Saturday, June 11, 2016

Sola Scriptura XIII: DF 3, Chapter 5: Advancement

Dungeon Fantasy 3: The Next Level
Chapter 5: Advancement

The book rounds itself out with some guidelines about how to award character points. First, it emphasizes that these guidelines are for points for killing and looting, not for good roleplaying. Thus, GMs, it's your job to make sure disadvantages are disadvantageous. I think these should be as game mechanical as possible.

As a GM, I don’t mind some guidelines for reaching goals, though I don’t want a game to be all about killing and looting. Suum cuique.

Battle: Losing, fleeing, or beating up a few fodder monsters is worth nothing. From there, it goes up, to hordes of boss monsters being worth 3 points. Each death docks the group a point.

So kill, don’t be killed, and don’t be a wuss and run. That’s the goal. I’d say that overcoming, not only fighting, the foes should be the point. Or points. Anyways, if PCs get what they want from such foes without swinging a sword or casting a spell, that should be the same point value.

Impressive Feats: This is for overcoming other challenges. They’re all a point; boo on saying that negotiation or trickery that avoids a deadly foe is only worth a point. I don’t care how they get the stuff, just get the stuff! If anything, tricking Orcus into giving you his wand should be worth more than killing and looting him. It's clever play.

More interesting are the ideas of “bonus areas” or “quest items.” What is a bonus area? I keep thinking the Secret Cow Level in Diablo II, or rooms 9-13 in Caverns of Thracia. A quest item? I think of Wave, Whelm, and Blackrazor from White Plume Mountain. Neither term came into my gaming world until this PDF, so maybe someone has other ideas.

Completion: Basically, making it through the dungeon and everybody getting at least $150 each (after paying off any backers and topping off power items) gets 5 points apiece. For a game about looting, that seems like something is missing. There's some points dinged off for dying and for not clearing the dungeon, but if the gang walks away with a $50,000 haul, that's supposed to be its own reward. 

At the bottom right is a sidebar about Changing Professions. If you're buying power-ups off a template whose multi-class lens you've bought, you have to spend points on all the basics of its template before getting its power-ups. 

This dovetails well with the start of the next section, Adding New Abilities. There's a short blurb about niche protection. Basically, it means that PCs can have the abilities on their template, and any template whose multi-class lens they have bought. If you want other abilities, buy another multi-class lens. Then we get a short shopping list.

Attributes and Secondary Characteristics. You can always buy them. I'm a little queasy about that, since back in the 3e days, we'd always buy up attributes over skills then lament on how all the characters looked alike. I haven't seen any problems in play nowadays, however.

Advantages and Powers. Only take the stuff on your template. Sounds fair to me. It points out talents specifically, which are a cost-effective way of boosting your character's might.

Skills and Spells. Only take the stuff on your template. Personally, I have a Call of Cthulhu/Runequest-inspired take, that if you make a default roll in play with a difficulty modifier of no higher than +0, you can spend a point on the skill during the next downtime, if you have a point. I'm also liberal with who can take Survival, since it's a big deal in my game. If you didn't start with it, you'll be making enough default rolls against it (even if only to forage) that you'll be able to justify spending the point.

Lens Omissions. If you took a multi-class lens, you can buy the mandatory advantages and skills of the full template that weren't on your lens. Indeed, if you're going to be using your second profession often, that strikes me as a good idea.

Power-Ups. You can buy buy all the power-ups on your template, not your lens. 

New Capabilities. I'm not sure why, but the stuff in Chapter 4 "transcends profession." I can see this for Psionics, but not for something like Spell-Archery, though the prerequisites for Spell-Archery are such that only a few delvers can even thing about taking it.

Last are Training Expenses. It's a scheme for an amount of money per point spent that discourages cost-training. It encourages buying up attributes since those are free, which again makes me queasy. I've been off-and-on with requiring these. I have no trouble charging money for utterly new abilities, like a new spell, but if you use a skill or ability often in play, I don't see the need for training costs. Maybe when raising a skill above the 4-point level (attribute+2 for Easy skills, +1 for Average, +0 for Hard, -1 for Very Hard), as that means a lot of skill and training.

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