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Old 06-12-2015, 04:50 PM   #1
VariousRen
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Default Training Replacements for PC's

For my current Low Tech Fantasy game I am looking to introduce a way to smooth the introduction and retirement of characters, and I have created some rules to try and accomplish that.

Players are able to designate either a known NPC or create a new NPC as their replacement. By default these replacements don't travel with the party, or provide any benefit other than reassurance that someone will take over if you die. The reason they would do this varies, money, vengeance, a new opening in an adventuring party, NPC's have plenty of reasons to want to join the jet setting life of adventuring.

These replacement NPC's would start with 50% of the players points total, and the player can spend 1 point to give them 4, up to 100% of their current characters point total. If the NPC already existed and has between 50% and 100% of the players total, the player must pay the training points required before they are a valid replacement. These points cannot be spent posthumously, and must be shown every once in a while in play when the player visits the replacement. This can be a training montage, a quick visit between adventures to share stories, anything that shows that some time is being spent sharing knowledge.

Finally, if a replacement is also an ally or dependent, the player does not need to spend points to train them. In addition to being given points at a 1 to 4 ratio, the replacement can be trained using the normal training over time rules, where 200 hours = 1 point (or 400 = 1 if the teacher doesn't know teaching at 12+). This also solves a problem I had with allies, which was determining how they received points when the player wanted to upgrade them to a different point bracket (50% to 75%, for example).

The exact rule write up is here, on our Obsidian portal page that we have for the youTube series Fall of Brekhan: https://the-fall-of-brekhan.obsidian...creation-rules

I am trying to encourage more continuity between party members, and give a lead up to retirement for players who want to try a new character. Does the penalty for death seem too harsh? We've had a single death across over 20 sessions (4 hours each). Should replacement characters start at higher points by default? Has anyone else tried something like this and has advice to share? Thank you for any and all input.
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Old 06-12-2015, 05:06 PM   #2
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default Re: Training Replacements for PC's

Honestly, I wouldn't bother with these mechanics. If there's some kind of organisation or other reason for an existing NPC to be associated with a PC, than that provides a way for the player to build a bond with the replacement, and have a sense of continuity. But I'd just build a new PC when needed on a similar point total to the PCs.

If the PCs have gained substantial amounts of experience since they were generated, I tend to trim the total for replacement PCs a little For example, if the PCs began on 300 and have advanced to 500, I might well create a new PC at 475, because characters designed all at once on 500 tend to be better optimised than ones who have added 200 in small slices, and changed their mind a few times about what they were aiming for.
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Old 06-13-2015, 10:43 AM   #3
malloyd
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Default Re: Training Replacements for PC's

Quote:
Originally Posted by VariousRen View Post
Players are able to designate either a known NPC or create a new NPC as their replacement. By default these replacements don't travel with the party, or provide any benefit other than reassurance that someone will take over if you die.
The fundamental problem with all these kinds of rules is what if I don't? Suppose I refuse to designate and spend points on such a successor. When my character dies, you do what? Kick me out of the group? Let me play a character so much weaker than everyone else that I'm doomed? And when that one dies next session, an even weaker character in the following one, repeat until my incompetence starts getting everybody else killed too and lowers the campaign point total?.

I think it's one of those things that seems like a good idea when you are considering your RPG a game that can be "won" or "lost" and think points are for keeping "score", but that's a dangerous viewpoint that tends to kill games (and gaming groups).
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Old 07-03-2015, 04:56 AM   #4
dfinlay
 
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Default Re: Training Replacements for PC's

In addition to what malloyd said, it also curbs spontaneity. Part of what helps soften the blow of dying is the coolness of getting to come up with a new idea you are keen on right now and introducing them into the story.It draws some attention onto you and adds freshness to the campaign. All of this is lost if they are old established NPCs (who may have even been established by the GM) and even worse if they were trained by your old character and thus have similar skillsets. The only reason to make backup characters in advance is if you are gaming in a style where death is so common that you don't want to pause the action after someone dies to work out a replacement. These sorts of games are rare and it definitely sounds like you aren't playing one. That said, if a character says "I want to take over that guy" after they die, that guy is an appropriate power level and it won't screw up your story to have that guy be a PC, let them. But don't make them commit in advance or even worse, lose capability from their old character in order to be able to do it.

That said, I disagree with what malloyd said about replacement characters being lower point value being neccessarily an issue. I've played in a campaign where everyone started at [150] no matter what and made my character when another PC was [300]. It was a lot of fun. If ther campaign focus is not too narrow and the characters aren't built to do exactly the same things, the [150] character can still find a lot of moments to shine and you wind up with a comparatively inexperienced apprentice feel, which can be a lot of fun. If you're doing this, though, it should be a deliberate choice because you want to create that feel and not an attempt to punish/disincentivise dying (players already don't want to die. You don't have to work for that effect) and the compounding halving is definitely a bad idea.
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Old 07-03-2015, 11:27 AM   #5
Skarg
 
Join Date: May 2015
Default Re: Training Replacements for PC's

It depends on what you and your players want. I can imagine some players thinking your system is really nice.

