Vox Populi Forum
Somewhere around level 70 or 80, the Pally Ret Aura in WoW allowed you to run Deadmines with the aura on and anything that charges you dies.
That was pure pleasure, having spent days working through that beast. You just show up like a Monty Python character and do the sanctify blasty thing and then they all aggro and run to you and die. And not just there, everywhere. As you move through the instance, the creatures, one after another run to you ... and perish. Crow count the dead. (Just friendly pyrates doing their trade ... whatever.)
The loot wasn't so good for the 80 but the lowbie tagging along had a field day. I think we collected an ass load of linen for the bandage campaigns.
That said, that is an outlier.
(Though, there was this one build around Black Temple where the Pally gained health by being struck, so you could pull the whole zone to you and let it wail on you with no effect. It would slowing whittle down and die. The whole friggin' zone! Good times, Good times. Gunner and Sarge if you get the reference.)
I will refer you to chapter 2 on linear regression:
Y = mx + b.
But in this case you get to pick m, the slope. (Polly is a dead Parrot!!!!).
In the case of the world's oldest RPG, m = 1/10, x = level and b = 10. Why is m 1/10? Why so much hate for THACO and not so for DC? In a generation, we lost mX + b?
You don't even need to do polynomials.
Also, a creation of the O G was the +1 Ring of Protection. Which is not the +1 winky thing. It's the thing that only a creature of 6 HD or more can deliver damage ... OR ... those that possess the +1 blade ... Glamdril you seek!!!!! Johnny Corkscrew's Smee Cutlass!! Caledfwlch as it is known in Cornish ... or ... as you may know it Excalibur!!! (Therein lies the hint.)
If you give the players +2 per level, the bad guys get +3 ... and soon you get the math run away. Whose fault?
There's always two things in the game that I find it challenging to create:
(1) Making the players run when shit hits the fan. They fight to the bitter and and all is lost. The kids call it TPK ... Total Party Kill. No one can smell death coming over the horizon as we once did. You just have to fiat it.
(2) The Villain has appeared for a taste of what's to come ... but has no way to exit stage left to appear later for the french word for big beat down Grand Denouement or some such nonsense. You just have to fiat it. From the Latin, Let it be done.
And, for the obligatory Asheron's call reference. A level 10 Hunter Dredge is a thing to fear ... for it is the first time you see it. It screeches and runs at you and fillets your liver. Righteous bastard. And, the level 12 one ... well ... he's a righteous bastard too. But, around 14, he's the gyp machine. Can we get a new model in here.
I'm not doing anything at level 14, I wasn't doing at level 10. Gyp!!!
But, then you say ... but dude, we have boundary conditions.
Gandalf can't fight the Balrog, Balor, Balzoz if he's not level 20 or some such. Mathematically, you are correct young Qi Qon. Son, you'll never be Gandalf. The rules down't allow. Gyp.
Why again do characters have to start as mutts? Oh good, I got the rusty sword so I can get the dented sword, so I can get the whole sale sword, so I can buy the one in the shrink, so I can get the shiny one, so I can get DooooooMMMMLAAAAAAGGGGAAaAAaANNNN!!!!!
A level 4 dude in D&D, the Hero, was the freaking walking boss when she strode into village. The freaking walking boss. Cuz he could do 4 simpletons and not break a sweat and everyone knows that you can't get more than 4 dudes to gang up together cuz I might get poked in the eye and my shirt torn and moms wouldn't like it.
The Super-Hero ... well ... on top of being Hero, he was Super. That dude works for the King and he's freaking bad ass. But, 4 guys with bows could bring him down. Trust me it happens. If you could get 4 guys with bows working together. Somebody always wants the crossbow cuz it's rad or something. And, don't get me started on slingers ... what ... I can find ammo on the side of the road. Freaking low rent henchmen.
Why don't dudes start being able to do something interesting? We're past the you need to crawl to walk nonsense if the mechanics can be understood.
Why do level BIG (in this case 8) have to be 100 times more powerful than level SMALL (level 0). Progress?
Why not give them at level 5 that thing that scratches that area in your back that damn no one can ever get? Does that equate to being able to shoot 14 times a round. Well it does when there's nothing to shoot and your back itches. I kid, I kid.
Okay, a more simpler option.
Well, your ability to do things should improve. It happens. Just to make it more interesting.
But, a level 0 to 4 doesn't start with Courage. At level 4 you get Courage. What is Courage you ask? You can't attack a baddie at Horrible or above without making a "Crap Yourself and Runaway" (tm) check. It doesn't have to be terrible hard but enough to give you pause to go into battle with such a dude.
Rather than increasing your skills predictably allow the players to increase the things a character can do. Not necessarily skills but if that helps, skills.
- "Do weapons better": Translates to +1 or an extra die or some such thing
- Courage: as discussed above
- Ferocity: Minor injuries suffered in battle like cuts and such don't slow you down.
- Eldritch: Ability to channel large streams of magic.
- Indomitable: Be able to stand against Legendary creatures (see Run away and Soil yourself above).
- Escapeble - Increase your chances of escape. I don't have to run faster than the dragon, just faster than you.
- Calm - Can move in battles as chaos reigns around you to get to the right places and such.
- Good Scratchy Thing - Be able to itch your back and just the right place
- "Do things Better" - Increase the ability do things, not necessarily combat.
As the characters advance, they pick from the list at each level.
The list is the list. If you want them to all to be Galahad ... then throw in the bad effects. So, Good Scratchy Thing becomes You can scratch the itch but you suddenly don't trust Wizards ... or you are so bad ass that you think you should get the Queen (see Lancelot reference). Or, you are a braggart ... the good can be part of the bad.
I hesitate to use the word "Feats" as some might do (the D&D reference). These are just the things you are now better at.
The dice rolls and hidden mechanics can tame down a little because they are now less important. So, you don't have to tune at 27 places. The players make their own character as they see fit. A level 8 still is more likely to succeed. I agree you need that.
But, over the hill comes "Nasty" #1, "Nasty" #2, and "Nasty" #3. All those who have not cut their mother's apron strings step back. Time for the Hard men to act.
Time for the Hard Men to act indeed.
Iron Nusselt Number