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Slowing down PC advancement for long term campaign play?


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#1 Daedalum

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 03:58 PM

 Hi folks, I'd would like to hear peoples methods and suggestions for slowing down advancement of PCs or other strategies to adjust for long term campaign play. For me the WFRP sweet spot is when characters are competent but still vulnerable, individuals but not acclaimed. Also there are so many great epic campaigns for WFRP it would be nice to have the possibility of the same party working through two. After all in reality we generally evolve slowly through life rather than burn through. Always exceptions though :).

Manipulating the rate of experience gained is the obvious method. One idea that occurs to me is to award 1 xp per session until rank 2 is reached, then slow down to one every 2 or 3 sessions. 



#2 Yepesnopes

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 07:52 PM

 -At the current time we are play testing a few changes to adapt the game for a long term campaing.

1) Skill training: 1st training rank costs 1xp, second training rank costs 2xp and 3rd training rank costs 3xp. We haven't decided yet over the rank of mastery since my players are not really motivated in getting it.

2) Fortune dice in characteristics: First we thought in removing them completely. Now we are play testing the rule that fortune dice in characteristics work as regular fortune dice, with the limitation than they can only be used for checks related with that characteristic, or to remove recharge tokens from action cards where the stated characteristic is that of the fortune die. They are refreshed normally every session or with the general fortune dice pool. The usual 3 (general) fortune dice stay as in the raw rules with the exception proposed below.

3) Since combat is deadly no matter the character's rank, and since we are play testing point (2) we are also play testing the idea found in the W40K line games. The general fortune dice (i.e. the usual 3 fortune dice) apart from their original (or raw) usage, a general fortune dice can be burned as a fate point. Fate points working like in 1st and 2nd editions of the game. Once burned the fortune die is lost for ever. The GM can reward PCs with a fortune dice under exceptional circumstances, like finishing a campaign, defeating a major enemy, uncovering a plot that threatened an important region of the Empire etc (like in 1st and 2nd editions of wfrpg).

 

 


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#3 Emirikol

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 07:48 AM

My 2 cents:

Look at the "power" that you get for a particular x.p. expenditure.

VERY POWERFUL:  Skill training, ability fortune dice, 3-4 action cards (troll feller, reckless cleave, etc.), specialization in a weapon type

MEDIUM:  ability score advance, some talent cards, stance shifts, wizard staff attunement (if you use that rule for xp)

LOW:  Skill specialization, most Action cards, most talent cards, xp for gold (if you house rule something like that)

UNDEFINED:  Career completion/dedication bonus,  Career Trait Match-up expenditure

 

I personally like "advancing each session" both as a GM and a player, but I don't like that the game starts out too easy and only gets easier from there.  I'd point to Training Yellow Die as the #1 problem and fortune dice as #2.

I'm inclined to make players have to get a specialization BEFORE they can take a training die in a skill and I like yeps' idea of increasing the cost in the future.  The FOrtune dice for abilities, I'd prefer to change that to jsut a bonus fortune point instead.  It's one use then and makes for a more heroic game, rather than "I roll dice, so I push the win-button" type of game.

 

Rather than have to make up all kinds of convoluted story lines to challenge a character, or worse, every skill check becomes 4 purples and 4 blacks, even to get folklore from the local peasants about where to buy bread; how about instead just nerf the power a bit for what you get for xp?

 

Good comments already.

Thoughts?

 

 

 

jh

 

 



#4 GaiusIII

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 03:08 PM

I've been running a couple campaigns using the Warhammer rules for about 2 years now, nearly every week. One is set in the Old World and the other one on Athas and we've found a good set of rules for keeping the power levels in check and slowing down advancement while still allowing the players to feel like their characters are growing. Here's what we've been doing:

The cost to advance to a skill rank is equal to the new rank's cost. Rank 2 is only available to Intermediate level characters and rank 3 is only available to Advanced characters (see below).

