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Characteristic Fortune Die Loophole


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#1 r_b_bergstrom

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 04:20 PM

A player recently pointed out to me something very unfortunate.  He has announced that upon completing his current career, he plans to never finish another career. Instead, he will pick a mostly-compatible career with useful Primary Characteristics and 2 Fortune Advances. He'll adopt that career, spend 2 XP on Fortune dice, then change careers. Again and again. At first, I thought this was crazy talk. Then I ran the math.

Completing a career and transitioning to a new one costs 10 to 13 XP.  For whatever specific die pool you feel is most important to your character, your time in that career will probably gain you 1 Yellow die and 1 to 3 White dice.  That's a skill, a specialization, and up to 2 Fortune Dice.

The cheesier approach, of cherry-picking just the fortune dice, and then transitioning out of a career will cost you 2 to 6 XP. If you choose really uncompatible careers, you're looking at a mere 4 White dice for the 12 XP or so that got the career completist 1 Yellow and 3 White, so that's suboptimal. But if you're Human and the careers all have 2 or more keywords in common, those 12 XP could score you 8 to 12 Fortune Dice!

I haven't looked closely at the giant stack of careers since he pointed this out, so I may very well be missing something here. It's possible that there just aren't enough careers with Primary Characteristic and Keyword overlap and the 2 Fortune advances needed to make this work. Dear god, I hope there isn't, but I suspect that stack of careers is big enough for this to be viable for at least a rank or two.

Has anyone encountered this loophole before? It seems abusive to me, not in the spirit of the game, yet I see nothing in the rules that would stop it.  It makes mechanical and mathematical sense, but boy does it leave a bitter taste in my mouth. I mean this really is the best way to improve your dice pool in a focused area, but it's just so damn cheesy. Especially when you get to Rank 4 and are already maxed out on Skill dice anyway, and don't really want any more Stance Pieces or Talents, there's a strong motivation to just cycle through careers cherry-picking white dice as fast as possible. When the PCs are 4th Rank, I'd rather they be taking the flavorful high-end careers like Knight of the Inner Circle, not inexplicably dabbling in Boatman and Thug for 2 sessions a piece to score dice. There's definitely a disconnect between what makes sense in-character and what makes for the strongest character.

 

My kneejerk reaction to this is to house-rule that career completion is mandatory, so as to just nip this in the bud. Any thoughts? Are there any compelling arguments for keeping things as written instead of house-ruling over this exploit?



#2 k7e9

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 05:36 PM

I have houseruled that the maximum of fortune advances in a single characteristic is equal to your rank. A similar rule to how skill training works.

And as rank depends on XP capping the number of fortune advances in characteristics would mean jumping between careers for fortune advances is possible but would not mean an insane amount of fortune in a single, or few characteristics.



#3 Yepesnopes

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 06:51 PM

I think everybody has notice this "loophole" at some point or the other. I totally removed the fortune dice in characteristics from the game. They are no longed available as advances.

Cheers,

Yepes


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#4 Emirikol

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 07:20 PM

I too got rid of the fortune characteristic dice.  Now players can spend those "slots" on whatever..but it isn't on brokeness dice bloat.'

 

Best move I've made since getting rid of talent socketing  :)

 

Some simple fixes go a long ways towards making this game more refined and playable in the long run.

 

jh



#5 r_b_bergstrom

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 05:52 AM

As it stands, this really breaks immersion. One could make a fairly convincing argument that the "best" career route for an Apprentice Wizard invest in skills and actions at character generation, then buy 2 Fortune Dice in Intelligence as a Wizard, swap to Mystic for 1 XP, 3 Fortune Dice in Intelligence as Mystic, swap to Scout or Barber-Surgeon for 1 XP, 2 Fortune Dice in Intelligence as that career, then return to Apprentice Wizard for free because you're a Reiklander. We're running The Enemy Within right now, and so far each session has been a day. Wizard-to-Mystic-to-Scout-to-Barber-back-to-Wizard in a week and a half? That's not a character arc, that's a manic episode. I don't want to play in a game where that's not merely possible, but mechanically encouraged.

Clearly some sort of house-rule is in order.

