Any players worth their dice know to fear offending the Vistani, lest they be stricken with some unspeakable curse, but the gypsy-folk are not the only ones who can invoke their wrath. Just as Ravenloft games keep players on their toes with vampires immune to garlic and mirrors, or lycanthropes immune to silver, players should never become too confident in their expectation that being nice to the Vistani--or anyone else--is a guarantee against being cursed. If your plot calls for a PC to be cursed but they are on their best behavior for all the usual suspects, you might want to review some of these less usual alternatives.
1) No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
Ravenloft is known for moral quandaries, and sometimes getting cursed is the result of doing the right thing: The Evil Eye has an example of this. In addition, because justification is measured from the invoker’s point of view, an evil or deceived invoker might feel wronged for all sorts of reasons. In the epic-level Reckonings campaign, a charismatic PC encouraged an abused daughter to stand up to her mother and leave, and the mother felt highly justified in the Dangerous curse she invoked on him in response.
2) Midnight Cat
These supernatural felines had a +15 to curse checks in 3E. Some DM’s would temper that to avoid upstaging the Vistani, but it's also possible that the cats are so rare, so solitary, and so stealthy that their curses haven’t earned a reputation yet. With such a bonus, a Midnight Cat could toss out unjustified curses at will with a reasonable chance of one sticking, no matter how frivolous. Heaven help the poor party who actually does something to offend the creature. Of course, Midnight Cats can also remove curses, but their price for doing so may require a Powers check.
3) The Wishing Imp
As the song goes, “There is no curse or evil spell...that’s worse than one we give ourselves.” This truism at the heart of Ravenloft Powers Checks is also known by those who have once possessed the infamous Wishing Imp, a diabolical figurine that grants twisted wishes. The difference between a twisted wish and a curse is mostly a matter of perspective, but it's even possible a wish could be granted in the form of a literal curse, such as a character wishing for prowess in unarmed combat and becoming infected with lycanthropy.
4) The Ancient Dead
Ancient Dead (mummies) with the Curse of Vengeance salient ability add their rank +4 to curse checks. Between that and their bonus to charisma, a powerful mummy could rival the Vistani for laying curses. In addition, the single minded passion that drives their unlife, combined with any unusual customs of their culture of origin, makes it possible for them to justify curses for unexpected things (see #1).
5) Alchemical Purgative
From Van Richten’s Arsenal, spiritual purgatives expel the affliction from the body, but the effect is temporary unless another takes up the burden. While a few selfless souls will knowingly take a curse for someone they love or to spare an innocent, (see below) most uses of this purgative involve a hapless victim duped or even forced to ingest the purgative before the time limit expires. PCs should beware bets or dares to eat or drink anything, especially if the other person seems to be in a hurry.
One 2nd edition alternative to paladins in Ravenloft was the paragon, a pure soul reborn over endless generations to fight the forces of darkness. One of their powers was “expiation,” the ability to temporarily absorb curses. This allowed the paragon to absorb a curse temporarily, either to give a little respite or to endure some rigorous cleansing process that the original victim might not have survived. Alternately, some religious group might have an expiation ritual that could work for other volunteers, allowing any PC to stand proxy for someone less fortunate, only to remain cursed when the cleansing portion of the ritual goes awry.
7) Flask Of Curses
In a land like Ravenloft, we often forget about items like this from the original DMG, whose powers are enhanced in the Demiplane of Dread. Not only does it not matter whether the curse is justified, but these flasks can release any magnitude of curse, even the Lethal kind that could permanently change someone into an undead or other monster. Of course, this works best if the flask is a unique item with a history that explains its accursed nature and provides a theme for the curses.
The Unspoken Pact that distances clerics from their gods does not prevent every expression of divine supernatural power. A PC who violates religious tenets or desecrates holy ground may pass the Powers check, but there may yet be divine consequences. Touch of Death has an example of a powerful divine curse for grave robbing from the Akiri: aging one day per year, with lifespan unchanged.
Curses come in all shapes and sizes, from embarrassing to lethal, mildly humorous to eternally torturous. Having ways to inflict or remove curses in unusual ways allows them to be used more creatively, adding depth and drama to your gameplay and explore hidden parts of the world’s mythology. Your players may not actually thank you for cursing their characters, but they should still have a good time fighting against the darkness, and that’s what Ravenloft is all about.
