D20 tweaking: Part I

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I enjoy playing with D20/OGL rules. They make an interesting toolset, and D20 is as close to an object-oriented game system as I think we have come. On the other hand, to paraphrase something I read recently, I find the D20 rules-tweaking potential to be more fun than the actual gameplay. That isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy playing when I do so, but I really happen to have a lot of fun with the potential for making the game do what I want it to do.

So, here is an idea that I had which I mentioned on a thread on RPGnet today. The thread was focusing upon how to slow character advancement without simply declaring a different advancement rate.

In plain-old-D20, experience is earned based on the Challenge Rating of an encounter and the Character Levels of the PCs involved in the encounter. The larger the CR to CL ratio, the more experience is gained. Thus, if PCs have a higher level, they will gain less for a given encounter, all other things being equal.

My solution? Put the choice of how quickly to advance into the hands of the players. How do you do this?

Bribe them.

Tell players that they can use Action Points as defined in Unearthed Arcana (or your favorite alternative version – there are a few floating around). Instead of giving them a small number, however, let them have a near-unlimited number of them (How many? How about some number – maybe 2+Character Level – per encounter, refreshing each encounter?) with two caveats:

  1. They may only use these action points in encounters that have CRs.
  2. For each action point spent in an encounter, their effective character level will be treated as one higher when determining experience from that encounter.

Spending action points will slow your advancement under this system. What are the ramifications?

  • Players can advance their characters at the normal (fast) rate, but they will do so by not using all of the resources available to them.
  • Players can sacrifice long-term power for short-term flexibility and certainty.
  • Players can give themselves some insurance against things such as a character death they would find meaningless by sacrificing experience points in the encounter.

I can certainly see these as goals that might be valued in a campaign. If I were to run a D20-based game with something approaching normal experience payouts (which I probably won’t), I might well use something like this.



1 Response

  1. Interesting idea, and less of a hassle than my idea on this subject: give the players a EL range for each encounter, then tweak the monster/trap to match the EL.

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