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iamlibertarian

Finding new items of power and XP

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How as GMs do you handle characters acquiring new items of power, which they then decide to keep (understandably)?

For example, finding a wand that grants a small multipower or VPP. I don't want to completely sideline them from other things they might 'learn' over time. Nor, do I (unless it fits the story, like spending time and effort to learn how to use the item) want to make them save up the XP first before they can use the item. 

I was thinking of letting it be that all future XP except for 1 point (to be spent on whatever they want) be spent on keeping the item. Thoughts?

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The solution depends immensely upon the genre and expected style of the campaign:

 

In a typical Heroic High Fantasy campaign, acquiring treasure is one of your groups the primary objectives. In addition, characters are often expected to cope with equipment related obstacles (broken weapons, expended consumables, etc). So characters should not be expected to pay CP for treasure acquired during an adventure, nor should they be allowed to pay CP to acquire treasures between adventures either.

 

In a typical Superheroic Champions Campaign, having a particular piece of equipment (like a suit of powered armor) might be the only thing separating you from a normal person. In addition, acquiring treasure isn't usually only of the objectives of the adventure. So characters should be expected to pay CP for any treasure they acquire during an adventure (assuming they choose to keep it), and be allowed to pay CP to acquire treasures between adventures as well (within reason of course).

 

In an atypical Heroic campaign (such as those encouraged by Dark Champions), characters are expected to acquire stockpiles of equipment which they must manage. Such campaigns would use the Resource Point Rules; which are something of a compromise between the "typical" campaigns described above.

 

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I haven't used it in a long HEROic level campaign, but I came up with the abstract reward system.  Instead of XP, the players will get a pool of XP defined as treasure/reward.  So if the players are delving a dungeon and find a treasure chest, in the chest may be 5 xp worth of valuable treasure which they can distribute as they see fit.  Or in a modern game, they can take on a case where they get $$$ which equates to say 7 XP.  The XP can then translate to a new item "found" or made with the proceeds of the treasure/reward.

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In many genres (especially Superheroes, but it does apply to others), major characters have a signature style and just picking up loot to use really feels wrong.

 

Thor has his hammer, the belt and gauntlets, and the goat chariot.

King Arthur has Excalibur and its scabbard.

The Lone Ranger has his six-shooters with silver bullets.

The Avenger has Mike and Ike.

Heracles has his Lion Cloak and club.

 

In many cases there's an origin story for the gear as well as the character. It may well be something related to their early adventures or own origin, but that's akin to the "gathering of the party" and can usually be looked at as GM designed.

 

They all may have individually used other gear they encountered during a story, but that's covered in the rules. It's always back to the iconic gear at the start of the next one.

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That makes good sense (and yes, I am thinking in superhero terms).

Though if it fit the character's style (and considering that I would be the one bringing the new 'item' into the game for the players) I would assume most GMs would see it as reasonable? For example, Green Lantern picks up a new Blue Ring from the Lantern Corps, Green Arrow finds a magical quiver, Batman finds a cape that lets him actually change into a Bat, Hulk finds a chemical concoction (which he analyzes and can then reproduce) giving him greater control over his multiform, King Arthur finds a magickal shield, Lone Ranger finds a magickal 6-shooter or a magickal saddle for Silver or Tonto finds a magickal Tomahawk, etc.

 

Games are supposed to progress. Even if we had a Thor level game, Thor could progress too, and eventually come up with a new power appropriate for his multipower, so it seems reasonable to me that said new power could come from an item... or the character could use the item for the adventure in which it was found, and then choose to give it to Odin for safe keeping and spend the CP on his own additional powers.

Just looking for possibilities :)

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Sure. Evolution of a character is welcome, and that may involve using plot elements as enabling devices.

 

You largely have to play it by ear. SOME genres do rely on "gearing up". Not just classic D&D and Traveller - any underequipped resistance fighter scenario (historical, science fiction or fantasy) will have looted weapons as a core element. On the other hand, can you recharge or load the thing? Are you really sure it doesn't help the enemy somehow? Will using it make you as bad as the monsters you took it from? And ultimately, when it breaks down, can you fix it?

 

And some gear just isn't as useful as it was to the original owner. Doctor Strange isn't going to be able to do much with Cap's shield except hide behind it.

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16 minutes ago, mrinku said:

Doctor Strange isn't going to be able to do much with Cap's shield except hide behind it.

