perjantai 18. tammikuuta 2019

Feats & Flow Charts

I like the class-based approach of OSR. Not that I had something against traits, feats, skills, and the like. What troubles me is the eclectic approach taken by many games, namely the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons, where you have dozens of different building blocks thrown together.

For me, the beauty of character class is the fact that characters are set apart from each other by their actions, not by their abilities. Traits and feats, on the other hand, are fun because the player can establish a character of their liking and specialize further along the way. In that scheme, classes are an unnecessary relic.

When players have plenty of power over the development of their characters, their principal focus tends to be the character rather than the game. Acquisition of levels becomes the nexus of the campaign, since choosing the next building block is by far the most satisfying element in the game.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but personally I do not enjoy that sort of gaming much. As such, I have favored strictly class-based systems, with little to no specialization. (Or Basic Role-Playing and the like, where advancement is slow and largely automatic.)

All the same, from time to time I have entertained the idea of a strictly feat-based OSR game. In its simplest form, players would have a list of feats and pick a new one each level. Class and race would be booted in their entirety.

That would be quite bland, however, and I have little faith in my ability to coin a satisfying number of roughly balanced feats. In all likelihood, characters would be more or less identical after a level or three.

A more intriguing possibility would include a flow chart, each level forcing the player to make a tough choice between two paths of further specialization. If shrewdly named, these feats would also replace level titles and imply a development in characterization besides the obvious, or development in mechanical ability.

This idea could be born dead, but here is a rough sketch for yours to enjoy. Yes, I know it looks hideous and is coarsely unbalanced, but, hopefully, will be sufficient to present the idea.

For the sake of argument, let’s say all characters have nil attack bonus (who enjoys summing all those numbers anyway?), and a Saving Throw of 1 in 6 at level I, 2 in 6 at level II, up to 5 in 6 at level V. Spells would be absolute rather than scaling with level – not “1d4 damage per level”, but “save or die”.

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