Restricting the number of Fortune Dice to character Rank is a distinct possibility, but that kind of breaks careers like Mystic and Commoner. They have 3 Fortune Dice on their Advances list, so having more Fortune Dice is their schtick. Commoner, in particular, would be very unappealing without that 3rd Fortune Die. I'm not sure how big a deal that is (who wants to be a commoner anyway?), but I also haven't gone looking to see if there are any 3-Fortune careers in the latter ranks that this might impact. I don't particularly think that 3 Fortune Dice in a Rank is broken, as long as it's a trade-off for other things, but 8 to 12 Fortune Dice in a Rank certainly is. Plus, simply limiting Fortune Dice this still leaves cherry-picking an option if what you really wanted was a broad base of skill dice, or more actions, or extra wounds, or whatever.

Mandating career completion strikes me as a stronger option, as it makes that Advances grid on the Career Sheet actually have some meaning. The only real problem I see with this would be if some poor Dwarf ended up terribly dishonored on session 5 or 15. Thematically he should convert to troll-slayer, but mandated completion would stop that. Perhaps a better version of that then would be "You may only abandon a Career mid-stream _once_ in the life of any given character." That would allow for some reaction to life-altering circumstances, but not be readily abusable.

Maybe the real solution is just "All career transitions must be justified in-character." I like how that puts the priority on the setting and flavor, not the mechanical advantages. However I could see that leading to some ugly perceptions of favortism if the GM agrees with the story behind one player's proposed transition but can't wrap his head around what the other player is suggesting. Some careers, especially the more vaguely named ones, are easier to explain how you might qualify.

 



#6 abidibladiduda

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 09:57 AM

I would not start creating house rules for this. Seeing as you don't want your player to do that just tell him. If you explain to him why you don't want this he will understand and accept that it breaks immersion for others (and himself) and is generally bad roleplaying if not just impossible. There is not way he can justify jumping from one career to another like that. If he demands that he can do this because it is not forbidden by the rules let him. But tell him that you will make it so that it is plausible. One example:

If he is a wizard lord he could just leave this career and be a priest or anything else. But he would be stripped of all the privileges he has a wizard lord. And if he wants to return to that career some ppl from his college might tell him to f*** off seeing as he just ran from his responsibilities. This works with almost anything. Maybe this helps.



#7 Yepesnopes

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 10:11 AM

Remove the characteristic's fortune die from the game before it is too late!


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#8 valvorik

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 01:18 PM

I have just always ruled that like skill training is once per rank, a fortune die cannot be added except more than once per rank, and also similarly not more than 3 times period (never more than 3 ability stat fortune die).

In any event, since a fortune die must be on a primary stat this would limit the career options.  I have no interest and would be clear to player on this, no interest in having a player at table who is just about dice and not roleplaying.  Selecting careers for such artificial reasons?  Go play a boardgame and get out of my house!

I'm very lucky that my gaming group is entirely on board with that approach (well, after we ejected someone not on board long ago).

For example, as suggested above, I require explanations "in game" for all advances.  This can be as simple as "backstory explains you were taught that already it is coming back to you" or require in game expenditures of time and effort.  Players have hired tutors, spent time talking to monks etc.  Currently a player whose PC is learning to read is having another player's PC tutor him.  Immersion wise, he didn't say "i want to learn to read so" he just said to the othe player, "would Korhadriel spend some time helping Magnus understand these letters?"  Once again, lucky me.



#9 dvang

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 06:44 AM

Restricting the number of Fortune Dice to character Rank is a distinct possibility, but that kind of breaks careers like Mystic and Commoner. They have 3 Fortune Dice on their Advances list, so having more Fortune Dice is their schtick. Commoner, in particular, would be very unappealing without that 3rd Fortune Die.

Actually, it does nothing to break these careers.

First, each career has two Primary Characteristics in which a fortune die may be purchased.  That uses up 2 of the 3 dice.

Secondly, Rank is determined by XP GAINED, not spent. When a PC gets to 10XP, they are officially Rank 2, and may take a second Training die in a skill, or Fortune die in a Characteristic.