Leyshon Campbell has been playing and writing for Ravenloft for over twenty years, from the Kargatane's Book of S series, playtesting D&D 3E in a Ravenloft campaign, to the ill-fated Masque of the Jade Horror. He married his wife on Friday the 13th after proposing to her on Halloween. By tradition, the first story read at birth to each of their three children was The Barker’s Tour, from Ravenloft’s “Carnival” supplement.
Picture Reference: https://www.pinterest.se/pin/560205641129076605/
This summer White Wolf released a community content creation website called The Storytellers Vault. The ST Vault is much like the DMs Guild for Dungeons and Dragons. You can create content for the World of Darkness (currently just Vampire: The Masquerade and Dark Ages: Vampire). White Wolf keeps 50% of the revenue and you, the creator, receive the other 50%. High quality templates are provided for Word and Adobe InDesign. Further, White Wolf has dozens of images that have appeared in older books for you to use for free. This gives you all the resources you could need to create the next great World of Darkness product.
1) New City Book
Most Storytellers end up creating their own cities in the WoD at some point or another. You might have roughly sketched these out, or, like some of us, you might have detailed notes that take up entire folders on your bookshelf. You’ve created important locations, you’ve detailed changes between your real city and the WoD reflection. NPCs live within your imagination and the imaginations of your players.Take all of this material and turn it into a coherent product. Detail those NPCs and their reasons for making your city their domain. Write down the backstory for your Prince or Archbishop, draft character descriptions and roleplaying hints. If you have a game that your players have raved about, even years later, take that material and turn it into a product.
There is nothing that says we cannot have a dozen Austin By Nights, all with different characters and stories. If you’ve created it, put it to use and get paid a little bit at the same time. My recommendation is to use InDesign for your layout. This will make your book look much more professional.
Examples from The Vault: Buffalo By Night, Missoula By Night, Rose City By Night, Denmark By Night, Seasons of Fear: Mont St. Michel By Night
2) Bloodlines Or Clan Books
Have you created a detailed bloodline for a chronicle? Why not write them up into a full Bloodline book? Over the years I’ve heard of dozens of personalized bloodlines created by players and Storytellers for the classic WoD. It can’t hurt to collect the lore you’ve developed, the disciplines you’ve designed and make a product that showcases them. Keep in mind, it can’t hurt to pay someone to do an editing pass. Your product will be better if you do so. Please email us at email@example.com if you are interested in our editing and layout rates. We’re happy to help take your product to the next level.
Examples from The Vault: Clanbook Nahema, Clanbook Lungo Drom, Clanbook Jiang-Chi, Clanbook Bilquis
3) Chronicle Guidelines Or Jumpstarts
Sometimes you need a hook to create your own story from. Reading through city books or clanbooks can be great for this, but sometimes you need something more. We suggest using a short Chronicle Jumpstart, a story that allows you to branch out into more in-depth chronicle ideas. The key for these is to not have them be too much like a fantasy RPG module. You want to provide a Storyteller the tools to launch a deeper chronicle. Give them a political hook, a mystery, or a shocking revelation that drives the players and their characters to dig deeper. Keep in mind when creating something like this to give the ST wiggle room to create elements that work best for them and their players. Don’t make a scene by scene set of commandments, provide a framework and options, and allow the ST to connect those options in a way that is fun and engaging.
Examples include: Dark New England Chronicle Jumpstarts, Monastery of Metamorphosis, Things Go Southy, The Curse Pole, A Singular Darkness, The Templar’s Childe, Obelisk of Oak Island, Contagion: The Berlin Chronicles, New Blood
You’re a fan-fiction writer; trust me, there is nothing wrong with that. Fan-Fiction is an awesome way to teach oneself how to write. It allows you to learn how to match tone, content, and style. Then you can branch out and define those things for yourself. The ST vault allows you to write novels for World of Darkness. So, if you’ve got some form of dark horror Vampire story hiding in your brain or on your computer, put it together and sell it! The Vault allows you to submit works in any language, and my advice is to write in your native language or work with an editor and translator.
Examples: A Golconda Story, My Dreams in Ceoris, The Modern Nights, As Mil Faces da Malkaviana,
5) Yeah, I Could Use That
Maybe you have an idea for something useful that doesn’t quite fit into the other categories? Like a collection of plot hooks. Someone wrote that. Or an armory of weapons to use for your game. There are discipline lists for Elders and for combination disciplines. There are stock images and various other random things that others might find useful. If you have something that you find useful for our campaign, it can’t hurt to put it together in a pdf and share it with others. Try and price things in a way that are actually worth the amount of work you’ve put into them.
