Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Have-Not and Levels and JAGS

So the "primary" game we're doing involves a post-apocalypse wasteland where the PCs are out in the "great pacific desert" (the Pacific Ocean is gone for some reason) and we're in a sort of anime-esque high school built atop the GCC complex which is a high-tech multi-level "dungeon" that part of our training to be elite guard for the regime we're under involves going down into (and getting treasure and exploring and such).

It's designed to:

  • Play a bit like Original D&D (or maybe Gamma World) crossed with a modern MMO.
  • It is testing (a) the Generic Archetype Traits (GATs),  (b) Mutant Abilities, and  (c) the JAGS Level System. It is also testing (d) our rules for treasure/weapons. 
  • Although we all have 2 characters (there are two "fire teams") and parts of the game will be run in a potentially deadly dice-fall-where-they-may fashion (our general playstyle is low mortality where the GM is trying to keep things constrained so that challenges do not randomly fall well beyond our ability to deal--something that can change with wondering monster tables and randomly created threats) the game is meant to be a real game. That means we're expected to have character goals and personality, anime-style relationships (I'm not a big anime user, but the GM and some of the players are--so I'm not sure what that means--but I'm given to understand it's sort of playing off high school tropes in anime fiction) and so on. It's not just a hunt-and-kill fest even though that'll be part of the game.
JAGS Levels? Why?
Why does a point-based game need "levels?" what does that even mean? Well, it's pretty straight forward. We want levels because for some games there is simply a great joy in "leveling up." Having specific Xp-Award points and specific ways to spend them is good for some kinds of play. I'm not an MMO guy and I've never been into high level D&D especially but I did really enjoy playing Borderlands on the PC and I think that kind of experience is worth re-creating in a table-top RPG. 

Also: JAGS is fiddly enough to make that sort of thing a lot of fun.

But Even More Important
A big question in JAGS (and many point-buy systems, really) is how do you handle gear? In a dungeon-style adventure you just find it, pick it up, and use it. How do you reconcile that against a point-buy system where we can work out the value of weapons, where PCs are expected to buy stats and innate abilities, and so on?

We've been doing a lot of thinking on this for a while and I'll see if I can go into more detail in the next few posts.


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