G&D: What Would My D&D Look Like? (Part Four)

Feats, racial bonuses and powers, these are good ways to customise a character but they can also be a royal pain in the arse with their sheer variability.

I’ve already said balance wouldn’t be a primary concern for me. Characterisation is more important to me. So that means whatever bonuses that I would work into the game wouldn’t be constrained by that.

So, what would I do?

My thoughts are torn between two semi-recent influences. On the one hand I really do like Aspects from the FATE games and its a mechanic that has turned up in one form or another for some time. White Wolf ‘specialisations’ are essentially one word versions of the same thing. I also used something similar in Neverwhere.

My other inspiration lately is Skyrim’s perk system, which can be found in variations in a great many computer games. This also gives an excuse to retain levels, at least in spirit, probably in a similar way to their implementation in Victoriana (as ranks).

So… I think for simplicity’s sake what I would go for are ‘Customisations’. Each level would provide one point that could be slapped into a bonus. Said bonus might be described, for example, as:

  • Talented Sneak +1 (Bonus to stealth).
  • Deadly Strikes +1 (Bonus to maximum damage).
  • Fisherman +1 (Comes from a fishing culture, so can claim bonuses to related rolls).
  • Tough as nails +1 (Bonus hit point).

These bonuses could be increased as you continue to level, giving you higher bonuses in relatively tight areas or being spread out to describe your character’s quirks, background and experiences. Providing appropriate bonuses and being used to offset penalties.

Each character race would get some bonuses of their own to start them off:

  • Elves: Forest Hunter +1, one free choice.
  • Dwarves: Stonecunning +1, one free choice.
  • Humans: Two free choices.
  • Orcs: Tough +1 (Extra hit point)

Flexible, simple, abusable – yes – but you have to trust the Games Master to look after their own game and give players the chance to exercise their creativity.

A Positive Piracy Story

My piracy policy is, basically, a more long-winded version of the following:

Look, I know you’re going to pirate my stuff and I’ve made peace with that. Seriously though, I’m just a small self-publisher and don’t have a lot of money. So if you’ve blagged this off a torrent or something, please think about buying something else I’ve made to make up for it.

This seems to work out pretty well for me.

Just the other day I got a mail from someone who had downloaded one of my 100 Seeds books from a torrent site and, despite not having used the book yet he was so pleased with it that he bought ALL of 100 Seeds books on PDF from RPGNOW in a bundle.

This is pretty typical. People find my stuff on a filesharing or torrent site, check it out (if they’re a user rather than a collector) , then discover all my reasonably priced game books and material and end up paying me money.

They wouldn’t find my stuff, most likely, if it wasn’t for piracy and sharing. In many ways it’s the ultimate word of mouth.

Piracy is definitely a net positive for me and for my business. Not being an arsehole about things goes a long way.