Examples: Combination Disciplines, Elder Disciplines, Pictures for Projects, Hunter’s Armory, Logos,
There are dozens of options for ways you to put your creativity to work over at the Vault. I recommend digging into it and seeing what sort of things you can find that interest you, and of course what provides you inspiration to create some awesome things as well.
Josh is the intrepid Chief Operations Officer of High Level Games. With 19 years of playing rpgs, Josh started with Mind's Eye Theater LARPs and loves the World of Darkness. He runs, www.keepontheheathlands.com to support his gaming projects. Josh is the administrator of the Inclusive Gaming Network on Facebook. He’s preparing a Changing Breeds game. He’s a serious advocate for inclusive gaming spaces, a father, and a graduate from the International Peace and Conflict Resolution graduate program at American University in Washington, D.C. You can also find Josh’s other published adventures here and here.
Image owned by White Wolf for use in the ST Vault.
Before I go into this, I want to say that I am in no way shape or form a professional in mental health or counselor. I am just a person who battles depression. I also want to say I am okay, in case someone were to worry about my well-being. This article is very personal and took a lot of courage for me to talk about. This is for those who are afraid to to talk about it.
The numbness felt like a bottomless pit that would pull me in deeper every time I climbed a few feet. I got to the point of pure despair and the only way out seemed to be the permanent solution. Then my father and uncle introduced me to Dungeons and Dragons. After a few sessions, I realized how much this game allowed me to get breathing room. It helped me to start climbing out of the pit. Let me share a few reasons why roleplaying in general has saved my life and helped me battle my ultimate evil.
Once a week, my friends and I get together to play 13th age. I also play another game every other week with the Heavy Metal GM. It is a guaranteed day out of the week for me not to be alone. When I am at the table with friends, they distract me from the pit. They make me smile, laugh, and allow me to feel human. Genuine emotions come out of me when I am with them. I feel alive when I am with friends. As dungeon master of my Tuesday game, nothing makes me happier than seeing them have a good time. I am really thankful for the support they give me, for the fact they that can dedicate four hours to hang out. Thanks guys, if you're reading this.
For me, being alone just doesn't help. Being surrounded by people who care has made a huge difference in my life, my friends really make life worth living.
2) A Break From Reality
Sometimes taking a break from the real world can be helpful. Being a character from a different world is a nice way to escape my own thoughts.
Part of my depression is that I have become an expert in separating myself. What I mean by this is that I have a better understanding of my own emotions and separating myself from them is easier for me. In turn it has helped me get into character, allowing me to understand the thoughts, motives and emotions of the character. I get to be this amazing hero that mostly everyone adores. Most of the characters I play are parts of me put into a different situation than my real one. The character I currently play is Crysx Silverleaf, who has an identity problem. He is struggling to find who he is and who he’s meant to be. I often suffer from the same feeling, and playing it out in game helps me find new ways to approach different situations, process emotions and how to comfort myself within.
Crysx is also terrified of the dark and what lurks within it. He’s scared of the darkness because of his own problems he had growing up; treating the darkness like a villain he had to overcome. It’s like this overwhelming thing I can't put my fingers around and beat with just my hands. The form the darkness takes is the villain. This is like an imagined version of my depression for me. It's a nice break from reality when I can be someone who can actually fight the villain. I really got to thinking about this when the villain knew I was afraid of him so he dominated my mind, making me fight my friends. Depression can do a lot of things to an individual, sometimes it can take you over before you can do anything to prevent it.
It’s beyond enjoyable for me to be somewhere away from my real problems. I’m not sure if it's the artistic side of me, but I can embed myself in my character's shoes so easily. Maybe it's my subconscious telling that escaping reality for a bit is how to keep mental stability in check.
3) Looking Forward
I don't tend to look forward to things. Letting myself down, which happens more than I would like to admit, really drags me down into the pit. I have these aspirations that are seemingly impossible to achieve. This hobby gives me a sense of purpose. Instead of being nagged by the wonder and worry of what I am doing with my life, I get to write these articles and produce a podcast. It’s not the only thing that helps me get through the week, but it has had a large positive impact on my life. I’ve met good people, formed stronger bonds with friends, and found a more positive outlook in life.
