About a month ago I wrote about the decision I took to draft my own house rules modifications, which I entitled "UbiquitousFantasy". These were a mash-up of ideas derived largely from taking the existing Castles & Crusades rules we were playing and colliding them with some ideas in Monsters & Magic. The result had me feeling nervous... you can read why in the original article.
|+10% XP for wearing costume...|
Friday night's game arrived with me feeling nervous. Although I had "published" my ideas to the group, and received some generally upbeat feedback, the group's attendance had stalled due to good British weather and holidays. With a month having elapsed since we last played, I was worried that the proposal of change would scare off my players.
I was, of course, wrong to worry.
What happened next?
The guys arrived, spent some time chatting and, eventually, settled down to convert their characters from C&C to UbiFantasy. The process involved altering Attribute bonuses, choosing some Traits from their new Role (aka Class), rolling up some Fatigue, and slotting into the new card-based Initiative. Within 30 minutes we were ready to play.
There was some annoyance from one player who, looking at things on paper, felt he wasn't as good as he was... and that my vision of his Role was contrary to his own. Things improved when I allowed a simple switch of two Attribute values. Giving clear reasons for the setting decisions he was uncertain of also seemed to help. Once we were playing, however, it was clear that his misgivings were unfounded: the heroes are all slightly more capable than before.
What surprised me was that many potentially far-reaching changes were just happily accepted - such as the need for the Cleric to roll when summoning Miracles (aka casting Clerical spells)... and things went fine when, first time out, he failed his roll. I was amazed that they didn't end up unhappy.
At the end of the session the feedback was generally positive. We had generated a raft of ideas and suggestions too... which I decided to accept on one condition: each suggestion needs to be typed up and sent in to me for consideration; this is to free me from the need to interrupt play with writing down random suggestions - I want those suggestions but I want them when they really matter to the players.
What did I learn?
Well... I learned a lot about the way UbiquitousFantasy will play and what I need to tweak from the GM's point of view. I need to adjust creature and GMC* Armour Class values (adding their Level) in the same way the heroes have been altered, for example.
I also learned that there is real, powerful and genuine value in the stuff I wrote about last week
. The level of player involvement generated on Friday was higher than anything I have ever experienced. Period.
My players suggested and talked about some ten to fifteen new Traits for their characters. How many of these ideas will make it to the game is not important: the point is that, playing in a game that suddenly places no outer limits to their imagination, the guys were inspired to make suggestions.
Examples include the anti-magickal Witchhunter who wants to explore the idea of "sucking powers out of Mages" and "using their power against them"; we also talked about a kind of "Improved Initiative type Trait which opens up stepped-upgrades at higher Levels". Marvellous!
Right there, in game, when the Priest of the Lightbringer asked, "What is my Holy Weapon then?" and I answered, "Erm... you're the Priest of the Lightbringer... you tell me"... THAT was marvellous! When he said, "Right. It's a Lucerne Hammer then" we created a new detail for the setting.
That's when I learned what player engagement means. Big grins all round!
More details need writing up. I need to get my teeth into how Mages work, for example. We don't have one in the party but they are set-up to hunt and kill magickal GMCs*, so I need to sort that out for next session.
There are new rules to propose introducing. One example is Hargrave's take on Hit Points designed to stop the heroes having more HP than a Dragon. I like these rules... but then I need to tweak a few other things to make levelling up even more interesting.
Finally, there are tweaks to make to what I've already written. Little stuff, like a limit on how many Traits they can invoke in one test. Minor tweaks but important.
Oh... and I need to ride the wave of enthusiasm that their play and encouragement gave to me. Getting a full draft of UbiquitousFantasy written over the summer would feel really cool.
Let me know if you want to join the party and take a look at what we're doing. It's all house rule stuff... but if peering under the hood will help your game, please feel free to ask.
*GMC = Game Master Character
Labels: fantasy, GMing, Hargrave, musings, news, rules, Tikhon, UbiRPG