As I mentioned yesterday, the experience system is linked to the rest of the Downtime process. I’ll explain how in a moment, but first a handful of points that came up in the comments from yesterday’s post and which I should probably stress first:
1) Downtime as a whole is supposed to be a quick thing, not a gaming session on its own. Depending on the number of players you have and their levels of analysis paralysis this might take up to 10 minutes. If everyone knows what they want to do then it will be substantially quicker.
2) The Necromancer (or equivalent role in your current quest pack) gets a Downtime session too. This is similar in concept, but offers different options to the Heroes’ one. I’ve stuck to Heroes here to follow on from yesterday. The principles are much the same.
3) This isn’t final. Ronnie hasn’t seen all of this yet and may have different ideas. However, I think this is about as slick as we’re going to get while including enough interesting choices. Even if some details change (and they’re likely to mutate a bit during playtesting anyway), this is the general direction you should expect.
So, having cleared that up, how does experience work?
As the Heroes do cool and heroic stuff they earn points of Heroics. In effect, these are experience points. The exact process for getting these is something I’m still fiddling with and islikely to change so I won’t bother with details. That said, my aim is to include three main elements:
- Killing enemies.
- Doing your thing.
Killing enemies is always a good thing. That’s obvious. Doing your thing is a way to reflect the fact that not everyone does killing effectively. Clerics, for instance, should mainly be getting experience for saving their friends, not slaughtering the foe. Mini-quests are exactly what they sound like: small side missions that a Hero can do while still taking part in the main quest.
So, the Heroes do their heroic thing and earn Heroics. What do they do with them then?
I don’t much like the term level, but you probably know what I mean by it so it’ll do for now. Basically, there are different grades of Hero. They start at 1 and move up from there.
A Hero’s level is used for a number of different things. One is to rate the power of the individual (and by extension, the group) so that they can be compared to the difficulty of the dungeon. This helps balance the Advanced game where you have a great deal of options and we can’t balance it by knowing exactly what both sides have and playing it a lot (which is how we balance the Core game).
I also want to use level for limiting access to certain items. This is slightly artificial, though not entirely. You go to the High Priest and he laughs at you when you ask for the fabled Sword of Doom. “Who are you”, he says? “Only a real hero can wield this…”. In this way the Hero’s level can be seen as his overall amount of notoriety or fame. This can also be used to limit access to unbalancingly good items to keep the level useful as a balancing tool.
Perhaps most importantly, a Hero’s level limits his access to skill and stat improvements.
Improving Stats And Skills
These bonuses are listed in tiers which correspond to the possible levels. They are also split into race, profession and other categories. So, a level 1 Dwarf Fighter would have access to the level 1 Dwarf and the level 1 Fighter improvements. This allows me to ramp up the power of Heroes as they gain levels, and also to add character and uniqueness to particular combinations and professions. This keeps the Heroes interesting and different.
These can buy two things: level and improvements.
You can spend Heroics to buy whole levels for the Hero, gaining him fame and glory throughout the land as his stories are told and retold in taverns across Mantica.
You can also spend Heroics to improve your stats and skills, learn new feats and so on. This doesn’t make you more famous, it just makes you more dangerous.
The interesting part of this is that you have to choose what to spend them on. Nothing comes for free, so if you spend your points on level then you don’t get more dangerous, and vice versa.
There will need to be limits on improving level without ability as this would just get you into dungeons so dangerous that you’d never survive them. And that would be boring to play. Apart from that you have a free choice. This means that even if you start with two identical Heroes they can diverge from their very first spending of Heroics, making a vast number of individuals possible with just these simple rules.
Tying It Together
The above ideas link up with the Downtime stuff mentioned yesterday.
Let’s say you’ve just completed a dungeon adventure. Everyone’s a bit battered, but you completed the quest and are ready to spend your loot and Heroics.
You can always spend Heroics at the base cost for whatever level or improvement you fancy. However, depending on which location you chose you could reduce that cost. If you go to the tavern then you can spread the news of your heroic tale, buying everyone a drink or three while they listen. This would help to spread your fame and reduce the cost of a new level.
On the other hand, if you spend you time in the arena your combat skills will be cheaper. Clerics learn new spells more easily at their temple, thieves at the Thieves’ Guild, and so on. You get the idea. This is in addition to anything else those locations might do.
So while you can always advance a Hero, you need to think about whether your choice of location will impact this enough to make it worth picking to go to one place rather than another. Do you really need to buy a new sword?
Again, what I’m after here is a simple and quick system that includes a load of character without being onerous to resolve. In my early tests this has shown to be very quick rules wise – people don’t get confused about their options. Where the time goes is in deciding which one of the many cool options they will do…