We got rid of adding fortune dice to characteristics. Instead, players can use the fortune advance on their career card to increase their maximum fortune pool.

You can repeat the same career. If the career ability says you get X once per game session, you get it again. If it adds a permanent die to a check, or some other ability, I make up a new career ability.

In our Dark Sun game, I limited Intermediate careers to rank 2, Advanced careers to rank 4, Elite careers to rank 7, and Heroic careers to rank 10. That also meant I had to add quite a few careers at each rank so there was always something to choose from and people wouldn't be forced to sit in the same career for 20-30 weeks. It was a bit of work, but well worth it. Consequently, they only get access to the rank 2, rank 3, etc. action cards when they hit Intermediate, Advanced, Elite, and Heroic levels. Basically, we treat the action cards as though they read Basic, Intermediate, Advanced, Elite, and Heroic instead of having the printed ranks on them.

Generally, I give out 1 xp per session, unless the session is only a couple hours. Instead of extra xp at the end of a scenario, I give the group a free specialization that relates to the scenario. I let them choose what it is as long as they can justify it. So far they all like that quite a bit. They've told me they feel like they are getting something special, but they aren't advancing too fast.

To make skill checks a bit tougher, we were adding one challenge die to the check for each skill rank the opponent had trained, and the defender could only play one defense card. However, last month we came up with a way that the group is much happier with. When you make an attack, you roll 1 challenge die plus a number of misfortune dice equal to the opposition's relevant characteristic. The defender can play one defense of each level, not type, per turn. So, you can play Dodge, Improved Dodge, and Advanced Dodge all on one turn, but you can't play Dodge, Parry, Improved Dodge, and Advanced Dodge because you would be doubling up on Basic Defenses. The rule is one Basic Defense, one Improved Defense, and one Advanced Defense per turn. If you have mastery, you can refresh one of those cards foruse against a subsequent attack that turn. Also, those cards have a recharge rating of 1 instead of 2. Finally, we trade out four misfortune dice for 1 challenge die, so it pays to try to get as many misfortune dice on a check as possible. It's caused the players to think a bit more tactically and look for ways to gain advantage and cause disadvantage to their opponents. For attacks that go against a skill, we just treat each rank of skill the defender has like a generic defense card. Rank 1 adds 2 misfortune dice, rank 2 adds an extra challenge die, and so on. The probabilities work out so the attack still favors the attacker, but my a much narrower margin. That's had the effect of making the players feel like there is something to keep striving for, it keeps the game tense, higher rank characters can still get taken by a mass of bad guys, and the game doesn't start out with heroic characters that become superheroes by their 10th game.

Hope that helps!

 

 



#5 k7e9

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 10:15 PM

I had the thought of handing out 0,5 XP per session and 1 XP the session they completed an adventure. That would doubble the time it would take the players to go throught the same amount of advancement. They would still get to advance quite often.

Only "negative" things I can think of is that characteristic advances would be even more boring for the players, as a increasing a 3 to a 4 would take 8 sessions, out of career advances would also take a lot of sessions, as well as advancing into a career that didn't fit your previous one.

You could give them 1XP per session and let them advance to say rank 3, then give them 0,5XP per session.



#6 BigKahuna

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 07:05 PM

 WFRP is well suited for shorter campaigns but I agree that the ever increasing character advancements eventually result in characters that become "substantial" in whatever arena they pursue and if the players are smart and diversify it can become a really problematic to create a proper challenge for them, at least mechanically.

I'm more of a "learn to use the system better" rather than "change the rules" kind of a guy, so this is how I would handle longer campaigns.

 

1. Only give out 1 XP per session to encompass all aspects of progress in the game.  Its a good idea to make sure the players understand that the reason you are limiting it this way is because the campaign is long, so that their isn't any perception of you being stingy.

2. Make sure the story itself doesn't catapult their social or economic power.  One of the more unbalancing affects of most long term campaigns comes less from "character abilities" and far more from equipment access, social power and just general wealth.