I also want to dedicate this section to HLG, for giving me an opportunity to talk about all the cool things I like with other people. I look forward to writing these articles because of the community, excitement I feel when I get one like or a comment on my posts. It makes me happy.
It has been extremely nice to finally have something to look forward to, even when I am pretty deep in the pit. I keep pushing myself because this is a hobby that makes me happy and I don't want to lose hold of it.
Just to stress it: I am not a mental health expert in anyway. I want people to know, who are suffering, that it's ok to reach out and talk to someone. This community has some of the nicest and most honest people I have ever talked to. It takes a lot of courage to talk about your weaknesses; don't let it beat you. You're the hero of the story, so get out there and kick some ass.
With lots of love, stay nerdy.
Benjamin Witunsky, artist, writer and nerd savant. Cofounder of the NerdMantle Podcast available on Soundcloud, Itunes and Google Play Music.
Picture Reference: http://www.artofmtg.com/art/healing-hands/
Trying out a roleplaying game for the first time is one of the most daunting tasks in the tabletop gaming world. Even if there were no rules attached to the game new players would be in over their head. These are five pieces of information that are beneficial to share with new players when they sit down at the table for the first time.
1) You Are Going To Make Mistakes
And you know what? That’s okay. Your first few sessions shouldn’t be about playing perfectly. I’d argue that roleplaying games aren’t about playing perfectly, however there is a lot of pressure for a new player because they’ll be sitting around a table with a bunch of players who look like pros in comparisons.
If there’s dice you might not know which is which. The DM might ask you to do something and you won’t have any idea what they are talking about. You might try and use a spell or an ability completely wrong and everyone will look at you (after an awkward pause) and say, “that’s not how that works.” Any of those things in the moment might seem like horrible missteps that ruin the mood of the table but they are not. They are necessary to learning the game.
2) Don’t Worry Too Much About The Roleplaying
Getting into your character and immersing yourself completely into the world is one of the best parts of a roleplaying game. However when you’re just starting out the rules are daunting enough. Trying to balance staying in character while also attempting to understand all the complex terms can be quite mentally demanding. Instead use your first few sessions to get a feel for how the game works and where you fit into it.
Roleplaying is one of the hardest parts of getting comfortable with any RPG. It takes a lot of time to learn how to separate yourself from the game mechanics. It is an important part of the game, but it should be one of the last pieces you focus on when you’re just starting out.
3) There’s A Lot Of Rules, But It’s Not Your Job To Know Them
Unless you’re learning a game for the first time as a DM (which is a whole other article), there are a lot of rules that you don’t need to know. You’ll want to learn how certain mechanics-- like combat-- work, but even then you don’t need to know the rules from top to bottom. Don’t be surprised if you ask how certain aspects work and the players tell you to watch a few rounds and then join in when you feel comfortable.
Roleplaying games seem quite rigid in their structure, but in reality they all flow freely. Players will get comfortable around the table with one another and it becomes more about storytelling than it does about being a mechanically strict game.
Of course none of this means rules can be explicitly broken; where’s the fun in that?
4) Don’t Be Afraid To Try
As you start to get more comfortable in the game you’re playing, ideas will pop into your head for what you want your character to do. They may seem ridiculous, they may seem out of place, and they may seem completely different from how you’ve been playing so far. Now matter how it feels, if the inspiration is there you should follow through with that inspiration.
There’s a turning point for any player. It’s when they realize they love the game or they don’t. It usually hinges on the moment where they get that desire to do something to actually impact the game. You should impact the game, that’s your job as a player in a roleplaying game. Following through with these impulses will open doors for you, completely entering your character and immersing yourself in the game.
However with that said...
5) Don’t Do Things Just Because You Can
The magic of a roleplaying game is that nearly anything can happen. If a city guard is talking down to you and you don’t like it, you can uppercut him off a bridge. As in life, your in-character actions have consequences. Sure, you uppercutted a guard off a bridge: now you are wanted by the city military and you need to go into hiding. As this was happening another player had a very important meeting with a high profile merchant, but because they were seen with you they are also on the wanted list. The entire party now needs to go into hiding, closing off the entire city and its resources.
A good DM can roll with chaos, but it doesn’t mean that you need to go causing it just because you can. Roleplaying is very much a group activity and there’s nothing that ruins the mood more than one player testing the limits and seeing how far they can go without breaking the game. Be considerate of other players and even ask them, out of character and out of game, if this is a line that is too ridiculous to follow.
