters are not particularly equipped to deal with monsters but have Fate Points or somesuch that they burn up to survive fights then it does feel like luck but also lacks some amount of realism.  Some games do this very explicitly of course and there is no attempt at all to make the world 'fair'.  I think DnD 4th edition actually went a bit too far in that direction though with all kinds of mechanics being explicitly for PCs and many people found that distasteful.

I think that I should probably rewrite the section on building encounters with this in mind.  At the moment it is written sensibly such that if a party with Encounter Strength (ES) 100 fights a monster with ES 100 they each have a 50/50 chance of winning.  However, this means that GMs are usually going to be selecting fights where the enemies have a number that is explicitly lower than the character's number.  While that makes perfect sense from a purely mathematical standpoint I think it would lead to people feeling bad about their characters; after all, they only fight things that are rated as weaker than themselves!  I think I should correct the numbers somewhat so that a fairly straightforward encounter has ES equal to the party and harder ones have higher ES ratings.  This means absolutely nothing in terms of actual game math but it gives the feel that characters are taking on appropriate challenges and getting lucky instead of beating up wimps.

Having read a thousand posts in the Pathfinder Raising the Dead thread I am even more convinced that resurrection is not the way to go.  Make raising the dead too easy and nobody in the campaign world ever dies by accident - that sure throws all normal assumptions about society off!  Is murder even a significant crime if you can just resurrect the slain person?  Protecting people from dying in the first place seems like the way to go.  My current thought for HBT is that I will have Fate Points that can be spent to do heroic things and get automatic successes or to protect yourself from dying.  GMs that want a campaign with no deaths can hand out Fate Points liberally and those that want gritty carnage fests can not use them at all.  It gives a nice easy way to adjust the flavour of the game with minimal hacking of the ruleset.

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