Lastly, keep in mind that PCs often purchase non-career advances, especially skills.  (Weaponskill and Ballistic skill for example).  These being more expensive and not counting towards transition, this means that the PC won't complete their career by the 'fastest' of 11 XP gained. This means the XP spent at 10-13 (until they can transition) can be used for 'second' advances, as noted above.

Finally, as a GM you have final adjudication (or should) over PC career changes.  You are well within your rights of a GM to deny the player from hopping into multiple careers after taking just a single purchase or two.  Career changes should fit with the character and the story/situation.  



#10 k7e9

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 05:46 PM

r_b_bergstrom said:

Restricting the number of Fortune Dice to character Rank is a distinct possibility, but that kind of breaks careers like Mystic and Commoner. They have 3 Fortune Dice on their Advances list, so having more Fortune Dice is their schtick. Commoner, in particular, would be very unappealing without that 3rd Fortune Die. I'm not sure how big a deal that is (who wants to be a commoner anyway?).

Oh, I allow my players to purchase fortune dice in any characteristic regardless of which are the primary for their career. That way Fortune 3 careers does not get broken by the houserule. At least one of my players has put fortune advances in all characteristics, increasing the chance to succeed on all rolls (slightly) but as the number of fortune is capped by rank it has not become broken, and you cannot jump between careers with a high number of fortune advances just to increase fortune to insane amounts. It works well in my group, and beeing able to purchase fortune in any characteristic has meant that players sometimes purchase fortune for their lowest characteristics just to increase the chance to succeed slightly.

I agree that career transition should be justified in character. Mandating completion might be an option, but that decreases the usefulness of the Reiklander ability. Some of my reiklander players have two careers simultaniously, jumping between them depending on the advances they want next (i.e. beeing adaptable).



#11 Yepesnopes

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 07:10 PM

If for example you are concerned about the "lose of expertise" from the players side by the fact of removing the fortune dice in characteristics, a easy change is to allow the mastery advance in a characteristic to add a fourth yellow dice.

A fourth yellow dice is estatistically sligthly worse than two fortune, but still far better than one fortune. In that way you give more weight to skills in a game system where stats rule (too much in my opinion) the game.

Cheers,

Yepes


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#12 r_b_bergstrom

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 11:38 AM

dvang said:

 

Actually, it does nothing to break these careers.

First…

 

 

You raise really good points here about Commoner, Mystic, and any other 3-Fortune-Advance careers. You've won me over on that point. They are definitely not a reason to leave Fortune Dice unrestricted.

 

dvang said:

 

Lastly, keep in mind that PCs often purchase non-career advances, especially skills.  (Weaponskill and Ballistic skill for example).  These being more expensive and not counting towards transition, this means that the PC won't complete their career by the 'fastest' of 11 XP gained. This means the XP spent at 10-13 (until they can transition) can be used for 'second' advances, as noted above.

 

 

But, for Reiklanders at least, wouldn't it be more efficient to pick out a whole other career that has the Skill you want and shares 2 keywords with your current career? Given that one of those two keywords will probably be "Basic" and the other either "Urban" or "Rural", you've got a huge pool of potential careers to Cherry-pick from for a single XP.

The devil's advocate would ask "Why ever pay double for a skill when career swapping is an option?"  Non-career advances are +1 XP each, but swapping to a new career costs a Reiklander a one-time-only charge of 0 to 3 XP (usually 0 or 1 if I'm not mistaken).

 

That is why I don't think the problem is (entirely) Fortune advances. If someone thought it was a good strategy to buy nothing but Wounds, for example, their Reiklander character could cycle through careers to gain 10 Wounds over the course of a Rank. Easily. This makes me suspect that plugging the Fortune Die loophole without also plugging the general cherrypicking loophole means I'm just setting myself up to have to make another houserule again a couple ranks down the road. I'd rather make 1 simple and elegant rule now rather than 2 less elegant rules several months apart.

 

dvang said:

 

Finally, as a GM you have final adjudication (or should) over PC career changes.  You are well within your rights of a GM to deny the player from hopping into multiple careers after taking just a single purchase or two.  Career changes should fit with the character and the story/situation.  

