Monday, 9 July 2012

Lethality and Bonus Points.

Our Kingmaker game should have been pretty deadly.

I'm running a wiki for my game, Heirs of the Stolen Lands (link visible at the right) and when considering what to do about "player buy-in" a number of sources suggested "fate points" -- a mechanism to re-roll or to escape death.

Almost (but not) every player has used one of these points to save their character at the brink of death. Some of the players have used multiple points. However although the goal was to encourage player participation in the blog, it wasn't supposed to become a haves vs have nots mechanic.

We're all busy. We have jobs, and families, and in two of my players' cases, a new child. Two of my players have maintained interest and involvement in the wiki. That's fantastic. C____ has created twenty-two in character "journal entries" -- one every week. J____ has edited the party loot log and done a lot of work with me on the kingdom building process. Other players have made less frequent, but still entertaining and important, contributions. Some players have not. They come out to my game, and they do a great job, but after the game they have other pressures on their time. Contribution to the wiki was never a precondition.

However with almost two dozen sessions under our belts two players have had several opportunities to spend fate points to alter rolls or save their lives. I cap the maximum available at three, but that ends up encouraging "maxed out" players to spend one or two on skill checks. I have no problem with the mechanic, however after several months of play the mechanic has become unbalanced. Two characters can *afford* to throw themselves into mortal danger. It was time for that mechanic to end.

Since we have started the third chapter, the Varnhold Vanishing, I informed the players that fate points were now finit. And I explained why. Sure enough, one of the characters who had a stock-pile of fate points was killed by a Wandering Encounter.

Death, however, is no longer the barrier it was. Although they can't quite cast it, yet, the group is in a situation where they can afford Raise Dead. So with Gentle Repose protecting the corpse of their dear companion, the Cavalier mounted up and raced for the home-castle to grab appropriate treasure, then off to Restov to get the character raised.

I hope the players continue their contributions to the wiki. But the time for bonus points had come to an end. Now the escape from the final curtain will cost the characters as a group, and not even they can sneeze at 5,000 gp, and 2,000 more for Restoration, couched not as the price of a diamonds, but as the massive contributions to the Temple of Abadar required for a spell of this magnitude.

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