 

Which is good reason for the character Not to want to keep it, and then pay the CP for it, of course.

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Of course, Trophy Rooms/Treasuries/Vaults are a staple of some genres (including Superheroes). Just because you're not adding it to your character sheet write up doesn't mean you've sold it or thrown it away, either.

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This all comes down to GM style and play group.

 

I personally would never introduce a Universal focus that I wasn't ready for the players to use because if I did I wouldn't expect them to pay for it.*

 

The bad guy's magic sword is only usable by him.  Simple as that. If a player takes it and wants to use it as anything more than a mundane 1d6 killing attack they're going to have to pay XP to 'attune it' to themselves (or overcome the proprietary encryption on the villain's teleportation belt, etc).

 

IMO evolution IS xp.  Green Arrow finding a magic quiver is within theme - but he paid for it in Champion's terms.  The player saved up XP before hand, told their GM 'I want a magic quiver', and the GM put a villain in the game to be beaten that had a magic quiver for Green Arrow to 'take'.  It's a justification for spending the XP.

 

* In my current game the players have taken a Viper base as their own.  I suspected they would so the base, as is, is 'free'.  Any improvements they want to make from now on are starting at 5 points per character point - they just have a 200 point head start on making it awesome.

 

 

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On 11/4/2017 at 2:37 PM, iamlibertarian said:

 

How as GMs do you handle characters acquiring new items of power, which they then decide to keep (understandably)?

For example, finding a wand that grants a small multipower or VPP. I don't want to completely sideline them from other things they might 'learn' over time. Nor, do I (unless it fits the story, like spending time and effort to learn how to use the item) want to make them save up the XP first before they can use the item. 

I was thinking of letting it be that all future XP except for 1 point (to be spent on whatever they want) be spent on keeping the item. Thoughts?

 

 

I am very careful what the characters attain, particularly in fantasy games.  Part of the balance I give the items is that they will usually have complications: distinctive looks (treasure), hunted by (something from its past, ancient owner, a curse that summons vampires, etc), even psychological complications for intelligent items.  This helps offset the cost in true Hero style, gives storylines for the GM to use, and especially makes them costly or problematic to own.  Yes, that glowing golden sword of magical power is nice to wield, but its going to attract thieves and rivals as well.

 

Another thing I will use is to keep very close watch on the defenses and body of the items.  A wand can be very powerful, but fragile: you fell in that pit and it hurt but that snapping noise hurts even worse when you pull out two halves of a now-worthless wand.

 

Also, limited uses is very good.  Most items cannot be recharged, because the power they contained is intrinsic to their creation.  Break that magic sword and you can possibly fix it, but its just a sword now.

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16 hours ago, Greywind said:

The Powers That Be might frown on someone keeping evidence as a trophy.

 

Worth noting that the two most famous trophy rooms are the Batcave (Powers That Be can take a flying leap, and Bat-evidence takes priority over cop-evidence, Jim) and the Fortress of Solitude (Technically in International Waters in the Arctic ice). Of course Superman largely stores stuff like Kryptonite, Kandor, other Kryptonian relics and alien artifacts too dangerous to be kept anywhere else.

 

Like either of those two need extra powers :)

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The giant Joker Card is there as well :)

 

(All three have been there since the 1940's)

 

It varies, but there are at different times other stuff. Robin costumes. Vault full of Kryptonite. Mr Freeze's first Freeze Gun.

 

And ultimately, whatever Batman damn well needs to have stored for decades in order to beat the crook!

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21 hours ago, mrinku said:

Of course, Trophy Rooms/Treasuries/Vaults are a staple of some genres (including Superheroes). Just because you're not adding it to your character sheet write up doesn't mean you've sold it or thrown it away, either.

I would go this route. Have a trophy room for odd stuff and if a certain item comes up once in a while- no sweat. You should reward players for being creative. However if certain Hero likes to use the Boomerang he caught well then it’s XP time!

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5 hours ago, DasBroot said:

And in Hero he would have paid points for each and every thing he swiped to use long term as a wannabe hero.  

 

Right, but in an established campaign, you could have a similar story for a new character's origin where they equip themselves from the trophy room.

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18 minutes ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

Exactly, he would be a great story of someone just after fame and money by posing as a hero, who learns what it means to be one and turns his life around.  Terrific opportunity for DC to prove they do understand what heroism means.

 

Well, they made a good start on turning that around in Wonder Woman. Particularly with Steve Trevor's arc.

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