 

 

I totally know that, and even feel that I "get" it. However, there are two complications worth mentioning:

A) The player in question has a lot of D&D 3.X experience. You know, that game where anyone can multiclass (as anything), and the bartender is always a semi-retired adventurer? He's approaching careers as if they were classes in D&D, so all he sees is Optimal vs SubOptimal Build. So I have to sell this player on the notion that Careers in Warhammer aren't just about stats and dice, they're supposed to be more about flavor and story.

B) I'm running the new The Enemy Within. My player's reaction to investigation scenarios is to really take their time and leave no stone unturned. At the end of the 3rd session we're still in mid-morning of day 3. I'm worried that the XP system is going to run so much faster than the storyline that career transitions of any sort start sounding artificial. From Apprentice to Master Wizard in about a month? This wouldn't be a major problem, except that it undermines whatever points I try to make to him about Career Transitions needing to make logical sense in-character.

 



#13 r_b_bergstrom

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 12:23 PM

k7e9 said:

I agree that career transition should be justified in character. Mandating completion might be an option, but that decreases the usefulness of the Reiklander ability. Some of my reiklander players have two careers simultaniously, jumping between them depending on the advances they want next (i.e. beeing adaptable).

Do you have any non-Reiklanders in your campaign? What do they think about the Reiklander ability? 

If I were playing a Dwarf  I'd be just fine with the Reiklander ability saving the humans a 1-2 XP per Rank. At that rate, the bonuses for being a Dwarf are a little bit better than the bonuses for being a Human at Rank 1, break even at Ranks 2-3, and start falling behind at Rank 4. That's certainly a fair trade off.

But a Reiklander who is jumping back and forth between two or more careers is probably saving 3 or more XP per Rank. Unless the GM is leaning heavily on Corruption points, in a long campaign that human XP divide would quickly start to outstrip what early advantages the Dwarf had.

A human is 26 points at character creation (if you count Favoured as Fate like it were a free Talent).

The Dwarf is roughly 30 points at character creation. (Derived as 20 + 6 points in bonus Characteristics + 1 skill + Grudge is like a Fortune Advance + Night Vision is like a Talent + 1 wound). 

I realize those numbers are very rough.

Dwarves could be argued higher due to Sturdy (Encumberence doesn't come up much so I didn't count it), and thier bonus white dice vs catching a disease (which is probably worth an XP or two), and their bonus Corruption Threshold (though it's hard to imagine a situation where they'd actually get to use that last one unless the GM is pushing for a TPK).  Bonuses that lack synergy with one another are certainly worth less than the equivalent amount in unrestricted XP would be, so I think I'd still eyeball the whole package at 30 points.

Humans definitely have an additional advantage in that they've got so many more careers, and I'm not sure how to quantify that, but the XP savings from Adaptable seems likely to be the minimum value there.  If adaptable is saving ~4 to 7 XP over the course of a campaign, it's probably fair. If it's saving 12+ XP by Rank 4, it's debatable.

 

 

 

 

 



#14 abidibladiduda

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 10:25 PM

r_b_bergstrom said:

dvang said:

I totally know that, and even feel that I "get" it. However, there are two complications worth mentioning:

A) The player in question has a lot of D&D 3.X experience. You know, that game where anyone can multiclass (as anything), and the bartender is always a semi-retired adventurer? He's approaching careers as if they were classes in D&D, so all he sees is Optimal vs SubOptimal Build. So I have to sell this player on the notion that Careers in Warhammer aren't just about stats and dice, they're supposed to be more about flavor and story.

B) I'm running the new The Enemy Within. My player's reaction to investigation scenarios is to really take their time and leave no stone unturned. At the end of the 3rd session we're still in mid-morning of day 3. I'm worried that the XP system is going to run so much faster than the storyline that career transitions of any sort start sounding artificial. From Apprentice to Master Wizard in about a month? This wouldn't be a major problem, except that it undermines whatever points I try to make to him about Career Transitions needing to make logical sense in-character.

A) You just said what you have to do. I completly agree with the whole "careers are not about stats" idea. At least in my opinion wfrp is all about flavor, fluff and story and not about having stat X on level Y to be great and have fun.