3. Make sure you maintain the "deadly" nature of the game world and ensure that every encounter, every challenge and every situation the characters find themselves in pushes this.  Make sure their resources are always heavily taxed and they always feel like the underdogs that prevail, rather than super heroes who very routinely overcome every challenge with minimal effort.

4. Push the trait and free flowing situational mechanics by asking how and why? Whenever a any skill, action card, talent or profession change takes place and make sure its fitting for the character given the story circumstances. 

5.  Make sure you have a very good start in curving power levels.  Filter through professions you make available and take out some of the more powerful routes forcing the players to start the game from a relatively weak position.



#7 Yepesnopes

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 09:17 PM

 I believe that the problem all GM faces in wfrpg 3 edition regarding "skill check challenge" is in non-combat situations. 

I think that on the contrary, in warhammer 3 is easy to keep combats challenging, no matter the proficiency level of the PCs, since Soak, Defence and Wounds do not scale fast with character advancement. Therefore, it is easy for a GM to keep combats deadly or challenging by adding more enemies, giving them better equipment or action cards, or just picking up stronger enemies.

I was wondering if a possible solution to the "fast evolution of the PCs proficiency" is to make a warrior-only party of adventurers. By choosing a warrior-only party, characteristics that play a role in non-combat situations like Int and Fel and skills like Observation, Guile, Charm…will be secondary characteristics (and skills),  to rise these aspects of the characters will cost more exp, hence slowing the pace at which PCs evolve.

I come from a many years of playing to wfrpg 1 and 2 with non combat oriented parties, in scenarios that had the stress on investigation rather than on combats. My first impulse when I moved to the 3rd edition was to create such a party, the result was quite disappointing. After 11xp I had a Mystic with Int 5 and 3 fortunes in Int which was able to easily succeed in any Int check, a Courtier with Fel 4, 2 fortunes in Fel, some expertise dice in Charm, Leadership…which was easily succeeding on any Fel check; similar holds true for the explorer or the gambler of the group.

While the challenge of uncover the plot remained intact in our games, my players started to loose interest on gathering the dice pool and roll the dice to perform the checks to follow trails, search rooms, convince the guard, haggle, picking up a lock etc.

So may be, a warrior-only party could be a solution. Just a thought.


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#8 BigKahuna

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 01:53 AM

 Yepes any game can be min maxed, it's kind of the obligation of both the GM and player to simply "choose" not to do it.  The rules in role-playing games are never designed to limit players mechanically, they are designed to allow us to have maximum options so that our fantasy story's are possible within those rules. Another words the rules exist to allow wildly powerful characters intentionally into our game worlds because wildly powerful characters do and should exist.  But these powerful characters in a fantasy world are rare and usually come with some sort of story significance.  An example is Gandalf from Lord of the Rings.  In the context of the story its vital that a powerful and wise wizard exists, and in this story that character may very well be a player character running an important character to the story. This however is not the "norm" or "by design" aspect of the game.  Players shouldn't all be trying to create a bunch of Gandalfs (in various forms).  We can't all be Gandalf and part of the social contract between GM and player is the acceptance of scope of the game world and the self discipline in use of the mechanics.  

Another words, if all your players are min maxing their characters, the social contract was broken and the game itself hurt by it.  This isn't something rules can fix for you because if there is one truth about role-playing game design is that no matter how you manage the rules, no matter how much attention you pay to them and no matter how much you test, people will always find ways to exploit the rules.  Its up to the GM and players, who bind themselves in this invisible social contract that we play this game together to create great story's and intentionally, not, break the system.

I've personally never played a game which I couldn't break, it simply doesn't exist and no amount of house rules will ever change my ability to find these exploits.  So ultimatly you kind of have a choice as a GM.  Keep making rules, to cover rules and ultimatly you will have to create rules to cover the rules you created which covered the original rules (and so on and so forth) or you can simply "hey dude… don't put anymore fortune into IQ, its going to hurt the game". I think any reasonable player you would want at a table of storytellers won't think twice about agreeing with you.