Personally, I prefer to have character abilities based more on consistent cause and effect, rather than game balance. And personally I'm disinterested in trying to artificially have PCs all have the same point costs for the sake of evenness or balance. It seems to me to add a cause which has little or no reason in the game world. It also seems to me to undercut and remove the benefit from the players' efforts to improve themselves and to keep their improved characters alive and unmaimed, if getting oneself killed results in little or no loss, and even lets you design a whole new character at your current point total.

In fact, if one were playing from a metagaming point of view and wasn't attached to their character, it'd be quite an ability to be able to swtich to an equally-powerful character of a completely different design. Moreover, if a player can do that by dying, then it also means they get to do a suicide attack with one powerful character, and then get replaced by an equally good replacement. e.g.:

OOPS - I clicked someplace and the web site had me submit this before it was complete - see my edited & finished version below:

Last edited by Skarg; 07-03-2015 at 12:15 PM.
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Old 07-03-2015, 11:59 AM   #6
malloyd
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Default Re: Training Replacements for PC's

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skarg View Post
In fact, if one were playing from a metagaming point of view and wasn't attached to their character, it'd be quite an ability to be able to swtich to an equally-powerful character of a completely different design.
And this is a problem because?

If you are tired of playing this character and want to change to another one, why *shouldn't* you be able to do that without taking a huge point loss? And if the reason you are tired of this character is the kind of scenes he's good in are getting boring, a mechanic that makes the new character an actual trainee of the old one, who is going to be good at the same sorts of things, is exactly what you don't want.

I really do think most of these sorts of rules stem from thinking about points as a scoring system rather than a tool to help ensure nobody monopolizes all the fun scenes.
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Old 07-03-2015, 12:13 PM   #7
Skarg
 
Join Date: May 2015
Default Re: Training Replacements for PC's

It depends on what you and your players want. I can imagine some players thinking your system is really nice.

Personally, I prefer to have character abilities based more on consistent cause and effect, rather than game balance. And personally I'm disinterested in trying to artificially have PCs all have the same point costs for the sake of evenness or balance. It seems to me to add a cause which has little or no reason in the game world. It also seems to me to undercut and remove the benefit from the players' efforts to improve themselves and to keep their improved characters alive and unmaimed, if getting oneself killed results in little or no loss, and even lets you design a whole new character at your current point total.

In fact, if one were playing from a metagaming point of view and wasn't attached to their character, it'd be quite an ability to be able to swtich to an equally-powerful character of a completely different design. Moreover, if a player can do that by dying, then it also means they get to do a suicide attack with one powerful character, and then get replaced by an equally good replacement. e.g.:
Quote:
Player 1: “Oh no! The treasure is guarded by a dire hydra whose poison has no antidote, and beyond that is a great chasm we have no way to cross, protected by magics that will require a wizard with certain spells...”
Player 2: “Sir Bruce leaves his magic wooden shield behind and charges the hydra by himself and does all-out attacks to kill it.”
(Hydra dies, Sir Bruce dies of poison.)
(Player 2 creates new character – gee, it happens to be a wizard with all the needed spells for the current challenge.)
Or
Quote:
“Rutherford wants to leave the party. Here, I hand out all my valuables and gear to the group... oh and I tell them all my secret information, oh and can I donate one of my eyes so George can have a transplant and get rid of his One Eye disad....”
I tend to relate far more to getting rewarded for successful play without dying by getting to improve from experience. For me that's a focus of my interest as a player, and it's greatly undermined if/when someone gets killed and then gets to immediately get a new PC with just as many points as the successful veterans who managed to keep their characters alive through great risks. Not to mention that an experienced PC tends to have various abilities developed based on what happened to them, whereas a newly-made PC can tend to have abilities that the player mainly just chose.

I also find that I and other players (even the ones who seem focused on getting to have high-powered abilities) that it's much easier to relate to a character whose abilities were developed during play from basic starting abilities, as opposed to starting with a character who has all sorts of abilities which the player wasn't there for their acquisition.

For some games (and apparently for some players I've read posts from on other forums, this is their norm) maybe the above example could even be interesting and fun, but to me it mainly seems rather silly. I have seen some players in my games doing milder versions of it, where they want to have different abilities and so they want to ditch their current PC and start a new one with the abilities they currently want to have. I have allowed it as long as the abilities they want are reasonable enough to expect the players already know or will meet someone with those abilities who will want to “join their group” (whatever the equivalent is in the particular campaign), but I usually have them create the character using that campaign's parameters for new characters, and I have their old character become an NPC if I detect that they're wanting to play someone else and so are becoming suicidal or apathetic with their current PC. And I wait for the circumstances to provide a natural opportunity that such a person will be encountered in a context where they'd get introduced to the group to join.

I think it tends to be much more interesting when replacement characters are people who already existed in the game world as NPCs, PC's family, etc., because it doesn't break continuity and then the new PC is actually related to the PCs as they were before they became a PC. In this sense, I really like what you've suggested as far as having players list potential replacement characters. In general, it seems to work well and add a lot to have players describe the people their characters know in the game world as part of their background (family, friends, associates, etc.), even if they don't need a replacement.

So I personally probably wouldn't use the “your current PC can give points to a replacement character” part of your system, mainly because it seems to have no in-world cause & effect. I would tend to allow a PC to train, advise, or make some gifts to a future replacement character, if it made sense for those characters for that to be going on. In fact that seems quite cool and natural, and a great way to establish a natural way for replacement characters to make sense to join the group later.
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