B) I don't know how often you get together to play in one month but you should not award players with more than 1 xp per session or 2 if they actually achieved some very big milestone. If you only award 2 xp that way people should only advance a little more than 1 xp in average per session. Therefor it should not actually happen that they advance too fast for your story. Getting more than 1 career up in 2-3 months seems way too fast for me personally, but that depends on the style I want the game to proceed.

It seems to me that you almost try to avoid telling your players what you want your game to be. What i always prefer is being truthful about the way you want to play. So people can decide if they want the same out of the game or if they prefer a different playstyle. It is absolutly normal for different people to seek different things in a game and you might have to accept that some people just want something so different out of the game that it does not match what the rest of the group wants.



#15 r_b_bergstrom

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 07:32 AM

abidibladiduda said:

B) I don't know how often you get together to play in one month but you should not award players with more than 1 xp per session or 2 if they actually achieved some very big milestone. If you only award 2 xp that way people should only advance a little more than 1 xp in average per session. Therefor it should not actually happen that they advance too fast for your story. Getting more than 1 career up in 2-3 months seems way too fast for me personally, but that depends on the style I want the game to proceed.

Seem likely that we're having a misunderstanding there. I may not have been clear about in-character vs out-of-character time.

My group plays once a week, and I hand out 1 XP per session. I'm contemplating handing out 1 bonus XP at the end of chapter 1 of The Enemy Within, but that's at least 4 or 5 sessions from now. So the XP I'm handing out is pretty much exactly what you're saying I _should_ do.

My players really enjoy poking around in every corner of the setting, interacting with the NPCs (and there are a lot of them in The Enemy Within), digging up all the mysteries, hamming it up in character, etc. Things keep happening and everyone's having fun, but the actual core plotline is advancing somewhat slowly. We just finished our fourth session, and are on the early morning of day 4 of the investigation at the start of the campaign. Every session thus far has been a little less than a day of in-character time.

I fully expect career completion to take 2 or 3 months of real-life out-of-character time, but it looks like that will happen no later than in-character day 8 or 9 of the scenario notes.

abidibladiduda said:

If he is a wizard lord he could just leave this career and be a priest or anything else. But he would be stripped of all the privileges he has a wizard lord. And if he wants to return to that career some ppl from his college might tell him to f*** off seeing as he just ran from his responsibilities. This works with almost anything. Maybe this helps.

It helps for the big abuses of the exploit, such as swapping careers 4 times in a rank to gain 8 Fortune dice. The more casual career-swapping for an extra die or two here or there seems to be just as problematic over the long-term (judging from everyone telling me to limit or eliminate Fortune advances), and that's not really something I can deter with NPC social pressure.

A player could, per the Rules-As-Written, abandon Wizard for Mystic, buy 3 Fortune Dice on Intelligence, and then return to Wizard again for a mere 4 XP total.  As I said, that could be as litle as 4 days in The Enemy Within.

If he's only behaving "unwizardly" for 4 days, I probably don't want the NPCs telling him to "f*** off" over that.  Player Characters in general are often vagabond adventurers, the sort of people who frequently put their professional lives on hold for 3 or 4 days at a time to battle the villain of the week, afterall.

 

abidibladiduda said:

It seems to me that you almost try to avoid telling your players what you want your game to be.

I don't think that is a fair characterization at all.

The player in question is a new addition to our established gaming group. Just as I was planning to start a new campaign, a player's long-distance boyfriend moved to town. It seemed only natural to include him in the new campaign, but I had only met him a few times. I didn't yet have a rapport established with him, and the opportunity to sit down and discuss gaming styles and theory just hadn't happened yet.

On his way out the door of the second session, he dropped the bombshell about intending to cherry-pick fortune dice. That got me worried because I had completely missed that exploit in my readings of the rules, and I didn't know him very well so I didn't know how he'd respond to whatever house rule I was going to have to use to plug the hole.

I needed to know before the next time I saw him whether or not the exploit he'd pointed out was game-breaking. If people here had said "it looks like a problem on paper, but it actually works out in play" that would have been the end of my worries. Instead, responses included "run you fool" and many warnings about the dangers of fortune dice proliferation.

This forum was very helpful with providing me a number of ideas on how to solve the problem. Having those solutions close at hand allowed me to enter confidently into the conversation with the player about the tone of the game, and thus resolve the issue before it became a problem. He's actually really easy to work with, I just didn't know that yet.