 



#9 Yepesnopes

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 04:27 AM

Hey BG!

Well, I have to disagree with some points, or more precisely, agree but with nuances.

BigKahuna said:

 Yepes any game can be min maxed, it's kind of the obligation of both the GM and player to simply "choose" not to do it.

That is for sure, and I like the games in which is possible to play with a "Gandalf", that is of course, after many many many game sessions, if the character has survived enough to gather the experience and reputation.

BigKahuna said:

Another words, if all your players are min maxing their characters, the social contract was broken and the game itself hurt by it.  This isn't something rules can fix for you because if there is one truth about role-playing game design is that no matter how you manage the rules, no matter how much attention you pay to them and no matter how much you test, people will always find ways to exploit the rules.  Its up to the GM and players, who bind themselves in this invisible social contract that we play this game together to create great story's and intentionally, not, break the system.

I've personally never played a game which I couldn't break, it simply doesn't exist and no amount of house rules will ever change my ability to find these exploits.  So ultimatly you kind of have a choice as a GM.  Keep making rules, to cover rules and ultimatly you will have to create rules to cover the rules you created which covered the original rules (and so on and so forth) or you can simply "hey dude… don't put anymore fortune into IQ, its going to hurt the game". I think any reasonable player you would want at a table of storytellers won't think twice about agreeing with you.

 

Here is where I will introduce a "but". My "but" is that wfrpg 3 is too easy to break as compared to other games I have ever playerd (I am talking about my personal and limited experience). My players do it without realizing, neither do I until it comes! There are just too many ways to do it, and we have to keep track of all of them, plus be aware of the new to come (for example with the release of new action cards). Don't put too many fortune dice on characteristics or you will break the game; don't use the Winning Smile + Staring Contest action cards or you will spoil the fun of all social interactions; don't combine heavy armours with Reckless Cleave and Troll Feller strike because you spoil the fun of combats; don't go for a high To or too many expertise dice in Resilience because you will be inmune to Disease and you will recover from criticals too easily (same goes for Wp, discipline and Insanities)…

Of course, what for a group is breaking the game, it can be totally acceptable for another, it depends on far too many things.

Yet, I don't really mind a PC with Int5 and 3 fortune dice, or a PC with Fel4, fortunes and 2 expertise in charm and guile…What I am not ready (yet) to buy is that this can happen when PCs have only 11 xp.

Anyway, I am mixing up things, what I want to say in the end is that I am confident that my players do not want to break the game, it just happens because the 3rd edition "favors" these situations. When we played wfrpg 2nd, it only happened a couple of times, in very limited situations (mainly with magic involved) and it took 2 minutes to "fix the problem". It never happened in Rune Quest or Call of Cthulhu, neither in  Kult. On the other hand, you have games where you are "allowed" to break them, and they are ready to absorb it, like Marvel Superheroes TSR or Star Wars WEG, but then you, as a player or as GM know it ,and you go for the LoL.

You stated somewhere that this is a game that works well for short campaigns. Indeed, you start with a proficient PC, you evolve fast and die young (sounds like a rpg with a Rock'n'Roll flavor). We have the same impression, actually some of my players pointed this out before I even realized. I think that it is a key point of the game, not necessarily a bad one, just it is diametrically different from wfrpg 1 and 2 and other rpgs.


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#10 BigKahuna

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 03:49 AM

 Its worth pointing out as well that by no coincidence the concept of player empowerment is a prominent and important aspect of role-playing game design and always a point of contention and that empowerment can be accelerated greatly by the simple fact that some players get together more often than others.  I mean I have been running a WFRPG campaign now for about 5 months and my players have 9 XP currently.  That's about 6 sessions worth of gameplay, roughly about 1 a month.  While other players might be playing for two months and have 8 sessions under their belt.  Additionally the length of the session can result in a variety of "results" in terms of campaign progress goes.  My sessions last about 8-9 hours, while other players might be doing shorter 2-3 hour sessions but more frequently.  This dramatically effects how fast people gain XP since the minimum for a session is 1 XP, that session could be 3 hours or it could be 8 hours.  