There’s a lot to learn when you first dive into a roleplaying game. These five pieces of advice can be helpful for any new player who wants to know what they should and shouldn’t focus on for their first few games. With a supportive DM and a supportive group of players, almost anyone can find a fit at a roleplaying table. It just takes a lot of trial and error and the understanding that mistakes happen and it’s impossible to do everything right. Focus on having fun and understanding your character, the rules will follow.
Any other tips you share with new players at your table? Let me know in the comments or tweet at me directly on Twitter!
Justin Cauti is a writer and Twitch streamer. He plays board/roleplaying games on the internet at http://www.playingboardgames.tv. Follow him on Twitter for updates on his boring life and writing projects @LeftSideJustin.
Picture Reference: http://www.nerdsourced.com/get-friends-play-dd/
We’re all nerds here, right? While we all may fly nerd flags, everyone’s nerd-dom is a little bit different. The books, shows, games, movies, and fandoms which comprise our little kingdoms of nerdiness can vary greatly from person to person; and that’s awesome! But what happens when you need to fit into a foreign fandom?
This is currently happening to me. My nerd tapestry is woven with the strands of many fandoms, predominantly fantasy in nature (LotR, DnD, Redwall, Elder Scrolls), though with a few sci-fi (Star Wars, Mass Effect) mixed in for color. I have recently begun playing in HLG’s live-streamed Star Trek Adventures. Prior to the campaign, I had not seen a single Star Trek episode, of any series (gasp! shock!); I saw the first of the movie reboots in college, but even I knew that wasn’t right. Suddenly being dropped into a fandom older than I am with no more than the most basic of knowledge is a harrowing experience. For example, the extent of my Star Trek knowledge was that there was a character named Spock, the term ‘Kobayashi Maru’ meant something Trekky, and I knew how to do a Vulcan salute, though, full disclosure, I had to search google for ‘Star Trek hand sign’ to assign it the proper name. As an adult with a family and a job, I just don’t have the time to catch up on all the content that I’ve missed, but at the same time I want to play this awesome game with my group. What was a fella to do?
1) Hit The Highlights
My game group was aware of my STD (Star Trek Deficiency) when we were planning the campaign. They put together a list of the ten most important episodes that I should see to get a sense of the world in which I was going to be playing. While I still feel like a noob when we’re playing, those episodes laid a good ground work in the source material so that I can at least function within the universe (I now know what the Prime Directive is! Go me!). You don’t need to know every detail about the foreign fandom, just enough to get you going.
2) Minimize The Knowledge Deficiency
One way of limiting the issues caused by my STD was to create a character who was more punchy than thinky. It doesn’t matter what universe you are in, a punch to the face is still a punch to the face, be it orc or Klingon. Had I created a character with a greater emphasis in knowledge, history, or politics, I would have had many more issues, having to learn these things before I’d be able to effectively communicate them in-game. You should take steps to keep yourself out of positions where your lack of knowledge is easily perceived.
3) Ask A Lot Of Questions
We nerds love our fandoms. We also love sharing the ridiculous amount of information we have about our fandoms with anyone interested (or just willing to listen). If you are involved in a fandom that’s not your own, everyone in that fandom wants you to be there! Another person with which to share in the wonderful experience that is (insert fandom here)! If you ask, and I speak from experience here, you’ll often get more information than you were looking for. You’ll receive too much, more than you are interested in, or, quite frankly, even deserve; but there’s no better way to learn.
4) Buzzwords And Catchphrases
To really feel like a part of the group, you need to speak like them. Every fandom has lingo associated with it. It’s important to learn it and use it, even if you’re not 100% sure if you’re pronouncing words correctly or using them in the correct context. I think the phrase “fake it ‘til you make it” is appropriate here. In addition to sounding awesome, something that I’ve found is that you learn about the source material unintentionally while you’re learning the lingo.
5) Wikis Are Your Best Friend
While your friends may be a seemingly endless source of knowledge about their fandoms, the internet is an even better source, which you can more readily shut up if you ever have enough. There is a Wiki for every conceivable fandom out there that can provide all the information (and speculation) about a topic that exists. This is one of the situations where going down the rabbit hole of links that the internet often takes you down can actually be a good thing. The thread can lead to all sorts of interesting, and sometimes disturbing, information about your fandom. For example, I found myself reading all about Denobulan mating rituals, something I did not know about; which I apparently needed to know, which I now know.