 

 

 



#16 Emirikol

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 04:19 AM

Well, it never hurts to nerf after the fact and take it away if it comes down to that. I've had to do that and had players whine, but only if I didn't pre-emptively tell a few players that was what I was going to do (because I felt that "the other player" might 'unknowingly' break the game).

 I still prefer removing the fortune die characterstic bonus and instead making it a wild card for whatever they want to buy.  Then the Mystic and the Commoner still get lots of options (as do other characters).

A house rulebook is always a good idea anyways too.

Best of luck.

jh



#17 abidibladiduda

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 08:24 AM

r_b_bergstrom said:

abidibladiduda said:

It seems to me that you almost try to avoid telling your players what you want your game to be.

 

I don't think that is a fair characterization at all.

It is not a characterization because I don't know you. It is just what i thought while reading your comments. If you felt like it was I apologize.

r_b_bergstrom said:

This forum was very helpful with providing me a number of ideas on how to solve the problem. Having those solutions close at hand allowed me to enter confidently into the conversation with the player about the tone of the game, and thus resolve the issue before it became a problem. He's actually really easy to work with, I just didn't know that yet.

That's great. And by the looks of it you really do have a great bunch of people as players. You can count yourself lucky.

 



#18 r_b_bergstrom

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 11:27 AM

abidibladiduda said:

 

r_b_bergstrom said:

 

abidibladiduda said:

It seems to me that you almost try to avoid telling your players what you want your game to be.

 

I don't think that is a fair characterization at all.

 

 

It is not a characterization because I don't know you. It is just what i thought while reading your comments. If you felt like it was I apologize.

 

 

 

Honestly, I _was_ little miffed by it. I've got a thin skin, but I also recover quickly. Apology accepted. It's pretty obvious to me now that you didn't mean any offense, and I certainly didn't intend any offense to you. We're cool.

 

Thank you for the efforts and opinions, by the way. The advice you gave me was solid.



#19 dvang

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 12:23 PM

My group transitioned from TGS into TEW, starting TEW essentially at rank 2.  My group is very similar, in that they love investigation so much that they take several sessions to do a very thorough investigation.

What I have done is simply slow XP.  XP is now awarded per session as 1/X, where X is their rank.  Thus, they get 1/2 XP per session at rank 2, essentially a full XP point every 2 sessions.  When they reach 3rd rank, they will gain XP 1/3, i.e. one full XP every 3 sessions.  At certain important points in the campaign, the party will gain an extra XP point (generally at the end of every major Act).

Good roleplaying is rewarded with fortune dice to their pools, or to the party's pool for refreshing fortune points.  It has worked out well so far.



#20 r_b_bergstrom

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 02:08 PM

Please forgive this "thread necromancy", but I recently picked up the Player's Guide and found this on page 47:

  • "It is possible, especially for Reiklander characters who can do so very cheaply, for a character to change careers at a very high rate. If this becomes a problem for a given group, the GM is encouraged to enforce a 'minimum stay' in a given career of 4 advances."

That still doesn't completely solve the issues I was having, but it's official and certainly relevant to the topic. There are careers with 3 Fortune Advances, so Wizards side-stepping into Mystic just for the white dice really aren't slowed down by that 'minimum stay'.  It's something though, and it got me thinking about the subject all over again.

 

After a lot of thinking and debating here and elsewhere, the solution I've landed on instead is to limit the number of Fortune Dice associated with a Characteristic to the rating of the Characteristic.  So if your Fellowship is 2, it can't have more than 2 Fortune Dice associated with it. This means no character will ever be able to have more than 6 Fortune Dice in any Characteristic, so the loophole of buying 7 to 12 Fortune Dice in a single rank by wildly career-hopping is effectively closed. All the worst exploits are covered, but the power-curve of less extreme characters is barely touched.

As a nice little bonus, such a rule will subtly reward PCs who do end up spending all those extra XP on blue dice. Going from Intelligence 3 to 4 hardly seems worth 4 or 5 XP if the other option is to instead spend those same 4 XP to get 4 white dice. This makes the Characteristic advances just a little more important than they were, and I think that's a good thing.

 

 






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