There is no way for a game system to know "how often" you play or for how long you play so the empowerment systems are usually based on the assumption that X sessions equals X XP and X sessions last about X amount of time.  That figuire however is rarely given in books and is more a result of averages in play test sessions.

I guess my point is that 11 XP in your campaign might not seem like a lot, but in mine it represents more than 5 months of play.  My players get 1 XP a session and 2 XP if they complete a story which is usually roughly every 2-3 sessions.  

I do agree that is a flaw of a system, but ultimatly a flaw of every role-playing system.  As a GM who might run more shorter sessions, I would suggest simply raising the costs of everything X2.  In this way it will take you more sessions to get to the same place.

But to me 11xp and a Rank 2 character is about the equivilant of say a 10th level character in D&D.  Rank 3 being 20th level and rank 4 being 30th level.  Just as a comparison.  So at 11xp the characters rightfully should be fairly empowered at that point.  

No system is perfect and I do understand what your saying Yepes but of all the things that can go wrong with a mechanic, coming up with a balanced way to handle XP I wouldn't to be such a problematic thing.  Making minor adjustments to the rules due to the specific nature of your groups play style is really presumed with any role-playing system.



#11 Yepesnopes

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 04:40 AM

BigKahuna said:

 Its worth pointing out as well that by no coincidence the concept of player empowerment is a prominent and important aspect of role-playing game design and always a point of contention and that empowerment can be accelerated greatly by the simple fact that some players get together more often than others.  I mean I have been running a WFRPG campaign now for about 5 months and my players have 9 XP currently.  That's about 6 sessions worth of gameplay, roughly about 1 a month.  While other players might be playing for two months and have 8 sessions under their belt.  Additionally the length of the session can result in a variety of "results" in terms of campaign progress goes.  My sessions last about 8-9 hours, while other players might be doing shorter 2-3 hour sessions but more frequently.  This dramatically effects how fast people gain XP since the minimum for a session is 1 XP, that session could be 3 hours or it could be 8 hours.  

Indeed you are right, and it always helps to see how other GM handle things.

In my case we do sessions of 4 - 4 and a half hours. I give 1 xp per session, but I think I am going to move to roughly 1 xp per "adventure chapter completed", I have to say that there are sometimes that in a sessions the plot does not advance a lot, although we do laugh a lot :P


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#12 BigKahuna

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 03:15 AM

 Exactly.  I mean we do 8 hour sessions but we don't get together that often.  I would say maybe half of our session is dedicated to moving the plot forward, while the other half is spent simply role-playing various and often random scenes.  I'm often suprised how a simple merchant transaction scene can result in an hour long conversation that leads to the introduction to new permanent characters that I make up on the fly.  Its just how role-playing games are.

Ultimatly though advancement pacing is something that always needs adjusting in certain types of groups.  Generally the more active you are and the more you play the more adjusting is needed I would think.  Some system work exactly oppossite to WFRPG 3.0, like GURPS.  I mean if your getting 1-2 XP per session and your doing 5-6 sessions a month, your progression still ends up being very slow as that game can really cost the points to do anything that makes a dent in your characters mechanical advantages.  

So yeah.. I think basing it on story advancement is not a bad idea (rather than session based) especially if you play all the time, I wouldn't think the players would mind and in a way it does make balancing the game much easier as you know what you will have to work with for the whole adventure.



#13 LoveSkylark

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 03:28 AM

 I just use the old system of 100 exp per skill that way  I can reward a player 80xp  for s session or 135xp etc..  helps alot when you want to use the old adventures.






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