Wednesday, August 24, 2011
As my Omegea campaign nears its one-year anniversary, I'm struck by the fact that the highest level any character has seen in this game is third. It really shouldn't be that surprising, considering the following facts:
1. Its a bi-weekly game, just 4-5 hours twice a month, and
2. The players are all busy writers, artists, and entrepreneurs, and we often have to skip a session due to schedule conflicts, and
3. Much as we hate to admit it, we aren't kids anymore, and can no longer devote entire weekends to gaming, putting in hours and hours whenever we feel like it.
Still, I can't help but think that after a year, the players should be high enough level to really spread their wings and enjoy the more challenging aspects of the setting. You can only go so long, I'm thinking, before the charm of death-by-falling-into-a-10-foot-pit wears off. It would be nice for them, I think, to get killed by a dragon or nuclear device once in a while instead.
So I'm considering some sort of fast-track leveling system.
It seems like the obvious way to do this would be to just hand out more xp arbitrarily, or even halve the xp needed to gain a level, but I worry that if the characters are leveling up every session or so, the thrill of advancement will become somewhat banal or anticlimactic.
I think an alternate way to do this would be to develop a system wherein the characters still only advance in level every 3 or 4 sessions, but advance more than one level at a time. Maybe I should cut out the "even" numbered levels altogether, so that a character would hit level 3 when they would normally hit level 2, for instance. Level 5 when they would normally hit level 4, and so on. This way, leveling would still be a rare and precious occurrence, but the gain in character "power" would be even more significant.
The thief's level advancement, for instance, would look something like this:
1 - 0
3 - 1250
5 - 5000
7 - 20000
9 - 50000
The advantage here is that I don't really have to change much, rules-wise. The players just advance their characters two levels every time they level. They roll 2 HD instead of one. Magic users always gain access to a new tier of spells each time they level.
A lot of new implications open up with this system. The first time a character levels (from 1st to 3rd), it becomes a lot stronger than with 1st to 2nd. This means if you survive your "initiation" period of 1st level, you come out the other side of it one tough customer, reminiscent of Spartan youths going out into the wilderness alone and those who survive coming back as warriors.
As a referee, I get to be a bit more creative as well, as I am getting a bit yawny designing low-level challenges for the players, and would like to bring some of the higher-concept, and higher-power, elements of this game setting into play. I mean, Omegea is setting where gods walk the earth and psychic overlords command hordes of mindless minions - kobolds are starting to get lame, fast.
Another interesting side-effect is that long-term campaigns like mine will see more clearly defined "chapters" as the players will be able to take on greater challenges at each step, rather than easing into more gradually difficult scenarios.
I'm not yet sure if I'm going to adopt this system or not. It certainly has its appeals. If nothing else, its an interesting experiment.
What do you think?