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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    gr8artist's Avatar

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    Default Gaining Abilities from a Source Other Than Items

    I debated between the above title and "Christmas tree fix number 12" but thought this more clearly indicated my intent.

    Help me brainstorm a rule-system or game mechanic that allows players to unlock magical item effects in a way that doesn't include items. Specifically, I'm leaning toward a "junction" system like FFVIII, where you form a bond with a spiritual entity and it grants you new perks and powers as you gain experience.

    There's probably a dozen ways to do this, but here's what I have so far.
    We start with our total WBL, and indicator of how much "non-class derived" benefits you should possess. We decide that we still want to give out some interesting gear, so we pick a portion of that to keep as "wealth" and redefine the rest as "abilities". I aimed at keeping wealth comparable to an equal level heroic NPC. The following table shows a quick assessment of WBL, wealth, and abilities at each level. Note that the values are rounded and fit to a better curve than the basic calculations came out to. First level is blank; you would have wealth as appropriate for your class and could not gain abilities until second level.
    Lvl Wealth
    By Level
    Wealth
    X 1000
    Abilities
    X 1000
    1
    2 1,000 .75 .25
    3 3,000 2.25 .75
    4 6,000 4.5 1.5
    5 10,500 7.5 3
    6 16,000 11 5
    7 23,500 15.5 8
    8 33,000 20 13
    9 46,000 25 21
    10 62,000 31 31
    11 82,000 37 45
    12 108,000 43 65
    13 140,000 50 90
    14 185,000 65 120
    15 240,000 80 160
    16 315,000 100 215
    17 410,000 120 290
    18 530,000 140 390
    19 685,000 165 520
    20 880,000 190 690
    Now that we know how many "ability points" a creature has at each level, we can start work on establishing a cost for the different perks and powers he can gain.
    Simply put, each ability the character wishes to unlock or gain costs a number of points equal to 1/1000th the GP cost of an item or effect with the same benefit. For example, a magical +1 enhancement to your armor's AC bonus would cost 1 point; gaining a +2 enhancement bonus to Strength would cost 4 points.
    Improved versions of abilities and perks cost only the difference, so going from +2 Strength to +4 would cost 12 points.
    Some perks might be slightly more costly or cheaper than normal, especially if they have prerequisites (+1 base necessary before giving a weapon the flaming property) or would apply more frequently than normal (adding flaming to your attacks might have the benefit of flaming weapons and an amulet of mighty fists with the flaming perk). Alternatively, such abilities might include a qualifying circumstance, rather than be extra expensive (flaming property that only applied to magical weapons would be 6 points).
    Now, each spirit would have a preset list of bonuses and perks it could give, so you couldn't just keep boosting one trait or stat beyond certain limits. Some spirits would have more of certain bonuses than others, so your choice of bonding plays an important role in your future development.

    So no great deep overhaul; we're essentially just reflavoring a good portion of WBL into something you don't buy in a shop. The game moves forward without a lot of complication or need to rebalance, but you no longer need to worry as much about loot and store inventories.
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    Current avatar: Charza Sahlaren, by gr8artist

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: Gaining Abilities from a Source Other Than Items

    I run a very low magic campaign, and one of the ways I use to allow my players to gain "magical" effects, is that I usually make an adventure site, where the reward is something extraordinary, or a change to their being instead of just "here is a +3 glowing sword. Enjoy".
    I don't see a need for a system, instead of just adding things that would make sense, maybe that is just me

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    gr8artist's Avatar

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    Default Re: Gaining Abilities from a Source Other Than Items

    Well, that works fine, but how do you figure out the bonuses a new player gets when joining a high level campaign?
    My Homebrew and Extended Signature
    Current avatar: Charza Sahlaren, by gr8artist

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Gaining Abilities from a Source Other Than Items

    I think that systematizing this kind of thing is a good idea. The rules are easy to work out against the WBL tables (although I would recommend reducing everything to point values, with one point being equivalent to 1000 gp).

    However, I agree that you need a good setting-dependent reason for it. Here are a few possibilities:

    • You get your powers from a divine being. They're gifts made of magic, often with some accompanying visual sign like a glowing halo or glowing runes under your skin, but you can suppress the visual tells at will. The source may be the deity you worship rewarding you for slaying evil, but it could also include boons given to you by powerful semi-divine beings or powerful supernatural beings as well, like dryads, dragons, or elementals.
    • You get your powers from the souls of your fallen enemies. Killing monsters (and anything, really) causes a portion of their souls to become attached to you. These powers generally shape themselves as you desire, usually appearing as the ghostly outlines of monster claws, skulls, and wings on your person. You don't have to actually be a murderhobo for this to happen, and it's okay if you're a pacifist. Simply doing great deeds can cause the souls of the dead to be attracted to you.
    • Your powers come from your training. Like a good wuxia movie, every warrior can perform ridiculous acrobatic stunts, survive falls and attacks that would normally kill, and swing a sword with enough precision to cut even a magical spell into pieces. Don't ever question it, it's perfectly normal for master warriors to be able to do that because they're just that good.


    I don't see much reason to impose limitations on acquiring abilities. The current magic item slot rules work fine for what you're trying to do. I would recommend a la carte purchasing of abilities.
    Last edited by Thomar_of_Uointer; 2014-07-28 at 12:38 PM.
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  5. - Top - End - #5
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    gr8artist's Avatar

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    Default Re: Gaining Abilities from a Source Other Than Items

    Agreed, thank you.
    Yeah, you'd have 1.5 points at 2nd level,
    The campaign was going to focus on an idea much like FFVIII or Dragon Age: Origins.
    The church/government had discovered how to bond a spirit with a mortal, giving the mortal great power and abilities. Such mortals were really the only tool the government had to combat monsters that were harrassing their people. But, the joining process is costly and dangerous, so would-be-heroes from all around would come and compete to be allowed to attempt the bonding. Those who performed well and swore loyalty would be bonded with a spirit that had a similar nature to their own (barbarians with fire and chaotic spirits, clerics with protection or kindness spirits).
    My Homebrew and Extended Signature
    Current avatar: Charza Sahlaren, by gr8artist

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