Increasing abilities was: Wealth without Loot

From: Benedict Adamson <badamson_at_...>
Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2001 15:05:38 +0100

Alex Ferguson wrote:
> And my point is, how is the narrator best to be assisted in making
> the determination as to _what_ [in game-world terms], reasonably, could increase your
> wealth [in rules terms]. If you wealth is 10W3, 4 cows is not a "narratively
> significant amount". If it's 5, it certainly is (and then some).
> Even if you're going to rule out the "cementing" approach entirely
> (which personally I'm reluctant to do, for the aforementioned types
> of "Champions syndrome" reason (yes, the 20 year old cutting edge
> rule...)), then having some sort of rough and ready game world
> correspondance is useful just for making the above call.

I'm with you, but against you ;-).

Wealth is not the only benefit you can cement. I think the non-Wealth cementing rules, as they stand, are broken, for the simple reason that 1 HP can cement anything ('Hey, Stormbringer, cool!', deducts 1 HP, adds Magic Sword 10W5 to character sheet). Anyone who increases abilities the steady way (+1 for 1 HP) is short changed in comparison. I note that the Wealth cementing rule tries to take into account (in what I hope we can all agree is a broken manner) the size of benefit you are trying to cement. If one argues that this is a good thing (as I do), one must concede that an analogous rule for cementing non Wealth benefits is necessary.

Now, one way around this area of brokeness is to discard the rules for cementing benefits (Wealth and non Wealth). This is effectively what we've done in our games. You think this is a Bad Thing, and I'm not so sure you're wrong.

Cementing benefits is a way of increasing abilities more rapidly. Now, in general we need some rules for allowing more rapid increase in abilities.

Why? As the rules stand, it will take about 1 year (real time) playing one episode a week (183 HP), to raise a starting character to the point where they can learn the cult secret and interact at 'tribal' level (1W2 in 3 affinities), even if they were monomaniacal increasing only their affinities. A more realistic estimate is that it would take 2--3 years of playing do gain that level. Now, I LIKE clan-level grubby scenarios, but I'm not sure I like them THAT much (several hundred sessions), and I suspect some like them less than me. So clearly there must be mechanisms for increasing abilities more rapidly.

Perhaps some kind of cementing rules, adapted for use in increasing ALL types of ability, can fit the bill.

The existing rules for increasing benefits gives the player the choice of how their character develops. Sprinkling scenarios with benefits that they can choose to cement puts more of the decision about how characters will develop in the hands of the Narrator. I think that is a Bad Thing.

How to use a cementing type rule to acquire new items and increase abilities that in some way (conrta Garath) represent the total number of 'things' you have (Wealth, and perhaps community and contact Relationships) is clear enough: you steal some cows or make some new friends. But I don't know how you could justify using a cementing type rule to increase other abilities, so perhaps it can not fit the bill.

The existence of benefits to be cemented has a nasty Monty Haul feel to it.

So, do people think the existing rules for increasing abilities are too slow? And if so, how do people think they can be made faster without destroying game balance?

Do people think the existing rules fo cementing non-Wealth benefits are adequate? And if so, how do people think they could be changed?

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