We are now several play-tests into exploring if level zero game works or not. It does and I got no reason to find more excuses to delay digitizing what I have on my desk for more than
three six months now: the rules for advancing characters in Lost Songs of the Nibelungs (cue for epic music ...)! So this is the first version of how characters will advance in that grim Dark Ages fantasy heart-breaker of mine.
A Difficult Birth
Okay, I thought I'd write a few words how difficult it was (for me, at least) to put this together. One would think that Level Advancement just needs a way to earn experience and another way to spend it and gain levels that express the different shades of power. That's true, of course, and it should be very true for a Domain Master and his players.
But behind the scenes it can get messy. The thing is, do something right and no one will notice, but make a mistake and people will not stop telling you. So in an ideal case I'll set up this system and no one will notice it because it's intuitive and runs smooth in the background. To make this even possible, I need a complete overview of the game. And that's a hen/egg story, really. I need an overview to test it, but also need to test it to get an overview. See what I mean?
Anyway, next thing you know is that you are writing a huge post that is all over the place. I still discover areas that need some further exploring. But that is to some extent the reason for writing those development posts. So here goes an early system. Most of it tested one way or another, some of it as just a consequence of the tested and a small part untested. Let me know what you think.
Level Advancement (compared to the D&D RC)
Next weekend I aim to put up a post connecting all the dots, but for now I'll just get the proper advancement for the game out there and talk a bit about it. The basic idea was and has always been to take the class based system we all know from, say, the D&D Rules Cyclopedia and break it into digestible pieces, with the hope to end up with a hybrid system that is somewhere between a class-based structure (like D&D) and a completely modular structure (like, say, GURPS). A system where it's easy enough to specialize but just as easy to diversify.
All that needed to be balanced and has to work with the system I already got. Some quick notes how all is this still (if by a thin thread) connected to D&D. I basically assigned the D&D RC class abilities to 6 areas of expertise (3 physical: Do, Fight, Endure and 3 mental: Learn, Meddle and Cast) which correlate with the 6 Qualities (think ability scores) of the game.
Next step was to fracture this even more to allow a balanced development across the 10 levels a character can achieve in the game, so all of those 6 areas got 5 levels of advancement, with 1, 2 or even (in one case) 3 options per advancement and area. That meant that someone could specialize completely in two areas (2 times 5) but with enough wiggle room to end up with a different character than another player choosing the same path.
But first things first. Here is the promised Level Advancement:
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Back to the D&D RC. To make this comparable, I'd need to be able to "simulate" a basic class with Lost Songs. This is where it gets a little more abstract. Take a fighter, for example. Through the editions you'd say he has a focus on fighting and enduring. A high level Magic User could nuke a whole group to oblivion, but the high level fighter has a chance to still stand after a hefty punishment, most of the time even with enough punch left to kick some ass.
So this is hat I needed here. A character that advances only in Fight and Endure will end up knowing legendary combat techniques, will have lots of combat dice (so he's fast and brutal) and will also have more Health and Endurance and a way better physical condition than the others. That'll do, I think.
It's also easy. Thieves turned out be way more difficult, of course. Do and Learn with one or two advancements in Fight should do the trick, then. It goes on like that. Magic User? Cast and Learn. Cleric? Take the complete Meddle and mix Fight and Endure. It's all there!
But the beauty is (sorry if I get a bit carried away here ...), well, the beauty is, you can mix it as you please. The only two requirements are that the advancements need to stack and that you can't take 2 advancements of the same level and the same area. Other than that you are free to advance the character as you see fit, one advancement per level.
More in a few days when I paint the big picture from creating a character over gaining experience up to advancing, sprinkled with some new ideas about Oracle Dice and Magic.
That's it for now
But the thing is complex enough on it's own. And although D&D was an inspiration along the way, I believe I managed to come up with something different in the end. I have to say, this was by now the hardest part to get done. Face to face restart tomorrow and leveling up will be a topic very soon. Then I'll see how the players take it ...
Comments are, as always, very welcome. What do you guys think of this?