Being a sample Hexagram campaign (consisting of rewards and backgrounds).
|Talisman of Saturn|
There are three types of people in the world: naturals, trained magic-users, and everyone else (the bulk of humanity). Most people just don’t have the talent, instruction, or mental fortitude to dip their hands into chaos, the raw substance of creation and potentiality, and make their will manifest. A small portion, however, with study into ancient mysteries, can learn to work magic. An even smaller portion shape reality whether they want to or not. These are the naturals. They can be some of the most potent wonder workers, if they don’t go mad or destroy themselves and those nearby.
In their worst form, naturals are raw chaotic wounds on the flesh of civilization. They are dangerous, and need to either be trained or destroyed. That’s where the player characters come in, as agents seeking out these wild wonder workers. The catch? Most of the time, those best equipped to destroy or train sorcerers are themselves magic workers. However, after the great disaster, sorcery is forbidden and great college disbanded. However, small cells of the academy continue to operate behind the scenes. Think wizardly X-Men.
Short digression on mechanics for experience. I’m playing around with another variant experience system, which I will use in this post. Rather than 1000 XP required per level, 6 XP are needed. This scale is influenced by more recent games like Vampire and Apocalypse World, and “6 XP per level” obviously fits Hexagram stylistically, and allows me to present XP similarly to any trait.
However, stylish elegance is not enough; the system needs to work structurally as well. The major thing that I like about the more granular D&D method (with thousands of XP required per level) is that XP can be awarded impartially (by treasure value or monster hit dice) and small XP rewards can still provide a sense of progress even if major objectives are not accomplished. So, is that possible with a more compressed XP scale? I think it probably is, assuming that rewards remain objective and are awarded communally (XP acquired per session is totalled and then divided among surviving PCs).
It should be easy enough to translate back to the 1000 XP per level system that was outlined previously. Multiplying all rewards by 100 would work, though it would result it slightly slower progression. The previous treasure hunter reward paradigm can also be done using this system: spend 166 (round up to 200) GP to gain 1 experience point.
Let’s look again at this particular campaign idea to see how rewards might function.
SORCERER PATROL REWARDS
- Neutralize a wicked sorcerer: 5 XP per sorcerer level
- Recruit a sorcerer: 10 XP per sorcerer level
- Recover of an item of power: 1 XP per item level
- Destroy dangerous item causing chaos pollution: 1 XP per item level
- Discover the seclusium of renegade sorcerer: 1 XP per sorcerer level
- Destroy a beast of chaos: 1 XP per hit die
(Item levels range from, you guessed it, 1 to 6, and will be covered in a future post.)
- A natural, you were trained by an academy cell and feel indebted.
- You began as a “special skills” operator for an academy cell. You slowly pieced together the nature of your employer and were forced to make a choice: be disappeared, or join fully. Do you welcome this new role, or rue the day you came across the wizard hunters?
- Though not a powerful sorcerer yourself (you may know a spell or two), you are fascinated beyond measure by all things arcane. What led to this obsession?
- An ex-soldier, you began as a mercenary employed by a cell and worked your way up to full membership. Why are you interested in this line of work as opposed to other mercenary jobs?
- Someone you care about needs an infusion of sorcerer blood to remain stable or healthy. Are they sick in some way, or perhaps a natural themselves?
- You craft items of power from the bones of sorcerers. How did you develop this skill?
- Just being around sorcerers is a high for you, never mind when they actually cast spells. You crave that experience over all others.
- Wizard suprematist. For now you work within the contraints of the academy, but one day you will write your own laws. What experience in your past shaped your confidence that the wielders of magic are destined for mastery?
- Sorcerophage. That’s right, you eat sorcerers; you like finding the wicked ones best, because few object to killing them. Why? Is it a religious thing? Do you get power from it? Do your superiors know?
- You believe that naturals corrupt the flow of magic power for everyone else and are a danger to trained wizards. They must be controlled or destroyed for the safety of all practitioners and mundanes. What formative experience cemented this point of view?
I like the XP idea – moving towards a real “goal oriented XP” as opposed to simple loot, or worse I think the smorgasbord XP approach where nothing is rewarded particularly.
As to the world, sounds interesting but reminds me of the Circle and Chantry in Dragon Age (which was really the most interesting part of that game).
Yeah. I mean, really “loot” is a goal too, it’s just not usually spelled out as such, especially in a way that might allow for systematic alternatives. Also, I kind of like the idea of shifting reward structures as a single campaign changes, rather than, for example, rewarding as if PCs are treasure hunters still despite the fact that they are level 15 characters or whatever.
I haven’t played Dragon Age, though we do have a copy (the significant other is a much bigger video game player than I am).
I just started playing Dragon Age: Origins over the weekend, and can see the similarity of the Chantry. I also kind of like the idea of the clerics (“Templars”) as chaperones of the magic-users.
What Gustie said, plus the whole sorceror patrol idea is pretty cool in itself.