Dive into those new fandoms without fear and enjoy yourself! May you live long and prosper. (I’m fitting in!!)
Jake is now a huge fan of Star Trek and will be working to lessen his STD by watching all the original Star Trek episodes (albeit eventually).
Picture Refrence: https://repsub13.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/stark-trek-fandom-the-federation-alliance-of-misfits/
The backbone of every game- regardless of the medium- is the mechanics behind it. Some mechanics, like Shadow of Mordor's nemesis system, may have been very interesting in a virtual environment, however prove effectively moot in the tabletop world, as the GM would obviously remember the occurrences much better than a system would. However, other mechanics, similar to Bioshock’s plasmids and the tonics that came along with them, would simply flourish in a tabletop environment. Hell, an entire class, maybe even a whole system, could be dedicated to Bioshocks superhero-esque plasmids. There are literally dozens of games out there that could have entrancing and exciting overlaps.
1) The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
The Elder Scrolls series may not have a whole lot of mechanics that would fit cleanly into a lot of RPG’s. However, the beauty of fantasy worlds is that as long as there's magic, there will almost always be some overlap. In Oblivion, once you complete a little bit of the tutorial, you get to make a rather interesting choice: your birth sign, which grants you a passive or active ability. This concept could be implemented very easily in any game system that has magic. You could, of course make up your own constellations or, depending on the game, use the ones provided. Using the real world zodiacs could be incredibly versatile. A rogue born under the sign of the Libra could have the ability to bend luck in his favour, in exchange for bad luck later (the GM would obviously choose when to affect the player with this) or a warrior born under Aries could receive an extra action per day in combat. You could perhaps even force the players to roll randomly for their birth and giving them a sign that may or may not blend well with the class they have.
Taking the Chinese Zodiac would be just as interesting. Someone born in the Year of the Snake could get a bonus to deception checks. Being born in the Year of the Dragon could make you better at persuasion. Those born in the Year of the Pig may just be better at coming across money. Personally, I would say that typically passive bonuses would be better for an RPG setting and that if you chose to give the player an active ability, it should probably be a once per day thing.
In Oblivion many of the abilities are actually rather powerful with a prominent detriment, such as the ability to regenerate health at the cost of being weak to fire damage. While a system with bonuses and detriments would work very nicely, having some sort of weakness or handicap at level one could be a character killer, depending on the system.
If you’re unfamiliar with this PlayStation exclusive, you may or may not have been living under a rock. But that's beside the point. In Infamous, you have powers that are enhanced by your choices via their Karma System. When you do “good” things you get “good” karma, and vice versa. Now, the interesting portion of this system is when you introduce the powers.
When you lean further into one of the two karmic paths, you are allowed to unlock powers that are specially made for that path, typically with the good path being focused on self-healing and the evil path being built around the concept of “big boom fast no take damage.” In games which your alignment is a solid and important choice, this could work out very well, as your alignment would affect your abilities and functionality.
For example, a lawful neutral wizard could be able to prepare an extra spell per day. A chaotic evil fighter could choose to do a significant portion of extra damage in exchange for taking a little damage themselves. Neutral good bards could have a bonus for their buffs and healing spells. Really, the doors that are open for this (in a world with more options than “good” and “evil” doing the most stereotypical “good” and “evil” things ever) are quite astonishing when you take everything into account. Not that it wouldn’t be a lot of work. *
*Only because I got a little bored while writing this, I've decided to calculate out exactly how many possibilities there are for this. Assuming one power for every combo (I.E. One power per alignment for every class. So 9 alignment powers for a fighter.) we have 9*12 when using D&D as our basis. Which already leaves us at 108, arguably a whole crap ton of legwork. But, if we include all the races and have individual powers depending on race, class, and alignment, (i.e. A LG dwarven fighter would have a different power than a LG elven fighter) then we have to go 9*9*12, which brings our new total up to 972 individual power changes. That's not including Volos Guide races. Which, including the monstrous races would bump this number up to 1404 individual race and alignment based powers per class. Now, let’s drop the race thing and focus on if you adjusted each ability slightly depending on alignment. We’ll assume 5 different adjustments. So 5*9*12. Which comes out to 540 separate changes. Let’s face it, 5 adjustments would probably be lowballing it. But still, you can see why this idea would be a little bit of work if you were going to fully map everything out.
