Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Experience and Limitations

I’ve gone back and forth about limitations, and I think I have a workable solution. Rather than giving you a pool of bonus points at character creation, limitations give you experience bonuses when they come into play.

Generally speaking, players purchase limitations that they think won’t hurt them; I will take fear of water because the campaign is called “Dusty Death of the Ancient Pharaoh”; I take ‘enmity with demons’ because I figure demons will want to kill everyone anyway, so why not get some points for it.

Reverse that thinking. Superman doesn’t get additional CPs for taking a weakness to Kryptonite; he gets bonus experience during a scene in which an enemy uses Kryptonite against him. I LOVE this, because it means that players will look for ways to include their weaknesses as part of the game; they know that by surviving the encounter, they get more experience. Superman’s player hopes that the group of thugs firing a huge machine gun at him have Kryptonite-tipped ammo… otherwise, this encounter isn’t going to be worth squat.

Here are some examples:
- Allergy. When in the presence of an allergy (range at the rating you take), you suffer -1 to all rolls cumulative each round, until you reach the threshold or you remove the allergen. For example, with allergy to Immodium +10, you start to feel the pinch whenever you are within 10 units of Immodium (stay away from the drug store). At 10 units away, you suffer -1 to all rolls. If the Immodium is 3 units away, you suffer -1 in the first round, -2 in the second round, -3 in the third round, -4 in the fourth round, -5 in the fifth round, -6 in the sixth round, and -7 in the seventh round, and going forward. If someone gets into melee range with you bearing a weapon that is coated in Immodium, you take a -1 penalty in the first round, -2 in the second, etc. until you max out at a -10 penalty in the tenth round. For taking this +10 allergy, you get +10 XPs whenever you face an Immodium-wielding foe. You could elect to take allergy to cats +1, meaning that within 1 unit of a cat you suffer a -1 penalty to all rolls until you get at least 2 units away from a cat. Whenever your cat allergy affects you in a fight, you get +1 experience point.
- Susceptible. You take extra damage from a particular energy. Each +1 to damage gives you +1 experience point per scene. For example, if you take susceptibility to fire +5, your hero suffers +5 damage from any fire-based attack that hits you; when Pyrannicus Rex hits you with his jet of fire and deals 17 points, you have to roll to soak 22 points. You could still soak it all, but odds start to stack up against you over the course of a fight. For winning this fight with Pyrannicus, you get +5 experience points, on top of the experience value of the fight. If you take susceptible to sonic attacks +1, you are probably not going to get much mileage out of it; fewer foes use sonic attacks, and when they do, that +1 to damage you suffer is not really going to matter; meaning the +1 experience point you get is well deserved (as in barely at all).

This last one has all sorts of carry-over effects to play, however; when fighting a huge wolf, you petition the referee to have it emit a loud howl that will force you to resist or be stunned due to your sensitive hearing; basically, you (as a player), try to get the scene to shape itself in some way to your limitation, so as to get more experience from it. It’s the total opposite paradigm from any such system I’ve seen.