Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Games Without Frontiers

I have been thinking of leveling as it relates to gaming. Its of critical importance to players and almost trivial to most game masters. And it often is the biggest reason games fail. Even before starting a game some fail for lack of wanting to run a campaign not understanding the advancement system. Others fail when players are dissatisfied with advancement.

Lately I have been thinking of something I am calling dramatic snap, well at least in my mind i think of it in those terms. The idea is advancement detached from numbers but rather tied to need. The dramatic part of this should be tied to accomplishment of goals. In saying snap i am thinking like a rubber band under tension.

My idea is to use the need of the adventure or the highest level character and the point that pulls the lower level characters along. The level difference will increase tension pulling the lower level character up. In that two aspects will be reflected, the first greater advancement at greater difference of level and two smaller goals required for advancement.

For example we have a party of characters running on of the pathfinder chain module series. If they are lagging behind the pace character and are having a great deal of trouble with conflicts. The tension here would pull them up to the pace character and then let off completely. Through some minor successes the party could be raised up in level and giving the tools to complete the adventure. After words though the tension would be gone and they would not have a hug pay off for completing the quest. Or a new character that is brought in at a lower level than the group would catch up by nature of the tension.

The base metric is to decide what is meaningful advancement in the game. In D&D it is a level or in skill based systems it is raising a skill from 75% by 3-5%. In that I am saying an above average skill by a small but meaningful percentage, high skill levels often require greater effort to raise. Next I like to think of the max number of sessions i would require someone sitting on their ass doing nothing would require to advance. I am going to say about seven sessions to level and two or three to up the skill.

In combining the two you are just taking the tension between high and lower level points and figuring if any actions would warrant a snap. If none come up screw em just give them a session worth of gain. If you need them to level, invent a challenge and give them a win. Your need as a GM comes first.

If you want to do something positive with the character ask them their goals, and build in those so the character has their own actions to generate a snap. If they want to see the world, have them reach a snap upon reaching the next town or country. If they want to be a great solider one for their first battle or joining an army.

Well its a thought

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