3) Dark Souls
I can hear the masses screaming already. “Oh god, what mechanic from those godforsaken, tough as nails games could this sadist possibly think would fit into a tabletop game?” Well, I’ll have you know that this is a skill game, and there's not a whole lot that would apply in a tabletop setting. However, they do have a bit of overlap and I think that Dark Souls ideas on the subject would make for an interesting game. And that subject is currency and experience. In case you are unfamiliar with the Souls format, in the game, you get these things called “Souls” (shocking I know) but they function as both the primary currency and the experience for the game. So you can choose between buying that sick piece of armour or jumping three levels after beating that boss.
Obviously, this would require leveling and price adjusting on the part of the GM in most settings, but the dynamic between players who choose to focus on gear and the players that choose to focus on leveling would make for some interesting and rather unique experiences. Pretty much making it so the same character, no matter how stock, can have some personality. This would also make NPC creation interesting. Where instead of having a BBG with a whole crap ton of HP and abilities, he can just be decked out in some super insane gear and really just be an average dip. Obviously, you don't need the whole XP=Currency system to pull this off, but it really could make for some damn good player choice and development in a lot of mediums. Implementing it in a story sense could be difficult, however, you could just use the “souls” idea from the game if you can’t think of anything better. Like myself.
If you’ve played a video game, at some point you’ve experienced a game over. You died, or you failed the mission, or you glitched into some sort of horrible unending pain that made you reload. Well, in the hit indie game Undertale, loading and saving are a recognized story element that a couple of characters (including the protagonist) can manipulate and use. Obviously, this is a rare thing that VERY few characters can use. In our medium, we can assume that it’s also rare, however, our heroes will consistently have it for the sake of ease. This mechanic would fit very well into a setting where the GM shoots for a “small fish, big pond” situation, where the protagonists are comparably insignificant to the monolithic and colossal proportions of the obstacles they face, and death is not only imminent, but unavoidable for someone of an adventurous mindset.
Ideally, this isn’t an ability that is used constantly. Perhaps with two or three uses per day before whatever magical or technological wonder they draw upon is spent, and won’t be able to save them if they die again. This is another mechanic that should be used delicately if integrated, as such incredible power is very easily abused, not only by the player, but by the GM. It would be easy to start giving BBG’s this ability left and right.
But really, this is a power that maybe a god or two would have and a handful of randomized legendary heroes and the like. However, this mechanic opens so many doors for “trial and error” based mini adventures that have a little bit more to do with luck. Again, impressing that “you are insignificant” mentality.
5) Every game ever... kind of?
You’re probably very confused and pondering the question, “What does literally every video game have that not a lot of tabletop games have?” Well, let me just tell you: powerups. Now I know that magic items and equipment can count as “power-ups” in a sense, however, those are typically permanent as long as you have the item. What I’m talking about is temporary super powerful situational abilities.
Of course, in a world with a lot of magic or technology, you may think, “Well that's kinda pointless. Why would I need a flower to let me shoot fire out of my hands when I can already shoot fire out of my hands?” But, kind sir, you forget the very basis of tabletop games: not everyone is good at everything.
Having some sort of “enchanted” mushroom that the wizard can down in a time of need when the tank is on the other side of the field to make them grow twice as big and be able to deck out some melee damage without wasting the use of a spell is a rather novel idea. Or in a sci-fi setting some sort of module or chip that, when attached to a handgun, makes it do double damage for a clip or two, but said module burns out super quick.
I know you’re thinking “potions and scrolls and spells oh my” but really, potions are quite the cliche at this point. Even if they do the same thing as a potion would be able to, finding some sort of super rare material in the wild and then consuming it to get a short lived edge would really add some flavour to the system.
As I said before, games live by their mechanics. Some games probably start with mechanics before they even have a real idea as to where it's going. And regardless of the medium, a lot of love and care is put into every game I’ve played.
What do you think about these ideas? Am I just blowing smoke out of my arse? Am I fool in a man's body who doesn’t understand how proper game balance works? Are there any games that you think would have a novel effect on the tabletop world? Well, there's a comment section for a reason.
Jarod Lalonde is a young role-player and writer whose passion for both lead him here. He’s often sarcastic and has a +5 to insult. Dungeons and Dragons is his favorite platform. Although he’s not quite sure if it’s Cthulhu whispering to him in the small hours of the night, or just persistent flashbacks to the Far Realm.
Picture Reference: http://indiehaven.com/knight-of-pen-and-paper-1-edition-pc-review/
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.