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Fear the Boot

Jan 24, 2007

For this episode, we welcome guest host, Chris Hussey, an author that used to work for FASA.

* Character advancement: why is it emotionally integral to the RPG experience?

* A reminder about World Wide Wing Night.  Details can be found here.

* Designing the basic model for characters in a new roleplaying game.

Hosts: Adam, Chad, Chris, Dan, John

Trevor Chapman
almost thirteen years ago

Dear FTB\'ers,

I just finished listening to this episode and found the topic to resonate loudly with how my gaming group is currently feeling about the idea of character levels.

Now, if you would have said a year ago that I\'d be questioning the idea of level advancement, I\'d say you were crazy and it is an integral component of the role-playing experience.

However, what has changed my mind is that we\'ve just finished playing The Drow War campaign from Mongoose Publishing. This is a series of three hardbound books that each progress the characters 10 levels, so that by the end of the last book the players are 30th level. At first this idea sounded really good and gave me an opportunity to GM an epic level campaign. However, by the end of the campaign, due to the ever increasing complexity of the level advancements, we were spending almost as much time leveling our characters as actually playing them. And the challenge of the game became either ridiculously easy, due to high level spells that could remove the challenge, to insanely difficult, due to the abilities of the antagonists. Not to mention that a combat, due to all the powers involved, was becoming quite difficult to manage and was taking longer and longer to resolve.

After this campaign, of which the first 10 levels was the best, the party has become rather dismayed with character advancement.

With this in mind, we have made a \'contract\' to have the next campaign, which I\'m currently attempting to throw together, have a greatly diminished rate of level progression. Almost to the point of our considering playing the same level (somewhere betwixt 7 and 9) exclusively.

I think my current plan, that I\'m hoping my players will accept, is to take the current xp progression and apply a factor that will allow for a much slower level progression (i.e. either multiplying the rewards provided by 0.1 or multiplying the xp needed by 10).

My only concern with this is that even the modules that are presented in Dungeon magazine expect the players to progress 1 - 2 levels during the coarse of the adventure. This will make finding appropriate pre-made modules difficult or will require that I invest a larger amount of time in preparation of the adventures, either by smoothing out the encounters of the pre-made module or developing much more of my own material.

In either case, the point that you made during this podcast, that character advancement is integral to the game, is most sincerely true. However, I believe that this is due to the fact that in our own lives we expect to be some form of progression in our skills, whether it be a lower handicap in golf, a pay increase or the ability to finish Soduko puzzles with more ease. Couple with that the desire we have to challenge ourselves with greater and newer obstacles, you have an almost never ending cycle of escalation.

The only thing that might disrupt this chain is either negative feedback, as with the example of my party, or some form of psychological paradigm shift, where the challenge/reward mechanism is replaced with some alternate method of self actualization.

Anyways, I wish to thank you for a podcast that is not only constantly entertaining but is also intelligent and thought provoking.

Keep up the great work, all of you.

Trevor Chapman
aka Ratenef